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Moon Knight (1.1-1.4) Review

March 30, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Moon Knight Image Credit: MARZ VFX/Marvel
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Moon Knight (1.1-1.4) Review  

Author’s Note: This is a spoiler-free review for Moon Knight based on screeners for the first four episodes provided by Disney+.

Marvel’s latest Disney+ miniseries sees the avatar of vengeance, Moon Knight, enter the fray. Debuting in the pages of Werewolf by Night in the 1970s, Moon Knight became a mainstay over the years, albeit a more obscure and lesser-known, superhero. However, Moon Knight has always drawn an enthusiastic following due to his unique look, personality, and quirks.

What’s great about the Marvel Universe cast of characters is that many of them have issues that are familiar to people in real life. Throughout the years, Moon Knight became associated with dissociative identity disorder due to the multiple personalities that encompass his life. Although the new Disney+ Moon Knight miniseries is well cast with lead Oscar Isaac, it fails to truly capture the essence and core of what makes Moon Knight such an interesting and compelling character.

Oscar Isaac is a tremendous actor, who appears to be an excellent fit for the role of Marc Spector. Early on, the show largely focuses on the meek, timid, and British gift shop worker, Steven Grant. Grant seems to be dealing with a litany of issues, between strapping himself to his bed at night, suffering from a sleep disorder, and having no memory of encounters with his coworkers. Soon, Steven Grant learns that his body inhabits not only the personality of an American mercenary, Marc Spector, but also that of a mysterious, Egyptian deity, Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham).

Moon Knight - Grant and Khonsu

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Unbeknownst to Steven Grant, it appears that his other personality has made a pact with Khonshu to act as his vessel of justice. While Steven Grant sleeps, Marc and Khonshu spring into action, and they appear to be locked in a conflict with a megalomaniacal cult leader, Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). Harrow wields a magic staff and some level of supernatural abilities, and he claims to be in service of an Egyptian deity named Ammit, who wants something that could be bad news for the future of the planet. That is where Steven Grant, Marc Spector, and Khonshu come into the picture.

There is some decent material at work in Moon Knight. It does not follow the typical MCU origin story format. The narrative is fragmented at times, which reflects Steven Grant’s personality. Oscar Isaac’s performance and exploration of his psychosis showcase his anxiety in an interesting manner, along with his terror of discovering his body may not be his own. He plays host not only to Marc Spector, but a supernatural Egyptian deity. Isaac does give his all in this role, but the script lacks a satisfying punch.

The villains in the show are boring, one-note, and generic. Ethan Hawke is a tremendous actor, but Harrow’s scenes are dull and repetitive. The narrative leans heavily on Egyptian mythology. As a result, the audience is constantly kept waiting for Steven Grant and Marc Spector to spring into action as Moon Knight. Those moments are few and far between.

Secondly, another major issue is the show’s depiction of Moon Knight as a character. Moon Knight has a cool look and costume, but he’s missing that reckless edge that made him such an interesting character in the comics. Apparently, Kevin Feige and showrunner Jeremy Slater sanded down all the most interesting aspects and elements of Moon Knight as a character. Even the inclusion of the iconic Mister Knight suit is underwhelming and nothing more than a rotten carrot. It seems like Moon Knight has been completely revamped in this show in the hopes of avoiding comparisons to other costumed vigilantes and superheroes. As a result, Moon Knight lacks much of an identity of his own, which is ironic in a show about identity and a person who suffers from multiple personality disorder. Many of Moon Knight’s more interesting supporting cast members appear to be MIA in the initial four episodes, though one does have a minor cameo.

Back at the 2019 D23 Expo when Kevin Feige first announced the project, he listed Indiana Jones as an influence for the new series, which seemed a bit odd. Yes, Moon Knight is connected to an Egyptian God of Vengeance, but Moon Knight is not really an Indiana Jones-esque character. So, there is a globe-hunting treasure aspect to the narrative. However, rather than being fun and exciting, the narrative gets narrative and jumbled. In those far too brief moments when Moon Knight does appear, the costume works more like a Guyver unit. In many ways, the show meanders, stumbles, and frustrates. The show focuses far too much on other mysterious avatars, without really properly establishing and setting up the new MCU pantheon.

The show focuses heavily on Steven Grant as the audience surrogate, which is a misstep. It’s understandable why a character like Moon Knight needs an audience surrogate and uses an ignorant Grant for that role, but Grant is often whiney and annoying. Things pick up when the perspective shifts to Spector, but Grant’s lame humor is a constant presence throughout the series. Grant shares little in common with the persona from the comics. Moon Knight’s other notable alters are nowhere to be found. After all the amazing teases, the way the show works in the iconic Mister Knight variation is a major letdown.

Moon Knight - Mister Knight - Marvel Studios

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

In terms of visual direction, there are some dynamic and interesting moments. The way the show builds up Khonshu, initially as a terrifying presence that only Grant can seemingly detect, was well done. Khonshu himself is one of the few things about the character that Marvel was able to nail in this show. One particular expression of power by Khonshu was especially compelling.

The action sequences are underwhelming. It is usually a slow burn to get to the action and to see Moon Knight. This version of Moon Knight looks far removed from any past iteration of the character. He is missing that unique style and edge that made this series such an enticing prospect in the first place.

At six episodes, the series might find a way to leave the audience in a better place than it started, but this is the most disappointing Marvel Disney+ miniseries to date.

Marvel’s Moon Knight debuts on Wednesday, March 30 on Disney+. New episodes will be released weekly on Wednesday.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Despite a game performance by Oscar Isaac, Moon Knight suffers from trying to incorporate disparate elements that fail to come together as a satisfying whole. The villains are boring and generic. The plot constantly meanders and fails to deliver the true Moon Knight spirit that was initially promised. For some, this iteration of Moon Knight might work fine, but the show is missing a lot of those important elements that make Moon Knight such a compelling, interesting character. With two episodes left, it's possible the show can find a better footing by the end, but that remains to be seen. This is the most disappointing Marvel series since the first season of Iron Fist on Netflix, and it's disappointing because the potential was so much greater than what is achieved.