The word ‘lunacy’ derives from ‘luna’, the Latin word for the moon, in the belief that the phases of the moon could have a negative effect on a mental state (see also ‘lunatic’).
Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has waxed its addendums and ‘one more things’ for its existing cabal of characters, the first gibbous Disney+ series to feature entirely new blood is Moon Knight.
Oscar Isaac stars as, well, take your pick. Is it Steven Grant, an awkward Londoner who tries to juggle working at a museum gift shop with inexplicable blackouts that lose him hours or days at a time?
Or is it Marc Spector, in whose name he finds a passport and the name by which a mysterious lady keeps referring to him?
Or is it whatever the heck happens once a rather dapper white suit is inadvertently summoned?
Moon Knight isn’t quick to spell out the situation, so get ready to pay attention.
I am writing this review as someone who has seen all the MCU movies and series but also isn’t really a comic book reader, so I went into Moon Knight entirely cold with no knowledge about the character and story whatsoever.
I suspect Marvel is aware that this may account for a decent chunk of its audience, because everything about the show feels brand new, which does take some adjusting to.
The first mental miasma to navigate is how deliberately British everything starts out. From Isaac’s mumbled London accent through to more uses of the word ‘bruv’ than would be absolutely necessary in The Bill, this is a world away from Loki and the Time Variance Authority or the TV show in a show of WandaVision.
Steven is just as clueless as we are. He chains one ankle to his bedpost and fastidiously checks in the morning to see if the tape he placed on the door remains, and yet after all that finds out that it is 3 days later than he thought it was.
It must be somewhat of a relief when odd things start happening around the Egyptian exhibits. Isaac gets to scream one of the best screams on TV, for one thing.
Is Moon Knight Worth Watching?
Such a cold open, where the plot is a thick blanket of cloud obscuring everything, makes Moon Knight rather reliant on the charisma of its lead actors. Isaac’s accent and uncertain delivery of it is off-putting at first, but his bumbling charm means he draws the sympathy out of you as things spin out of control for him.
Ethan Hawke, acting as a counterbalance, brings an eerie calm as Arthur Harrow. Harrow has the absolute certainty you’d recognise from any cult leader. He wants to do good! But in such a way as to root out any chance of evil before it even emerges.
Showrunner Jeremy Slater takes his time before allowing the Moon Knight persona to manifest. The glee in Grant is fun, even if his use of his new look is cringey and embarrassing.
Yet in this early stage the show both drops in plenty of exposition (hello stroppy Egyptian gods and Layla El-Faouly as an even stroppier ex-wife) whilst also failing to clarify what our goalposts are.
Does the Moon Knight have superpowers? How much use is he in Grant’s hands? With multiple forces vying for control of Grant’s mind and body it is equally hard as an audience to get a grip on how to get behind this character.
At the point of writing Moon Knight is still being released at one episode a week. The other Marvel shows stamped out their identity early on only to frequently peter out near the end, so perhaps Moon Knight will be the other way around.
Whether or not it will go on to eclipse those that have come behind it, time will tell.
Words by Mike Record
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