[Series Review] Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT
Courtesy Marvel Studios

Steven Grant is not what typically comes to mind when one thinks of a hero. A meek, awkward gift-shop employee Steven does his best to move quietly through the world while pining for the chance to prove himself. It doesn’t help that Steven is plagued by blackouts, bizarre dreams, and a sleep disorder that often results in him waking up far from home and with no memory of where he has been.

In a particularly upsetting episode, the pieces all snap into place as Steven realizes that he has a dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with a man called Marc Spector. Marc Spector is the opposite of Steven. Marc is confident and capable, a ruthless mercenary. Connected by a shared identity of Moon Knight, a champion of the Egyptian God of the Moon, the two must navigate their complex identities and grapple with supernatural forces as a deadly mystery unfolds before them.

MOON KNIGHT stars Oscar Isaac (Dune), Ethan Hawke (The Black Phone), and May Calamawy (“The Long Road Home”). Mohamed Diab (Real Dreams) and the team of Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (Something in the Dirt) directed the episodes.

MOON KNIGHT instantly distinguishes itself as a wholly unique entry in Disney’s Marvel catalog. The show’s tone is darker and more adult. The execution is grittier and the themes more unsettling. Perhaps more than any previous Disney+ original, this show pushes the edges of how far Disney can and will go. Not only is this an utterly thrilling change of pace, but this latest series is a fantastic illustration of Disney/Marvel’s own unique version of “on-brand” darkness. MOON KNIGHT is not the type of dark origin story that has been done by other studios and franchises and stands solidly on its own merits.

[Series Review] Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT
Oscar Isaac as Mr. Knight in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT
To say that there is something for every viewer in this latest MCU series is a massive understatement. MOON KNIGHT is a psychological thriller and an Indiana Jones-esque adventure, with bona fide horror elements. Within that exciting, genre-bending dynamic is the expected humor and top-tier action that we have come to expect from any Marvel property. The inclusion of the Egyptian gods adds a truly dazzling fantasy element that gives MOON KNIGHT this sense of wonder and enchantment that is so incredibly seductive to the viewer.

The beating heart of the series is its performances. Ethan Hawke delivers a menacing baddie with a sort of Hannibal Lecter eerie calm to him. May Calamawy is a competent action star (if not in need of a little more to do). Naturally, Oscar Isaac is a standout as he is doing the absolute most with an incredibly juicy role.

Playing against himself in the roles of sweet-summer-child Steven and the indomitable Marc gives Oscar Isaac a perfect opportunity to showcase the full range of his (considerable) talent. Beyond creating two fully-fledged individuals, Isaac’s craft is best on display as he surrenders to the fractured core of these multiple personalities.

Steven and Marc are not conventional heroes if you can even call them heroes. Nor are they easily filed away in the popular anti-hero archetype. Their character flaws are deep. Their mental health struggles serve as both an obstacle and an odd power source. This aspect of MOON KNIGHT is the most mature, the most unique, and infinitely the most interesting and it works because Oscar Isaac is more than just a movie star. He’s an incredibly raw and human performer. Stellar.

Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Steven Grant in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT

MOON KNIGHT embraces its shadows, enhances its weirdness, and seeks to take viewers on a ride! This is more than enough to make for great television, but a truly masterful performance from Oscar Isaac elevates MOON KNIGHT in every respect. One for the ages.

MOON KNIGHT premieres on Disney+ on March 30, 2022, with new episodes airing weekly.

All images courtesy Marvel Studios.

Caitlin Kennedy
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