Moon Knight finds itself in a spot Marvel Studios has not been in since its inception. Leading man Oscar Isaac has called his solo series the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "first legitimate character-study" since 2008's Iron Man. Beyond that, Moon Knight is also expected to largely operate as a standalone series, as executive producer Grant Curtis has noted the show has "no attachment to the current MCU."
Warning - The rest of this article contains spoilers from Episode 1 of Moon Knight.
The debut installment of Moon Knight exemplified exactly what Isaac and Curtis were saying about the series. Episode 1 follows a frantic Steven Grant as he attempts to navigate everyday life despite his fragile mind. That everyday life has the gift shop employee in London, England, a distant 3,459 miles from the MCU's capital city in New York.
While Grant has no shortage of supporting characters, all of them are fellow MCU rookies. Everyone from Ethan Hawke's Arthur Harrow to Lucy Thackeray's Donna were strangers to the 14-year franchise before Wednesday's premiere.
Even though Episode 1 echoed prior comments, there's no guarantee the full season follows suit.
Bruce Banner Teased in Moon Knight's Premiere?
You wouldn't like him when he's... switching personalities?
Moon Knight's series premiere zoned in on Oscar Isaac's Steven Grant, spotlighting his day job, social life, and nightly routine. That bedtime checklist includes stretching blue tape along his doorway, sprinkling a crescent of sand on his hardwood floor, and chaining his foot to his bedpost. All this is done in an effort to keep him from wandering in his sleep, which never ends well for anybody.
Despite his best efforts, Grant fails to keep himself at bay. When he suspects that his bloody trip to Germany was just a nightmare, it's revealed to him that that blackout had Grant away from consciousness for a full weekend. After he is attacked by a jackal inside the British Museum, Grant relinquishes control of his body to Marc Spector, allowing Moon Knight to emerge.
Every Marvel hero experiences growing pains, but only one knows what Grant is going through: Bruce Banner.
In 2008's The Incredible Hulk, Edward Norton's iteration of the gamma scientist goes to the extreme to keep his rage monster alter ego dormant. Banner exiles himself from the United States, uses the internet under aliases, and practices yoga to maintain control of his mind. Banner and Hulk's relationship would become more amicable come Mark Ruffalo's recasting, as the founding Avenger revealed his "secret" to balancing the other guy was by being "always angry."
Five more MCU appearances later, and Banner would reach peak synergy between himself and the Hulk. After 18 months in a gamma lab, he "put the brains and the brawn together," resulting in Smart Hulk.
Smart Hulk: Moon Knight's Mentor?
Steven Grant finds himself today where Bruce Banner was in 2008. Not only is Grant vulnerable, but he's afraid. Worst of all, he's afraid of himself.
If there's anyone to guide Grant through these "confusing times," it's Banner. Not only has the scientist lived a full lifetime of Grant's inevitable struggles, but he understands the keys to taming that inner beast. Just as Tony Stark learned from his failures and reflected those learning experiences in Iron Man armor upgrades, Banner has run trial and error on just about every Hulk trick in the book.
This past summer, Ruffalo was spotted alongside Isaac in Budapest, the very city Moon Knight happened to be filming in at the time. Ruffalo responded to this by noting he "would hate to spoil something," leading fans to believe the veteran actor is hiding something.
On top of that, Ruffalo's Banner is currently positioned as the MCU's resident recruiter. Banner made a shock cameo in the mid-credits of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as he and Captain Marvel welcomed Simu Liu "to the circus." That recruiter vibe continues later this year, when Banner helps his cousin understand her newfound powers in She-Hulk.
Ruffalo showing face in Moon Knight remains wishful thinking, but the stars are aligning for Bruce Banner to pay Marc Spector a visit by the season's finale.
Moon Knight Episode 1 is now streaming on Disney+.