Moon Knight follows a man named Steven Grant, a normal citizen who works at an Egyptian history museum—however, audiences are quick to find out that he may not be as normal as he seems, much to his surprise as well. Grant soon discovers his dissociative identity disorder or DID.
Sometimes Grant is in control, but other times it’s Marc Spector, a personality who believes himself to have been granted the powers of the Egyptian Moon God Khonshu.
Something some might find enticing, and others not so much, is how the story and world set up here are entirely disconnected from the rest of the happenings within the MCU. It’s clear that the creatives wanted to keep Moon Knight focused on building the foundation for Isaac’s character before throwing him into the deep end.
But how does the series itself fare? Well, if the first four episodes are anything to go by, pretty well.
Isaac’s Marc Spector
Oscar Isaac is incredible in the leading role, as he juggles the multiple personalities of Steven Grant and Marc Spector. Marvel Studios couldn’t have chosen a better actor to embody this complex character.
While it may seem like hyperbole, it's easy to see people comparing his time as Moon Knight to that of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark or Chris Evans’ Captain America. He’s that good.
Both Grant and Spector are fully realized personas, each with their own ways of handling situations. This is something cleverly utilized on more than one occasion, as is the internal strife that sets in between them; which is understandable given Steven finding out how he may account for only a fraction of himself.
Khonshu, the Voice in Their Head
The story couldn’t have Moon Knight if it didn’t have the God behind his entire existence: Khonshu. The mysterious Egyptian moon deity is part of the story in full force.
For those that might worry about how the story may try to limit screen time for Khonshu, there's no need to fret. The series does not shy away from showing the unsettling god in the slightest. Even more, Marvel’s design for him is incredible—and somehow the CGI for him never wavers, which can’t be said for other instances.
Murray Abraham has been enlisted to lend his voice to the lunar deity, and his deep voice fits perfectly. Its presence is powerful and gives off the perfect gravitas.
The Khonshu Wardrobe
Praise needs to be shouted from the rooftops for how phenomenal the costumes in Moon Knight are. While they’ve been seen for a while on marketing materials, seeing them on screen is a reminder of what could be one of the MCU’s best designs to date.
The designs are sharp and make perfect sense when it comes to why either exists and looks the way they do. They are perfect interpretations of what can be found in the source material.
What really elevates both the Moon Knight and Mr. Knight costumes is how seamlessly Egyptian iconography is woven throughout each; some details are obvious and others devilishly subtle.
The Horror of It All
The horror elements of the show have been a key talking point when it comes to the vocal praise by those who have seen the first four installments. It’s easy to see why. This is clearly the closest Marvel Studios has gotten to that genre.
Sure, it may not be present for every scene and in each installment, but when it is, it makes a statement. The fourth episode in particular has some great creep factors and tangible tension.
But what about the classic Marvel Studios humor? Despite the darker and more brutal story being told, it remains intact. However, it’s not what one might expect. Here, those moments have leaned more into dark comedy, which generally mixes well with these types of stories.
For those that may worry, there aren’t any moments with a quick one-liner ruining an emotional sequence—looking at you, Korg.
The Harrowing Cult Leader
With a hero comes a villain. In this case, it’s Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow. It’s no exaggeration to say that he is already the most-realized antagonist to come out of any Marvel Studios Disney+ project.
Hawke does a fantastic job at playing Harrow, who is basically the leader of a cult (with details being left for one’s viewing pleasure), nailing even the most subtle details. He’s terrifying, unsettling, yet kind and gentle. It’s easy to hear his words and want to understand his side of the story.
Another aspect of Harrow's that sticks out is how he isn’t the normal bad guy who's throwing fists and going toe-to-toe with the titular villain. Instead, Moon Knight leans more on a physiological approach, a great choice given the topics explored by the show.
An MCU Original Steals the Spotlight
May Calamaway’s Layla is a standout, both for the performer and character. Calamaway gracefully keeps up with Isaac’s shifting personalities and subtle changes, firmly standing on her own as a well-realized character.
For those that may worry, at no point does she seem to only exist as a love interest for the male lead. While there might be some romantic elements happening between them, the story seems to be watchful with avoiding those trappings.
What’s even more unique is how she is an entirely original character for the MCU, with no comic history that she needs to adhere to—barring any surprise identity reveals in the future, of course. Without any comics knowledge, it would be hard to notice how she was never a part of the character’s journey in the source material, given how organically she’s been brought to life.
The difference in how she interacts with Marc and Steven is a highlight, one that not only adds complexity to the dynamic of the two personas but shows off and illuminates her multifaceted character.
The Illusion of Reality
Moon Knight does not shy away from its source material or the more trippy elements of the character’s mythos. Most importantly, something many fans gravitate toward when it comes to Moon Knight is the question: is any of this real? Fear not, none of that has been forgotten, and it’s all weaved into the fabric of the story being told.
One consistency across the Marvel Studios' Disney+ shows has been their finales; they’ve all come up a little short in one way or another. With the strong momentum that Marc Spector’s journey has, it would be quite tragic to see this story fall into those same MCU trappings.
Either way, as it stands now, Moon Knight is a deliciously different main course for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s dark, scary, mind-bending, and has all of the performances and strong writing to keep it together.
Moon Knight hits Disney+ on March 30.