Three months into 2022 and we’ve finally gotten our first piece of Marvel content from the year. This comes in the form of a new show on Disney+ called Moon Knight, starring Oscar Issac and is part of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth wave. Unlike the other shows that have come before it, such as Hawkeye or Loki for instance, the titular lead isn’t an established character from the MCU and there are no connections to Avengers Endgame, making the show feel very separated from the larger narrative. Let’s find out if that works out and what Moon Knight is all about.
As mentioned, Moon Knight stars Oscar Issac as Steven Grant, a gift shop employee working at the British Museum in London. A bumbling awkward individual, he stumbles through his daily routine and his life could be summarized as unremarkable. Except for one detail: he chains himself to his bed while he sleeps and tapes his front door to prove he never left his apartment. Things have been getting a little strange for Steven, who sometimes wakes up in odd places, unsure of where he got there. And when I say strange, I don’t mean down the hallway, I mean in the middle of the Alps, being hunted by mercenaries and encountering murderous cults.
What’s apparent by the end of the first episode of Moon Knight is just how much this doesn’t feel like another MCU property. Moon Knight is the first Marvel character on Disney+ that has no connection to any of the previous films. Creator Jeremy Slater and director Mohamed Diab not only run with this concept, but toss audiences into the deep end almost right away. The first episode offers up plenty of questions with little to no answers by the time it’s over. But that’s incredibly refreshing, as not only do we know nothing about this Steven Grant from previous films, but the show is keeping its cards close to its chest. I mentioned how this show feels very disconnected from the MCU, but it’s also breaking away from established formulas of new superheroes as this isn’t an origin story in the traditional. Things have already started to happen to Steven by the time we’re introduced to him, but both he and the viewers don’t really know what.
Part of the appeal of the show is how fractured Steven seems mentally. Moon Knight gets creative with this, opting for jump cuts, omission of information and a lack of exposition to explain what’s going on. In the Alps, during a chase scene, the action briefly jumpcuts and Steven (and the audience) are left wondering “what just happened”. Steven looks around and sees bodies and is left in the dark as to how they died. Likewise, one minute he’ll be doing something, the next he’ll be waking up in his flat in London and we’re left to ponder “what’s real?”. All Steven has to go on is a booming voice in his head telling him to protect a shiny gold scarab from Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, who clearly wants the artifact for his own reasons. Arthur seems pretty interested in cleansing, likening the act to culling the weeds from a garden before they get out of control. I’m curious to see where he goes, I don’t want the show to end with a big CGI fight between Issac and Hawke.
By the time the episode concludes though, we learn that Steven is sharing his body with Marc, who is American and speaks to Steven from reflections. Not only that, but when Marc is in control, he can transform into Moon Knight, the source of all the violence it would seem. Who is Marc and how does Moon Knight himself fit into the whole situation remains unclear, but the fractured, ambiguous nature of the show presents a very intriguing opening for the series and a promise of more to come.