In 2021 Marvel Studios began Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and so far, four films have been released. Beginning with Black Widow then Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings followed by Eternals and finally the biggest blockbuster in over a decade, Spider-Man: No Way Home. While we wait for the other seven films to be released throughout the next year and a half, this phase also includes a new component - limited television series. Premiering on Disney+, these shows consist of anywhere from six to ten episodes and offer some insights into one or two MCU characters. This week the sixth show, Moon Knight, will air on the streaming service.
Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac; Dune) is a mercenary who suffers from dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) and who is currently hiding behind Steven Grant, a British, museum gift shop employee whose "hobby" is studying ancient Egypt. Steven suffers from blackouts and, after triggering memories he didn't know he had, he "meets" Marc and the Moon Knight who is a conduit for the Moon God, Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham; Amadeus). Khonshu, through Marc/Steven, is trying to keep Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke; Training Day) and Egyptian God Ammit from "healing the world".
Isaac is well cast as the mentally ill hero of the Moon Knight saga. He switches back and forth from Steven to Marc and eventually Moon Knight with ease though it couldn't have been all that easy. Conversely, Hawke is excellent as zealot and cult leader Harrow. His calm and calculating demeanor belie the hatred simmering deep inside him. Isaac and Hawke play off each other well and their interactions make for interesting scenes. Joining the mix is May Calamawy (The Long Road Home), who portrays Marc's wife - much to Steven's confusion.
Director Mohamed Diab (Clash) does an excellent job filming the action sequences and fight scenes but there are moments when the production values are subpar diminishing his carefully planned shots. The script is well written for the most part, though Egyptian history can occasionally get confusing. The story also leans heavily on Egyptian "folklore" and hieroglyphics, which are so full that it adds a sense of richness to the series. Of course, the writers took some liberties with the ancient tales but generally don't stray too far from the intended sentiment.
During a press conference for the show, Hawke aptly stated that usually "it is the villain that is mentally ill but this time it's the protagonist. It makes the story more interesting...". His observation is not only accurate but insightful. He also discussed, along with Isaac and Diab, the "collaborative efforts" amongst the actors and production team. Diab talked about being true to the Egyptian heritage and how incorrectly these people have been represented onscreen in the past.
The first episode starts off slowly, almost at a snail's pace but by episode two it seems to ramp up the action and the story to a frenetic pace. There is so much going on and it feels as if the production rushed to get everything into six episodes. Each episode is jam-packed which, unfortunately, makes the plot a little confusing at times. The graphics are also hit or miss as some of them look good while others are quite clearly fake.
Exactly how many "heroes" are there in the Marvel Comics Universe!?! I feel as though they are now beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel with characters. Would the MCU change if we never knew about Moon Knight? I tend to doubt it.
The concept is interesting, and the execution is ok, but the real question is...is it necessary? I will watch the final two episodes since I've already invested the time but unless you are a Marvel Comics and an MCU fan, chances are you would likely skip this one.