Show Creator: Jeremy Slater — Show Directors: Mohamed Diab and Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson.
My most anticipated Marvel Studios Disney+ series thus far was, without a doubt, Moon Knight. Ever since I first started reading comic books about him on Marvel Unlimited several years ago, I have been waiting for the chance to finally see this character in live-action. When it was announced that two of my favorite actors — Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke — were going to be in it, my excitement for the show reached a fever pitch. I’ve now seen the show, so how is it? Well, overall, it’s quite good, but it still suffers from some of the early Marvel-Disney+ problems that we saw in many of last year’s Marvel Cinematic Universe shows.
Moon Knight follows Steven Grant (played by Oscar Isaac), a socially-awkward British gift shop employee from the British Museum, who suffers from some kind of dissociative identity disorder. He has to lock himself to his bed at night because he isn’t able to account for what happens at certain hours of the day. At times, he wakes up in the weirdest and most random places without having an explanation for it. Soon it becomes clear that another personality is trying to gain control of his body, and that someone also happens to have agreed to make Steven’s body the avatar for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu.
Let’s start with what works. I really appreciate how this show tries to satisfy fans of different Moon Knight comic book runs. There’s a costume in the show that I didn’t know if we would see, and I was just so excited when that was how Moon Knight looked in certain scenes. To add to that, the way the live-action show recreates the suit(s) deserves a lot of credit. Not only does the costume/suit that I was hinting at look almost exactly like the comic book version, but I believe the main costume has been reinvented in a way that adds to this character’s connection to Egyptian Mythology. Moon Knight basically looks like a superhero mummy, from a certain point of view, and I thought that was just extremely smart.
I also thought the show, which was predominantly directed by the Egyptian director Mohamed Diab (the other two episodes were directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead), did a good job of creating this action-adventure film centered around Egyptian Mythology. I was obsessed with Egyptian Mythology as a kid, so I was absolutely elated whenever they’d bring the show in that direction. I also really liked how the show is an attempt by Marvel to show different cultures. I especially thought it was neat to hear the various Egyptian songs in the show. Late in the season, I also really liked how the show was inspired by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood’s Moon Knight comic book run, as it essentially becomes this mental institution thriller and inner journey. This all worked wonderfully for me.
As did the performances. Oscar Isaac brings such a dedication to this comic book character, which essentially demands that he invents more than one persona or character for the show to alternate between. The way he would shift from one to the other at the drop of a hat — in the same shot — reminded me of the elegance of Christopher Reeve. He and a similarly good Ethan Hawke — their presence — added a lot of gravitas to a jam-packed superhero show such as this one. May Calamawy, a relative newcomer, was a surprise for me in this show, and I thought she ran away with certain scenes.
Not everything worked though. I came away from this show thinking that it should’ve either been two episodes longer to prevent the final episode from feeling so frustratingly rushed and generic or just have been a single film. Unfortunately, I also think it’s obvious that this show’s production was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It could also be budgetary constraints, but I doubt it. The thing is that it’s really clear that the show was shot in places that are meant to look like other locations. Furthermore, I had problems with the lighting, overexposed backgrounds, and inconsistent visual effects.
These problems are significant. That said, I do still think Moon Knight works quite well. It’s a really entertaining action-adventure show about being honest with yourself, and, well, about Egyptian Mythology. The show has an admirable amount of attention to detail, and it is also buoyed up by the committed performances delivered by its main cast members.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.