Moon Knight, the first Disney+ show to debut this year of 2022, has arrived. Executive Produced, directed, and written by Mohamed Diab and Jeremy Slater, the series tells the story of Marc Spector. Now an iconic Marvel character thanks to comic creators such as Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood. It was only a matter of time before the MCU took a jab at the character. The result? An enticing premiere that does just enough to differentiate itself from typical MCU fare.
Moon Knight brings a certain different visual flair and thematic tone. Evident in the opening scene and the first episode in general, Oscar Isaac’s debut as the latest MCU hero is an interesting one. The setup is immediately intriguing. Viewers are left as perplexed as Steven, Isaac’s bumbling British character. Starting with an everyday routine, we’re shown Steven’s mundane life as a gift shop worker at a museum. It’s a quirky performance from Isaac who is somewhat charming in the role. However, there’s clearly an unsettling layer to the character.
Struggling with sleepless nights, Steven lives a lonely and isolated life. He’s a closed-off character that is clearly not any harm. Things only get interesting when Steven goes to sleep, in which he experiences dreams that feel a little too real. It’s in these sequences that Moon Knight treads the familiar MCU territory. Steven goes through traumatic events, blacking out and coming back to reality, left only with the aftermath of his violent actions. Ones that he doesn’t even remember doing.
It’s an interesting new take on a superhero, one that struggles with his own identity. As Steven discovers that his dreams may not be just dreams, his life begins to fall apart. The unsettling narrative technique of showing us only Steven’s perspective helps with the uneasiness. Moreover, once he finally begins to understand, the pacing of the episode begins to ramp up.
Another major player in the premiere is Ethan Hawke. Hawkes’s portrayal of a prophetic man looking to establish balance is eerie. Looking to corner Steven and find the typical MCU MacGuffin, the plot begins to move just a little bit more. Overall, by the time the first episode ends, Moon Knight establishes an exciting premise. Moreover, one that deviates from traditional MCU storytelling.
The performances of Oscar Issac and Ethan Hawke help to elevate the material. The production quality is in line with the rest of the Disney+ projects, not necessarily producing a different feel in aesthetics but the execution of characters and pacing that helps to give Moon Knight a different tone. Even the CGI character of Khonshu is used sparsely, making the impact of the character’s presence feel more intense.
The sound design, editing, and fight choreography of the first episode are what help to elevate Moon Knight. Akin to a thriller, the quick cuts in between the same scenes and clever use of reflections help to increase the tension of the show. It would also be amiss not once again bring up Ethan Hawke. His portrayal of an antagonist is unsettling and the few scenes that he shares with Isaac as Steven brings a level of hilarity and also uneasiness. Eventually, Steven manifests Marc/Moon Knight in an incredibly choreographed action sequence. The disparity in action in this episode helps these scenes hit harder than they usually would. As he beats a mythical creature to a pulp, it’s an incredible way to end an episode.
Moon Knight has a very promising premise. introducing us to a new hero that is completely different from what’s usually expected. While the show has quite an impressive cast, the traditional MCU story structure still hovers over the whole affair, much like Khonshu over Steven through some of this first episode. It will be interesting to see how the series moves forward, and if it manages to leave a distinct enough mark on this franchise. Overall, this first episode does just enough. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 8/10
Moon Knight Premieres New Episodes Every Wednesday on Disney+