Episode one of Moon Knight drops on Disney+ on March 30th, with each new episode dropping weekly as it works through its six-episode season. Those familiar with the character will likely take Kevin Feige’s claims that the character is “brutal” with good hope, coupled with the recent reissues of the much darker Netflix TV series being added to Disney+. However, after watching the first four episodes, Moon Knight is more akin to the MCU films than the Netflix series, as humor and goofiness are infused to lighten any of the brutal moments that are present. To be fair, the series does open with an unseen figure breaking a glass, pouring the shards into sandals, and walking away… which is pretty brutal!
When Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered gift-shop employee at a museum with a clear passion for Egyptian history, becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life – as shown through some interesting editing choices – he discovers he has Dissociative Identity Disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. Even more troubling for Steven is that Marc has made a deal with Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) to be his avatar. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while being thrust into a deadly mystery amongst the powerful gods of Egypt. The leader of those enemies is a man with a more direct connection to those gods, Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawk), who is searching for something that Khonshu does not want him to find. Harrow has many followers and has plans to change the world.
Isaac and Hawk are doing some great work here. It is often entertaining to get to see an actor play different characters in the blink of an eye. The showcase for the talent this type of writing presents could be a deterrent for those not capable of such a switch. I’m reminded of James MacAvoy in Split (2016), but it is toned down quite a bit. Fortunately, Isaac is an incredibly charismatic on-screen presence and carries much of the show. Hawk’s character is asked to do a lot less, and he makes the most of it. He brings an unsettling calm that is clearly a facade for something much more menacing boiling beneath the surface. The third lead is Layla, played by May Calamawy. She brings solid chemistry with Isaac to the table, and her character is far more than just a Macguffin for Steven/Marc to pursue.
After four episodes, I’m convinced that there is something here worth watching. At times the show feels like a mix of Batman and The Mummy (1999), with the latter being particularly familiar in episode four as the dynamic between Layla and Steven grows. Yet, the MCU of it all – in terms of tone – does feel to undercut the severity of the characters’ circumstances at times. While I enjoy Isaac’s banter and wit, it doesn’t quite seem to mesh with the overall vibe I was under the impression Moon Knight generally brings. However, – full disclosure -, I’ve not read any Moon Knight comics, so my impressions are based on what I’ve read or discussed with those who have. Still, I think Moon Knight is worth your time, and I am excited to see how the story concludes.