Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for “Moon Knight.”
“Moon Knight” is one of the first Marvel Cinematic Universe shows that doesn’t match the hype around it.
In the months leading up to “Moon Knight,” the hype was real. Marvel fans across social media craved the character’s debut, celebrating the darker Marvel character’s introduction into the MCU.
Though it works at points, “Moon Knight” becomes something different than what you’d expect it to be. Trailers gave fans the expectation the film would be about Moon Knight rushing around, beating up bad guys, solving an ongoing mystery and being the heroic figure we know from the comics. But the show isn’t necessarily about Moon Knight the hero, but rather the personality behind the mask.
“Moon Knight” stars Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant, a museum employee who learns he has dissociative identity disorder, a cognitive condition where people have multiple personalities and can’t disassociate one personality from the other. One of those personalities is Marc Spector, a mercenary who is enslaved to Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon.
Khonshu, Spector and Grant end up teaming up to stop Arthur Harrow — the former vessel for Khonshu — from bringing about the end of the world.
“Moon Knight” is not a show where a hero hits the streets to start fighting crime. It’s not “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” or “Hawkeye.” If anything, it’s a deeper dive into the human psyche, like “WandaVision,” with a dash of the supernatural you’d see in a “Doctor Strange” movie or “Eternals.” The fact that the show takes place in London adds to the “Eternals” similarities.
I had a chance to watch the first four episodes of the series ahead of the show’s debut. The first episode is the best of the bunch, throwing us into this world of intrigue and confusion. The second and third episodes dive deep into the series’ mythology, relying on a lot of exposition to help viewers understand what’s going on. The story moves quickly, so make sure you’re paying attention — otherwise, you might misunderstand what’s happening, as I did after the first viewing. The show’s fourth episode provides something new and fresh, which suggests the final two episodes will be exciting.
I will say — Oscar Isaac is magnificent in his role as Marc Spector and Steven Grant. Isaac handles both roles excellently and owns this show. Anyone who is unaware of Isaac’s acting ability will see his talent on full display here.
Ethan Hawke does well as Arthur Harrow, too. He’s a menacing villain that has a clear point of view. Harrow’s introduction also fixes the “big bad” problem for Disney+ Marvel shows, which have often waited until the end of the series to reveal the villain.
Upon reflection, I don’t know how to feel about “Moon Knight.” There are parts that work really well — on par for the best of any Marvel show — but there are other parts that require a second viewing to fully understand what’s going on. But this isn’t the mash and smash superhero show you’d expect. It’s something deeper — a journey of a character that is trying to find himself in an entirely new world.
Is ‘Moon Knight’ too dark?
In the lead-up to “Moon Knight,” there was a lot of commotion about the show’s darker elements. In an interview with Empire magazine, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said “Moon Knight” will be more violent and dark than previous Marvel Cinematic Universe shows.
I will say the show has a moderate amount of violence. There are some fight scenes that won’t sit well with squeamish folks or those who like to avoid overly violent television moments. The show is rated TV-14, but it really pushes the boundary. It’s about as violent as Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.”
The show tackles heavier subjects such as mental health, insanity and dissociative identity disorder. There are also a lot of references to Egyptian gods some whom rely on death for their power, which might be a little too dour for some viewers.
I don’t think “Moon Knight” requires a VidAngel or ClearPlay edit. But just be aware you might want to skip over some of the fight scenes.