TV Review: Oscar Isaac’s ‘Moon Knight’ Offers Unique Action and Mythology in MCU’s Latest Superhero Minseries

TV Review: Oscar Isaac’s ‘Moon Knight’ Offers Unique Action and Mythology in MCU’s Latest Superhero Minseries

Delving straight into a superhero’s established fight has successfully and powerfully worked for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in the past with the introduction of Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The franchise/shared universe is grippingly repeating that same debut model with its new Phase Four action-adventure miniseries, Moon Knight, which is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.

Disney+, which will release one installment of the six-episode psychological thriller weekly, has shared the show’s first four episodes with critics. All six episodes , which were directed by Mohamed Diab, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, strikingly delves right into Moon Knight’s fight to solve a deadly mystery involving Egyptian gods alongside his multiple identities.

Moon Knight follows Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered employee at a London museum gift-shop who’s plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. He’s particularly haunted by what happens in his mind while he sleeps, when he’s overtaken by a force he can’t understand.

In the first episode, Steven realizes he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with an American mercenary, Marc Spector, the alias of the eponymous superhero. Steven discovers that Marc is able to shift personae, as he has become a human embodiment of the Egyptian god Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham).

As a result, Marc inadvertently brings Steven into his fight with his and Khonshu’s enemies, most notably Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). The cult leader’s loyalty lies to the goddess Ammit (Sofia Danu), as he’s dedicated to bringing her vision of instating heaven on Earth.

In order to serve Ammit, Arthur imposes an apocalyptic version of healing that necessitates the removal of millions of his followers. He delivers her code of justice by targeting people who are destined to commit sins in the future.

The most cohesive, enthralling elements of Moon Knight‘s first four episodes, especially for those viewers who aren’t familiar with the titular protagonist, is Isaac’s complex attention to detail in his representation of both Marc and Steven. The Golden Globe-nominated actor effortlessly balances portraying the American mercenary’s swagger with the British museum worker’s stammering comic sensibilities.

Isaac alluringly portrays Marc as being effortlessly proficient, both physically and mentally, in his fight against Ammit, Arthur and even Khonshu. Conversely, the actor plays Steven more emotionally and relatably; he as often doubts his ability to stop himself from self harm, but also defeating those enemies who wish to use him to their advantage in securing their goals.

While the performer’s portrayals of his drastically different, well-defined characters convey the main thing that bonds the two personas – the stress and pressure of being in charge of saving the world – their shared journey is also a powerful reflection of the miniseries’ brazen shifts in tone.

Isaac brings out Steven’s light-hearted nature and ability to be self-aware of his bizarre new circumstances, such as when he flees supernatural creatures that come alive amid the exhibits at the museum. But the actor effortlessly becomes more serious and brooding as he shifts into Marc, whether he’s pondering archeology with Arthur or debating ethics with Khonshu.

While Moon Knight‘s first couple of episodes evokes an emotional connection between Steven, Marc and the viewers, the project unfortunately fails to fully showcase or explain the motives of its eponymous white-suited hero. Moon Knight barely factors into the story of his own television adaptation, at least in the first few episodes, as the writers focus more on the adventures and emotions of his human counterparts. The thriller focuses so much on how Steven and Marc are at war with Ammit, Arthur, Khonshu and even each other that his true personality and talents aren’t able to truly shine through.

While the eponymous superhero’s backstory isn’t as well-defined as several of his fellow characters, the set design of Moon Knight‘s locations, from Steven’s London apartment and the museum he works at to the architecture of the Egyptian gods’ world, helps bring viewers into the project’s world. The show’s production designer, Stefania Cella, who also worked on another MCU screen adaptation, the upcoming film Morbius, created vibrant, immersive sets that serve as the perfect backdrop for Steven and Marc’s fight to protect humanity.

Moon Knight offers a stunning insight into the powers of the titular superhero, whose human counterparts are the true memorable standouts of the project. From Isaac’s remarkable portrayals of Marc and Steven as they defend themselves against their enemies to Cella’s mesmerizing production design of the sets where the duo fights the Egyptian gods, the miniseries is a must-see for all devoted MCU fans.

Moon Knight will air weekly on Disney+ beginning March 30, 2022. 

Grade: B+

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

Here’s the trailer of the series.

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