Action Adventure

Review: ‘Moon Knight’ is a Superhero Origin Story that Taps into the Dark Side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

March 29, 2022Ben MK

The Marvel Cinematic Universe represents many things to many people. For some, it's blockbuster entertainment at its finest, whereas for others, Hollywood's biggest film and television franchise is little more than an example of mass-market commercialism run amok. No matter what school of thought you belong to, however, a Marvel movie or TV series occasionally comes along that genuinely shakes up audiences' perceptions of what we all thought we knew about the MCU. And with Moon Knight, that's exactly what's in store for Disney+ subscribers, as director Mohamed Diab and star Oscar Isaac shine a light on one of Marvel Comics' lesser-known and most intriguing superheroes, whose leap from the page to the screen proves to be one of the most unique and most compelling in recent memory.

In this six-episode miniseries based on writer Doug Moench and artist Don Perlin's classic character, Isaac plays Steven Grant, a mild-mannered employee at a London museum gift shop with a penchant for Egyptology, veganism and French poetry, who has been struggling to make sense of the strange goings-on happening lately in his life. A man whose body sometimes seems to have a mind of its own whenever his mind goes to sleep, Steven has resorted to using ankle restraints to ensure that his nocturnal episodes don't get out of hand. However, when he goes to bed one night only to awake and find himself caught up in a conflict involving an ancient artifact, an Egyptian deity named Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham), and a sinister organization led by someone named Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), Steven soon discovers that there may be much more to his condition than he initially thought.

A self-proclaimed prophet who's hellbent on bringing about what he considers heaven on earth, but what others might call the end of the world, Arthur needs just one thing in order to realize his goal — a golden scarab that once belonged to the Egyptian goddess of the underworld Ammit herself. Little does Steven realize, though, that it's he who has the scarab — or, more specifically, his alternate personality Marc Spector, an American mercenary who also happens to be the avatar of Khonshu, and a man with the ability to transform into a supernatural vigilante known as Moon Knight. It's a revelation that not only takes Steven by surprise, but also Marc's wife Layla (May Calamaway), the daughter of a respected archaeologist who also has ties to the Egypt's network of black market antiquities dealers. But when Arthur sets their sights on taking the scarab from Steven, will Steven and Marc find a way to cooperate in order to stop Arthur from unleashing Ammit's powers on the population?

What follows may adhere to the general format of shows like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, but insofar as tying its narrative back to the MCU at large, that's where Moon Knight sets itself apart from the Disney+ Marvel outings that have come before. Suffice to say, this is a series that doesn't rely on crossovers involving familiar characters, nor leveraging the popularity of other franchise entries. Instead, what Diab and head writer Jeremy Slater have crafted here is something much more distinct and bold, leaning more on the atmosphere of the psychological horror genre, building an authentic and fantastical world centered on Egyptian culture, and even raising awareness for mental health issues that have never before been addressed in the MCU.

The result will likely catch some MCU fans off guard. Yet, in an era of the franchise where it seems like the stakes have virtually been eradicated by the endless possibilities of the multiverse, it's refreshing to see the powers that be taking a chance on a superhero such as Moon Knight. After all, Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man also started from relatively humble beginnings but became one of the big screen's most iconic characters. And if Moon Knight is any indication, perhaps Isaac's portrayal will one day eclipse that achievement.

Moon Knight begins streaming March 30th, exclusively on Disney Plus.

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