MOON KNIGHT (2022)
Limited Series (Premiere)
Aired On: Disney+
Release Date: 03/30/22
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"A former U.S. Marine, struggling with dissociative identity disorder, is granted the powers of an Egyptian moon god. But he soon finds out that these newfound powers can be both a blessing and a curse to his troubled life."
There is a scene late in the premiere episode of Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight where Steven Grant, the frightened everyman, is locked in a bathroom. Danger is banging down the door. Steven is a sweaty mess with eyes the size of full moons and he looks at his reflection. What the mirror casts is not Steven but a cool, in control, dude named Marc who tells Steven to surrender.
Those few beats are the closest the opening episode (now streaming on Disney+) gets to the original Marvel comic. Truly, writer and showrunner Jeremy Slater is seeking to revitalize the character. With only one episode, the show lays out the beginnings of a tight mystery coupled with some fantastic, if periphery, action.
Moon Knight, the character, got his start as a simple merc created by Doug Moench and Marvel bullpen artist Don Perlin in 1975. By the time the character was awarded his own series in the early 1980s, Moench, along with superstar-artist-in-the-making Bill Seinkiewicz, Moon Knight was realized into a complex character containing multiple personalities. To further step the hero away from simply being “Marvel’s Batman,” Moon Knight was far from perfect. This guy was completely mortal and made grounded, realistic mistakes. Realistic for a hero clad in jet and silver while in the service of an Egyptian god anyway.
In Moon Knight, the streaming series, the always-fantastic Oscar Issac plays Steven Grant, a quiet, fumbling man who works at a museum… gift shop. He is set in his ways. He is quirky; often late for work and butting heads with an annoying boss. He is forgettable - with his fish, with his dinner date. He is also forgetting that he apparently has an entirely different lifestyle. One as top-notch mercenary Marc Spector, who, thanks to director Mohamed Diab’s tight camerawork, remains highly enigmatic through the premiere. Grant, along with the viewer, is dropped into quite the fun chase scene through the beautiful Alps. Has a terror-filled run through the museum away from some Egyptian Anabus figure. Hears ghostly voices in his head. And encounters the uber-creepy Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke, making his Marvel debut in grand style). Grant is constantly playing catch-up with no idea what is happening to him, which provides Issac the chance to totally play up elements of humor. Until he meets his reflection.
The titular hero is more of a tease here but Slater and Diab build the suspense and craft a mystery in a similar fashion with those initial WandaVision episodes. Teases are aplenty (the name DuChamp quickly appears in a phone directory that will certainly delight longtime comic fans) as moon imagery is hidden everywhere, hinting at a mystical ability, which would be new to the character.
Pushing out a contemporary take on an existing hero is nothing new for Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios. Moon Knight has the makings of a memorable show that hopefully honors the comic while presenting itself as something new. Or, to quote a one time catchphrase, maybe this is a just phase he’s going through.