The first Marvel project of the year is here and doesn’t disappoint! Moon Knight takes us on a riveting globe-trotting adventure into a new darker, more reflective corner of the MCU.
Disney sent us early access to the first four episodes, so this won’t be a complete review of the season. But what we saw sets up a lot of this fantastic story!
Moon Knight spends no time beating around the bush, jumping right into its introduction of Steven Grant. A museum gift shop worker well-versed in Egyptian mythology dreams of becoming a tour guide (despite his manager’s opposition). Beyond his love of Egyptian lore, Steven believes he’s suffering from a sleeping disorder. He wakes up in different areas than his bed with no recollection of getting there. He’s awkward, endearing and charming in an oddball way. Not someone you’d expect to be a mercenary harbouring the spirit of a Kemetic deity. Which only makes the coming revelations that much more enjoyable.
Soon enough, Steven finds himself in a waking nightmare, being chased for reasons unbeknownst to him. Finally, we hear a voice beckoning for Steven to release control of his body to get out of the situation. We go in and out of this chase sequence through dramatic flashes and fades to black, which leaves you confused and intrigued. Learning just as Steven does at the moment as somebody or something masterfully fends off pursuants during his blackouts.
The rest of the episode plays out with Steven finding himself in the town his attackers came from. Where we meet Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, carrying out a strange ritual for the Egyptian goddess Ammit.
The dramatic shift in tone from confusing and goofy to complex and hurried helps keep you fixed in your seat as the show’s pace quickens.
As Arthur sets his sights on Steven, we realize that he is the one that sent the earlier goons after Steven. We go through another flash sequence to escape the town, going in and out of a fight during Steven’s blackouts. Finally, we come back to a bloodily Steven, escaping his captors only to lead them home.
The remaining episodes waste no time answering questions about Steven’s head. Who is Arthur? Why are they chasing Steven? What do these Egyptian Gods, Khonshu and Ammit?
They’re all answered as we’re thrust into a larger-than-life dispute between Egyptian gods. A dispute that only Khonshu’s herald – the Moon Knight – and his partner Layla can resolve before catastrophic consequences occur.
Recently, Moon Knight director Mohamed Diab rightfully called out Wonder Woman 1984’s depiction of Cairo. Referring to it as “a disgrace” due to its lack of modern touch and “looking like the Middle Ages.”. However, that’s not an issue in Moon Knight, as Diab ensures to authentically depict the buzzing modern city beyond just pyramids while still taking us back to important landmarks.
The Egyptian touch doesn’t end there! Marvel brought in acclaimed Egyptian composer Hisham Nazih who delivers one of the MCU’s best soundtracks. Coupled with the knowledge from our interview with Diab that they had an army of experts working on Moon Knight, it’s clear they were committed to bringing a genuinely well-rounded representation of Egypt’s present and past to screens.
This leads me to my favourite part of the series – its exploration of Egyptian mythology! Which ended up being much grander than I expected. Moon Knight dives into the Egyptian gods inspired by the Lemiere run of Moon Knight but makes it its own. More than just imagining their role in the MCU, it questions the part they play in the world at large and their responsibility to its denizens. With upcoming projects like Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever later this year that will also touch on gods in the universe, it’s exciting to theorize and anticipate how Marvel will deal with the interaction of all these deities we now have.
Oscar Isaac kills it as Moon Knight. His range allows him to give great performances as Steven and as solid go as Marc. Enabling us to recognize and differentiate the two personalities quickly, Watching Oscar play out the internal struggle for control between Marc and Steven is a highlight of the series. Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy hold their own and deliver just-as-compelling performances as Arthur and Layla, respectively.
While I’m excited to see where it goes in the last two episodes, I’m apprehensive about how the story will be wrapped up in just two, as the first four set up a very grand story that might require a little more to conclude appropriately.
Overall, Moon Knight is the darker and well-executed D+ Marvel show many fans have waited for and is one of MCU’s best entries.