Moon Knight is an amazing show when it doesn't try to be Marvel
We've watched four of the six episodes on Disney+ and are definitely intrigued by how unique the show is.
While I've enjoyed WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Solider, Loki, What If...? and Hawkeye, there's no doubt that they feel a bit too familiar to pretty much everything else we've got from the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the years. The formula has kind of got a tad stale and predictable, which lessens its effect. That's why the first four episodes of Moon Knight have been fascinating.
Because Moon Knight isn't like any other MCU show. One of the reasons for this is that Steven Grant - or Marc Spector if you prefer the other American personality of this British guy with dissociative identity disorder - doesn't have any connection to the other parts of the universe we've seen the last fourteen years. In fact, those aspects aren't even alluded to, making this a truly refreshing take that brings me back the introduction of Iron Man in 2008. Learning who this character is and experiencing his first steps into this new adventure is really cool, even if it's not as polished as Tony Stark's beginning.
Don't get me wrong. The general concept and execution of having Oscar Isaac's character struggling and coming to terms with having a far more confident and brutal personality inside of him alongside the shy and awkward Brit he's used to be is done in a way that grabbed my curiosity early on, but Isaac's depiction and the editing of it gets messy at times. The kind and often cringey Steven is too exaggerated for my taste. Mohamed Diab, the show's main director, mentioned that the humour is "more Egyptian" in Moon Knight during a press conference, meaning that it's often darker and used in more serious situations. This leads to far more misses than hits, even if a couple of the hits are real bangers. I would rather have less "Marvel-ly" humour and quips, as the show is really great when it's more serious and focuses on the core plot.
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Ethan Hawke's antagonist is a perfect example of this. Unlike most Marvel "villains", he's not at all "cartoony", but more believable and mysterious. You know something is off with this guy despite understanding how he has managed to get as much support and love as he has. Hawke does a marvellous job of making me question who, if any, the actual good guy is with his charisma and general presence mixed in with arguments that make sense to some extent.
Especially compared to Khonshu, the Egyptian god that is using Marc as a kind of conduit and by that basically haunts Steven. It's not difficult to almost cheer for Hawke's Arthur Harrow when the god only wants blood and to break the rules. Having these two tearing Steven in different directions leads to some of the show's best moments so far by highlighting how confused and torn the poor guy must feel with this conflict on top of DID. This is enhanced further by May Calamawy doing a great job as the somewhat compassionate yet strong-minded Layla El-Faouly due to her being one of the few who knows everything about what Steven is struggling with and by that sort of reflects us as viewers. It's clear that she also has a few secret skeletons in her closet, however, which brings me to the main reason why I'm so torn about Moon Knight.
Those of you who've watched WandaVision might understand what I mean when I say that it feels like Moon Knight has barely scratched the surface even with just two episodes left. The four first episodes keep on recycling similar scenarios to tease what's going to happen, before the last few minutes of episode four seem to indicate a real heel turn or bombastic end. They've definitely made sure that I can't wait for episode five, but also made me question some of the stuff the former episodes spent quite a lot of time on.
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The show itself seems like it has dissociative identity disorder in a way by struggling with having to include some classical Marvel tropes and ideas in an otherwise refreshing and unique story. Having a main character with a mental disorder trying to understand and survive in this captivating world filled with intrigue is very fascinating, so the often somewhat forced fights (even if the costume is really neat) and jokes end up feeling out of place and ruin the flow. Not to an enormous extent. Just enough for me to think it won't be able to live up to its potential unless the last two episodes bring what the end of episode four might be building up to. Still, Moon Knight is without a doubt worth a watch if you've been looking for something different from Marvel and a enticing depiction of Egyptian mythology and culture. Now I just hope that the last two episodes will focus on those parts instead of spending more time on traditional Marvel aspects.