Moon Knight is a unique and interesting character in Marvel Comics. Often referred to as “Marvel’s answer to Batman,” he is a brooding and formidable character far more ruthless than the typical hero. Much like Frank Castle (The Punisher), Marc Spector is a highly trained killer with advanced weapons and hand to hand combat skills. Unlike Frank Castle, he possesses super human abilities bestowed upon him by the Moon God Khonshu. For this review I was provided with the first four episodes of the six part series, so this review pertains to those episodes only.
Part of the hype around the new new Moon Knight series is based on the expectation of seeing something new; something that Marvel fans haven’t yet seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU is often criticized for its “formula.” There’s no denying that the formula works. The massive fanbase, billions at the box office and over a decade of successful films proves that it does. But audiences are craving something that breaks the mold. Netflix’s Daredevil, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones are perfect examples of how these characters can be taken in different directions with fantastic results. And Moon Knight was poised to join those ranks. Unfortunately, the series falls into familiar territory and fails to elevate the character to the heights he deserves.
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) plays the titular role. In a way, he plays multiple roles due to Marc’s dissociative identity disorder. The series skips the origin and picks up with Marc already possessing the powers of Moon Knight. Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight) plays Arthur Harrow, the series’ antagonist. While the entire cast is solid, it’s Hawke who shines as the stoic, menacing madman. He has a calming presence that masks the evil boiling beneath the surface. Much like Thanos and Killmonger, he is driven by the belief that his actions are justified; needed to benefit the greater good no matter the cost. These are the villains that I find most interesting, and most terrifying. They serve a purpose beyond the cliched world domination or murder for the sake of murder.
The Moon Knight costume, which also acts as a healing vessel, looks amazing on screen. The muted colors of pale grays and dingy whites clash against the dark night sky. The glowing eyes pop from the shadows of the sockets that surround them. It’s an amazing display of a comic book character’s design making the perfect leap from page to screen. It’s an image that would strike fear into the hearts of any henchman unlucky enough to face him, and the moment the costume appears on screen you know you’re in for an impressive bit of action.
The series leans into the lore of Egyptian Gods and introduces some interesting new concepts to the MCU. Of course the MCU is no stranger to the existence of Gods. Thor is the God of Thunder and his trilogy of films (with a fourth installment coming soon) expand upon the existence of Gods and their roles within this universe. But Moon Knight struggles to take the ideas and do anything unique with them. There’s a standard plot involving both hero and villain chasing after a McGuffin. A race to see who’s first with intermittent action and peril sprinkled throughout. It uses the lead’s personality disorder mostly for comedic affect. We hear arguments and struggles between the personalities within his head. Think of how Venom and Eddie Brock bicker with one another in Sony’s Venom films and you’ll get the idea.
Moon Knight is mostly a fun watch. The comedy is hit or miss, with much of it coming across as cheesy and unnecessary, but the action is strong for a streaming series. If only there were more of it, it might have helped the series to stand out amidst the slew of other Marvel content fans see each year. It’s far from the best MCU Disney+ series, a title that likely goes to Loki or WandaVision. But, it’s a worthy entry into the ever expanding world of Marvel, and I’m excited to see where the character goes from here. 7/10