Moon Knight was always going to be a tough story to tell. It is clear why so many people have polarizing views of it. While the people who didn’t like it have good reasons, I thought it was the perfect way to tell the story of one of Marvel’s most complicated characters.
First up, who is Moon Knight?
In Marvel Comics, Moon Knight was originally a superhero who used four different identities. He was originally a mercenary named Marc Spector, left for dead after a betrayal and accepted to become the avatar for the Moon God, Khonsu, in exchange for his life. He is also millionaire Steven Grant, whose identity he uses to finance his heroic endeavors. Finally, he is cab driver Jake Lockley, an identity he used to get information from street-level sources. Finally, he was the superhero, Moon Knight.
That changed over the years, with Marvel revealing Marc had used these identities so long – and suffered so much trauma – that he developed a dissociative identity disorder (DID) and would take on the unique identities with no memory of changing. He also brought in a new identity in recent years named Mr. Knight, who worked as a protector for his neighborhood.
That is a lot to bring into the MCU, but Moon Knight on Disney+ played it smart and kept it basic. However, at the same time, the series was the most bizarre since WandaVision last year, and that made it the most interesting series since that debut.
In Moon Knight, there are only two identities brought into the story. The first that we meet is Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), who is not a millionaire as in the comics, but a British employee at a museum. However, we quickly learn that he is also Moon Knight, although he does not know this identity. He only thinks he sleepwalks and ends up in different locations, placing a strap on his leg for his protection. Marc Spector is the man who accepted the role of Moon Knight and he takes over as the primary alter when it is time to become Moon Knight.
The original is the same, but the series is not an origin story and Marc has been Moon Knight for a long time.
However, this is the origin of when Steven Grant learns he has an alter and that he is Moon Knight. This all starts when he ends up waking up outside a castle with people trying to kill him. The show uses an interesting technique where there are rapid-fire cuts on Steven’s face and then when that ends, people are usually lying dead around him.
It isn’t until Steven becomes more dominating that the show allows viewers to see what happens when Marc takes control.
This leads to the central story where Khonsu’s former avatar, a man named Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). He wants to become the avatar for the Egyptian goddess Ammit. The difference between Khonsu and Ammit is that Khonsu punishes those who commit crimes and Ammit kills people before they can commit the crimes. Arthur uses her power to carry out her goals as he searches for a device that will allow him to free her and allow her to change the world.
It is up to Moon Knight to stop him. What Steven also doesn’t know is that he is married (as Marc) to a woman named Layla El-Faouty (May Calamawy). When he meets her, she brings out Marc, and he has to learn how to work with Steven in order to stop Arthur and save the world.
With this in mind, things only go normal for an MCU series through the first three episodes. In Episode 4, everything changes. This is where the show lost a lot of fans, but it is also where it became great – more than just a superhero show.
In the two episodes before the finale, Marc dies and ends up in the afterlife, which for him was a psychiatric hospital where Arthur was his psychiatrist and was talking him through his “delusions.” He then meets a goddess that will lead him to the afterlife and has to figure out what is wrong in his mind so he can get through in one piece.
The episodes in the hospital are very similar to the show Legion – which itself was based on a Marvel Comics character. It is hard to tell what is real and what is not.
By the time the final episode rolls around, Moon Knight had finally resolved his childhood issues and Steven and Marc worked together to come back to life, help save the world, and hopefully move on to a better future without Khonsu ruling their lives.
Until the post-credit scene throws a wrench into the story that was hinted at multiple times in the first five episodes.
Isaac is fantastic as Steven Grant, Marc Spector, Moon Knight, and Mr. Knight. The way he can switch identities and argue with himself was brilliantly done. It was an inspired casting choice, and the perfect actor to join Marvel. Hawke is also great in his role as the villain, pulling from different cult leaders, including David Koresh in his portrayal of the man with the “better” plan.
Getting less of a good shake was May Calamawy, who played Layla. FOr the first three episodes, Isaac completely overshadowed her in every scene. Even when she finally took on her own heroic role in the finale, she didn’t get as much meat as her co-stars.
If you recognize the voice of Khonsu, it is because F. Murray Abraham voiced the god. However, there were times he was totally over-the-top and too loud, taking some of the steam out of the series when it was attempting to be serious. His performance in the finale really turned things around, but by that time he was often the worst part of the episodes.
The fight scenes were also solid, although we missed most of the big ones thanks to the blackouts. However, that was an amusing part of watching the episodes, seeing the carnage, and imagining how it happened.
The post-credit scene shows that Moon Knight’s adventures are far from finished. With Blade coming to the big screen and Black Knight showing up in The Eternals, this could be another addition to the dark side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If the follow-up is as brilliant as this Disney+ series, the future is bright for Moon Knight and all his personas.