Marvel is fully into Phase four in March of 2022. Moon Knight was released on Wednesday on Disney +. Just a warning, there are a few spoilers ahead. I am reviewing this episode as a first-time viewer with this particular character. I am coming into it as fresh as anyone else who is unfamiliar with the character. Other than a few pieces of information I researched, this is a "fresh eyes" review.
The show stars Oscar Isaac, one of the most underrated actors around in my opinion. He plays Steven Grant, for now anyway...yes this gets confusing if you're unfamiliar with the comic book character. Let's take a step back, shall we?
Some Background With Spoilers and Discussions Of Mental Health
Moon Knight is one of the more complicated superheroes ever in comic book history. The character of Moon Knight suffers from something called "dissociative personality disorder." In real life, the condition is a "disorder characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality states." It is assumed to come from a variety of factors, including severe trauma during early childhood. Moon Knight's disorder doesn't come from that traditional, "real life" place, however. From one of the Moon Knight comic books comes this description.
"Marc Spector, Steven Grant, Jake Lockley. Each a distinct personality of one man, vying for control. Spector, the original personality, has asserted his dominance and fights to retain that control. But years ago, as a mercenary, Spector died in Egypt under a statue of the Moon God, Khonshu. In the shadow of the ancient deity, Marc returned to life. From then on, Marc took on a new aspect in honor of Khonshu, dedicating his second life to fighting crime as Moon Knight."
For some references, I spoke with a friend who is far more familiar with the character and the comic book. In the comic book, it is more apparent (and based on the quote from the comic book itself) that the Marc Spector character takes more of the lead, and was the original 'person' inside the body of our main hero. This is where the science and medicine behind dissociative personality disorder can be put in its properly labeled, "suspension of belief" box and be critically looked at as a comic book version of the disorder. Nobody wants to make light of people who suffer from disorders like this, and the comic book's origin story seems to reflect that idea. This is a superhero show, after all.
Why Steven Grant?
Watching the first episode, it was clear to me that showing this character from its most physically vulnerable personality was a clear choice. Nobody wants to see a character at their most invincible when they're trying to identify with them. This is 2022, and superhero shows have jumped into a different category. People want to identify more with their superhero protagonists. Who would have trouble identifying with Steven Grant? He is a regular guy, working a dead-end job just trying to make his ends meet and find love. We hear some whispers of the name "Marc" throughout the episode, but we watched this experience through the lens of Steven. The entire episode was shown through his innocent eyes, leaving most of the violence offscreen. This was a clever stylistic choice.
What Made The First Episode Riveting
Oscar Isaac. I'm not here to judge the actor's British accent, although to be honest, I have the education to do so. It works perfectly. In every scene Isaac is compelling. You can't take your eyes off the screen. Isaac's acting along with the directorial choices, made by Mohamed Diab who directed this first episode, make the episode jump, Literally. This episode has no real jump cuts, but it feels like you're going from one place to the next, confused and lost. The episode uses "Man Without Love" by Engelbert Humperdinck all the way to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham in just 4 minutes. Talk about jumping from one genre to a different one. This is similar to how Steven Grant feels. The clever trick is that the production of the show pulls it off without leaving the watcher too discombobulated.
Ethan Hawke's steely-eyed gaze works as Arthur Harrow. All we know about his character is that he's some sort of zealot in a cult that appears to be devoted to the ancient Egyptian god, Ammit. One can only assume his motives and real powers become more clear later, as a lot of this episode asked for patience from its viewers.
Next Time Around
The first episodes left viewers with many questions and only a few implied answers. Who is Harrow? Who is Steven Grant, honestly? Who was the narrator/loud voice in his head when Grant was in the alps? The comic book series is pretty graphic and violent, so I wonder if the show becomes that way as Moon Knight's other personalities begin to appear.
The next episode may give us answers, and I can't wait to find out. Laters, gators!