’Moon Knight’ mid-season review

The Marvel hero’s fractured identity captures audience intrigue

Fair use from Marvel

Fair use from Marvel

Alex Geretz

Marvel movies are dizzying to say the least. Despite hosting some of my favorite moviegoing experiences ever, the countless characters you have to follow from the numerous movies you have to watch gets incredibly tiring after a while. Though the interconnectivity of the Marvel universe makes for great team-ups and crossovers, the sheer amount of dedication an audience has to invest in it – just to keep up with a movie’s general story – can be extremely daunting to fans and newcomers alike. 

Leafing through pages of a Marvel encyclopedia in the middle of a theater to understand peoples’ reactionary cheers around you shouldn’t be the norm for those who’d missed the last movie. Marvel’s newest show “Moon Knight” is being completely disconnected from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, creating a surprisingly effective atmosphere of other realms of the MCU. This disconnectivity makes “Moon Knight” the most personal Marvel show yet, and will be the easiest MCU entry point for many.

Oscar Isaac portrays Moon Knight, a character that suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Isaac’s take on the two split personalities makes for a very grounded and sincere take on a character with a mental illness that the MCU benefits greatly from. Furthermore, “Moon Knight” allows for Isaac’s talent to shine by stepping into separate characters so seamlessly. He easily alters his gait, facial expressions, posture, sometimes without any spoken dialogue and does so very convincingly.

“Moon Knight” first introduces the Steven Grant personality, who happens to work at an Egyptian-themed gift shop. He suffers from insomnia, sometimes waking up to realize multiple days had gone by, with memories of another life. By the time he becomes acquainted with his alter-ego, Marc, who was the source of this confusion, Steven begins to unravel the mystery of his superpowers, discovering a conspiracy only he and his love interest Layla (May Calamawy) are capable of stopping. 

The show has great cinematography, especially when dealing with reflections. Seizing the opportunity to provide fractured-personality imagery of Steven and Marc through the use of reflections in nearly every episode is a testament to the passionate cinematographers working with the director to make simple shots more meaningful to the story, rather than just getting the job done at a bare minimum. “Moon Knight” combines all of its top-notch elements (cinematography, editing, acting) in scenes where Marc and Steven have full conversations through strategically placed mirrored surfaces. 

“Moon Knight” checks all the boxes for the recipe to a great show, yet it still leaves me concerned for its future. All the Marvel shows have seemingly had the same problem where they rush the finale so that it doesn’t pay off any of the original setup. So despite my praise for “Moon Knight” thus far, I’m extremely concerned it’ll fall to the same traps as other Disney+ series – squeezing the huge story into a few short finale episodes.

With all that being said, the show – as it is so far – is practically perfect in every way. It can be very witty when it needs to be, but provides some of the most tense sequences in a show I’ve seen. The opening shot, for instance, sets the tone for all the nail biting that is to come. Instead of relegating the villain to the finale alone, “Moon Knight” cold opens with (Ethan Hawke’s) Arthur Harrow, immediately funneling intrigue and imposition to the viewer, allowing for an organic character arc for the villain throughout the season.

The directors, actors and cinematographers all make it clear “Moon Knight” isn’t just any Marvel show. So the series isn’t great in spite of its disconnect from other Marvel properties, it’s great because it feels almost like it isn’t made by Marvel at all.

Everything “Moon Knight”’s cooked up so far has been tremendous, so I’m cautiously optimistic for “Moon Knight’’s final two episodes. “Moon Knight” episode five releases Wednesday, April 27, with episode six releasing a week later, just in time for “Doctor Strange 2”’s theatrical release.

“Moon Knight”: ★★★★★