Well, that could have been a disorienting mess. But that’s part of the package when it comes to Marvel’s Moon Knight. The comic book series was always a jumbled, jumping narrative. And now the new Disney+ series takes up that torch.
After debuting on the platform on Wednesday, March 30, Moon Knight fulfilled its highly anticipated introduction of the MCU’s most complex character yet, but there was little nuance amidst the action. Still, we can’t wait to see what happens to poor Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) as he tries to figure out how to just stay in bed instead of waking to find himself in strange places, often covered in blood and, sometimes surrounded by bodies, and at least once chased by undead Egyptian jackals.
In the Moon Knight debut, Grant is a timid employee working the gift desk of the British Museum. While everyone seems to walk all over him, the person he seems most frightened by is himself. In the opening scene, Grant wakes up happy to see that he’s (apparently) not broken the bonds securing himself to his bedroom. These implements include a rope chained to a pillar, attached to a cuff that’s wrapped around his wrist. There’s also the crescent arc of sand around his bed (to reveal any possible footprints) and a strip of duct tape down his door.
The day goes relatively well at the museum. After he’s chastised by a nasty boss to leave his passion for ancient Egypt at the door, Grant finds himself starting a romance with a beautiful co-worker who he doesn’t even remember asking out. There are still concerns, however.
“If I’m going to have a girlfriend at some point, obviously I can’t have ankle restraints on my bed, can I? That’s the definition of a red flag.”
Grant is also hearing voices, one that keeps referring to his body in the third person and another that is attempting to reach out to him. Confused yet?
Moon Knight was always a bit of a mess of a character, even after decades in Marvel comics. Still, episode one is intriguing and sells its protagonist well.
Isaac’s Grant is sweet and vulnerable, but when you’re apparently the avatar of an Egyptian god and the alternate personality of a former special forces soldier, there’s little balance to be found for the man who only wants to live a regular, monotonous temporal existence. That evening following his museum shift, Grant dissociates only to awake, bludgeoned in a field and soon pursued by the villainous Dr. Harrow (played by a very game Ethan Hawke), who’s after a golden scarab that’s inexplicably in Grant’s possession.
Another later dissociation (with a half-moon of bodies around him) and Grant’s now driving a cupcake truck through harrowing mountain curves, pursued by Dr. Harrow’s private army while Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go plays on the radio. He continues to blackout only to return to more corpses and crashing cars. Aided by his mysterious alter ego, Grant is able to escape, losing two full days in the process.
Back in his apartment, after learning that he stood his date up, (“Welcome to Sunday,” she says over the phone, clearly miffed. “Come on now, I think Friday still comes after Thursday, doesn’t it?”), Grant finds a hidden cache behind a false board in his place. This is the first hard evidence of his identity as Marc Spector, a brutal mercenary, and his first encounter with the still unseen Layla. Answering Spector’s phone, we learn Layla’s apparently been looking for the man for months.
Grant returns to work on Monday, only to encounter Dr. Harrow and his acolytes again. It turns out the doctor is also a cult leader, devoted to dishing out mortal punishments on behalf of the crocodile-headed Egyptian goddess Ammit.
Dr. Harrow explains how Ammit is a sort of vengeful Liberty, weighing one’s good deeds against the bad, even those that haven’t even transpired yet. Because of her tendency toward culling the human herd, the other Egyptian gods imprisoned Ammit epochs ago, but Harrow is set on freeing her to let her loose upon an evil world.
After the encounter, we eventually get our first sight of Moon Knight in action when Grant allows Spector to take over his body to beat down a conjured jackal.
There’s quite a bit of promise in Moon Knight’s debut, especially considering showrunners were able to stuff all of this action into 45 minutes. There’s certainly much more action to come and more narrative to unfold over the next five episodes as Harrow continues to conjure Ammit.
The second Moon Knight episode is set for next Wednesday on Disney+ with four more to follow — at least as far as season one is concerned.
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