By: Valeri Guevarra, Editor in Chief (‘22)
Deifying the gods and expectations seems to be Moonknight’s core theme because this MCU entry that I personally wasn’t too excited about has become one of my favorites of all time. Directed by Egyptian Mohamed Diab, the series follows the path that previous successful Marvel streaming shows have paved. Like WandaVision, Moonknight is a character exploration-driven narrative that deviates from the traditional hero’s journey and hero vs. villain story arc of previous MCU entries, which is refreshing. However, unlike previous Marvel Disney+ shows, the story is completely wrapped up by the 6th and final episode, a notable pitfall of WandaVision and Loki. The show stars Disney Star Wars’ third trilogy alum Oscar Issac as Steven Grant/Marc Spector/Moonknight, Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow, and newcomer May El Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly/Scarlet Scarab.
Oscar Issac shines from the first episode when the audience is introduced to Steven Grant, an adorkable gift shop employee who thinks he is having trouble sleepwalking but actually has DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). Issac nails Steven’s nerdiness and had me in the feels during Steven’s several sad scenes.
Personally, I haven’t seen many of Hawke’s films, but his performance holds up strong against Issac. While I can’t remember why his character is the villain of the story, Hawke does a great job with a character that lacks depth, especially compared to Steven/Marc. Harrow seems to be motivated solely by anger/frustration for how Khonshu treated him when he was his avatar. A time that we never get the chance to revisit either in a flashback.
Calamawy and her character are a pleasant surprise in the show. When Layla is introduced in the second episode, she feels like a “We need to have a female character in here somewhere” type of character, but as we learn more about her, her backstory and relationship with Marc become interesting conflicts and plot development throughout the season. Calamawy portrays the strong, independent Layla well, and her action scenes don’t disappoint.
The first episode is slower than the later ones, but it ends perfectly with a fight scene where Marc Spector/Moonknight alter ego is introduced and leaves the audience with a perfect cliffhanger. This episode had me invested in Steven and hooked to see what came next. I wish that more people could experience the week-to-week new episode debut of this series because it truly increased my enjoyment and excitement for it. The cliffhanger (and other great ones in later episodes) won’t mean much to those binge-watching the series, but I hope you enjoy that minute of suspense of what comes next, even for just a moment.
The following episodes move quicker after Steven realizes his alter ego Marc is Egyptian God Khonshu’s avatar. Marc (and Steven) has been given god-like powers to help serve Khonshu in the mortal world.
When Marc and Steven share the screen or have to “switch” who is in control of the body, Issac masters differentiating the two characters, who are complete opposites, with his facial expressions. The first scene of Steven and Marc switching who was in control became a viral trend on TikTok for good reason, as it’s one of Issac’s most incredible scenes in the show.
The emotional impact is felt at the end of the show, where Steven and Marc are exploring what is revealed to be Marc’s memories because Marc is the original/main personality and Steven is the “made up” alter, who was first created when Marc’s mother began abusing him as a child. One of the darkest moments in the MCU is when we watch the moment Marc creates Steven just before his mother breaks down his bedroom door in anger and is about to punish him with a belt in hand. I will admit that my obsession with Marvel analysis YouTube videos truly helped me understand the show, so those who don’t have the same passion for the MCU may feel discombobulated when watching Moonknight, truly one of the most unique, messy, and dark stories of the MCU. However, it’s not one to miss out on if you put in little extra brain power and research into the comics to understand what’s going on.