‘Moon Knight’: Marvel’s first character study is a fantastic origin story

Connor Youngberg, Staff Writer

Graphic by (Connor Youngberg)

Marvel’s “Moon Knight” wrapped up its series on May 4, making the show a household name with an exciting future.

The series gives an unknown character an electric backstory and fantastic development. “Moon Knight” follows a superhero named Moon Knight with dissociative identity disorder, played by Oscar Isaac, who balances his two identities: Marc Spector and Steven Grant. 

The show’s pilot is one of the better episodes compared to other Marvel Disney+ shows. Rather than the show beginning with an original story, the episode throws us right into action. We follow Steven Grant’s perspective for the majority of the first episode. However, Grant can’t control his actions due to his multiple identities. The viewer only sees what Grant sees, causing the show to jump from where Spector took over to where Grant gains back control. This makes for some very unique storytelling and a great way to utilize a character with dissociative identity disorder.

Something so great about the character and the show, is that he’s a hero despite having dissociative identity order. In most superhero stories like this, having a mental disorder is commonly correlated with the villain—for example, DC’s Joker. The character of Moon Knight must be able to struggle with a mental disorder, but also be the hero of the story. If every character with a mental disorder was the villain, audiences may see those people as evil. 

The audience can tell that everyone who worked on the show did their homework on ancient Egyptian mythology. The show dives into the gods and goddesses of the mythos, such as Khonshu, the god of moons who plays a key role in Spector’s life, who acts as Moon Knight’s avatar.

Easily the best part about this show was the way Spector and Grant bounced off each other. Despite being the same person, Isaac’s incredible performance convinces the viewer that they’re completely separate people. Isaac can play both a brutal mercenary and a British museum employee and somehow make them such an entertaining duo throughout the entire show. The two identities are hilarious together, but also extremely emotional at times.

One of the main characters in the show is Layla, played by May Calamawy. We learn that Layla is Spector’s wife, but they have been out of contact because the Grant identity took over Spector’s body. Although Layla is somewhat thrown into the story with little background, her character ends up becoming a strong part of the show towards the end.

The villain of “Moon Knight”, Arthur Harrow, is portrayed by the fantastic Ethan Hawke. Hawke plays a cult leader type of role in the story, hunting to free the Egyptian goddess associated with judgment, called Ammit, so that the world can be judged. 

Hawke pulls off an amazing performance but the villain as a whole is confusing. Harrow is dedicated toward his goal, as are his followers, but we never really find out why. Despite working with the Disney+ format of six episodes at around 45 minutes each, this show fails to give much context or development for the characters outside of the hero, which has been a trend with Marvel’s shows so far.

Another miss in the show is the directing and editing. The show’s first four episodes were directed by Mahomed Diab and the last two were directed by Justin Benson. Neither director did a great job. The poor editing of the show does not help either. 

In many of the action sequences throughout the show, a combination of poor cuts and editing choices is too distracting and can easily draw the viewer out of the show completely. There are some great shots and there are definitely some beautiful frames throughout the show, but overall the directing and editing were pretty poor.

However, one of the better parts of the show is the music. Hesham Nazih was the composer for the show and he does an incredible job with the score. Throughout the show, the music during action sequences and emotional points of the season was elevated so highly by the music, and it’s noticeably amazing when watching.

Overall, “Moon Knight” is an excellent show that introduces what could end up being one of the best in all of Marvel. Although the show is the latest contribution to phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it doesn’t feel like it is. Marvel movies and shows have a tendency to incorporate characters or plot lines that lead into another movie or show, but thankfully there was none of that in the show. “Moon Knight” was able to be its own show with its own story with little to no studio interference.

That doesn’t mean that “Moon Knight” doesn’t have an exciting future in the MCU. The post-credit hints that the character has another problem on his hands and some interesting wording on Twitter has fans suggesting a second season could be in the works at Marvel Studios. Either way, Moon Knight has been established as an amazing character that fans can’t wait to see more of, but until then: laters gators.