Length: 6 episodes (40-50 minutes each)
Cast: Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, and Ethan Hawke.
This review covers the first episode of Moon Knight.
Moon Knight, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) latest superhero, hit Disney + this week. And although we have a glimpse of the titular superhero in the first episode … that’s really all we know about him right now. The television series plays it slow, letting us get to know the man behind the mask (although he may not technically be the person behind the mask, but that’s spoiler territory) as we learn about Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) and his rather odd life .
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Moon Knight is a superhero series on Disney + that is set in the MCU. The first episode shows that the series centers around a gift shop assistant at a museum with an uncanny knowledge of Egyptian mythology – as well as a hidden side to himself that manifests when he is unconscious as Moon Knight.
Moon Knight attempts to show how distinct it is by having its titular character speak with a British accent – largely because main character Steven Grant lives and works in London. This works for a little while, but it seems to eschew action in favor of creating a separate, discrete identity for itself, presumably to differentiate itself from the multitude of superheroes that we will soon be seeing on Disney +. But it’s a superhero show – and almost anyone who is tuning in will expect the usual action and fantastical elements that come with the genre.
We know that Steven Grant is a superhero (or he is going to be, at any rate), but because that is the entire premise of the series. However, the show tries to make this a mystery (that we already know) and it ends up feeling a little slow, as we wonder when the episode will get to revealing that the main character is a superhero.
It’s not a bad approach to take, and the first episode really takes its time to get into the story. The other problem is that we do not get to see the action that’s promised – we see the aftermath, but not the actual fisticuffs. We see the defeated foes, but not how they were defeated. We see a gun in Steven Grant’s hand, but not him actually firing it (he does throw the gun at his enemies, albeit futilely).
Were this a movie, this approach of building suspense would have worked – because we’d have gotten the payoff at the end. However, this is a six-episode series, which means that each episode should be able to stand on its own two legs as a piece of entertainment. Instead, Moon Knight feels like a four or five-hour movie that has been edited into six episodes – and is symptomatic of miniseries and limited series on streaming services nowadays.
Then again, Marvel has been known to surprise us at times with its storytelling, and the series could end up wowing us with a terrific ending that makes up for its first episode. It’s already set up several interesting plotlines (the Egyptian mythology portions, the Anubis imagery, a scarab MacGuffin) that will definitely play out over the next five episodes.
Moon Knight feels different and tries to play it slow, leading to a first episode that does not exactly thrill. But this might just be set us up for the next five episodes, which may contain more thrills (and hopefully, Egyptian gods).