Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, May Calamawy, and F. Murray Abraham
Creator: Jeremy Slater
Moon Knight is a perplexing, bonkers ball of greatness with highs in the upper echelon of Disney+ content. Oscar Isaac’s performance is as award-worthy as Lupita Nyong'o's horrifyingly snubbed Us performance. The first episode is my favorite MCU series premiere, and the world-building, introspection, and mind/genre-blending storytelling of the season's latter half is engrossing. But man, the lows could make Lil Jon hop on some theme music (I hope you understood that reference). The action is mostly lifeless, and too many episodes meander through uninspired exposition. Thank goodness Isaac’s unending acting chops delivers us through this rollercoaster to a solid finish.
Were it not for Oscar Isaac’s note-perfect performance (as well as a compelling turn from Ethan Hawke), Moon Knight may have been the MCU’s most underwhelming series. That’s not to say it isn’t interesting – the show is full of ambition and some pretty out there material – but it’s not terribly sound on a structural level. Some episodes are downright fantastic, especially in their editing, while others are pure exposition dumps. Unfortunately, both contain a severe lack of clarity regarding the action sequences. A second season could have helped rectify many of these issues; regrettably, there is no plan for one.
As far as storytelling goes, Moon Knight’s biggest strength is also its greatest weakness. Namely, that it seemingly has no connection to the broader MCU. On one hand, it’s fresh and exciting because it’s not beholden to what came before it. On the other hand, it assumes viewers know more than they do because there aren’t twentysomething movies of backstory. As a result, it’s easy to feel lost, especially early on. Still, Oscar Isaac gives one of the best MCU performances to date (Ethan Hawke is no slouch either), which makes this Fight Club meets Stargate, MCU outlier a bold swing that mostly connects.
Initially, I wasn’t invested at all in Moon Knight. I thought some of the action was cool, but it sort of felt like it was stalling for time. By the fourth episode, however, it got super weird and I was eating up every moment. This show would have completely fallen apart if Oscar Isaac wasn’t good in the lead role, but, thankfully, he absolutely delivers by nailing the dual performance. Moon Knight is both a mind-boggling and visually interesting adventure series, but its greatest strength is its ability to stray away from the Marvel formula.