The Marvel universe seems to be expanding at a rate that no one can quite keep up with, from releasing the latest blockbuster to creating series for already established characters it’s easy to get caught up in the rush. But Moon Knight provides something very different for audiences old and new alike. Streaming on Disney+, the series follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered museum gift shop employee who becomes plagued by blackouts and memories of another life. All is very much not as it seems for the character, played by Oscar Isaac (Dune, Scenes from a Marriage), as he discovers that he is the alter of Marc Spector, an avatar for the Egyptian moon God, Khonshu. From the start the series hooks in the audience by working out the mystery of the two lives bleeding into each other, and it is only revealed later that the character has dissociative identity disorder.
The show beautifully portrays the wonders of Egyptian mythology and lore, so much so that at times I felt like a primary school kid learning about it all over again. But what is most gripping about the series is its central characters - Marc, Steven, Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy) and cult leader Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). All three actors bring something special to the roles that they play, fascinating and in the case of Hawke’s character, disgusting the audience. Each of them is able to command the screen, with Isaac and Calamawy making us care deeply for the relationship between Marc and Layla despite the series very much being set well into their time together. It becomes even more endearing when Steven is brought in and his tender relationship with Calamawy’s character blossoms, leading to some amusing interactions as the episodes progress. For me, Calamawy steals the finale of the show as her character becomes an avatar for the god Tawaret and becomes the Scarlet Scarab - I found myself cheering when she emerged in her newfound superhero costume and then again when she joined in the final fight.
Hawke’s charismatic cult leader is both creepy and charming, portraying his devotion to the god Ammit with a chilling intensity. Proving more than a match for Isaac’s character, it’s hard to tell who is ultimately going to prevail until the last moments of the series. But the standout of the series for me is definitely Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of Marc and Steven. It’s hard enough to distinguish one character within a show, let alone two at the same time whilst also hinting at a third alter. The transitions between the two are so seamless that it’s hard not to be blown away by the level of talent in this riveting performance. Marc is hardened, closed-off whilst Steven questions everything around him in a bumbling English accent - it certainly feels special to see their interactions develop and their bonding together. The show tackles themes of mental health and trauma, something which could have easily been a disaster if not portrayed right. But the show hits the nail on the head, with Isaac letting the vulnerability of the character show and a particularly heartwarming line as Marc says to Steven “you were the only real superpower I ever had”.
My only complaint about the series? That at the end of it there wasn't any text saying ‘Moon Knight will return’. The ending certainly teases the chance for more and with the way that this 6-episode run glued me to the screen, I hope we see more of Moon Knight in the future.