Updated: Apr 1, 2022
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to build upon its expanding live-action canon as it introduces one of the comics' most enigmatic, complicated characters through a titular series of its own. Moon Knight follows former CIA agent Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) as he embraces his duties as the human avatar for Egyptian Moon God Khonshu. Atop his responsibilities of carrying out Khonshu's orders, Spector lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder, meaning that his identity is split between a handful of personalities and lives that belong to secondary versions of himself.
While Marvel Studios and Moon Knight showrunners have cautioned that Moon Knight is Marvel's most mature series to date, it takes its time to break past the familiar tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has yet to truly elevate itself beyond its humorous drawback. Moon Knight achieves its highest points near the limited series' end as it steps back from schlocky punchlines and embraces a more intense conversation around the realities of living with mental illness. The artistic freedom taken by Marvel Studios presents the series as a more frantic take on Indiana Jones peppered with similarities to The Mummy through visual and narrative preferences.
Isaac acting concurrently with himself through a variety of personas allows his performance to challenge itself as each personality further emerges. From a frazzled, disoriented gift shop attendant to an entrepreneurial billionaire, Isaac's multilevel deliverance while interacting with himself directly is an impressive feat. Ethan Hawke's calm, cool, and collected Arthur Harrow is more muted and sinister than aggressive in his villainry. The alter-ego of Moon Knight himself does not frequent the series as often as was anticipated, and the focus is shifted to suit more of a character-driven story and replace Moon Knight's comic book acts of anti-heroism.
Moon Knight has found its success when presenting the story of a man at war with himself and sidelines its comic book reputation. There's a bit of disappointment as an opportunity for Marvel Studios to explore horror and supernatural themes do not fully connect with the series developed for the small screen. The twisting of Spector's comic book history and the overlooking of his Jewish heritage may skew the authenticity of the origins of Moon Knight in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with little explanation as to why such important information was sidestepped. There's the declination to fully emphasize how brutal Moon Knight is on the pages of the comics and tones down the jarring violence that is associated with the character's crime-fighting.
Perhaps Marvel Studios is approaching Moon Knight through the anticipation of building a character brand through their introductory phases and casts hope on the concept that this will later weave into larger, more ambitious projects as audiences adjust to the latest addition. There is also room for the series to elaborate on the significance of Egyptology and the depiction of the Middle East in mainstream media. Showrunners have ensured that their show has been determined to overcome the issues of orientalism, recruiting a consulting company to oversee the execution of topics covered in the series.
Moon Knight is more of a character study slowly discovering its own potential and less of a superhero story; it's a maturity that Marve has been waiting for.