There’s one word to describe the first episode of Marvel’s Moon Knight…unsettling. Everything about the inaugural episode, from the tone to characters to the jarring shifts in the scenery, will leave many viewers feeling completely discombobulated. It’s incredibly effective. With this series, it’s clear Marvel is trying to prove themselves and their ability to tell stories in multiple genres and tones.
Oscar Isaac makes his Marvel debut with a terrible British accent as Steven Kraft, a mild-mannered museum worker who is so instantly lovable. The details in the opening moments alone are breathtaking. Little details throughout the first episode all lead to an overall potent feeling of chaos. The show has used some of the character’s origin, as a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), often incorrectly labelled as Multiple Personality Disorder.
Isaacs’ villain is Ethan Hawke who plays Arthur Harrow, a religious zealot and cult leader. Hawke has spoken about modelling his look after the infamous Waco cult leader David Koresh. This is very much the vibe he creates. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem able to hit his stride fully and is always eclipsed by those around him. There’s so much potential in this villain, to make a commentary on religious extremism. Sadly, at this point, he seems destined to join the ranks of Marvel villains with much potential, but who are cast aside.
The use of music throughout Moon Knight’s premiere episode help set a tone that is enthralling. From Bob Dylan to Wham!, the music is used to pull viewers, jarringly, between scenes with drastically different feelings. It’s a testament to Marvel’s ability to use artistry to tell a compelling story. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem able to hit his stride fully and is always eclipsed by those around him. At this point, he seems destined to join the ranks of Marvel villains with much potential, but who are cast aside.
The use of music throughout Moon Knight’s premiere episode help set a tone that is enthralling. From Bob Dylan to Wham!, the music is used to pull viewers, jarringly, between scenes with drastically different feelings. It’s a testament to Marvel’s ability to use artistry to tell a compelling story. The music never lets viewers stay squarely in the moment, and it’s merely a glimpse of the inside of our main character’s mind.
Moon Knight also makes effective use of violence throughout its premiere episode. This is arguably one of Marvel’s most violent villains, and Marvel’s answer to the Batman. The violence is never gratuitous, however (at least not yet), and always serves the story. The body horror too is incredibly on point, and just further leads to the environment of chaos this series is trying to create. For the squeamish, there are several points it may be wise to look away.
The imagery, too, is used to unsettle and compel viewers. From CGI jackals to mummies, the Egyptian aesthetic is sure to please anyone who considered themselves fans of archaeological, Egyptological adventures. Our title character does is the human vessel for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu in the comics, so it’s only fitting that that same energy be brought to the show.
The main disappointment from the first episode by far is the precious little representation of the character’s Jewishness. One could argue that this is one of Marvel’s most visibly Jewish characters. His father was a Rabbi and a Holocaust survivor. I for one am all for characters growing and changing from their source material. It just would be nice to see an explicitly Jewish character on-screen, when most of the Jewish representation in this gargantuan franchise has been regulated to fan canon.
Ultimately, the first episode of Moon Knight introduced a new story that has the potential to be a very fun entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It so far doesn’t rely on Marvel’s previous entries to tell its own story, which is commendable. Fans of Egyptian mythology and lore will likely find much to love or much to pick apart in this series. Either way, Moon Knight is worth giving a chance to, if for no other reason than to fully embrace the story’s chaos.
Moon Knight premieres Wednesday, March 30 on Disney+.