Home Feature news 'Moon Knight' review: Oscar Isaac is the MCU's new secret weapon

‘Moon Knight’ review: Oscar Isaac is the MCU’s new secret weapon

Caped crusaders are a dime a dozen, as are the stories of their origins. Understanding the why of how superheroes come to be is treated as a requirement to enjoy their later adventures, just as the serial nature of the MCU semi-requires viewers to watch all of its content to really “get” what’s going on in the hot new project. Or it did, until Moon Knight.

As a lesser known Marvel comics hero, relating his origin story was the easiest way to introduce a TV audience to Marc Spector, the white suit-wearing antihero with a connection to the Egyptian gods and a penchant for beating up bad guys. Moon Knight thankfully does not take the easy path, trading in the hero’s origin story for a narrative that plops the audience in the middle of an extremely strange time in Marc Spector’s life — that is to say, when he isn’t actually Marc Spector. It first introduces a stranger named Steven Grant, a mild-mannered museum gift shop clerk with a wobbly British accent and social skills on par with an anxious chihuahua. 

Steven has what he assumes is a sleep disorder that causes him to wake up in unfamiliar surroundings. He’s actually one half of a Fight Club–style multiple personality setup with Marc Spector, who periodically takes over their shared body and wreaks action movie havoc. 

That havoc comes at the order of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon who uses Marc as his avatar of justice on earth. He gifts Marc with a healing supersuit, cool powers, and the prerogative to violently punish wrongdoers, which would be cool if Khonshu wasn’t a complete asshole. He’s controlling, rude, and views Steven as a parasite living in a body Khonshu owns.

What follows is a smart, thrilling adventure that questions the nature of heroism and identity, and also happens to be the best Disney+ Marvel project to date.

Moon Knight is less Marvel-y than other Disney+ projects, and that’s great


Credit: Marvel Studios 2022

Phase 4 of the MCU has stumbled upon a pattern that could either be intentional or sheer dumb luck: the less “Marvel-y” a project is, the better it becomes. The genre-bending WandaVision is one example of this, tripping only at the finish line when the finale reverted to the ole’ CGI smash-fight every Marvel story apparently requires. There’s also Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which soared when it focused on the unique experience of Chinese intergenerational trauma and flopped when the whole thing ended with an unnecessary water dragon vs. pseudo-Balrog showdown. 

Moon Knight may still end in a CGI fight, but the first four episodes provided for review point to a much better system: actually making a good TV show. It’s the first of the Marvel Disney+ shows that doesn’t feel like a mere spinoff from the recognizable heroes on film; as a result, Moon Knight is original and exciting in a way that has much more in common with the better seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones — both shows that added much-needed grit and originality to the Marvel franchise at the time. 


‘Moon Knight’ is original and exciting in a way that has much more in common with the better seasons of ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones.’

Oscar Isaac is the MCU’s new secret weapon 

Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector and Steven Grant in

Credit: Marvel Studios 2022

The introduction of a new hero is always exciting for fans of the MCU, and Moon Knight is one of the best new additions in this phase. He’s charming, intense, funny, and awesome, even though one might say he’s kind of cheating on the likeability front. Moon Knight is, after all, two different people, which gives him twice as many opportunities to beam his way into viewers’ hearts. Whether people love Steven or Marc more may be a matter of personal preference, but Oscar Isaac’s performance as both is one of the most impressive in the MCU thus far. 

As Steven, Isaac’s mumbly Oliver Twist accent is intentionally bad and memeworthy. It’s also the defining aspect of Steven that makes him utterly loveable. While other characters navigate the world with the calm assurance of television heroes, Steven “bruvs” and “innits” his way through scenes like a daffy little chap who just wandered on set that day. He is out of his depth and charming as hell, inflecting his lines with the sincerity and curiosity Marc Spector lacks. 

Marc, on the other hand, is a smooth operator with a dark past and a single-minded focus on his mission. He is the sexy action hero Oscar Isaac naturally looks and sounds like, which makes his dynamic with Steven one of the show’s funnier and most interesting relationships. Marc and Steven can communicate with each other through mirrors, which leads to many scenes where Isaac plays off himself and absolutely nails both characters. After a time, what starts as a grudging and perhaps accidental body-share transforms into a grudging, brotherly tolerance that eventually forms the heart of the show. 

Ethan Hawke as Arthur in "Moon Knight", a man with shoulder-length hair holding a magical cane.

Credit: Marvel Studios 2022

The rest of the cast is equally great, with May Calamawy standing out as Layla, Marc’s butt-kicking wife who assumed her husband was dead when he was off being Steven. Her reunion with Marc is less than happy, but her waning affection for her husband matters less to her than the mysteries that Marc/Steven’s connection to Khonshu can reveal. Mythic Quest‘s F. Murray Abraham also delivers a tremendously funny voice performance as Khonshu, who appears in the show as a irritable bird-skulled mummy (Steven refers to him as a “stupid pigeon”) that even his fellow gods can’t stand to be around. 

If there’s one underwhelming character in these first four episodes, it’s Ethan Hawke in a one-note villain role as Arthur Harrow, whose “kill people before they do crimes” ethos has been done before both in and outside the MCU. He’s essentially a one-man Project Insight from The Winter Soldier, or a Thanos-lite in his desire to build a better, significantly less populated world. 

An action-packed, genuinely funny must-see

Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight in "Moon Knight;" the hero has a white, mummy-inspired costume and glowing white eyes.

Credit: Marvel Studios 2022

Despite (and because of) its lack of tethering to the greater MCU, Moon Knight stands out as an original and entertaining TV show that could equally delight hardcore fans and those who just want to know what TV show everyone’s going to be talking about. Moon Knight has elements of Fight Club, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Doctor Who, all rolled up into a sleek and beautifully shot package that’s all but guaranteed to become social media’s newest obsession.

Not bad for a show about taking orders from a stupid pigeon, innit?

Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+.

Most Popular

A crypto exchange agrees to pay $360,000 for possibly violating Iran sanctions

/ Kraken processed $1.68 million in transactions from users who appeared to be located in Iran. Illustration by Alex Castro / The...

Crypto finance firm BlockFi files for bankruptcy following the fall of FTX

/ The ‘contagion’ of failed crypto firms has claimed another casualty as BlockFi cites its financial entanglements with FTX. Illustration by Alex...

The best Lego deals for adults on Cyber Monday

/ It was extremely hard to write this post without spending lots of money You probably know that Lego isn’t just for kids...

The best Cyber Monday deals available now

/ Cyber Monday has arrived, bringing with it a deluge of fresh discounts on everything from noise-canceling earbuds to some of our favorite...