No sooner had Ryan posted his essay about whether or not comic book companies like Marvel or DC actually need readers anymore then I came over here to type up my review of Moon Knight.
Why is that relevant? Well, Moon Knight is a 6-episode miniseries based on a character who made his debut in the pages of Marvel comics. The character has a loyal following of readers but the Disney miniseries has introduced him to a whole new group of people, many of whom have never even held a comic book, let alone read one. I’m one of those people. If not for the miniseries, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea who Moon Knight is because, for the most part, I’ve never been a comic book reader. I would have to imagine that if I was a comic book reader, it would bug the Hell out of me that people who have never read a comic book are now suddenly acting as if they’re experts on all of the various costumed characters who have been published by Marvel and DC over the past few decades. I can remember how upset I was when everyone suddenly decided that they were an expert on Dario Argento and Italian horror just because they had read some lame article on the remake of Suspiria. No, I wanted to say, you haven’t done the work!
Unfortunately, that’s the way of the world now. With the current pop cultural dominance of the MCU and the DCEU, everyone’s a super hero fan regardless of whether or not they’ve ever read a comic book. And, with the explosion of social media over the past decade, everyone is now in a position to present themselves as being an expert regardless of whether they’re tweeting their own thoughts or just plagiarizing what they’ve read on Wikipedia. It doesn’t matter whether the topic is politics, television, history, science, religion, or comic books. Everyone now claims to be an expert and, as the old saying goes, when everyone’s an expert, no one’s an expert. Again, if that annoys the Hell out of you, I sympathize.
Perhaps you can take some consolation in the fact that, even though I watched all six episode of Moon Knight today, I hardly feel like an expert as far as the character is concerned. For the most part, I enjoyed Moon Knight but I would be lying if I said that I was always able to follow what was going on. Oscar Isaac plays Marc Spector, a mercenary who is mortally wounded in Egypt but who is revived by Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), the Egyptian God of the Moon, who tasks Spector with protecting humanity from evil or something like that. Sometimes, however, Spector becomes Steven Grant, a mild-mannered and neurotic Brit who works in a museum gift shop and who is haunted by strange dreams. When Grant discovers that he’s actually Spector, this leads to him meeting Spector’s wife, Layla (May Calamawy) and also having to battle Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a fanatical cult leader who is trying to get his hands on ancient scarab that will …. let him do stuff, I guess. Harrow’s evil, Moon Knight’s good, and I guess that’s all we really need to know. Moon Knight is basically a typical MCU “let’s all fight over the artifact” story, with the main twist being that all of the Gods are Egyptian instead of Norse and the hero has dissociative identity disorder and might actually very well be a patient at psychiatric hospital.
With all that in mind, Moon Knight is actually pretty entertaining. It’s biggest strength, not surprisingly, is Oscar Isaac, who appears to be having a ball playing several different versions of the same character. When he’s Marc Spector, he gets to play at being a grim and serious action hero. When he’s Steve Grant, he gets to play a comedic bumbler who gets the chance to prove that he’s stronger and more capable than anyone gave him credit for. Isaac does a good job with both roles and the show is at its best when it’s just Isaac arguing with himself. Playing a villain in an MCU production is often a thankless task but Hawke’s brings the right edge of fanaticism to Arthur Harrow and F. Murray Abraham voices Khonshu with the just the right combination of righteous indignation and weary frustration. The show makes good use of its Egyptian setting and the fourth and fifth episodes are enjoyably surreal as they delve into the corners of Spector’s mind.
Unfortunately, the show’s conclusion leaves a bit to be desired. After all that build-up, it all pretty much leads to a standard MCU street battle and the possibility of more Moon Knight action in the future. That said, I enjoyed the show for what it was. Turn off your mind, relax, and float across the Duat, as the old saying goes.