TV: Moon Knight

If anyone can afford not to be risk-averse, you’d think it would be Marvel, but they haven’t exactly gone out of their way to push themselves creatively. Fortunately, recent films like Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, while built on familiar scaffolding, have at least brought refreshing new milieus to the MCU. The new Disney Plus series Moon Knight might be added to that category; it’s an underwhelming but enjoyable standalone series with an intriguing vibe, and it mercifully resists the franchise predilection for ruthless cross-marketing.

Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) is a kind, nerdy British bloke who works in a museum shop—and also has a peculiar habit of chaining himself to his bed at night. Why? Steven has multiple personality disorder, which would be problematic enough if his alter ergo—Marc Spector—weren’t also a superhero. Marc serves as the earthly avatar of the Egyptian god Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), and until now has managed to effectively segregate Steven into his quiet, mundane life. But something has happened to break down the walls between the two personalities, pitting them in rivalry for control over their shared body. This all happens just as Marc, in his Moon Knight guise, is coming into conflict with Khonshu’s former avatar Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a malevolent mystic with plans on unleashing the wrath of a greater god upon the Earth.

Moon Knight may not make a lasting impression, but it’s entertaining fare made better by the obscurity of its source material, which is held at a distance from the MCU’s many other properties. As a character, Moon Knight is a deep enough dive into Marvel’s lore to make the story unexpected, especially as structured here with its slow-build mystery and escalating reveals. The plot, of course, is ultimately more of the same: vague, apocalyptic nonsense it’s difficult to get too worked up about, given we’ve been down the road thirty-odd times. And as a villain, Arthur Harrow is a pro forma schemer that Hawke doesn’t inject with much menace. But Isaac has fun essaying multiple roles, and May Calamawy makes a great impression as Steven/Marc’s resourceful love interest, every bit a hero in her own right. Naturally, it ends the way most of these affairs do, but the journey is structurally unpredictable, and the swashbuckling adventure milieu is fun. There isn’t enough here to get too excited about, but MCU completists are liable to enjoy the ride well enough.

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