Debuting: March 30, 2022
Oscar Issac is not only the supervillain Apocalypse but also the masked superhero Moon Knight in two (finally united) Marvel Comics Cinematic Universe properties. Both have very loose Ancient Egyptian connections, and this actor is terrific at making us believe he has multiple personalities. Technically, his character has a dissociative identity disorder, and just how many he has would be telling.
In the first episode. Steven Grant isn’t sure about what’s going on with his life. He’s prone to black outs and has to live in seclusion because he fears something is out to get him–or rather, dreads what happens when he’s asleep. He works at the British Museum as a gift shop clerk. His mates at work don’t pay him any heed, and more often than not, step all over him.
Grant is kind of like the Clark Kent of yesteryear. I’m recalling how Christopher Reeve amped up the awkwardness in Richard Donner’s Superman. But once when the cape and costume gets put on, the shift in personality is very noticeable. The series offers a soft mystery for viewers to take in as this hero’s origins unravel like the bandaged up mummy-like costume he wears. He’s nothing like Batman whom many people think he mimics. Ask a long time comic book reader, and they’ll most likely say he and Spawn share more similarities than the DC caped crusader.
But he’s Moon Knight, a mysterious figure who serves the Egyptian God Khonshu, and is fighting to restore some kind of cosmic order. This deity is the lord of the night, and his sphere of influence is the moon. His name means traveller, and along with Thoth, they represent the magical side of Ancient Egypt. The love this series gives to this aspect is in how it’s entwined into the narrative. This miniseries doesn’t delve too deep with the lore, but in what’s shown so far may get some to take up Egyptology, if not archaeology.
The first episode is a mere teaser to what the second finally gets to explain. While Marc Spector is one personality behind the mask, able to beat anyone up, the other, Grant, is a coward. By the third episode, we get a better idea of who is in control. But as for why Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) is after him, that’s because he and Moon Knight have history. He’s not just another random cult leader. He wants to bring the end of days and summon Ammit, a chimaera like beast. It has the head of a crocodile, the front of a lion and hindquarters of a hippopotamus. She is known as The Devourer / Eater of Hearts in The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Her role is to bring permenant death of an individual should the weighing of the heart before the Underworld god Osiris show the person is unworthy to enter the Field of Reeds (this world’s version of Heaven). Harrow isn’t Osiris either, so he may be wanting to challenge this position should he ever find the avatar that represents this fertility god.
Series creator and writer Jeremy Slater delved deep into the lore and there’ll be cameos of other divine forces from this pantheon. Although Ammit hasn’t made an official apperance yet, I like that she is just not another pet of the underworld. She’s may be more menacing than Zuul and Vinz Clortho combined from Ghostbusters!
What’s done so far is a delicate balance between what the mythology represents to moments of crazy superheroics. The cheesier aspects get saved for F. Murray Abraham to have fun with. He voices Khonshu, and this comical character is very child-like and a brat. When considering how this figure is depicted in funerary art–as a youth rather than an animal headed human–it’s perfect. His adult form may seem confusing to some, but the Thoth-like look (with a skeletal head) is appropriate.
Slater gives viewers a backstory that I love. Instead of presenting the version from the comics who usually challenges street level crime in its various series run, this live-action version is all about his Egyptian roots. Like the comics (and in Kolchak, the Night Stalker TV series), the paranormal is just waiting to pounce when the opportunity is right. But to stop them from striking, figures like Moon Knight and Kolchak have to be ready with their guns loaded. They don’t have the supernatural strength to do it alone.
Director Mohamed Diab‘s touch lies in showing that the Otherworld exists in subtle ways. Hints can be spotted for those who have the sight. But for Moon Knight, he’ll have to play warrior and be nice lest he piss off more gods. The last episode may reveal how this series connects with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The timing of this release before Doctor Strange 2 is very well planned, and it’s possible Moon Knight will appear in the film. Someone has to take off their bandages to give to the Master of Mystic Arts to mend the multiverse he broke.