When crafting the pilot episode for, say, Moon Knight, a Marvel show centered on a lesser identified character that’s but to be launched within the MCU, it’s smart to have the driving query be, “What is occurring to Steven Grant?” and never, as perhaps you’d assume, “Who is Moon Knight, anyway?”
Which isn’t to say that the latter query doesn’t construction this primary entry in Disney+’s newest Marvel endeavor. The ultimate scene, in any case, is as thunderous a solution as you’d need, a kickass second that punctuates an episode of tv that fairly deliberately obscures a few of its most action-packed plotlines. Automobile chases occur, sure. And henchmen are kicked to the curb, too. However in leaning into being an train in withholding, the blood-splattering fights that occur each time Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) loses consciousness and finds himself at risk are left to our imaginations.
As a storytelling tactic, these blindspots already give Moon Knight a unique narrative rhythm from the MCU properties that preceded it (on screens each huge and small). The main target of this premiere isn’t the caped being with superpowers for whom the present is called and their little question spectacular preventing abilities, however quite the hapless present store employee who retains shedding complete days and nights to oblivion, even after sleeping with ankle restraints in hopes that he received’t as soon as once more get up in the midst of a subject with armed gunmen aiming their rifles at him.
Which begs the query: What is occurring to Steven Grant? The socially awkward Londoner is conscious he has an issue (ergo the bedside ankle straps). But he retains making an attempt to stay his life as usually as potential. He retains his mum abreast of the little that’s occurring along with his life (together with his one-finned pet fish) and principally simply retains himself busy. Certain, he misses his bus from time to time and retains having actually vivid nightmares. However he nonetheless dutifully exhibits up at work at a museum present store, the place his huge data of Egypt is all however ignored by his supervisor, who’d quite he simply promote snacks to visiting children and cease pestering her about how two gods have been omitted from the advertising supplies for the establishments’s banner exhibit.
Oscar Isaac, who’s slowly made a name for himself as one of the most effortlessly charming would-be leading men in Hollywood, gets to lose himself in the trappings of a mop-haired capital-L loser (but oh, what hair!). As Grant, Isaac’s body is a knotted contradiction. He hunches over in deference to the world around him, too self-conscious to take up any space, even when you can already tell there’s a presence about him that remains, perhaps, all too inscrutable for him to understand. With an admittedly very distracting accent, Isaac nevertheless makes us feel for Grant. We’re in his shoes the entire time. Something is clearly going awry and by god(s) we need to figure out what it is that’s happening soon, lest we lose the plot.
The joy of this pilot is how Grant’s bumbling persona becomes our introduction to the occult world of Moon Knight. Like Jason Bourne, it’s clear that Grant is more than meets the eye. (Why else would some very angry men go after him and the golden scarab he didn’t even know he had on him?) Oh, and then there’s the booming voice inside his head who keeps calling him a parasite and eggs him on to let himself go (“Go back to sleep, worm!” they bellow as a meek Steven listens on helplessly). Yes, something is very much wrong with Steven—and that’s all before he finds a hidden phone in his apartment with missed calls from a certain Layla and discovers his fish has, maybe, grown a new fin.
This is how you tease the arrival of a new superpowered being. Having the danger lurk always in the margins (what is that shadowy figure haunting Steven’s apartment building, or that monster scurrying along the museum?) means we can color it in with our own fears, with just enough suggestive power to make their eventual reveals all the more impactful—and, yes, frightening.
Which brings us to the other main character we meet, the one who actually kicks off the episode: Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow. Where Isaac’s Steven is all awkward limbs, Hawke’s Arthur is a study in stoicism and all the more threatening because of it. Clearly tapping into a supernatural force (his scales tattoo can channel the goddess Ammit , we learn), Arthur is a welcome foil for Steven. It was only once I saw the two come face to face at the museum in the premiere’s third act that I realized Moon Knight was already gifting us two things plenty of MCU properties have struggled with: thrilling, enticing villains (Loki and Hela aside, naturally) and leads who are as exciting as their caped alter characters.
By the end of the episode, I was hooked, and a line from the song that opened the entire thing (Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain Of Sand”) now echoes in my head as I brace for what’s to come. For just as Arthur is convinced in a higher power who’ll guide him well in the path ahead, I am hopeful that Moon Knight can keep the promise of what’s on display here. As Dylan sings, I want to find myself trusting this story so I can similarly claim, “I’m hanging in the balance of a perfect finished plan.”
- I would like to thank everyone involved with Moon Knight for delighting us with not one but two instances of Oscar Isaac meekly and earnestly delivering the line “later gators!”
- Speaking of the Internet’s favorite boyfriend: We have to commend his physicality here. If you’ve watched him dance in Ex-Machina or stroll with confidence within the newest Star Wars trilogy, you understand Oscar is aware of how greatest to deploy a weighted physicality in each one in every of his roles. That’s positively the case right here, as his Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde moments (particularly these mirrored ones within the museum toilet encounter when Steven comes nose to nose with Marc Spector) are capable of telegraph sudden temper shifts in split-second gestures. No small feat!
- On condition that we solely bought one uninterrupted motion set-piece, I’m very curious to see how Moon Knight’s preventing sequences stack up in opposition to these we’ve seen within the MCU earlier than. We’re in full on horror territory (and with Morbieus and Dr. Unusual In The Multiverse Of Insanity arising, there’s no denying we’re going to spend a while on this style) and hopefully meaning loads of soar scares and darkened fights forward.
- How can we really feel in regards to the needle drops on this episode? Certain, listening to “Each day I begin out, then I cry my coronary heart out” (from “A Man With out Love”) whereas watching Steven, uh, get up, might really feel a bit on the nostril, however generally you simply gotta lean into these apparent cues, no?
- Oh, and sure, we should ask all the massive questions we’ve been left with right here (on prime of “Who’s Moon Knight?”). Particularly: Who’s Layla? Why does Steven’s mirrored alter ego have an American accent? And, extra importantly, will Steven’s love life take a flip for the higher as he embraces this darker being inside him?