Review: Moon Knight takes his restless hero on a classic hero journey

Increase / Oscar Isaac – a suffering man with many faces, who becomes the avatar of the Egyptian god of the moon Honshu in Moon Knight.

YouTube / Marvel Studios

Can there be anything good from the gods interfering in the affairs of men? This is the main mystery Moon Knight, the last spin-off series is in the fourth phase of the MCU, and in the case of the series, the answer is a resounding yes. Starring Oscar Isaac as a suffering man with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), the series has more in common with Netflix Defenders TV series than with the recent Marvel tariff like WandaVision, Falcon and Winter Soldierand Loki. But instead of happening in New York’s infernal cuisine, he tells a unique story of superhero origins, rich in symbolism and Egyptian mythology.

(Some spoilers below are for comics and TV series. Any serious testimony is at the very end, and we’ll let you know when we get there.)

Like me written earlier, in the comics Mark Spector (aka the Knight of the Moon) – the son of a rabbi, who at a young age the Egyptian god of the moon Honshu noted as the avatar of the god on Earth. But Honshu is a supernatural being with many aspects of his nature – and also does not exist in phase with normal time and space – so establishing a mental connection with man Mark is detrimental to human mental health.

Mark develops a DID, eventually becoming a mercenary. He is hired by the ruthlessly immoral Raoul Bushman for a job in which the latter kills an archaeologist who discovered an Egyptian tomb. Mark rescues the daughter of archaeologist Marlene, leading to a major brawl with Bushman. Mark loses the fight and remains dead, but the locals carry him to the grave and leave him in front of the statue of Honshu. Honshu revives and heals the dying Mark.

Stephen Grant (Oscar Isaac) discovers the existence of another person.
Increase / Stephen Grant (Oscar Isaac) discovers the existence of another person.

Marvel Studios / Disney +

When Mark returns to the United States, he directs all the money he earned as a mercenary to fight crime in the role of the Moon Knight, known for his silver cape. He has four other individuals in the comics: a billionaire businessman named Stephen Grant, a taxi driver named Jake Lockley, a costume consultant named Mr. Knight and a little red-haired girl named Inner Child. Shoraner Jeremy Slater has retained the general outline of the series ’origin story with some key differences.

The first person we meet is Stephen Grant, not a billionaire, but an awkward, soft-spoken British dude who works in a gift shop at the London Museum and wants to share his knowledge of Egyptian history and culture as a guide. His professional and romantic prospects are dim because he suffers from blackouts. He even goes so far as to chain himself to bed at night, but still often returns to consciousness in unfamiliar environments.

Mark Spector (also Isaac) is the first person, a former mercenary who now serves as the avatar of Honshu.  Mae Kalamavi plays Mark's wife Leila El Fauli.
Increase / Mark Spector (also Isaac) is the first person, a former mercenary who now serves as the avatar of Honshu. Mae Kalamavi plays Mark’s wife Leila El Fauli.

Marvel Studios / Disney +

One of these shutdowns triggers the show’s events. Stephen wakes up in the Austrian Alps and finds himself in the middle of a confrontation with Arthur Herr (Ethan Hawke), a charismatic cult leader who demands that Stephen give him an Egyptian scarab, which he accidentally holds in his hands. A mysterious force prevents Stephen from doing so, while a voice in his head complains that the “idiot” is ruling again. Stephen darkened again and was covered in blood, and around him were the bodies of Harrow’s men. However, there are new power outages and car chases. Let’s just say that blackout and shutdown while driving at high speed on a narrow mountain road – with heavily armed evil henchmen on hot trails – is not a safe way to travel.

This is a very effective start to this series because we share Stephen’s disorientation and confusion as he tries to figure out what’s going on with him. Eventually Mark Spector, a mercenary character, reveals himself and explains that he is the avatar of Honshu, an outcast among the Egyptian gods for his crusade against the injustices of humanity. (F. Murray Abraham voices Honshu, and Karim El-Hakim physically depicts him.) Mark is estranged from his wife Leila El-Fawli (Mae Kalamavi), the daughter of an Egyptologist killed by mercenaries.

As for Harrow, he was once an avatar of Honshu, but became loyal to the Egyptian goddess Amit, who is in prison by other gods. She is even more radical than Honshu, judging people’s hearts for the good or evil they will do, not just for sins already committed. Scarab will show the location of Amit’s grave so Harrow can free it and allow Amit to make his opinion of the world. Mark and Stephen need to figure out how to share the body and work together to thwart Harrow’s plan with the help of Layla. Oh, and there may be a third person hiding in their common body that appears only when it all starts indeed bad.

Cult leader Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) worships the Egyptian goddess Amit, who will judge humanity on the basis of future sins.
Increase / Cult leader Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) worships the Egyptian goddess Amit, who will judge humanity on the basis of future sins.

YouTube / Marvel Studios

Slater has proven himself as a talented narrator, weaving all the threads of this complex narrative together, exploring themes of identity and recovery from trauma. Bonus: the whole series is perfectly shot, with gorgeous scenery and costume design. It’s a classic mythological journey of the hero in many ways, all the way to a journey to the afterlife, but much of that journey takes place in the minds of Mark and Stephen. Such an inner psychological journey may be difficult to portray constantly appealing, but Slater successfully implements it. I especially appreciate the skillful symbolic use of mirrors throughout to convey the broken self.

Much of the credit for the show’s success is also due to Isaac’s thrilling performance. He seems to effortlessly move between two distinctive personalities, complete with unique accents and body language, and with aplomb copes with sequences of action. Indigenous Britons will no doubt get tired of Isaac’s alleged London accent, but the actor said he deliberately made it “weird and unconvincing”. This is something that an injured young boy in the process of splitting in two would consider a British accent, so for my money the choice makes sense of the story.

Back to top button