As a long-term Marvel fan I’ve been a bit conflicted by the Disney+ TV shows. All in all, barring hawk eye which might now top my list of essential run-up-to-Christmas geek viewing, I’ve found them a mixed bag with moments of brilliance but a lot of issues around pacing, canon and general tone. I hate to say it but Disney+ has never really hit the mark with me for Marvel TV in the way the Netflix shows, particularly Daredevil and The Punisherdid
so when Moon Knight was announced I was pretty underwhelmed. He’s a little known character and, while that doesn’t always mean an uninteresting one, that paired with the darker, more horror-ish tone meant it was nowhere near the top of my to-watch list, even with always-solid Oscar Isaac in the lead.
But, if episode one, which launched on Disney+ yesterday, is anything to go by, I am cautiously hopeful.
Moon Knight was fun. really fun. And also a bit of a breath of fresh air.
In case you’re not au fait with the comics (and no-one would blame you), Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a mercenary mortally wounded and brought back to life by Khonshu to battle his archenemy, the goddess Ammit. But in the TV version everything starts with Steven Grant, a mild-mannered almost Mr Bean-esque bumbling museum gift shop assistant in London who has an elaborate ritual to tie himself down every night because he’s worried about what happens once he falls asleep.
We get a hint as to what this might be when Steven has a ‘dream’ that sees him in foreign climes taking on Arthur Harrow (a wonderfully smarmy Ethan Hawke) who, along with his accolytes, is very keen to snatch a golden scarab beetle icon from Grant’s hands. After a stuttery series of almost-fight scenes Grant is ankle deep in dead and injured hench people – until he wakes up. But was he slept or did it really happen? We start to get the beginning of an answer when Ethan Hawke pops up in the museum while Steven is pricing up some tourist tat.
Steven has a dissociative identity disorder, a moaning boss and all the difficulties of living in a very grotty-looking un-Disney London. Oscar Isaac is clearly having a blast playing him. Isaac’s accent is, to say the least, interesting . Apparently it is based on An Idiot Abroad ‘s Karl Pilkington although I’m not sure the famed-grump himself would take that as a compliment. It’s testament to Isaac’s performance and how fun a character Steven Grant is as a whole that while it starts off being incredibly distracting by the end it’s a minor niggle – hardly a ringing endorsement but at least it doesn’t render the whole show as unwatchable as the trailer suggested it might.
As a first episode The Goldfish Problem definitely left me wanting more. By showing us so much from Steven’s perspective there are some tempting prospects in future episodes – not least seeing Moon Knight fully in action after a few tantalizing glimpses and finding out more about the voices in his head, although I could do without Khonshu (voiced by F Murray Abraham( sounding quite so cheesily Venom -and.
It’s still early days to say whether this will be the best Disney+ Marvel show yet, but it definitely starts well and is worth a watch. Now let’s see if they can handle the pacing issues that made Loki , WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier at times so infuriating. At least with a six episode run there’s less risk of filler.
* Moon Knight episode one is streaming on Disney+ now. New episodes will be released weekly on Wednesdays.