Moon Knight is the MCU at its funniest, scariest... and messiest
Oscar Isaac fronts the new Marvel show which kicks off on Disney+ this week.
After seeing the first four episodes - of the six contained in the entire first season - it is very difficult to land on a definitive opinion of Moon Knight.
Already we're seeing a bit of a repeated issue with how these MCU shows are playing out: a great first episode, some faffing about the middle stretch, before either sticking the landing very well (Loki, What If...?) or kinda balls-ing it up (Hawkeye, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier).
So far, the only real variant has been WandaVision, which effectively maintained its high quality by really leaning into its unique premise and proper mystery-box set-up.
Of the four episodes shown to press, the first is spectacular, while the second and third meander around seemingly in search of some kind of proper direction, before the fourth episode ramps the quality way up again with a sudden infusion of horror and pure psychological head-fuckery.
The central plot is still mostly being explained to the show's central protagonist Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) several episodes in.
He is a mild-mannered and bizarrely-accented employee at a history museum in London, but he suffers from dissociative identity disorder, with one of his personalities being Marc Spector, a short-tempered soldier who also happens to be the conduit for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu.
Spector has seemingly been kept mostly under control, but the arrival of Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a religious zealot intent on "healing the world" - in the same way Thanos probably thought he was healing the universe - Spector's skills and magical powers are needed more and more often.
Grant's knowledge of historical artefacts and where to find them means both minds controlling this body need to work together to get the job done, something further complicated by the arrival/return of Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy), who Grant begins crushing on, despite the fact that she is Spector's ex.
As the first of the MCU shows to kick off essentially from scratch - the five previous Disney+ series have all been built around characters we've met through the movies - there is a lot more legwork to get done here than usual, and thankfully they've got a stellar central player to carry that weight.
Isaac's bumbling, almost Hugh Grant-esque delivery of a regular man caught in a bonkers scenario is never not funny, but he gets to flex his acting muscles a lot as he basically interacts with different versions of himself throughout.
Additionally, we imagine there will be A LOT of think pieces around Hawke's portrayal of the villain; giving pure cult leader and dialling the creepy up to eleven.
The actors sell everything so well so quickly, it comes as a surprise that the script doesn't trust them enough, constantly hammering home points it had made already.
Isn't Grant soooo out of his depth? Isn't Spector suuuuuuch a douchebag? Isn't this whole scenario reaaaaaaally confusing?
New characters and locations are added and dropped without much ceremony, with the clear end goal set up quite succinctly, but the show seemingly adds in needless busywork in order to fill out the six-episode run.
Thankfully, the fourth episode puts us back on track, and we can only hope that it is a direct, exciting sprint to the finish line from there on out.
From what we've seen so far, Isaac and his character(s) are great new additions to the MCU, even if the show he's arrived in doesn't always seem confident in what to do with him/them.
The first episode of Moon Knight will arrive on Disney+ on Wednesday, 30 March, with the rest of the show arriving weekly after that.
Clips via Marvel