“MOON KNIGHT” ON DISNEY+ IS A BIT OF A DEPARTURE FROM SUPERHERO SHOWS
Written by Tony Schultz on May 16, 2022
When does a superhero show not feel like a superhero show? When you barely see the superhero is the current answer. Marvel and Disney have been masterful in making their movies with a theme involved instead of just heroic antics played out on screen. I mean, they do happen eventually, but the movies are successful because they are grounded within their theme. For instance, “Ant-Man” wasn’t about a guy that becomes a superhero rather it was a heist movie that happened to star a superhero. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” wasn’t just the next step in a story line, but was a spy thriller with a superhero in it. Each of their movies has a theme to build the action around. It is similar with their streaming TV shows on Disney+ where a character is placed in a situation that they must maneuver around, but just happen to have the mantel they carry. In the recent “Hawkeye” series it was a cop buddy team-up with a young protege learning the ropes. So how do you portray a superhero that is mentally unstable to the point that neither the hero nor the audience knows what is real or not? That’s what they did with their most recent series “Moon Knight” starring Oscar Isaac as the hero that doesn’t know he’s a hero at times.
Moon Knight is a hero who does his avenging mostly at night and has a variety of powers including a suit which protects him and gives him a selection on weapons. Where does he get his powers? Not from a radioactive spider bite or a powered suit of armor, but he gets his powers from an Egyptian god named Khonshu who bids him to seek out evildoers on his behalf as his human avatar. When you are introduced to Moon Knight in his human form you have to wonder how he became a hero. Why would a God choose this guy to fight against evil when he’s afraid of almost everything? That’s where the story pulls you in as you find out that their are two individuals already at odds inside the hero already. This makes for an interesting twist on a superhero that is in reality mentally damaged. What happens when you give a person like that super powers? Do they become focused and do thing for good or do they become warped and turn to evil? The discussion is a good one to have. Needless to say I was very interested to see where they would take the concept and mix in all the questions I had. I was impressed with the movie, but one thing started to bug me: where was the superhero?
“Moon Knight” is visually very impressive for a TV series and is well acted by Isaac and his foil in this story line Arthur Harrow played by Ethan Hawke. Harrow is the leader of a cult looking to raise a God by the name of Ammit who has a similar view of Khonshu in punishing evil doers. Although her method is to judge them on their soul and whether they are good enough. If she feels they aren’t she arbitrarily sends their souls to the underworld. While the back and forth of the main character and his enemy is interesting it can be hard to follow. There is no discussion of the multiverse on this show, but you are constantly jumping between realities of the main character’s split personalities and the worlds their minds live in. As a viewer you’re not sure whose mind you’re peering into from time to time. If you pay close attention the ends are tied up, but it takes the series to get there. What started to bother me is that we were so deep into the theme of a tortured soul and how the weight if this responsibility was placed on them that we barely get to see the hero in action. When we finally get the final battle it doesn’t give you much either as there are multiple things going on. While this show does exist in the Marvel universe they stay away from the conventional story lines that have graced the screens and barely make mention of any other heroes. That’s genius because it removes you from those stories just like the hero in this story is removed from reality at times. I enjoyed the storytelling and I enjoyed when there was action, but there just didn’t feel like we got enough of the hero side of things. You may feel the same way when watching it. Perhaps that was the goal all along. The story for the viewer may be to question what is really going on and what parts of reality do we believe when the story we’re used to seeing isn’t real life in the first place.