Marvel’s latest TV series, Moon Knight, based upon the offbeat comic book character who first emerged in 1975, has finally made its way into the mainstream superhero domain, starring Oscar Isaac as its title lead and Ethan Hawke as his antagonist.

Its opening scene is not how you expect a Marvel show to begin, either. It’s not fun, nor is it action-packed or comedic. Instead, which sets a much darker tone for the opening episode at least, we see an uncomfortable and un-Marvel-like intro setting up a series we can see why it is rated 16+, with an assumption we’re about to get something decidedly more adult-focused than, say, a Loki or Hawkeye.

Yes, Isaac’s high-pitched British accent for the character we know as Steven Grant is incredibly distracting as is its supposed English sensibility and setting - something those living in the UK will immediately and uncomfortably pick up on - with the cockneyfication of London, despite that not reflecting the reality of the modern city at all. Fortunately, the above isn’t too painful to get past, as an apathetic Steve continues to whine and mope about the museum he works at, as we learn snippets about his interests in Egyptian history and how he's generally overlooked, undervalued, and disliked by his peers.

Things turn weird when we gain insight into his nighttime routine: namely his ritualistic methods of anti-sleep, even though we are unsure what any of this means yet.

The script makes it very clear Steven has no concept of time, losing hours and days at will and being generally befuddled as to when and where he is. It's heart-wrenching when you couple his confusion - and subsequent sadness at his own social shortcomings - with an acknowledgment of his Dissociative Identity Disorder (which isn’t explicitly clarified in the first episode).

It's easier to digest the events of the premiere if one simply views his world from a sort of reverse Memento standpoint, as we appear just as ill-informed about what he's been up to as he is; piecing together various clues Steven himself stumbles upon with anxious, chaotic Matrix-style questions of existence and purpose. At present it's hard to know how the series will turn out or even what direction it'll venture; with the dynamics between a hapless lead and calm and collected Arthur Harrow (Hawke), their relationship seems something to pay attention to.

Moon Knight’s trippy to say the least, as the first episode discombobulates yet intrigues us to what is behind the fractured horror we experience as a viewer. It's certainly a lot to absorb in its opening 45 minutes, but what it does - while offering nothing resembling answers or clarity whatsoever - is to set up something potentially interesting in terms of how Marvel is tackling mental illness and, on one of its rarer occasions, elements of horror not generally associated with Disney productions. As messed up as Steven's life appears, one cannot help but empathize with him on a basic level and as a human with seemingly real and dangerously prevalent issues dictating his life.

IN SHORT: Arguably, Moon Knight has plenty to offer moving forward but it’s still early days. It doesn’t dazzle in any particular way but does feel layered and expansive, as its debut merely scratches the surface of what promises to be an unraveling story around a complex individual. Boasting a narrative that, at times, juxtaposes frivolous comedy with some genuinely unnerving scenes of visual horror younger viewers won’t be accustomed to, this is one for the adults. Thus far, a surreal, startling, and mildly amusing start to Marvel’s newest miniseries.


Creators / Showrunners: Doug Moench
Directors: Justin Benson, Mohamed Diab, Aaron Moorhead
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham, Saffron Hocking.
Episodes reviewed: 1