Moon Knight allows itself to stand alone in an immersive story, without a larger MCU connection.
Moon Knight made its Disney+ debut recently, introducing a wide array of new ideas, villains, heroes, and even the entirety of the Egyptian pantheon. From beginning to end the show really rallied around the mystery of its main character: Marc Spector. I mean, Steven Grant. Or maybe Jake L. Regardless of what we call him, it was enticing. Initially the show portrays Steven Grant, an ever exhausted Egypt enthusiast. He is then revealed to share his body with a much more powerful and confident alter self by the name of Marc Spector. Where Steven is weak Marc is strong, and where Marc is harsh and impulsive, Steven is frantic yet wise. Each personality is expertly played by Oscar Isaac. Each character is distinct and widely different without any costume changes needed, yet there is a deep sense of connection even through all this.
However also living in the fractured mind of Moon Knight is the entity Khonshu; the god of the Moon and entity that granted Marc his incredible powers. Khonshu however is no dutiful mentor, he is more akin to vengeful general. He points his finger at targets for his Moon Knight to eradicate. He also values effectiveness above all else, and in many ways can be consider a minor antagonist, essentially imprisoning Marc to do his bidding and only acknowledging Steven as the ‘idiot’. Khonshu continually acts in conflict with all characters, humans and Gods alike.
The action is classically Marvel, which remains amazing.
The conflict is also top notch. From invisible enemies to alligator faced Kaiju, Moon Knight showcases much fantasy, yet shines when grounded. The fighting also plays to the strength of the characters expertly. Marc dispatches enemies quickly and effectively, while Steven resorts on his wits and surroundings to do anything. There is a constant struggle for control that continously pushes each personality forward.
While the fighting is an absolute spectacle with masterful choreography, it is at its best when in mystery. The early moments of the show when Steven fights for control of his body to little avail. Those are the moments that allow us to experience his panic, jutting us forward in time with no explanation. The truck chase in the first episode is so memorable because of these gaps, and one of the ways the show created its own identity.
Moon Knight and it’s lore are enough, with no need for more.
Although the show is incredibly full of exposition and new characters, it paces itself well. It calmly introduces new ideas and realms, even nodding to already established ones (looking at you blatant Black Panther reference). Yet through it all it never feels like it needs any more or less. Moon Knight is perfectly content in carving its own sect in the Marvel universe. This is what makes it so different from all of the other Disney+ additions to this point. Moon Knight is the first to take a not previously established character, and with that also the first to not reference greater conflicts or teams, such as the ‘blip’ or even the Avengers.
Moon Knight in a way takes a page from the Netflix era of Marvel television, it stands alone from the grander scheme to tell a more direct and contained story. Sure it also embraces its darker side, though not as heavily as say Jessica Jones or Daredevil, showing a deep instability in Marc, and even blatant abuse. The best lesson Moon Knight takes from his non-Disney+ predecessors is that it isn’t afraid to not worry about what anyone else is doing. Marc, Steven, Khonshu and whoever the hell else is in Oscar Isaac’s body have enough story to tell. Therefore remaining somewhat separate from the MCU is the best thing to do.