Before you start banging your head against a keyboard and questioning if I am a moron, at least hear me out. And as always, don’t @ me.
Moon Knight is undoubtedly Marvel’s best show. While each Disney Plus show they create is getting better and better, Moon Knight stands on top. The characters are becoming deeper, the plots aren’t one dimensional anymore and most importantly, it is so refreshing. Now don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed each one of these shows and some more than others. I loved Wanda Vision and Hawkeye and thought that the Falcon and Loki were pretty average. But Moon Knight is different – in the best possible way.
From the very first episode I knew this show would be special. We are introduced to a character never seen before in the MCU. Someone with dissociative identity disorder trying to just live their life. Steven Knight is different from other characters. He doesn’t feel like someone in a superhero movie but instead a character that would be the centrepiece of a HBO drama. I truly believe this comes down to the Director, writers, and Oscar Issac.
In interviews with the lead, he made it clear that he took this role for two reasons. Firstly, to work with esteemed director Mohamed Diab and secondly because of its focus on the struggle with a mental illness. That’s what makes this show so incredible. Sure, the horror is amazing, and the action sequences are solid but the character writing and performance for Marc Spector and Steven Knight is why this show stands out amongst the MCU.
And where does this all intersect? In episode 5 we see this all come together. It is such a strong contrast to the rest of the show and the MCU entirely. The whole episode dives into the memories of Marc Spector and Steven Knight. In order to balance the scales, they must relive their past and tell each other the truth. Now there are countless revelations in this episode. Marc created Steven, he was abused by his mother, and he lost his brother when he was younger. On paper, this sounds like a lot of sudden exposition and plot development to reveal to the audience. To a lesser director and writer, it would be. But Mohamed Diab and Jeremy Slater balance this perfectly.
The whole concept of exploring his memories through a psych ward is genius. I guarantee you any other Hollywood writer would have just had them arguing over this in some Egyptian cave and then dump a bunch of shitty exposition in. Instead, we are told all this visually. If everything in this episode was dialogue, the impact would not have been anywhere near as great. Instead, each room Steven enters is another memory of grief and heartbreak that Marc has literally blocked away. In the space of 50 minutes, this character has completely transformed in front of us. As Steven goes up each level, we too see the levels to this incredible character unfold. The anguish of his brother’s death, the guilt of murdering people and the hatred for his mother. All of this perfectly clicks together to explain the beginnings of his dissociative identity disorder.
But why is it better then other Marvel content? Okay sure, Endgame has some depressing moments and Wandavision has some good character writing, but nothing in the MCU has gone this deep. No Marvel project has dared to dive into so much realistic trauma. And when they do, it is for 15 minutes so they can get back to action and shooting lasers. This episode devotes an entire 50 minutes to exploring a character’s past and what has fucked him up so bad. I truly believe Marc Spector will become peoples favourite Marvel character after this show and it is definitely earned. In 10 years of watching Iron Man, we have never seen him explored as truthfully as Marc is in this episode. I know more about this character then half of the heroes I have been watching for years.
Before I finish, I just want to quickly compare this episode to Eternals. Hear me out. Directed by Chloe Zhao, this film was definitely supposed to be character focused and driven. However, the movie is a flop. Now honestly, I do believe this was studio interference and not her fault but that’s for another day. Unlike Moon Knight, we never see any of the characters explored in the same way. In fact, we barely see any of their histories in a 2 and half hour movie. Marvel must learn from Moon Knight, or they will start do die. I know it’s a TV Show and they have more time, but their film content is relying more and more on cameos and less and less on engaging and multi layered characters. (Dr Strange is definitely going to be an overbearing number of cameos and easter eggs)
One last point. There has been a large focus on Martin Scorsese calling the Marvel Movies theme park rides. Honestly, I agree with him – to an extent. Films like Spiderman, Captain Marvel and Shang Chi are undoubtedly theme park rides. They are completely focused on entertainment and nothing more. But shows like Moon Knight are different. It is in a ballpark of its own. I truly believe if Scorsese watched this episode he may, just maybe change his mind on the MCU. It is to deep and clever for him to ignore.