“Moon Knight:” Breaking the Mold

At season’s end, Marvel has proven its ability to evolve and adapt in its transition to television.

Photo Courtesy / YouTube Marvel Entertainment

At the halfway point of “Moon Knight,” I could not give Marvel Studios enough credit for their work on the limited series. Its focus on Egyptian culture and mythology, paired with strong performances from each of the lead roles, developed a clear recipe for success that made me eager to stream the latest episode every Wednesday. Needless to say, I had high expectations for the second half.

I did not anticipate “Moon Knight” shattering those expectations quite like it did.

The fourth episode, beyond its exciting plot and setup for the following installments, showcased the importance of May Calamawy’s Layla. There is certainly an interesting dynamic between her and Marc, but she is not confined to the role of some love interest for the main character.

Beyond this, as an Arab actress playing an Egyptian hero, Calamawy serves as crucial representation for young audiences. As viewers will see in the sixth episode, Layla has shining moments that exude hope, pride and power. While I myself may not be in a position to articulate that impact, I hope those who feel they need a hero find one in Calamawy’s Layla. Needless to say, she deserves an even larger role in future projects.

The penultimate chapter of this series is one of the greatest episodes of television I have ever seen. While I do not wish to spoil anything, I want to note that there is no superhero element to this installment. It is solely a deep dive into Oscar Isaac’s characters, Marc Spector and Steven Grant, utilizing Egyptian mythology to tackle hard-hitting topics and provide their backstories. It is an extremely emotional episode that can be hard to watch at times. Isaac does not hold back in this performance, and there have been few superhero performances that have matched this intensity level. Similar to Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man 3” and Hugh Jackman’s “Logan,” this latest project does not lighten its tone to cater to a younger audience.

This part of the series best exemplifies how dynamic Marvel Studios has become in its storytelling. With many feeling fatigued from the so-called Marvel formula, “Moon Knight” chose to tackle a character’s past in a way that no other superhero project has done before. At times, one could almost forget that the series takes place within the Marvel universe. If the studio’s future works can accomplish this level of uniqueness, such feelings of repetitiveness can be eradicated.

Shifting from such a dramatic episode to the season finale, which was more action packed, seemed to present some challenges. While the cinematography and fight choreography were both fantastic, some of the transitioning plot was lacking. This flawed pacing stemmed from the finale being the shortest episode of the series, a massive mistake by Marvel Studios. The stakes of the episode were extremely high, yet the conflict was resolved much quicker than one would have expected. This took away from much of the excitement during the episode.

In addition to these concerns, I feel the finale did not wrap things up the way many may have wanted it to. These are not plot holes, but rather some things needed to be revisited before concluding the season. Fans like myself will be eager to see Marc Spector return in the future, but there have been no official announcements about a second season yet. If — though it most certainly seems like when — another season of “Moon Knight” is released, there will certainly be many questions for Marvel Studios to answer.

Overall, the season did a great job of differentiating itself from past Marvel projects. While there are still concerns over how these shows peak before their finales, Marvel Studios has generally struck gold in its transition to television. “Moon Knight” is no exception to this trend, as audiences are sure to love this unique newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All episodes of “Moon Knight” are now streaming on Disney+. You can also find many of the other Marvel Studios productions on there, most of which I recommend. However, this series is truly a standalone project that requires zero prior knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to enjoy.