‘Moon Knight’ properly spotlights a superhero dealing with mental illness


Kaila Babyar

Moon Knight was first introduced into the Marvel Universe back in 1975 by writer Doug Moench and artist Don Perlin, with his first appearance in Werewolf by Night #32. Since then Marc Spector has been taking the night enforcing vengeance on those evil as Khonsu’s avatar.

Aidan Renteria, Photographer

Marvel Studios’ “Moon Knight” brings a different kind of superhero that Marvel has never done before. Moon Knight is not the perfect superhero, making him so compelling. His imperfections make Moon Knight different compared to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) characters as he struggles with mental illness. 

I love Moon Knight for his flaws, not his perfections. Moon Knight’s struggle and past were so intriguing that I could not wait for the release of each new episode to learn more about who this character was. “Moon Knight” was a bold move for not following the typical superhero formula by Marvel, which I adored. Such a different kind of story in the MCU, leaving me wanting more from this fractured character. 

The story starts with Steven Grant, portrayed by Oscar Isacc, a museum clerk working in the gift shop. From the very beginning, there is something off with Steven. He ties himself to the bed every night, forgets things, and blacks out a lot. One night, Steven has an odd dream where he finds himself in an unknown place. He witnesses this little journey of a town with a strange vibe with people seeming to sacrifice themselves for this man with a cane named Arthur Harrow, portrayed by Ethan Hawke. Steven does not understand what is happening, which leads to a blackout and him waking up covered in blood, and bodies all over the ground. Arthur freaks out a bit and tries to run away. Steve was frightened and scared, and then he blacked out, and he woke up in a truck getting chased by some of the people of the village. They begin to shoot Steven as he drives, leading to another blackout, killing them all. Steven then wakes up back in his bed. Steven checks his ankle for the brace and sees he is still tied to his bed. He did not leave. Was it all a dream? Who is Steven? Who is he really?

With six episodes, there is a lot of screen time on the main cast of characters, focusing on each one and their ideals. Steven Grant is the character first introduced. Oscar Isaac does a great job playing the nerdy nervous Egyptian mythology enthusiast. Steven is supposed to be a British citizen with an accent, and Isaac does a pretty good job conveying it. 

As the story progresses, Steven learns that he has a mental illness, which is dissociative identity disorder. The voice in his head is more than his conscious but is a person named Marc Spector. Isaac does an amazing job playing Steve Grant and the hard-boiled mercenary Marc. Knowing playing one or the other would not be so tough because obviously he is an actor. That is what he paid to do, but playing two characters at the same time, now that is talent. There are scenes where Isaac will be talking with the British accent being all goofy as Steven, but then will transition to his American accent in a split second, effortlessly. With powers, Steven becomes Mr. Knight, and for Marc, he becomes Moon Knight. Isaac continues to portray these characters very well even when they are all suited up. Both characters are vastly different, and with Isaac’s performance, it is very believable that they are two entirely different alters sharing the same body. 

Layla El-Faouly, Marc Spector’s wife is portrayed by the wonderful May Calamawy. Calamawy does an amazing job being the strong adventurer, especially in episodes four and six, where she shines. Although Layla is a mercenary’s wife, she is just as menacing and courageous if not more than her husband. Especially towards the end of the series when she puts herself forth to stop the evil of Arthur Harrow. I am looking forward to what Marvel does with her characters and how she will impact it, due to her being a representation of the Egyptian community. Arthur Harrow is brought to the screen by Hollywood star Ethan Hawke. He brings a menacing and intriguing character for Marc and Steven to face off. Unlike many motives of villains which are just for power or to punish others, Arthur can judge someone’s soul to see if they are pure or not. Although that is kinda a wrong way to get rid of evil it is valid and makes sense why he would do such a thing. Getting rid of evil before it happens, sign me up, but how can one judge someone if they have not done anything yet, which Arthur was doing, seeing into a future to judge if they will be good or evil. Throughout the series, Hawke brings different versions of Arthur to the screen, each time an excellent job. Both Layla and Arthur were great characters that had me hooked and engaged from the start to the end of the series.

Music within “Moon Knight” is phenomenal and adds to the story. The soundtrack to the Egyptian music that plays fits the tone of “Moon Knight”. Hesham Nazih worked on the show’s soundtrack, and, wow, is it, Moon Knight, alright. Hearing it pulls you into the Egyptian world that Moon Knight is all about. A stand-out song for the show, in my opinion, was Engelbert Humperdinck’s Man Without Love. Such a good song. From the start to the end, the music added to the story is of this fractured man.

The directions that the directors Mohamed Diab, Justin Benson, and Aaron Moorhead took the show were unlike any other MCU tv show produced. The filming tricks they used were unique; for example, when Oscar talks to himself in a piece of glass because he is conversing with his other persona or when they had two Oscars on the same screen. Having those moments made it believable that Marc Spector has dissociative identity disorder. He struggles, and it is shown. It is the best visual representation of this mental illness, and I applaud the crew. The cinematography was decently done too. Nothing crazy like the visual in “The Batman,” but I was not expecting to see something visually stunning in a Marvel show. Fighting is your typical Marvel show, but the last episode shined, having the best end fight in a Marvel show. Overall, everything the crew had with this character was well done. The adventure of Moon Knight in this show was nothing short of amazing, and I cannot believe Marvel Studios took the risk in making this show, but I am glad they did.

Marvel Studios’ “Moon Knight” is a different kind of hero in the Marvel universe. From start to finish, I was intrigued to learn more about Steven Grant, and then I found myself learning more about Marc Spector. The shift of characters was something fresh and new that was engaging and fun to watch. There was so much of Moon Knight I  liked, just that I wanted more. “Moon Knight” is an eight out of 10 and the best MCU show to date. The actors, story, and ending made this show so fun to watch. After every episode, I could not wait until the next week to see where Marc/Steven went next. “Moon Knight” was unpredictable and got better with each episode. This show was a step in the right direction for future Marvel projects and phase four.