Oscar Isaac is no stranger to big-budget blockbusters. He was, after all, Poe Dameron in 'The Force Awakens'. Yet, between his dalliances with multiplexes, he's done some fascinating work in arthouse and independent cinema. 'The Card Counter', most recently, was a dark, brooding thriller about an ex-torturer and paralleled Paul Schrader's 'Taxi Driver' and 'First Reformed'. Yet, in the same year, he was Duke Leto Atreides in 'Dune' and had a voice role in 'The Addams Family 2'.
This ability to shift from big blockbusters and more cerebral fare is why Oscar Isaac was probably the only actor capable of doing 'Moon Knight', and why he's such a good fit for the role. The character is a man who is literally split into several personalities. One of them is Steven Grant, a nebbish museum worker in London who has a problem with sleepwalking. One of them is Marc Spector, a violent American who seems to have no trouble killing people. There's Mr. Knight, a besuited superhero, and finally, there's Moon Knight, who wears a cape, throws a golden crescent from his chest, and looks like a mummy. Isaac's ability to play all four of these characters with such conviction is what keeps 'Moon Knight' going when things get too chaotic.
If it gets disorientating, that's kind of the point. We're supposed to be confused, because Oscar Isaac's character on screen is equally confused. Yet, to embrace that strangeness, to have a central character who really doesn't know what he's doing at the best and is being carried along by this superheroic apparatus, makes this one of Marvel's strangest and arguably most self-aware entries to date. Of the four episodes we were shown, you can see Oscar Isaac throw himself fully into the role, with a strong supporting cast made up around him. Ethan Hawke plays Harrow, a cult leader and is played like a mixture between David Koresh and Steve Jobs. The great F. Murray Abraham is the voice of Khonshu, the Egyptian god who gives Oscar Isaac's character his powers, while May Calamaway plays the love interest with a real sense of agency and command.
Showrunner Jeremy Slater's other work, such as Netflix's 'The Umbrella Academy', speaks to how 'Moon Knight' plays out. It's very often weird and unusual, with camera angles spinning everywhere and odd blocking and staging, but it works. Moreover, it being a Marvel entry, 'Moon Knight' isn't afraid to play up some of the menace of the character or the violence either. So often in Marvel, you find that the fight sequences are kind of bloodless, but here, it's got some real impact to it that's just altogether refreshing.
While it's still working inside of a familiar framework, 'Moon Knight' really is quite bold - both visually and tonally - for Marvel and if it latches on with audiences, it might drive them to consider shaking things up in a real, meaningful way instead of resorting to dull CGI explosion reels.