Even with disruption to its big screen world due to COVID, Marvel Comics continue to expand their cinematic universe with their Disney Plus limited series. So far Marvel has used the mini-series format to take some big risks with story and style. And the results have been surprisingly fun and effective. But Marvel’s newest limited series – Moon Knight – may be their biggest gamble. It’s not just that the titular character isn’t familiar to wide audiences. The character has a complicated history in the comics. In addition, casual viewers may initially dismiss the character as a poor man’s Batman. But there’s a lot of talent behind the six-part series including Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, Mohamed Diab, and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless).
And Now Introducing … Steven Grant
After a mysterious opening and the classic MCU opening scroll, The Goldfish Problem introduces us to awkward, timid museum employee Steven Grant. Among his eccentricities, Steven believes he suffers from a sleep disorder. To prevent himself from wandering the streets of London, he straps his feet to the bed and runs tape along his door frame to keeps tabs on himself. Though he considers himself to be something of an expert on ancient Egypt, Steven’s boss keeps sticks him in the museum gift shop. And no one seems to get his name right – it’s Steven, not Stevie. But he does have a date with an attractive co-worker even if he can’t remember ever asking her out. Steven also suffers from peculiar memory lapses.
Moon Knight Finds Fun Ways to Reveal Its Character’s Backstory
Of course, it doesn’t take The Goldfish Problem long to hint at where Steven’s mind goes on occasion. After settling into his bedtime routine, Steven inevitably wakes up … in what looks like the Alps. Apparently, he’s not welcome because people almost immediately start shooting at him. This is when a voice in Steven’s head demands he five up control of the body to ‘Marc’ followed by a quick flash of a Egyptian-like deity behind him.
A religious zealot, Harrow clearly holds sway over the townsfolk.
In the small Alps village, Moon Knight also introduces us to Ethan Hawke’s villain, Arthur Harrow. A religious zealot, Harrow clearly holds sway over the townsfolk. And he’s a servant to Egyptian goddess, Ammit, who judges whether one’s past, present, and future sins outweigh their good deeds. Director Mohamed Diab gives us a small taste as Harrow judges two of us followers with a cane and a middling CGI tattoo of scales. But Harrow turns his attention to Steven who – in his blacked out state- stole a mysterious golden scarab. Despite his best efforts to return it, the voice in Steven’s head prevents him. What follows is something of a slapstick chase wherein Steven occasionally ‘blacks out’ and wakes to find Harrow’s minions dead.
The Goldfish Problem Introduces Its Title Character, But Not Its Overall Direction
Somehow Steven escapes and wakes up back in his bed in London. Believing it’s Friday and time for his date, he’s a bit late … by a whole two days. More evidence crops up suggesting that he’s losing chunks of time while ‘blacked out’. Later he inadvertently discovers a hidden compartment in his apartment that includes keys and a flip phone. When Steven looks at the phone’s call history, one name – Layla – comes up over and over. Not surprisingly, Layla calls wondering where “he” has been for months, calling him ‘Marc’. Then Steven hears another disembodied voice as his apartment lights flicker and the same Egyptian deity from the Alps briefly appears.
When Steven later shows up late for work, he finds Harrow waiting for him. But Harrow stops his judgment of Steven nothing that “there’s chaos in you.” After 40 minutes or so of Oscar Isaac’s spotty British accent, The Goldfish Problem finally gives us a glimpse of the title character. Harrow summons a demon to take back his scarab. As his options dwindle, Steven takes the advice of the voices in his head and relinquishes control of his body. In the first episode’s final scene, Moon Knight takes center stage for a brief few seconds.
Moon Knight Does Enough in Its First Episode to Hook Viewers
While The Goldfish Problem works as one might expect for a first episode, setting things up, it doesn’t lean on a lazy origin story. Instead, Diab drops you into Steven Grant’s increasingly confused world. It’s a creative decision that adds intrigue while carefully setting up events for later episodes. Not surprisingly, Isaac is all kinds of fun as the befuddled Grant, while Hawke chews scenery as the villainous Arthur Harrow. Quickly edited shots of Khonshu lend subtle horror vibes to the series. Moon Knight himself only shows up briefly by the episode’s conclusion. But it’s all enough to invest in the series.