Why Moon Knight was the best thing the MCU had to offer in 2022

Why Moon Knight was the best thing the MCU had to offer in 2022

During the last 15 years has Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into the biggest franchise in Hollywood history. With over 30 different movies, streaming series, and other material existing under the broad umbrella of the MCU, there are bound to be some that stand out more than others. The year 2022 was one of the biggest for the franchise to date. With eight different MCU projects released during the calendar year, it was the second busiest year in MCU history, behind only 2021, which had nine projects. Some of the new MCU material released in 2022 was great; some of it… wasn’t the best. Through all of this new material, there was one release that stood head and shoulders above the rest: Moon Knight.

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The six-episode Disney+ series ran from March 30 to May 4, following a three-month hiatus following the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home and the conclusion of Hawkeye on Disney+. As the first new MCU project to be released in 2022, expectations were high for the new one Moon Knight series. Like any comic book character, Moon Knight has his die-hard fans, and the new show was highly anticipated because the character is one of the darkest (and weirdest) to be introduced in the MCU yet. The story of the series was told over six episodes, and it ended up being one of the most well-constructed and gripping Marvel franchises had to offer this year.

The immensely talented creative team, led by Jeremy Slater and Mohamed Diab, created a Marvel series unlike anything the franchise has offered yet. It’s a complex and ever-changing narrative with real implications for the universe at large and creative ingenuity that sets it apart from the vast laggards of the rest of the MCU. This is how Moon Knight has held its own as the best new material the MCU has produced in 2022:

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An engaging story

Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant and Marc Spector in Moon Knight
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Moon Knight sees Oscar Isaac star as both Steven Grant and Marc Spector, the two sides of a man living with dissociative identity disorder (DID). The story begins from the perspective of Steven, an innocent man who lives as simply as he can while working at a museum gift shop in the UK. He tries in vain to start his romantic life; he likes to study and read up on egyptian mythology and legends and is generally a guy trying to make a decent living for himself. However, Steven’s grip on reality is far from the strongest. He often finds himself waking up in strange places with people he’s never met, sometimes with days gone by. On top of that, he often sees strange things that no one else does, causing him to question his own sanity. He’s never quite sure what’s happening or what’s real, and nothing he tries seems to help, even tying his ankle to the bed to stop himself from wandering off in his sleep.

Unbeknownst to him, all of these strange occurrences are the doings of Marc, the other body-sharer who has quietly taken control and gotten them into all sorts of dangerous situations. To make matters worse (and even more cartoonish), Marc serves as the avatar of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, who has tasked Marc with stopping the return of the goddess Ammit, thereby saving the world as they know it. It’s with this thread Moon Knight is intertwined with all kinds of ties to the gods and goddesses of Egyptian mythology. It embraces a child-like fascination with the ancient mythology, and it often uses it in unexpected and dark ways.

That alone gives the series a different personality than much of the other MCU content. Moon Knight is significantly darker and more supernatural than pretty much anything else the franchise has offered yet. Even further, as the series unfolds from Steven and Marc’s perspective, the audience is never quite sure what is real and what is not. The two characters form one unreliable narrator who himself is only a pawn in a much larger game that started long before he entered it. This concept of a questionable reality in the series is doubled down in the later episodes of the series, as everything the audience thinks they know about the characters and plot is suddenly called into question with a twist we won’t spoil here. Moon Knight is a show that keeps viewers guessing, and each new episode had something new to offer, which is more than can be said for most of the other Marvel Disney+ shows, which have been consistently front-heavy with lackluster finales.

Related: Why Ethan Hawke Could Portray the MCU’s Most Terrifying Villain

Oscar Isaac and the rest of the cast

Moon Knight Steven and Marc
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On top of a considered and mature story that puts much of the rest of the MCU content to shame, Moon Knight also features some of the best casting and performances seen in any entry in the series. Most obvious is Isaac as the main character of the series. Isaac is one of the best actors of his generation with a plethora of phenomenal performances to be found throughout his filmography ranging from Ex machina to Dune and Inside Llewyn Davis. Given a complex and fleshed-out character to sink his teeth into, Isaac can always be counted on to deliver an exemplary performance. His work on Moon Knight is no exception.

Isaac is perfectly cast in the lead role, and he delivers a manic performance that stands tall as one of the best to come from an MCU project. His casting as this character is one of the all-timers for the franchise, right next to Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers and Robert Downey Jr. like Tony Stark. In this role, Isaac is able to really flex his acting chops, as he is not only asked to portray the meekness of Steven and the mental instability that the character struggles with, but he is also responsible for portraying Marc, the more traditional fairy tale hero type who has considerably more nuance and emotion to it than one would expect at first glance. That’s not even to mention both characters’ alternate personas they take on when they embrace the powers of Khonshu, as Marc becomes the Moon Knight and Steven becomes the tough Mr. Knight (but notably, it’s not the same take on the character from the comics).

Surrounding Isaac in Moon Knight is an outstanding supporting cast led by the legendary Ethan Hawke, who after years of Marvel no’s was convinced to join the franchise with the series’ cult leader villain, Arthur Harrow. In the role, Hawke delivers what is expected to be one of the most chilling and compelling performances of any antagonist in the MCU to date, as his dedication to the goddess Ammit and his charismatic ability to lure a mass following with his zeal keep the audience on edge and uneasy throughout each episode. scene he’s in. Beyond that, Moon Knight also serves as the introduction of May Calamay to the MCU, whose immediate likability in the role of Layla hopeful ensures a long and bright future for her in the franchise. There’s also the inclusion of the legendary F. Murray Abraham as the voice of Khonshu, which is a huge highlight of the series from the first moment he speaks.

Related: These are the best Oscar Isaac movies, ranked

Compared to the rest of the MCU from 2022

Moon Knight on the ground with his arms spread as both Khonshu and a statue of Khonshu tower over him
Distribution of Disney Platforms

Moon Knight is a great example of the kind of high-quality content the MCU can produce when the creative team behind a story is given free rein to tell a unique story and take risks with the source material. It’s definitely a top tier MCU entry and deserves its place on any top ten MCU list. As for 2022, Moon Knight is easily the best thing the franchise produced this year, though that might not have been a very difficult task. Despite being one of the MCU’s busiest years since launch, 2022 was one of the weakest years the franchise has had yet, so there wasn’t really much real competition to challenge Moon Knight for the top spot. Phase Four has been the most divisive and underwhelming of all the eras of the Marvel franchise so far, and looking at their releases in 2022, it’s easy to see why.

There were two other Disney+ series produced by Marvel this year, Mrs. Marvel and She-Hulk. While both of these series introduced exciting and engaging new characters to the overall MCU franchise, the stories they were both placed in weren’t the strongest. There were also the two new “specials” released on Disney+, both of which served their purpose well as fun holiday celebrations for the MCU, but they were both just too short to put them in the running for best MCU project of the year. On the movie side, that’s where the MCU situation just gets even more depressing. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had some great horror elements, thanks to the direction of Sam Raimi, but the overall experience was incredibly uneven. Thor: Love and Thunder was a comedy that just failed to be funny on too many occasions. And Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverwhile it was undoubtedly the best MCU film of the year and a fitting tribute to the show’s late star Chadwick Boseman, the film itself relied a little too heavily on past franchise tropes that stopped it from making the same kind of huge impact as the first Black panther.

As a result of all this mediocrity and forgettable material that the MCU produced in 2022, Moon Knight keeps its place as the best of the bunch almost by default. It surpasses all the rest simply because it is the only one that was truly great from start to finish. It’s the only new MCU Disney+ series in 2022 that felt like must-see TV. It brought a new story and personality to the MCU that felt fresh and exciting. The series introduced many unexpected changes to the franchise and it was not afraid to play with the expectations of the audience. There was a lot of potential in almost every MCU project produced in 2022, however Moon Knight was the only entry that really lived up to its promise.

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