The latest outing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Moon Knight, which concluded its first season internationally on Wednesday, has offered further proof that, even with its less well-known characters, Marvel can seemingly do no wrong with critics and audiences alike. The show currently has an 87 per cent critics rating and 93 per cent from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.
Moon Knight follows the alter egos of socially awkward British museum gift shop worker Steven Grant, who has dissociative identity Disorder. His many personalities include obnoxious American mercenary Marc Spector, the snappily dressed Mr Knight, who also happens to be the human embodiment of the ancient Egyptian moon god Khonshu, and the titular Moon Knight, another avatar of Khonshu.
It may sound confusing, but thankfully the show’s writers and directors, including Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, keep it all fairly straightforward, even for those without prior knowledge of the comics. Lead star Oscar Isaac says he found the relative obscurity of the character, and the potentially confusing nature of the show’s protagonist and his many personalities, irresistible.
"It’s true that I had no idea who Moon Knight was,” Isaac tells The National. “I’d never heard of him, but I thought it was a fun, unusual name, so I took a deep dive into it and all I saw at that point was the opportunity to create something because there were no real expectations, even within the comic book.”
Isaac explains that, with several personalities attached to the character, a number of writers have worked on the comics. And with few expectations surrounding the story, he found himself presented with a blank canvas that was enticing as an actor.
“He's changed so drastically from writer to writer. His backstory has changed, the look has changed, and the characters around him have changed. So it felt like we had this huge resource to pull from to figure out what excited us and what we wanted to explore. One of the most exciting things about it was that obscurity, so it definitely didn’t put me off.”
Isaac’s exploration of the comics may have convinced him that Moon Knight was a character he wanted to play, but his intensive research wasn’t done yet. Having committed to the project, he says that his next task was to learn about something else he had little knowledge of — the disorder that dominates his character’s life.
“The first step was to read a lot about people that suffer from DID and just get a sense of what it feels like to have to live with that, and how it manifests itself,” he says. “Then it was about finding the character of Steven, and once I found him, figuring out the counterpoint to that, which was Marc. What Steven provides for Marc — what is that really? Is it the fantasy of a life that is normal that doesn't have the horrible trauma that Mark endured?”
With that work done, it was finally on to shooting for Isaac, and the actor admits that he found the task of playing such a conflicted character a challenge, even after his research on the subject.
“At first it took me a little while to be able to switch between the two,” he says. “I didn't feel totally comfortable, so I asked if we could just stay in one character when we would shoot, ideally for that whole week, but if not at least on that day. As it went on, I got more comfortable, and by the end of it I could switch pretty easily.”
Just as Isaac successfully navigated Moon Knight’s journey through to the end of shooting, audiences have now reached the final destination of their own journey with the character. Although, with season one now completed, there’s a sense that so far, Moon Knight has asked more questions than it’s fully answered.
There’s no firm word on whether we’ll see a season two just yet, but given an ending that, spoiler alert, introduces us to yet another of Grant/Spector’s personalities, and the series’ critical and audience success, we surely haven’t seen the back of the character just yet.
Diab seems to agree and has suggested that Moon Knight will be part of the wider MCU for some time yet.
“We don’t know if there’s a next season,” Diab told Deadline ahead of the finale. “Marvel doesn’t go with a conventional way, so even if they like the character and want to extend the world, it could be season two, it could be a standalone film, or he can join another superhero’s journey. We never discussed it being a season two, but one day there’s going to be an expansion, but I don’t know how it’s going to look.”