IT’S been 14 long years since Marvel’s first 100% blockbuster Iron Man came out. As hard as it is to believe today, it was considered a risky endeavor back then.
While the character was popular, she was never considered to be among the top tier of Marvel’s old comic book superheroes, while the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr., was seen as a potential liability.
Everyone knew Downey was a great actor, but lately he’d drawn more attention for his drug busts, prison sentences, and rehab stints than his work.
But then iron man made $585 million worldwide and the rest, as they say, is history.
However, for all but the most obsessed of geeks, marveling at Marvel’s offerings on big screens is no longer possible. Watching each of the studio’s blockbusters rake in insane amounts of money, good or bad, is like watching a machine produce one shiny cardboard box after another.
There may be slight variations in shape, size and color from time to time, but they are all faint and empty.
Marvel’s series for Disney+ should have been different. The comparatively lower stakes in streaming, which is not dependent on the limited window of a theatrical release, leaves time and space for experimentation.
But they were largely disappointing. loki, starring Tom Huddleston as the popular villain from the Thor Movies, was hokey. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – which was supposed to be the first Disney+ series from The Traps until it was delayed by Covid – was mediocre and without surprises.
The one that really looked like he was going to snap out of shape was WandaVision. The early episodes were cleverly presented in black and white in the style of various sitcoms The Dick Van Dyke Show all through until modern family, and the series as a whole played with the nature of reality.
Eventually, however, it reverted to a formulaic form, ended up like a Marvel movie, and became nothing more than another tie-in to the next few movies.
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As far as we know, Marvel’s latest six-part miniseries moon knight (Disney+), can follow the same path and end up in one of those tiring, weightless brawls. Hopefully not, because so far it’s great: clever, fast-paced, action-packed, visually stunning, and often very funny.
Critics were given four episodes ahead of time, but since Disney+ releases one a week on Wednesdays, I won’t spoil anyone’s fun by giving too much away.
Even with the full power of Marvel’s production resources at his disposal, moon knight draws much of its energy from star Oscar Isaac, who brings in his A-game as a character with dissociative identity disorder, allowing Isaac to effectively play two characters inhabiting the same body.
More often than not, Isaac is London native Steven Grant (despite what you may have read elsewhere, he nails the accent), an Egyptology nerd who works in the British Museum’s gift shop and is so harmless that most of his peers can’t remember his name.
But his other personality is Marc Spector, a Jewish-American mercenary who takes over Steven’s body during his frequent blackouts. That can be awkward when Steven, not realizing he’s had an epic absence, is two days late for a date with a co-worker.
Or when he wakes up to find that he’s holding a gun and that the mysterious villains who seconds earlier had inexplicably tried to kill him are now all dead.
It turns out that Spector is the earthly avatar of the moon god Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), who angered the other gods because of his solo war against injustice. Or so.
Damn the finer details. What matters is that Isaac is absolutely gorgeous as Grant/Spector finally facing each other in a bathroom mirror.
The big reward comes at the end of the episode when they transform into Moon Knight, a gorgeous hooded hero with glowing white eyes.
You can’t have a superhero without a supervillain, and that’s Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, a mad cult leader in the service of another god. Harrow likes to walk around with broken glass in his sandals.
Don’t ask, just enjoy.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-reviews/oscar-isaac-lights-up-marvels-wildly-enjoyable-moon-knight-41505476.html Oscar Isaac highlights Marvel’s incredibly entertaining Moon Knight