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The cinematic juggernaut which is the Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps on pumping out the hits, with no signs of slowing down. With last year’s MCU expansion into streaming television, it would seem that quite the opposite is true, and Marvel’s latest blockbuster series is bound to please fans both new and old alike.
Introducing one of Marvel’s lesser-known heroes, Moon Knight follows the story of the hapless museum gift store employee Steven Grant (played by Oscar Isaac) who struggles with inexplicable nighttime excursions that leaves him fearful of falling asleep. Grant soon discovers, however, that he shares his body with another personality, that of the violent mercenary and former U.S. Marine Marc Spector. As if coming to terms with his dissociative personality disorder and a second identity is not enough, it also appears that Marc serves as the Earthbound avatar to the ancient Egyptian god of the moon, Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham).
We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to catch up with episode directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead about their latest project and what it was like to work on a Marvel production on the scale of Moon Knight.
“We [have] basically been trying to work with Marvel for our entire careers,” explained Moorhead, one half of the filmmaking duo behind indy hits The Endless, Synchronic, Spring and Resolution. “This just happened to be one where we took our best shot and happened to be material that at its essence was something that we just naturally do. Anyways, that is to say, the five independent features we’ve done, none of them fit squarely into any one particular genre. They all are constantly moving at this rhythm between visceral imagery, darkness, levity, humour, and ultimately resulting in hopefully, and these characters that feel very human and that’s to us what Moon Knight was an opportunity to do and probably why we were a good match to the powers that be [for] this material.”
While Moon Knight may not be the best known Marvel character outside of the hardcore Marvel comic fandom, Benson suggested this provided the show’s creative team with the unique opportunity to “just be weird with him”.
“What is great about Moon Knight is just that he is so much of an outsider,” he explained. “Our executive at Marvel was named Grant and he would say, you know, the top 100 Marvel superheroes if you were to rank them, people would probably put Moon Knight at like number 76. You know, they don’t know much about him. What’s great about him because of that, is that we could just kind of do pretty much whatever we wanted.”
“We were morally obligated to be weird,” he continued, “because if we took a character that no one knows anything about and then we just delivered something that’s right in the middle of the road, we would be doing an enormous disservice to the character really.”
While the jump from small independent features and critically acclaimed shows like Netflix’s Archive 81 onto a hotly anticipated Marvel series might seem like a leap, Benson suggested that “it was surprisingly more the same than different from our other projects”.
“We actually ended up just bringing all of our regular independent film sensibilities,” he said. “To where you know, we just kind of like laser focus in on character and see how we can make that into something that’s still an exciting and fun and propulsive adventure.
“And, you know, we like to work in the space that can be loosely defined as sci-fi and horror but it really is the reason that we work in there as often because it tickles our mind a little bit. And Moon Knight is a mind-bending character. And again, as I said earlier, like if you’re not being strange, if you’re not being mind-bending then you’re kind of going to make Moon Knight shake his head at you.
“So we ended up bringing in not just like our independent films sensibilities, but much more like our inclinations as storytellers. Like the reasons that we’re attracted to the characters and trying to make complicated shades of grey characters. Characters that aren’t just good or evil but are mixes of both and do good things for bad reasons and vice versa.”
Kicking off what seems to be a whole new and exciting corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Moon Knight is an exciting series that benefits greatly from not being overtly bogged down by the weight of all that has come before it. Isaac shines as the dual personalities of Spector and Grant, and Ethan Hawke delivers an amazing performance as the villainous cult leader Arthur Harrow, a former avatar of Khonshu himself.
‘Moon Knight’ premieres on March 30, exclusively on Disney+.