The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off its packed year this Wednesday, March 30, with the premiere episode of Moon Knight. The Oscar Isaac-led series will stream on Disney+ over the next six weeks, wrapping just two days before Marvel Studios’ first 2022 theatrical release.

Unlike the 2021 MCU Disney+ slate, Moon Knight finds itself in a unique position. Like Shang-Chi and Eternals before it, the series debuts without any appearance, acknowledgement, or allusion to its title character in a previous MCU installment. While the master of kung-fu and the immortal ensemble continued that trend last fall, this series represents the first time an in-universe rookie debuts on Disney+.

While the Shang-Chis and the Eternals of the world made sure to flaunt Doctor Strange‘s Wong and name-drop Thanos in marketing material, Moon Knight has shaped its promotion solely around its stained-white hero. Nothing has been teased by official advertisements, despite rumors suggesting otherwise.

If Episode 1 is anything to go off of, the bold strategies of Moon Knight are set to pay off in a big way.

Steven Grant/Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) in Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT. Photo Credit: Csaba Aknay/Marvel Studios
Steven Grant/Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT. Photo Credit: Csaba Aknay/Marvel Studios

The Best

As promised by Marvel President Kevin Feige, this series is truly like nothing Marvel Studios has ever done before.

That sentiment has been exhausted in the past couple of years, but it’s especially apparent in this series. Moon Knight pushes the boundaries of TV-14 as far as it can. It embraces both the ruthless aggression and spine-tingling paranoia of the title character.

Like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier before it, the most brutal of action scenes are masqueraded by smoke and mirrors, but audiences still feel the full impact. Seeing what’s left of Isaac’s victims is outright uncomfortable, which plants an aura of unpredictability throughout the show moving forward.

Marc Spector/Mr. Knight (Oscar Isaac) in Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios
Marc Spector/Mr. Knight (Oscar Isaac) in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Anxiety

That over-the-shoulder anxiety is the show’s biggest strength, but has potential to be one of its biggest weaknesses as well. Episode 1 puts a big emphasis on Steven Grant’s frantic state, which works in a vacuum. The “what’s going on” nature of the premiere works as long information comes in appropriately. Just as WandaVision gave weekly answers and simultaneously raised new questions, Moon Knight will need to both give and take in future weeks to maintain investment.

Fortunately for its success hopes, Moon Knight has an absolute rockstar in the driver’s seat. Oscar Isaac shines with the absolute bare minimum, as he effortlessly builds an empathetic lead character. Shades of Ex Machina are abundant in Isaac’s performance here, as he puts his biggest stress on subtle facial reactions and body language rather than dialogue delivery. The everyday vibe of Grant makes him an incredibly root-worthy protagonist, and his chaotic condition only doubles down on how much the audience feels for him.

Marc Spector/Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) in Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios
Marc Spector/Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Easy

Not only is this show’s quarterback getting first downs, but his offensive line is helping him make it look easy. The production of Moon Knight brings the audience right into Grant’s psyche, most notably through the show’s camera work and score. The premiere utilizes everything from hand-held shakey style to bird’s eye view shots, which both reflect and enhance Grant’s mental state. It’s easy to root for a protagonist when the audience feels like they’re watching a project through his or her point of view, and Moon Knight‘s production does everything it can to immerse its viewer into its main character’s mind.

Like all mystery-driven shows, it’s impossible to give this one a full grade based off its first episode. Most elements of the premiere will be viewed completely differently once the full context of the series has aired. Regardless, Episode 1 has my undivided attention, and Wednesdays are appointment television until proven otherwise. Moon Knight debuts on Disney+ on March 30.

Liam Crowley is an entertainment reporter from TheDirect.com. You can follow Liam on Twitter at @LiamTCrowley.

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