Moon Knight First Reviews: New Marvel Series Is a Dark, Bloody Oscar Isaac Acting Showcase, Critics Say

The series has received mixed reviews with some critics praising its star's commitment, and others taking issue with its "convoluted" story.

by | March 29, 2022 | Comments

Disney+’s highly anticipated next Marvel offering, Moon Knight, arrives this week, and critics have had a look at the first two to four episodes (depending on when they published their reviews).

Oscar Isaac, beloved as Poe Dameron in Disney’s Star Wars films and who appeared as Marvel supervillain Apocalypse in film X-Men: Apocalypse, stars in the series as socially awkward museum gift shop employee Steven Grant in the process of discovering his dissociative identity disorder. Grant is surprised to find out he shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector, who regularly calls upon superpowers granted to him by an Egyptian god.

The series also stars Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird) as Arthur Harrow and May Calamawy (Ramy) as Layla El-Faouly. Mohamed Diab (Cairo 678) and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless) direct episodes of the series, and the head writer is Jeremy Slater (The Umbrella Academy).

Here’s what critics are saying about six-episode limited series Moon Knight.

Is the Series a Good Marvel Show?

Moon Knight is the the scariest MCU project to date, and the closest the franchise has come to outright horror. – Rick Marshall, Digital Trends

‘Moon Knight’ delivers on its promise of a very different Marvel superhero. – David James, We Got This Covered

This costumed hero murders, frequently and remorselessly, and while his initial outing isn’t an outright killer, it remains additional evidence of Marvel’s peerless capacity for rehashing formulas in novel, charismatic, and entertaining fashion. – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

At the end of the day, is having a strong lead like Isaac enough to keep a series going? Previous Marvel shows have had two characters playing off of one another, but perhaps having the two sides of Marc and Steven is enough. – Therese Lacson, The Beat

Moon Knight is a type of character we’ve never seen on screen in the MCU, and aside from the Netflix series, it’s Marvel’s darkest MCU show to date. – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Moon Knight might be darker, and different, but it’s still wholly captivating in a way Marvel has managed to achieve more often than not. – Lissete Lanuza Sáenz, Fangirlish

Oscar Isaac can’t salvage middle tier MCU entry. – Nate Adams, The Only Critic

Moon Knight is an MCU departure in both topic and tone, spicing the superhero formula with a cocktail of comedy-horror and a twist of old- school adventure.- James Dyer, Empire Magazine

Flashes of brilliance offer a glimpse of the more introspective, imaginative show we were promised, and the finale has the opportunity to deliver. As it stands, though, Marvel Studios’ latest Disney+ outing is also its most disappointing. – Mark Cassidy,

With Moon Knight, Marvel Studios continues to be a bit more daring on the small screen, as it has been with the terrific WandaVision and the uneven-but-interesting Loki. – Mark Meszoros, The News-Herald (Willoughby, OH)

Its Marvel’s most psychologically thrilling ambition yet, multiplied. Moon Knight is next level for Marvel fans. And by next level, I mean maybe not for little ones this time. Sorry, kids. – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

How Is Oscar Isaac’s Layered Performance?

Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight season 1

(Photo by Gabor Kotschy/Marvel Studios)

Oscar Isaac is perfect for Moon Knight, with his interpretative shadings. – Patrick McDonald,

Oscar Isaac’s lead performance and a truly bizarre story adding up to the best MCU show on Disney Plus to date. – David James, We Got This Covered

A choppy show through its first four episodes that’s still a must-see simply for what Oscar Isaac does in a fascinating dual performance. – Brian Tallerico.

Isaac always commands your attention as the guy(s) behind the suit(s). – Joey Morona, Cleveland Plain Dealer

This show, like the rest of us, is just lucky that Oscar Isaac cares enough to try so hard. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

How Are the Supporting Characters and Performances?

Ethan Hawke plunges into his religious cultist, imbuing him with a frightening mystery that is both creepy and beguiling. – Patrick McDonald,

Hardcore fans of the character may quibble with some of the changes made to the mythos, but Isaac and Hawke really sell this character-oriented Marvel adventure. – Evan Dossey,  Midwest Film Journal

With Isaac pulling double-duty and playing his best scenes opposite himself … there isn’t always room for a supporting cast to find traction. If Isaac is channeling a psychologically unsound Indiana Jones, Ramy favorite Calamawy gets to play a decent version of Marion Ravenwood and Hawke is a menacingly placid Belloq, but both roles feel underdeveloped. – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Is the Story Any Good?

Konshu in Moon Knight season 1

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

As much as I enjoyed watching Marc and Steven argue with each other in some Gollumesque fashion, I kept getting lost when the storyline switched from one character to the other. – Patricia Puentes, Ask

The first three quarters of this six-episode season is a vague story that takes a long time to go nowhere. There’s not enough character for a character study and not a clear enough plot for a satisfying thriller. – Liam Mathews, TV Guide

The 1st episode is fantastic, but the quality quickly drops off. Steven is fun but Isaac makes the other personality, Marc, quite boring. Moon Knight and his mythology are sloppily defined, making it hard to get excited about this new addition to the MCU. – Grace Randolph, Beyond the Trailer

Moon Knight brings us a story unlike any other in the MCU. Its faithfulness to the madness of its comic origin is spot on, but the storytelling brings it to life in a completely unexpected way. – Austin Burke, Austin Burke/Flick Fan Nation

Moon Knight is so bewilderingly convoluted as to be almost invulnerable to spoilers. It is less immune, however, to criticisms of lacklustre scripting, tortuous plotting and pseudo-philosophical musings about human nature and identity. – Dan Einav, Financial Times

Part comedy, part action-adventure, and with touches of romance and horror, Moon Knight is diverse in its storytelling, making it weird in the best ways possible. – Terry Terrones, Paste Magazine

The show becomes increasingly complex and engrossing, smashing dramatic expectations to smithereens. – Peter Martin, ScreenAnarchy

Moon Knight remains wonderfully unpredictable every step of the way. – Matt Webb Mitovich, TV Line

Moon Knight barely factors into his own story. – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Lip service is played to notions of mental illness and traumatically broken humans, but at the end of the day, this is a superhero TV show, and the kind of character depth we crave from must-see TV always feels like its kept at an unsatisfying distance. – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

Final Verdict?

Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight season 1

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

This will likely be a fan favorite with people being over the moon after seeing it. Egyptian mythology and culture are rich, the acting is engaging, the action and suspense are thrilling, the costumes and sets are spot-on, and the writing is cohesive. – Danielle Broadway, Black Girl Nerds

Supplies fair to middling action and sentiment and consistently satisfying laughs. – Mike Hale, New York Times

Oscar Isaac is a great addition to this mythos, and Ethan Hawke already ranks as one of the best Marvel villains yet. My only complaint is that six episodes are not nearly enough Moon Knight and I already want more. – Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Network

Moon Knight is experimental, unique, an exciting ride and delivers a brilliant new character to the MCU, all the while boasting action-packed and emotion-filled sequences to boot. – Sabrina Barr,

It ends up feeling both bloated and disposable, something that ultimately has no great purpose to exist other than as another piece of content thrown into the jaws of the Disney+ machine. – Stephen Kelly.

The highest compliment I can give Moon Knight is that it often feels more like The Mummy than The Avengers. – Nick Hilton, Independent (UK)

If you thought the torrent of big-budget television had dulled its capacity to surprise, get ready for this. – Benji Wilson, Daily Telegraph (UK)

There are many interesting aspects to Moon Knight, but neither the comic books nor this TV show named for him quite know what to do with them all. – Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

Moon Knight is a massive show, packed to the brim with excellent character moments. It does an excellent job of introducing the title character to the masses, and clips along at a brisk pace. Isaac is a perfect addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. – Adam Barnhardt,

“Moon Knight,” an adventurous limited series, suggests a way forward for a content-creation engine that’s come to feel overwhelming. There’s a freshness to it that’s enticing even for those outside the fandom. – Daniel D’Addario, Variety

Oscar Isaac proves he is a powerhouse as he literally plays opposite himself perfectly. Horror has made its way to the MCU and yes, this show is brutal, bloody, and bonkers. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

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