Oscar Isaac stars as Marvel's Moon Knight. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios
LOS ANGELES, March 29 (UPI) -- The first episode of Marvel's Moon Knight, premiering Wednesday on Disney+, hints at what the superhero show will ultimately be. It looks pretty good, if we have the patience to wait for it to get there.
Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) wakes up and goes through his morning routine in London. He works in a museum gift shop but every night straps himself into bed and tapes his apartment door shut for reasons that will become apparent.
One day he wakes up and watches an intriguing ceremony in which Arthur (Ethan Hawke) judges his followers on the scales of justice. Then Steven loses control of his body as a force manipulates him to keep away from Arthur.
At this point Steven loses his sense of time and place during the day. He awakens in the aftermath of action, unaware of what he's done to land himself in his current predicament.
Steven loses days at first, then months. The edits are surreal and disorienting, but Isaac creates continuity from scene to scene.
To Steven, the scene has shifted around him. To the viewer, Moon Knight teases what his powers may be without fully depicting them.
Steven hears a voice that sounds like Venom, but is actually the Egyptian God of the Moon, Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham). Steven also meets his alter ego, Marc Spector (Isaac), in the mirror.
Marc speaks with an American accent while Steven is decidedly British. That helps the audience keep them straight.
The effect of Steven's two personalities sharing space is also surreal and disorienting. Marc first appears out of focus in the background of the mirror, although eventually he shares scenes with Steven in focus.
Episode 2 has a lot more exposition about the Egyptian Gods, how Steven's powers work and how he shares a body with Marc. There is some more action involving CGI, green screen and an iconic superhero landing, but still not the full picture.
Moon Knight is the first Disney+ series in which Marvel introduces a brand new character. From WandaVision to Hawkeye they have pulled characters out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Prior to the Disney+ series, Marvel introduced new characters on Netflix in Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Both were pretty clear in the first episode. Then they even spent some of Jesssica Jones introducing Luke Cage before his own series.
The origin story is not usually stretched over several weeks. That's not an insurmountable hurdle, but with answers still pending after two, it could be the bellwether for how long Marvel can stretch things out.
Fortunately, Isaac and Hawke are compelling enough to carry through at least two episodes. They have a lot of exposition but treat it like dialogue to relish, rather than obligatory.
If the goal was simply to keep us watching the next episodes, so far so good. Whether Moon Knight ultimately pays off remains to be seen.
Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.