Oscar Isaac and Moon Knight: "We did something completely different in the Marvel Cinematic Universe"

Oscar Isaac and Moon Knight: We did something completely different in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Oscar Isaac and Moon Knight

In the first four episodes of Moon Knight, the new superhero miniseries coming to Disney + on March 30, references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe are almost completely absent. It is useless to search scene after scene for links or quotes to the greatest epic of the multiverse, because here the focus is definitely different. For the first time since starting its new serial streaming course, in fact, Marvel wanted to focus on a character who, although in the comics has a complex and layered mythology, studied by lovers of the genre, has not yet been presented on the great screen, but makes its absolute debut here. A bet that, recalling in some way the WandaVision experiment, wants to play on genres, on the expectations of the public, on a visual and thematic experimentation rather than relying on the strength in and of itself of the narrative universe shared by so many blockbusters.

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In this sense Moon Knight seems a unique and very daring relic, which plays with a figure not only little known at a level mainstream but that itself moves between fluid versions and incarnations. The result is a kind of unprecedented psychodrama that defies conventions, tinged as it is with comic moments, adventurous scenes, some almost horror atmospheres and a pinch of romanticism: an absolutely new hybrid which, however, is based above all on the grandiose interpretation of Oscar Isaac, actor who, beyond his stubborn will to explore any franchise on the planet (Star Wars, Dune, etc.) has an incredible dramatic and multifaceted fabric. Here, in fact, he gives his face to a single man, who is inhabited by different personalities.

It all starts with Steven Grant, an employee of the gift shop of a London museum, clumsy, very scary and rather antisocial, with a passion for Egyptology and with the habit of telling his misfortunes to a living statue who, having to doing his job in a park, he punctually does not answer him. Grant is haunted by vivid dreams, in which he instead plays the role of a valiant American adventurer named Marc Spector. Gradually Grant discovers that his personality disorder is more concrete than he could have imagined, since Spector is really a distinct person who lives in his body, among other things himself the incarnation of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu (who in the original has the voice of F. Murray Abraham). When Grant is unconscious, Spector takes over his body and transforms into the mighty Moon Knight, sometimes even into an alternate form called Mr. Knight.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved. Complicated, right? The series plays precisely on this continuously fragmented identity, on an incessantly labyrinthine point of view, even if everything is then brought back and unified in the very figure of Isaac: "For me it was the opportunity to do something completely different, especially at inside the MCU, and to really focus on this character's internal conflict. I wanted to create this unusual, indelible character, especially with Steven Grant, ”said the actor as he presented the series to reporters. The challenge, especially with the latter, was to give him a peculiar but also credible characterization, very British: “What would Peter Sellers have done if he had been contacted for a Marvel project? So I started thinking about it, and ended up at Travel Dumber's Karl Pilkington. And not so much because of the accent, rather because he has a sense of humor whereby you cannot say that he is aware of whether he is funny or not ".

Beyond the agitated action and the psychological and even dramatic excavation , in fact, this manages to be a rather comical series, often in unexpected ways: "The Egyptians know how to be funny in the most tragic situations, even in funerals we usually make jokes", says Mohamed Diab, director of the first episodes: "I felt that 'was a Marvel tone even before it started. Then Oscar took him in an even different direction ”. The most difficult task for Isaac was to make these two souls dialogue, the involuntarily comic one of Grant and the "tortured, dark executioner" of Spector: "First I hired my brother Michael Hernandez to be my alter ego", he reveals the actor: “He was playing the part of Steven or Marc, doing the accents and all, and it was useful to have someone next to you who is not only an amazing actor but also who shares the same DNA as you. I didn't think it was so complicated, however, to decide which part to shoot first and then completely block it to switch to the other ".

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved. The complexity and fatigue of this character also lies in his having to live with the dissociative identity disorder, a theme that is not easy to combine with the usual Marvel fanfare, which here however finds its balance of rare sensitivity: "I think that living in the midst of abuse and trauma and surviving it, finding a way to come to terms with this situation rather than putting it aside, is a superpower in itself, ”says Isaac. Ethan Hawke echoes him, here playing villain Arthur Harrow, an impassive and cold leader of a cult linked to another ruthless Egyptian deity: "There are countless stories of antagonists characterized by mental illness, but here it is fascinating how the process has been reversed. Mohamed has created an absolute narrator unreliable mind, and once you have broken the prism of reality, all the viewer sees is through a distorted perspective. ”

Moon Knight is a completely unusual new chapter within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although at the end of the first four episodes made available to the press it is not exactly clear where everything is headed, for once it is refreshing to witness a daring and ambitious storytelling, which does not necessarily have to be yet another piece of a epic bigger but it is enjoyable precisely for the journey it takes you on. Maybe Moon Knight isn't the classic Marvel series you might expect, but for many it could definitely be the series you never knew you wanted to see.

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