I’m a big fan of director Sam Raimi, especially his earlier movies. I love Darkman, Evil Dead II, The Quick and the Dead, Spider-Man and the brilliant Spider-Man 2. I’d heard this film was flawed but I still wanted to see it. I mean, I’m a huge comic book fan, too. I’m also an eternal (foolish) optimist who is a sucker for some fancy visuals.
Yes, this film is flawed. The basic plot premise is ridiculous. It shows obvious signs of its reported 50~80% of reshoots. But you know what? I enjoyed it. There, I’ve said it. Unleash your rotten tomatoes. I have been honing my ninja skills for the last twenty years, so I’ll probably dodge most of them in slo-mo Matrix style.
I went in with fairly low expectations and came out smiling. People seem to be forgetting what this is: a comic book movie. I went looking for magical battles between sorcerers and a mad-as-hell Scarlet Witch and that’s exactly what I got. There are some spectacular on-screen depictions of magical moments that could be ripped right off a comic book page. And I was happy with that. Easily pleased? Perhaps.
A few years ago, I read the Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood run on Moon Knight (2016). I was already aware of the character who is often referred to as “Marvel’s Batman.” The Lemire run is a really good story by the way and I recommend it. In the comics, the main character is a man called Marc Spector, but we don’t really see him in the first episode. Instead, the focus is on Steven Grant, an alter ego of Marc Spector in the comics. Not forgetting that Moon Knight is also an alter ego of Marc Spector. Or is it the other way round? Yep, alter egos of alter egos. Anyone else confused yet?
In the comics, the Steven Grant alter ego is a kind of Bruce Wayne figure–a millionaire playboy (remember that trope?) who finances Moon Knight’s missions. In the Marvel TV series he is a simpering, whimpering museum worker who gets bullied and disrespected by pretty much everyone he works with. Oscar Isaac plays him as a kind of screwball comedy bumbling buffoon because I think that’s how he was written. It grated on me after a few minutes, as you can probably tell.
*This was my raw reaction straight after watching Episode 1. Please note that I come to this series as a fan of the comic book character.*
“I have a question. Why have they made Oscar Isaac’s character “Steven Grant” such a bumbling, mumbling idiot? He’s like a silly little soy-boy from start to finish, and displays zero masculinity, surprise surprise. He has a weird accent, too, speaking as a Brit. It’s not terrible, but it’s a bit erratic and the tone of his voice is strange. This episode was too long, too slow, remarkably dull and didn’t really tell us anything about his character. Oh, apart from him being a useless buffoon who pretty much everybody disrespects. There’s some very dodgy CGI and we only get a brief glimpse of the Moon Knight costume right at the end of this 42-minute episode. Disney Marvel strikes again! NOT a recommend.”
To offer some positives, both Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke give solid performances, even if Isaac’s interpretation is whacky and weird–whacky like Wakizashi? Possibly. It’s well-shot with some lovely scenery and there’s a clever use of mirrors and reflections. As a Brit, it was refreshing to see London as a main setting. There’s also a nice use of music and songs in the episode, even if the Wham song during the car chase scene takes away any tension or sense of threat. Can you guess the name of the song? It is just a silly comedy after all. I’d hate to see Disney Marvel take anything seriously.