The MCU isn’t built for a show like Moon Knight

It may be no exaggeration to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was designed for children, but it is certainly designed not to exclude children. Despite the soft geopolitics of the MCU and the friendly gestures towards the military-industrial complex, the franchise was finally carefully crafted to remain completely family friendly. In most cases it’s fine. MCU could have been better Without it His obsession with comic book heroes as an agent of paramilitary organizations and every step from them ( Xiangqi) Thank you. However, as in this week, in certain episodes of the MCU, the emphasis on four-quadrant storytelling can conflict with story ambitions. Moon knight show.

“Asylum” is one of the darkest and most intimate stories Marvel Studios has ever told. This is an episode about the shattered spirit of a man who was finally shattered when he revisited the most traumatic times of his life. Hello scary things come with a light touch that can happen. rear Light. Fear is often interrupted by moments of humor and silence, focusing that fear on the screen.

It’s as important and frustrating as “The Refuge” in an internal episode. Taking up the interruption of “Tomb”, “Asylum” starring Mark Specter and Stephen Grant (both played by Oscar Isaac), “Dr. Hello” (Ethan Hawke) is real to Mark. I try to convince you that. Moon knight So far, it’s a fiction designed by Mark’s brain as a coping mechanism. Taweret, a hippo-like fertility goddess (voiced by Anotonia Salib), offers Mark and Stephen another possibility.

Photo: Marvel Studios

According to Taweret, Stephen and Mark’s minds must be weighed on a scale of judgment to determine whether they continue on the sandy beaches of Duat or in a paradise full of reeds. However, the scale balance is unstable as Hello tries to use his power to weigh the crimes of the two men. Stephen and Mark have to work together, and to quote David Lynch, they need to heal or die.

In this directive, when Mark and Stephen wander through the halls of a mental hospital and revisit the shared past, it takes the form of “exile.” Each door running along the white corridor hides memory, and by visiting these rooms, Moon knightThe “so far” writers have filled almost every gap in the background of the series. Viewers can see how Mark was responsible for the death of his brother’s toddler, how that death abused his mother and complained of alcoholism, and Steven Grant’s character based on Mark’s favorite movie. Seeing how he came up with, he can resist this abuse. .. As Mark grows older, the wall between him and Stephen grows, and Mark endures all the pain. Eventually, he is fired from the army and begins his career as a mercenary, but Stephen begins to live ignorantly and awkwardly.

It all comes down to the origin of Moon Knight, as the Specter crew is hired to attack archaeological excavations. Her commander has other ideas and begins to slaughter everyone, including Leila’s father. Deadly injured in an attempt to protect an archaeologist, Specter slips into a statue of Cons deep inside the site and hears the moon god demanding loyalty from him in exchange for a new life.

Moon Knight was born in the Disney Plus series Moon Knight

Photo: Marvel Studios

Tone, “Asylum” sways desperately between the feel of the “grave” adventure story (Mark and Stephen fight sand zombies) and the dark psychological horror. (Zombies are all the people Mark killed in his life as a mercenary.) Moon knight Captivated by two masters, a tough and morally gray story of a man suffering from a mental illness, his own fearful abilities, and a Marvel Studios-branded action movie that can be watched by the whole family. I feel it.

These two things are not mutually exclusive. It’s lost in homage to modern 80’s shows. Strange things How about the classics of the 80’s? meat A featured story (both on screen and in the audience) where real fun is paired with real horror, danger, and inner turmoil that kids have difficulty dealing with. But under Marvel’s formula, all edges are polished. Did you know that Mark Specter is Jewish? His parents sit in Shiva twice in this episode and tear Yamuruk in pain, which does not affect his personality or outlook. Critics may make a headline around Moon Knight as the “first Jewish hero” of Marvel Studios, but what does that mean? Not so many in this context.Like a sex scene infiniteLack of a sense of commitment to something meaningful. Where is the possibility of a story in a passionate relationship, perhaps when reduced to a static shot of two expressionless people lying prone and barely moving?

The lack of connection to the story’s greatest emotions remains puzzling, especially given this. Moon knight So far, it has little to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (In the episode’s most explicit MCU reference, Taweret says that Duat is just a “posthumous world.” Black leopardIs good. ) In the current structure of the MCU, Moon knightMarvel’s greatest achievements result in the goal of slightly expanding the horizons of Marvel Studios’ larger projects. We can welcome efforts to express and handle darker and more complex materials. However, the show should focus more on making you feel something that is the main goal of storytelling.

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The MCU isn’t built for a show like Moon Knight

Perhaps it’s too much of a generalization to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is designed for children, but it’s absolutely designed in a way that isn’t meant to exclude them. Even with the MCU’s light geopolitics and frequent friendly gestures toward the military-industrial complex, at the end of the day, the franchise is carefully designed to remain firmly family-friendly, with mostly bloodless violence and nothing too frightening or intense. For the most part, that’s fine. The MCU could arguably be better without its fixation on comic book heroes as paramilitary agents, and every step away from that (like Shang-Chi) is appreciated. However, sometimes the focus on four-quadrant storytelling collides with the ambition of the story in a given MCU installment — as this week’s Moon Knight illustrates.
“Asylum” is among the darkest, most intimately devastating stories Marvel Studios has ever told. It’s an episode about a man’s fractured mind finally shattering as he revisits the most traumatic moments of his life. It’s fraught, terrible stuff, delivered with a light touch that might be too light. The horror is frequently undercut with moments of humor, and a reticence to center that horror onscreen.
This is frustrating in an episode as crucial and internal as “Asylum.” Picking up where “The Tomb” left off, “Asylum” shows Marc Spector and Steven Grant (both played by Oscar Isaac) seemingly trapped in a psychiatric ward run by “Dr. Harrow” (Ethan Hawke), who is trying to convince Marc that the events of Moon Knight thus far are a fiction devised by Marc’s brain as a coping mechanism. Taweret (voiced by Anotonia Salib), a fertility goddess resembling a hippo, offers Marc and Steven another possibility: They’re dead, and currently being judged in the desert afterlife known as the Duat.

Image: Marvel Studios
According to Taweret, Steven and Marc’s hearts must be weighed on the scales of judgment in order to determine whether they will remain trapped in the sands of the Duat, or proceed to a reed-filled paradise. However, the balance of the scales are in flux, as they were when Harrow tried to use his own powers to weigh the two men’s guilt. Steven and Marc must work together and — to quote David Lynch — fix their hearts or die.
With this directive, “Asylum” takes its shape, with Marc and Steven wandering the asylum’s halls to revisit their mutual past. Each door along its white corridors hides a memory, and in visiting these rooms, Moon Knight’s writers fill in just about every gap in the show’s backstory thus far. Viewers are shown how Marc took responsibility for his brother’s death in childhood, how that death led his mother to turn abusive and resort to alcoholism, and how Marc invented the Steven Grant persona, patterning it after his favorite movies, to help him withstand that abuse. As Marc gets older, the wall between himself and Steven gets higher, with Marc bearing all the pain. Eventually, he’s discharged from military service and into a mercenary career, while Steven gets to live in bumbling ignorance.
It all builds to the origin of Moon Knight, as Spector’s crew is hired to raid an archeological dig. His commander has other ideas, and begins to slaughter everyone — including Layla’s father. Mortally wounded from trying to defend the archeologists, Spector crawls to a statue of Khonshu deep within the site, and hears the moon god ask for his allegiance in exchange for a new lease on life.

Image: Marvel Studios
Tonally, “Asylum” veers wildly between the adventure-story feel of “The Tomb” (Marc and Steven fight sand zombies) and dark psychological horror. (The zombies are all the people Marc has killed in his mercenary life.) In this, Moon Knight feels caught between two masters: The challenging, morally gray story about a man dealing with mental illness and his own capacity for horror, and the Marvel Studios brand of action movie the whole family can watch.
These two things aren’t mutually exclusive — something lost in the modern ’80s homages of shows like Stranger Things is how ’80s classics like E.T. delivered stories where the genuine fun is paired with genuine terror, peril, and inner turmoil, all of which were difficult for kids (both onscreen and in the audience) to process. Under the Marvel formula, however, every edge is sanded off. Did you know Marc Spector is Jewish? His family sits shiva twice in this episode, and he rips off a kippah in anguish, but none of this informs his character or his perspective. Critics could build headlines around Moon Knight as Marvel Studios’ “first Jewish hero,” but what does that mean? In this context, not much. As with the sex scene in Eternals, the sense of commitment to anything meaningful is lacking. Where’s the story potential in a supposedly passionate relationship when it’s reduced to a static shot of two expressionless people lying together, prone and nearly inert?
This lack of engagement with a story’s biggest emotions remains perplexing, especially given that Moon Knight thus far is only minimally attached to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (In the most overt MCU reference in the episode, Taweret obliquely says the Duat is just “an” afterlife, noting that the Ancestral Plane, as seen in Black Panther, is beautiful.) Under the current MCU structure, Moon Knight’s biggest accomplishments are diluted down to the goal of broadening the horizons of the wider Marvel Studios project ever so slightly. The efforts toward representation and the interest in darker, more complex material might be laudable. But the series should be more focused on serving the primary purpose of storytelling: to make us feel something.

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