Entertainment

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

It might be too general to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is designed for kids, but it’s absolutely designed in a way that isn’t meant to exclude them. Even with the lighthearted geopolitics of the MCU and frequent friendly gestures towards the military-industrial complex, ultimately the franchise is carefully crafted to remain firmly family-friendly, with mostly bloodless violence and nothing too scary or intense. For the most part, that’s fine. Arguably the MCU could be better without his fixation with comic book heroes as paramilitary agents, and with every step of that (like shang chi) is appreciated. However, sometimes the focus on four-quadrant storytelling collides with the ambition of the story in any MCU episode, like this week. moon knight illustrated.

“Asylum” is one of the darkest and most intimately devastating stories Marvel Studios has ever told. It’s an episode about a man’s fractured mind that is finally broken when he revisits the most traumatic moments of his life. It’s terrible heavy stuff, delivered with a light touch that could be what’s more light. The horror is often undermined by moments of humor and a reluctance to center that horror on screen.

It’s frustrating in an episode as pivotal and internal as “Asylum.” Picking up where “The Tomb” left off, “Asylum” sees Marc Spector and Steven Grant (both played by Oscar Isaac) seemingly trapped in a psychiatric ward run by “Dr. Harrow” (Ethan Hawke), who tries to convince Marc to that the events of moon knight until now they are fictions designed by Marc’s brain as a survival mechanism. Taweret (voiced by Anotonia Salib), a hippopotamus-like fertility goddess, offers Marc and Steven another possibility: they are dead and currently on trial in the desert afterlife known as the Duat.

Image: Marvel Studios

According to Taweret, Steven and Marc’s hearts must be weighed in the balance of judgment to determine whether they will remain trapped in the sands of the Duat or head to a reed-filled paradise. However, the balance of the scales is shifting, as happened when Harrow attempted to use his own powers to weigh the guilt of the two men. Steven and Marc must work together and, to quote David Lynch, mend their hearts or die.

With this directive, “Asylum” takes shape, with Marc and Steven wandering the halls of the asylum to revisit their shared past. Each door of its white corridors hides a memory, and when visiting these rooms, moon knightThe writers fill in almost every gap in the show’s backstory thus far. Viewers see how Marc took responsibility for his brother’s death as a child, how that death led his mother to become abusive and turn to alcoholism, and how Marc came up with the character of Steven Grant, having him model his films. favorites, to help. resist this abuse. . As Marc ages, the wall between him and Steven goes up, and Marc bears all the pain. Eventually, he is discharged from his military duties and embarks on a career as a mercenary, while Steven lives in uncomfortable ignorance.

It all builds on the origin of Moon Knight, as Spector’s crew is hired to raid an archaeological dig. Their commander has other ideas and starts massacring everyone, including Layla’s father. Mortally wounded trying to defend the archaeologists, Spector crawls to a statue of Khonshu deep within the site and hears the moon god asking for his loyalty in exchange for new breath.

Moon Knight was born in the Disney Plus series Moon Knight

Image: Marvel Studios

Tonally, “Asylum” oscillates between the adventure story feel of “The Tomb” (Marc and Steven fight zombies in the arena) and dark psychological horror. (Zombies are all the people Marc has killed in his life as a mercenary.) In this, moon knight feels caught between two masters: the difficult, morally gray story of a man battling mental illness and his own capacity for horror, and the Marvel Studios-branded action movie the whole family can watch.

These two things aren’t mutually exclusive – something lost in modern ’80s homages to shows like strange things that’s how the 80’s classics like it HEY delivered stories where real fun is combined with genuine terror, danger, and inner turmoil, all of which were hard for kids (both on screen and in audience) to process. However, under the Marvel formula, every edge is sanded down. Did you know that Marc Spector is Jewish? His family sits Shiva down twice in this episode, and he rips off a yarmulke in anguish, but none of this informs his character or point of view. Critics may make headlines surrounding Moon Knight as Marvel Studios’ “first Jewish hero,” but what does that mean? In this context, not much. As for the sex scene in eternal, the sense of commitment to something significant is lacking. Where is the potential of the story in a supposedly passionate relationship when it is reduced to a static shot of two expressionless people lying together, submissive and almost inert?

This lack of engagement with the larger emotions of a story remains puzzling, especially since moon knight so far, it’s only loosely attached to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (In the episode’s most overt MCU reference, Taweret obliquely says that the Duat is just an “afterlife”, noting that the Ancient Plane, as seen in Black Pantheris beautiful.) Under the current structure of the MCU, moon knightMarvel’s greatest achievements are watered down for the purpose of slightly expanding the horizons of Marvel Studios’ biggest project. The rendering efforts and focus on darker, more complex material can be commendable. But the show should focus more on the main purpose of storytelling: to make us feel something.

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