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The ‘Moon Knight’ Exit Survey

Marvel’s first streaming series to be built around a superhero who didn’t come from the movies wrapped up its six-episode season this week. Now it’s time for takes and takeaways.

Disney/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

As a series centered on a comic-book character who hasn’t hobnobbed with or been a member of the Avengers in a big-screen blockbuster, Moon Knight had a harder assignment than the MCU series that predated it on Disney+. However, it also had Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, and a setting and tone that set it apart from its predecessors. The series’ six-episode first season (which left the door open for further installments) concluded on Wednesday, so it’s time for The Ringer’s resident Moon Knight knowers to share their thoughts on the finale, the season’s highlights and lowlights, and what’s in store for Moon Knight, Scarlet Scarab, and the rest of the small-screen MCU.


What is your tweet-length review of the Moon Knight finale?

Ben Lindbergh: You know when Marc/Steven black out, wake up disoriented, discover they can’t account for lost time, and suspect they must have missed something? That’s not unlike how I felt after the finale.

Daniel Chin: Marvel needs to figure out these season finales, because the studio consistently fumbles at the goal line, and Moon Knight is no exception. But I guess not every show can have Jonathan Majors suddenly appear at its ending, right?

Jomi Adeniran:

Steve Ahlman: Moon Knight is an exquisitely performed, exceptionally weird MCU outing in which Oscar Isaac gives a near-perfect performance. While it may still suffer from the “Marvel finale problem,” the ride to get there was very fun.

Arjuna Ramgopal: Moon Knight falls prey to the familiar MCU problem: a big battle with lots of punches and little logic or payoff.

David Lara: Marc Spector and Steven Grant finally are able to work together to defeat Ethan Hawke’s pet alligator. But we don’t get to see it because Marvel cut the final-boss budget.

What was the best moment of the season?

Lindbergh: The emotional ending of Episode 5, a.k.a. Oscar Isaac’s Emmy reel (assuming he’s eligible to submit one). Beyond that, though:

Chin:

Adeniran: Oscar Isaac acting opposite himself outside his family’s house in Episode 5 is incredible.

Ahlman: The latter half of Episode 5, when Marc and Steven embrace each other and come to terms with their abuse at the hands of their mother. A truly devastating moment, and one of the heaviest emotional beats Marvel has ever landed.

Ramgopal: The Episode 4 twist of Marc “dying” and awakening in the ward. Though there wasn’t a full payoff to that twist, the moment made me question everything that had come before.

Lara: The fight scene in which Steven and Marc switch off between their versions of Moon Knight was super fun.


What was your least favorite part?

Lindbergh: On the one hand, I appreciated that Moon Knight’s finale and (first?) season as a whole went a little lighter on the CGI and destruction of cities and scenery than most Marvel releases; no digital pyramids or reconstructions of Cairo were harmed in the making of this series. On the other hand, fast-forwarding through the climactic melee in order to preserve a mid-credits character reveal seems like letting the Lockley wag the dog.

Chin: The blacked-out action sequences worked early in the season, as Steven Grant—and, by extension, the viewing audience—tried to make sense of the world he was joining. But to cut off that climactic battle sequence in Cairo in the finale and delay the Jake Lockley reveal even further was a wild choice.

Adeniran: Not being able to see Jake kill some people on screen. I guess Michael Mouse isn’t that cool with gore yet.

Ahlman: The kaiju fight between the Egyptian gods in the finale. Just, why?

Ramgopal: The budget constraints.

Lara: Literally skipping most of the fight scenes.

Will you be hailing Jake Lockley’s car for Moon Knight Season 2 (or a Moon Knight movie)? Or have you had enough of this ride?

Lindbergh: We all know by now how the MCU works: Arthur Harrow may as well have been Marvel god Kevin Feige’s avatar when he said, “You can never contain me. I’ll never stop.” Moon Knight may or may not be a “limited series,” but you don’t cast Oscar Isaac as a superhero solely to tell a six-episode origin story, so these characters are going to be back. I’ll reserve a seat in the Spectormobile for Season 2 or a Moon Knight movie team-up, but I’m not in enough of a hurry to pay surge pricing.

Chin: I’m all in. While Moon Knight had its flaws, Isaac was incredible throughout the season—especially in that fifth episode. The show built a solid foundation for the character, and there’s still plenty to explore now that Jake Lockley is in the picture. Plus, I just need to see three Oscar Isaacs interacting with each other.

Adeniran: I want more Moon Knight for the simple fact that I must see Steven, Marc, and Jake have a conversation together. It would be comedy of the highest order.

Ahlman: I would gladly hop in the ’90s stretch limo as long as we can get more of the emotional heft and odd performances that we saw when this season was at its best. Less punchy punchy!

Ramgopal: I will, but I’m fine waiting however long it takes to get the next chapter right. I’m less excited for a Season 2 or a movie than I was for the six episodes we got, but I do think the Moon Knight franchise can get back on track.

Lara: Give me an entire Season 2 in Jake Lockley’s ride. Easily the most exciting part of the finale.

Let’s talk about Layla as Tawaret’s winged avatar, Scarlet Scarab.

Lindbergh: Scarlet Scarab spinoff when? I’m sure Jake Lockley is lovely and all, but he’s not the new alter ego from this episode that I’m most excited to see on screen again.

Chin: Give me the Disney+ series, please.

Adeniran: They teased her being an avatar for the whole series, so I wasn’t surprised, but the sheer amount of carrying she did in the finale was impressive. She did more in 15 minutes of screen time than Sam Wilson did as Falcon for eight years!

Ahlman: My favorite Met Gala look this year! Classic yet modern, wildly off theme but who cares. She immediately knows how to work the wings better than some other winged MCU heroes. 9/10.

Ramgopal: I loved the Layla character, who was interesting from start to finish. I also loved that she got her own powers and didn’t become another version of Moon Knight. While the wings are a little questionable, I’m looking forward to finding out where the character goes from here.

Lara: She was perfect.

Are you shipping Layla with Marc or Steven? Or neither? Or … both?

Lindbergh: One word: throuple.

Chin: I think Layla could use a little healthy distance from Marc and Steven as they figure out what’s going on with Jake. Also, Layla only just found out that Marc is partially responsible for the murder of her father, so there’s that.

Adeniran: Layla needs to be with a man who won’t go AWOL on her at any moment.

Ahlman: I wish Layla nothing but the best. She deserves the best parts of both Marc and Steven. But I’d be happy if she were just living life free from their drama.

Ramgopal: Layla and Steven all day. Steven can match her intelligence, and now that he’s unlocked his own fighting style, they can fight crime together in perfect harmony.

Lara: Layla and Jake Lockley!

Are you pleased that Moon Knight told a self-contained story, or disappointed that there wasn’t a tie-in to the MCU?

Lindbergh: Maybe it’s because I watched the finale not long after a screening of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness—which, let’s just say, does include a tie-in or two—but I found Moon Knight’s restraint in this regard really refreshing. Crossovers are cool and all, but I needed a bit of a breather from the burden of everything connecting to everything else.

Chin: I found it refreshing, because so many other TV shows and movies are so focused on connecting to the greater MCU. It can be fun when other characters are brought into a story where it makes sense and adds something, but oftentimes it can be distracting—especially in an origin story like this.

Adeniran: Self-contained stories work for me because (a.) my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fandom prepared me for them and (b.) there’s a lot happening in the MCU, and the less mess we have to clean up down the line, the better.

Ahlman: I find this to be the show’s biggest strength outside of Isaac’s performance. The fact that it has almost no ties to anything in the MCU and, until the end, has relatively small stakes was a welcome change of pace.

Ramgopal: I actually liked the idea of it being self-contained and didn’t mind there not being more connections from the onset. As I was with Eternals, I’m interested to see how the characters will fit into the future of the larger MCU.

Lara: I enjoy a self-contained story, but I was hoping for a tiny tie-in to the MCU at the end (even though I enjoyed the Lockley reveal).

Where would you rank Moon Knight in relation to the first five Disney+ MCU series?

Lindbergh: In terms of implications for Marvel’s larger storytelling tapestry, at the bottom. In terms of my minute-to-minute enjoyment? Believe it or not, toward the top. Isaac, Hawke, and May Calamawy’s work went a long way toward sucking me into a story about a character I couldn’t have cared less about before seeing this series.

Chin:

1. Loki
2. WandaVision
3. Moon Knight
4. Hawkeye
5. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Adeniran: Below Loki and WandaVision, above Hawkeye, way above The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and WAY ABOVE What If… ?

Ahlman: I would rank it fourth behind Loki, WandaVision, and Hawkeye.

Ramgopal:

1. Loki
2. WandaVision
3. Hawkeye
4. Moon Knight
5. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Lara: I’d rank this third behind Loki and WandaVision, thanks to a solid acting performance from Oscar Isaac and a cool and distinctive story.

Is six episodes per season the right length for Marvel’s live-action streaming series?

Lindbergh: I think it can be, depending on the series, but sometimes it seems almost as if the people making Marvel’s live-action streaming series aren’t aware that their seasons are six episodes long until after they’ve finished shooting Episode 5.

Chin: If some of these episodes had been longer, it might’ve worked better, but I think Moon Knight in particular could’ve used the extra runway, even if it was only one more episode.

Adeniran: We need eight. Eight episodes would be the perfect length to let things breathe and also provide chances to try new and exciting things in the Disney+ space.

Ahlman: It really depends on the show and the story they want to tell. For Moon Knight, I feel like we needed two more episodes to act as a bridge between Episode 5 and the finale. My pitch to the writers would be: HAVE A PLAN!

Ramgopal: I actually think it’s too short. WandaVision’s nine felt like the right length, as it takes some time to get to know the characters and circumstances. Looking back on Moon Knight, everything felt a tad rushed at the start, slowed down in the middle, and then rushed again at the end. More episodes would help with that pacing issue.

Lara: It is and isn’t. It would be if they were hour-long episodes, but instead they’re only 40 minutes. Give us a full hour, and we’d be good.

Has Moon Knight made you more or less excited for Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Ironheart, and other Disney+ series centered on characters who weren’t first established in Avengers movies?

Lindbergh: Enlisting the services of famous movie stars to sell the first streaming series not based on a big-screen character was a smart move for Marvel, though even Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke’s combined star power couldn’t prevent Moon Knight from drawing the smallest premiere audience of any live-action MCU series so far. (Unless you believe another, non-Nielsen measure of audience size, which said something different; aren’t streaming ratings fun?) Some of Marvel’s upcoming small-screen series may have an even tougher time standing out in a torrent of TV, but whether they drive Disney+ subscriptions isn’t my problem. I’m guessing there’s going to be a dud in the bunch, but as a stand-alone and smaller-scale (if not necessarily lower-stakes) series, Moon Knight was a worthy proof of concept that will make me more likely to give subsequent lower-profile projects a chance.

Chin: Moon Knight gives me hope for these upcoming series, because I like this TV format for telling origin stories. Origin stories can still work in movies like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but this serialized release structure will open up possibilities for intriguing and unique storytelling choices as Marvel continues to introduce new characters.

Adeniran: It hasn’t changed my expectations at all! The shows are here to provide depth and growth for characters who ordinarily wouldn’t get the screen time required to explore them, so I’m interested to see where these series take them. Moon Knight hasn’t dampened or heightened my expectations in any way.

Ahlman: I would say less so, and only because none of these upcoming series are centered on preestablished on-screen characters. Not that they’re not worthy of the spotlight. But Moon Knight was the first real test of a solitary comics character being brought to TV, and it felt shaky at times.

Ramgopal: I think the next slate of shows will be a little more connected to the MCU than Moon Knight was, but I’m down a bit on Marvel as a whole. I’m not confident that Marvel Studios can execute its streaming plans as successfully as it has on the movie front. It feels like we’ve had more misses than hits on Disney+.

Lara: I’m definitely more excited about the many heroes and villains who are about to be introduced.