A Look at Marvel’s Latest Original Series 

by John Downey '23 on April 22, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

A Look at Marvel’s Latest Original Series 

Moon Knight Offers Action, Adventure, and Egyptology

By Abigail Levasseur ’24

To the delight of Marvel fans everywhere, the creative geniuses behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe have released a new comic-inspired series, Moon Knight. The Disney+ exclusive’s first episode, “The Goldfish Problem,” premiered on March 30, followed by “Summon the Suit” on April 6, and “Moving Heaven & Earth” on April 13. The remaining episodes of the series will be released each Wednesday leading up to a May 4 finale.

The role of the titular Moon Knight is played by Oscar Isaac, who is best known for his roles in Star Wars, Addams Family, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse. Other featured actors include the late Gaspard Ulliel as Anton Mogart, Ethan Hawke as the villainous Arthur Harrow, and May Calamawy as Moon Knight’s love interest, Layla El-Faouly. 

Moon Knight’s series premiere raked in 1.8 million views, tying The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, surpassing Hawkeye’s 1.5 million views, and falling short of Loki’s 1.9 million views. 

What, exactly, is the premise of this buzzworthy show? Before this reporter answers that question, it is only fair to warn that there are spoilers ahead.

The premiere episode of Moon Knight, “The Goldfish Problem,” depicts the average day in the life of gawky social outcast Steven Grant (Isaac), a lonely man who is constantly tardy to his job as a gift shop salesman at the British Museum. From the first few minutes of the episode alone, it is clear that Grant is no superhero, especially in comparison to his fellow MCU Stevens—Steve Rogers, otherwise known as Captain America, and Doctor Stephen Strange. (Seriously, when will Marvel come up with names for its characters other than “Steven” and its miscellaneous variants?) 

Just as quickly as viewers realize that Grant is not their average MCU Steven, however, they also realize that he is not an average Joe, either: his bed sits before a sand pit and contains foot shackles. These oddities owe to the fact Grant has an alternative identity, Marc Spector, who is a mercenary working under the name Moon Knight with the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. Spector’s role is unclear in the first episode, as his violent actions appear offscreen, left open to the audience’s imagination—likely to keep the Disney+ show family-friendly. 

Nonetheless, by the end of “The Goldfish Problem,” viewers realize three major plot points: Grant and Spector occupy the same body, Harrow is the show’s “big bad,” and the episode’s violence, chase scenes, and overall action are centered around an instrument called the golden scarab. It remains to be seen, however, why this macguffin is significant. Although certainly enthralling, “The Goldfish Problem’s” dealings with multiple identities, invisible Egyptian jackals, and an alternate universe leave viewers wondering whether they are seeing the show’s reality, or if Grant is just dreaming.

The second episode, “Summon the Suit,” begins to offer clarity. It does an especially good job of advancing viewers’ understanding of the complicated relationship between Grant and Spector by introducing Spector’s wife, Layla El-Faouly. Yet this plot advancement raises another question: how real are Grant and his life? 

El-Faouly and Grant begin working together to protect the golden scarab. She instructs him to “summon the suit,” which he royally messes up, refusing to allow Spector to take control over their shared body. The subtleties of El-Faouly and Grant’s relationship, including his refusal to finalize her and Spector’s divorce and their shared interest in Ancient Egypt, leads viewers to wonder: is a complicated love story brewing? 

Overall, lovers of ancient Egypt, in addition to fans of the MCU, will certainly take an interest in Moon Knight and its action-packed adventure story. For those who have not seen its first few episodes—and for those who are already itching to rewatch them—Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Series Asks “What If?”

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Marvel Cinematic Universe Series Asks “What If?”

Features Alternate Versions of Characters, Events From the Mega-Franchise

Madison Palmieri ’22

Die-hard fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are no strangers to discussions of “what if” an event in the franchise had turned out a different way. From those who question why Tony Stark had to die and Steve Rogers had to return to the 1940s in Avengers: Endgame to those who wish they saw an onscreen romance between Captain America and Black Widow, these fans have long expressed their desired alternative MCU plotlines through means like fanart and fanfiction.

The executives and creatives at Marvel Studios seem to have gotten wind of the intense fan fervor surrounding that question, “what if?” Indeed, in April 2019, the studio announced a forthcoming animated series with that exact title.

Although the details of the series, like those of all MCU projects, were kept tightly under wraps, the studio shared that What If? would revisit some of the most iconic characters and moments from the franchise and explore what would have happened if a single moment was different.

Marvel Studios also announced that the series would be animated as well as that many of the MCU’s actors would be providing the voices for their animated counterparts. Among the most notable returns were Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and, in one of his final projects, the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa.

Other characters, however, were recast. Among the most-missed actors who did not return were Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. as Captain America/Steve Rogers and Iron Man/Tony Stark, respectively.

While it was certainly jarring for fans to see these and other characters with slightly different voices, from the moment the first trailer for the series dropped in the summer of 2021, they knew that it would not be one to miss. Indeed, in a year that had already seen three original series and a film from the studio after a year of pandemic-induced inactivity in 2020, fans were growing used to a near-constant stream of content from Marvel Studios.

The first episode premiered on Wednesday, Aug. 18 and follows the question of “what if” Peggy Carter took the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers, creating Captain Carter instead of Captain America. Episode two jumps from World War II to outer space in an alternate universe where T’Challa, rather than Peter Quill, was abducted from earth as a boy and became Starlord. 

Episodes three and five both center on the original Avengers, with the former examining “what if” they were all targeted and killed before the events of 2012’s The Avengers and the latter placing them in the chaos of a zombie apocalypse.

Episodes four and six explore two of the series’ more depressing timelines. Episode four follows Dr. Strange as he continuously goes back in time in an attempt to save his love interest, Dr. Christine Palmer, but ultimately fails and nearly loses his sanity in the process. Episode six places Killmonger in the plot of Iron Man, with the Black Panther villain killing Tony Stark and those around him before the billionaire philanthropist could become an Avenger.

The seventh episode in the series, however, provides a light-hearted contrast. It explores the question of “what if” Thor and Loki weren’t raised as brothers. Without their sibling rivalry, Thor becomes a “party prince” who travels to different planets and creates well-intentioned chaos—until Captain Marvel steps in.

The final two episodes of the series examine “what if” Ultron defeated the Avengers, with episode eight detailing the universe in which the defeat occurred and the latter showing the Watcher, a mysterious character who presides over all the different universes in the series, bringing together different versions of characters from various universes as the “Guardians of the Multiverse” to finally defeat the villain.

With the return of fan-favorite characters in new situations and too many callbacks to earlier MCU projects to count, What If? is a must-watch for anyone who claims to love Marvel.