Marvel Studios Just Made MCU History With Moon Knight Episode 1
For the tenth time in just over a year, a new era of the MCU has begun. moon knight Episode 1 has been released on Disney+ and another character has been added to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe roster. There are a variety of reasons why fans are excited moon knight, ranging from the excitement over main star Oscar Isaac to where this character is headed in future projects, but moon knight provides something that no other project, streaming or otherwise, has ever provided for the MCU.
Phase 4 took the post-Infinity Saga MCU to new heights on every level. Narratively, fans experience the passing of cloaks and introductions to worlds unknown. Socially, characters like Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson, and Clint Barton are reaching levels of prominent fandom they’ve never seen before. Behind the scenes, Marvel Studios has embraced the world of streaming as a new way to tell its stories in new and exciting ways.
Now with moon knight, Marvel Studios has added another tool to its belt as they continue to build the most successful franchise of all time. Moon Knight premiere is the first release from Marvel Studios to introduce a lead character to a streaming series. It’s a huge step forward for the MCU as the studio continues to expand its universe, and it’s great news for fans who are excited to see their favorite comic book heroes come to life.
Moon Knight: a character intended for streaming
When Marvel Studios announced the release of its first projects on Disney+, fans saw it as the MCU’s way of giving shine to characters who played supporting roles on the big screen. WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and Hawk Eye all have given special attention to characters who have only been actors in their MCU tenure, and the result of that commitment is already paying off.
Sam Wilson is the MCU’s new Captain America and is getting a solo movie. Loki featured what is sure to be one of the biggest players on the roster going forward, Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror, while also receiving a second season. Hawk Eye gave Clint Barton six episodes to pass on his mantle to one of the brightest young stars the MCU has to offer. Wanda Maximoff debuted as Avengers: Age of Ultronis the secondary villain of being a major player in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessone of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year.
Disney+ has already proven itself to be a great resource for telling more personal and elaborate stories for characters who haven’t received title credits on the big screen. The question has now become who will be the first character to use this medium to tell their origin story? Enter moon knight.
Marc Spector, Steven Grant, Jake Lockley and Moon Knight are all the same character. That alone makes it a prime candidate to warrant six or more episodes of an origin story. Add world-building elements as the MCU slips into the supernatural branch for the first time, and the star power behind Oscar Isaac and moon knight is quickly becoming the obvious choice to test the waters of the origin story on Disney+.
This historic decision puts moon knight in a place to set the bar for which characters get a streaming series, and which get their first theatrical title projects. This means that the story told by Marvel Studios in introducing The Fist of Konshu to their universe has more implications behind its success than any series before it. After episode 1, it is revealed that this character is introduced to the media, as it is a fully developed version of Moon Knight right away. This leaves more time to develop this character even more in six episodes.
The MCU Origin Story: Bread and Butter
Looking back, the origin story is the cornerstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With moon knight pushing the boundaries of what an origin story can look like in the MCU, it’s worth noting how far Marvel Studios has pushed those boundaries in the past.
The MCU was built in a cave with a box of remains, and that first bit that led to this universe dates back to 2008 Iron Man. No wheels have been recreated when it comes to superhero origin stories here. It was the simple decision to ensure fans fell in love with Tony Stark first that made it such a monumental achievement for the genre. The focus on characters in the MCU has allowed them to swing stronger in sequels, team-ups, and crossovers, leading to the success fans have enjoyed over the past 14 years.
That said, Iron Man is a marketable character for comic book fans. What about characters less known to the general public? Can Marvel Studios make fans care about them the same way they care about Tony Stark? This question was answered in 2014 with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.
The James Gunn Space Opera was another glass ceiling shattered by Marvel Studios, proving that they can invest audiences in not just one lower-level Marvel character, but five of them at the same time. Guardians changed the game the same way Iron Man did in that there was now a previous set for characters to work in live-action. Marvel Studios has cemented the strategy of trusting its creators, investing in characters over heroes, and sticking to that classic Marvel shine that’s on every project.
Television is different. Can you introduce a character that fans care about, based on a low-level Marvel comic, and hold their attention for several weeks and not a single two-hour sitting? While many would say that question has been answered on Netflix with daredevil, Marvel Studios has proven they can do it themselves in 2021 Hawk Eye.
It was a “foot in the water” situation, as Kate Bishop’s debut in the MCU didn’t lead to her owning the title of the project completely. Sharing the spotlight with Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton allowed Marvel Studios to bring the next generation of Hawkeye to life without putting it out there to sink or swim on its own.
Beyond Bishop, key MCU players have been introduced on Disney+ throughout 2021 with John Walker, Sylvie, and Maya Lopez.
The future of the MCU on Disney+
All of these things have a direct impact on the weight behind moon knight being the first main character to be introduced on Disney+. They need fans to care about the character the same way they care about him Iron Man. They need to sell someone most fans have never heard of, to like Guardians. They have to keep that excitement going week after week like Kate Bishop in Hawk Eye. Yes moon knight can accomplish all of those classic Marvel Studios milestones, it means big things for the future of streaming superheroes.
There’s a pretty clear cause-and-effect mentality in the MCU. Iron Man works, so they start building a universe. guardians of the galaxy works, so they start introducing more obscure characters to the big screen, like Shang Chi and Eternals. While that has yet to come to fruition, the success of The Rookie Class of 2021 on Disney+ can only mean more than that to come in future MCU projects.
Yes moon knight can capitalize on the introduction of this character in their first installment and deliver a series that fans love, further opening the doors for characters introduced into the streaming format. There are plenty of big-name characters and IPs who would benefit greatly from the pacing and length of a streaming series as opposed to a movie trilogy, the least of which is the X-Men.
As one of the greatest marks in comic book history, Charles Xavier’s batch of mutants have a roster that rivals the Avengers in the final battle of End of Game. If a precedent can be created by moon knight that MCU characters can be successfully introduced on Disney+, then Marvel Studios might be willing to embrace a game of thronesstyling plan for the mutants in the MCU.
While moon knight has already made history as Marvel Studios’ first Disney+ origin story, it has the opportunity to become another pillar of the universe and fuel to add to the streaming fire in the MCU.