Various images from a Google search on Moon Knight.

Moon Knight Debuts – Episode 1 Review

Moon Knight pilot episode debut on Disney+ to tentatively mixed reviews by plural audiences.

The initial episode of Moon Knight (“The Goldfish Problem”) by Marvel Studios is a whirlwind of action and confusing/chaotic dissociation problems. Is this a must-see terrific representation of “everyday DID”? No. You can look to Jane& from Doom Patrol for a better depiction of superhero-sized DID. We’ll know more as the season rolls out — but so far we would say this is skippable.

While not an entirely inaccurate depiction of Dissociative Identity Disorder, it’s obvious that Moon Knight writers went with sensationalism/exaggeration over authentic lived experience and were definitely not trying for anything approaching subtlety or covertness — we don’t know this character “before” they experience classic symptoms — it’s obvious they’ve been living a double life for quite some time.

Perhaps the writers shopped around in textbooks or survey instruments for a checklist of points to hit and shoved them all into the first episode. With so many extreme examples being dramatized, like blacking out and suddenly (not gradually) coming to somewhere else, rapid switching with amnesias and suddenly being fully back, or several people using different names for the main character in the span of a day, it comes off as cramming to prove the character is “really” experiencing “classic DID” rather than the more common and usually seamlessly covert lived experiences of most folk with DID.

One cliché that Moon Knight has checked off for DID in the cinema is this DID character has one or more headmates who are killing people even though he’s a superhero. Not every MCU hero has a no-kill ethic, but it was too much to hope for a “Friendly Neighborhood Moon Knight” who had a no kill ethic — so this may add to existing Jekyll/Hyde tropes & stigma about people with DID having murderous headmates.

What does Moon Knight offer that’s not offered elsewhere? It’s the first solo protagonist depiction of a DID superhero. Jane (Doom Patrol) is a B-rated superhero riding shotgun with several other B-rated superheroes and not always on stage or in frame. Moon Knight is in the spotlight, for better or for worse. Will this become a character worthy of showing up on the big screen alongside Eternals, Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange…? That we have yet to see and can definitely say, as of Episode 1, “Not yet.”

Marvel is good at portraying complicated flawed superheroes, and making us care about them. Let’s hope that Marvel keeps up their track record and makes Moon Knight human, understandable, and elicits compassion from the masses. Not there yet — but it may be worth crossing fingers, and definitely not worth holding our breath.

Content Notices: Starts with self-harm (not the DID character) — can jump to the opening credits (1:52) to skip this. Self-restraints. Double-life style DID depicted — amnesias/losing time/blackouts, “getting up” at night, “waking up” somewhere strange. Cult, religious/moral judgment, jumpscares, potentially exaggerated “textbook” DID symptoms. Blood. Has content warnings for flashing lights. Ableist slur.

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