In its first three episodes, Moon Knight largely failed to deliver on the heightened darkness and brutality that Marvel Studios promised fans would see. While these early installments showed a bit more blood than most Marvel Cinematic Universe titles do, the series’ fight scenes were never any more brutal than fans have come to expect.
Moon Knight Episode 4 makes up for some of that. The episode, while still flawed, is easily Moon Knight’s darkest and most intense installment to date. In fact, Moon Knight Episode 4 contains one sequence that feels like it could have been pulled straight out of a horror film. That’s a good thing not only for Moon Knight, but also for several upcoming MCU projects.
A Terrifying Adventure — Episode 4 of Moon Knight revolves almost entirely around an excursion Layla (May Calamawy) and Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) make into the underground tomb where Ammit is imprisoned. The expedition quickly takes a dark turn when Layla and Steven run across an undead Egyptian sorcerer, one prone to carving out the organs of the prisoners it captures.
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Throughout the sequence, Marvel Studios steps closer to the horror genre than it ever has before. Not only are Layla’s attempts to hide from the undead sorcerer reminiscent of several horror movie tropes, but her battle with it in a series of nearby tunnels feels like something pulled out of an old Universal monster movie.
It’s a section that’s simultaneously grotesque, tense, horrifying, and playful. It’s also the first time that Marvel has truly delivered on its promise to take Phase 4 of the MCU into darker and more terrifying places.
Marvel Finally Commits to Horror — Ever since director Scott Derrickson announced in 2019 that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would be “the first scary MCU film,” Marvel fans have been waiting to see the studio finally commit to the horror genre. Thanks to upcoming titles like Multiverse of Madness, Werewolf by Night, and Blade, Marvel certainly has the kind of projects in development that would allow it to do just that.
However, some Marvel fans and critics have been skeptical about any attempts the studio might make at delving into the horror genre, especially when shows like Moon Knight are still forced to adhere to the MCU’s PG-13 rules. Fortunately, Moon Knight Episode 4 proves that Marvel can produce something that’s legitimately scary without having to move into R-rated territory.
So there’s still a chance that Phase 4 titles like Multiverse of Madness, Werewolf by Night, and Blade will also be able to deliver the kind of scary moments that fans want to see from them.
The Inverse Analysis — Moon Knight Episode 4’s brief detour into the horror genre feels like a major turning point not only for the show, but for the MCU as a whole. It represents the first time that Marvel Studios has ever included a truly scary sequence in one of its MCU titles.
Most of the conversations surrounding Moon Knight Episode 4 are focused on its game-changing final 10 minutes. That’s understandable, given what happens in the final act. But in the long run it may very well be Layla’s confrontation with an undead sorcerer that ends up being Moon Knight’s most significant contribution to the MCU.
Moon Knight is streaming now on Disney+.