The whole world is howling at Moon Knight. When it was announced Marvel’s answer to Batman was coming to Disney +, fans were looking forward to a moody new addition to an all-conquering superhero universe. But what they got in the first trailer was esteemed character actor Oscar Isaac putting on the worst English accent this side of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. “Please sir, can I have some more,” joked one troll on Twitter, who couldn’t help rolling his eyes at the Dickensian man-waif around whom Marvel was seemingly building its new franchise.
The funny thing is that the one doing the mocking was Isaac himself, who, in a promotional video for the trailer, seemed both amused and low-key appalled by Moon Knight’s “Chim chim cher-ee!” cadences. It spoke volumes that Isaac’s comments were “liked” by Courtney Young – a Marvel voice coach. Is this yet more Marvel misdirection, or one big joke? And if so, at whose expense?
The superhero movie may be the international language of modern cinema. And yet, long before Moon Knight was reinvented as an Edwardian chimney sweep, accents have been Kryptonite to Marvel. Whether casting Brits as American or requiring Americans to pretend they are from Eastern Europe, the slickest force in contemporary cinema continues to come unstuck as soon as its heroes open their mouths.
With Moon Knight, though, there are additional subtexts. It may be that Marc Spector – aka the new show’s titular white-cowled crime fighter – is suffering from associative personality disorder. That is a theme which the comic book has explored and which has involved the character taking on imaginary personas.
And so, perhaps Spector is an American who thinks he is British. Which would explain why he speaks like someone whose knowledge of the UK in the 21st century was gleaned from binge marathons of Steptoe and Son. And then there is the additional ersatz wrinkle that, though Spector is supposedly employed at a London museum, filming took place at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.