Moon Knight: Oscar Isaac’s British accent sounds like Dick Van Dyke doing Alan Bennett

I expected Marvel’s new mercenary superhero to sound growly and cool, not like an 18th-century Leicestershire grandmother

In theory, nothing on Earth should be easier to make than an Oscar Isaac superhero vehicle. Because he’s Oscar Isaac, for heaven’s sake. Bung him in a muscle suit, give him a quippy script and let him spend 85% of his screen time twinkling for the internet and, bingo, you have a runaway hit on your hands.

But real life is complicated, and even the best intentions can result in unforced errors. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: what the hell is going on with Oscar Isaac’s accent in the Moon Knight trailer?

I mean it. Guys, you had a sitter. Slowly but surely, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has spent an entire year laying a carefully constructed path for its Disney+ shows. WandaVision skilfully wove an existing post-Endgame storyline into the medium of television. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier took time to focus on themes that might have got lost in the wham-bam soup of a movie. Loki introduced the concept of the multiverse. Marvel has been careful to hold our hand every step of the way, and Moon Knight was supposed to be the moment where it let go.

Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight.
‘Sounds a bit like a depressed Teletubby’ … Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight. Photograph: /Disney+

A new character, based on a relatively obscure comic book, Moon Knight is a mercenary with dissociative identity disorder. Now, based on that description, and knowing who plays him, imagine what Moon Knight’s voice sounds like. Something low and growly, perhaps. Something aloof and cool.

No. Because according to the Moon Knight trailer, Moon Knight actually talks like Alan Bennett. Well, almost like Alan Bennett. He sounds like Alan Bennett being played by Dick Van Dyke towards the latter stages of a 48-hour am-dram Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em recital. It is – and please remember that we live in a universe where Don Cheadle, on three separate occasions, played a cockney who sounded as if he’d been given a fatal dose of dental anaesthetic – the most incongruous British accent in the history of filmed media.

Marvel, you should have prepared us for this. You’re so good at weaving characters throughout your properties, why didn’t you do it here? Why wasn’t there a scene in No Way Home where Doctor Strange informed Spider-Man of the existence of this mysterious character? “He becomes a hero in his sleep,” he could say. “Woah, like a werewolf?” Spider-Man could reply. “Sort of, except he sounds a bit like a depressed Teletubby”, Strange could explain. And then we’d all be warmed up for this atrocity. But no.

There is not enough space on the internet for me to try and pinpoint exactly what Oscar Isaac’s accent sounds like in the Moon Knight trailer. It sounds like the malnourished cousin of the Churchill nodding dog. It sounds like Alan Partridge impaling his foot on a spike. It sounds like someone cast an evil spell on the 2017 Saturday Night Live Great British Bake Off sketch. It sounds like Jane Horrocks trying to be South African. It sounds like Dominic Raab wetting the bed as a child. It is awful.

True, some producers have tried to make Oscar Isaac less sexy in the past. In Drive he was too much of a low-rent baddie to be evil. In X-Men: Apocalypse he was caked in enough prosthetics to render him unidentifiable. And yet all this effort was for nothing. All it takes to make Oscar Isaac unsexy, it turns out, is to give him a voice that sounds like an 18th-century Leicestershire grandmother.

Still, I have hope for Moon Knight. Oscar Isaac’s accent has the feel of a classic Marvel bait and switch. Remember, the character he plays has multiple personalities. My guess is that this one – the one that sounds like infant Tom Holland singing Billy Elliott songs on Channel 5 News – is merely the first personality we’ll encounter. By the middle of the opening episode, he’ll be shaken from his dissociative state and we’ll get to hear Oscar Isaac sounding like Oscar Isaac.

Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe Moon Knight exists purely as a vehicle for Isaac to do all the terrible accents nobody else has ever let him do. Maybe one of his personalities will be Japanese. Maybe one will be Jamaican. Maybe he’ll spend the entire duration of episode three being Michael Jackson. Or maybe we’re really out of luck, and all of his personalities sound like Daphne from Frasier visiting a doctor for constipation. We’ll just have to find out in March.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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