Oscar Isaac: ‘Marvel has taken the place of big comedies…in the theater’

Oscar Isaac covers the latest issue of Esquire, mainly promoting Moon Knight, his Marvel limited series. I’ve read Oscar’s interviews before, and I’ve come away with the impression that he’s one of those actors who doesn’t want to be known, he wants to keep things hidden away so that he can completely absorb himself in his work, and help the audience absorb his work. But, you know, things change. He’s 43 years old, he’s a husband and father of two, and he doesn’t mind talking about real sh-t these days. This Esquire piece is very good! He speaks a lot about his childhood, his parents, losing his mother, losing and trying to regain his faith, and whether Marvel’s dominance is a good thing. Some highlights:

The outsider: “I’ve always felt like an outsider. Literally, and then emotionally, psychologically. I always felt like I was observing life and not actually experiencing it. There was a lot of guilt with that sometimes—feeling like I was a vulture of my own life.”

Marvel’s importance in the industry: “Marvel has taken the place of big comedies, to a certain extent, in the theater. There was a time when you’d go and watch the big comedies. You’d watch Hangover, you’d watch all the great Judd Apatow films. And now it feels like these are the movies that people go to, to have a really good time and to laugh. These superhero movies, particularly the Marvel movies—exclusively the Marvel movies. That’s a really important element. But tonally, what Downey started—which was just amazing—was kind of the slightly self-referential, really cynical, but beautiful character. If you go back and watch that first Iron Man, that thing’s got teeth.”

Moon Knight is about life & mental illness: “It’s a celebration of the power of the human mind. It’s basically saying, We have a superpower and it’s the human brain, particularly for those who deal with trauma and sustained abuse. There’s this thing that the brain can do to allow them to survive. My uncle suffered with mental-health issues. He started crying watching an episode of Moon Knight because, I think, it just felt like being seen. There was something there that felt like an acknowledgment of the pain and what people do with pain, and the forgiveness, of how you forgive yourself, and how to come to terms with the child within you.”

His late mother: “For me, she was unconditional love. And when she died, it felt like God died, too.”

Losing his religion after an oppressively evangelical upbringing: “I’m trying to move back to a sense of something bigger than myself. There’s obvious beauty and importance and connection in spirituality, but man, can it get hijacked.”

The new Victorians: “In a way, we’re living in an almost Victorian time. It’s not about what you really believe. It’s about what you’re going to get called out on. I even noticed when I did four productions during Covid, and even the Covid protocols were all vastly different from production to production, because it wasn’t really about safety. It was about liability, right? It was about, What might we be called out on if there’s an outbreak, if this person gets sick, if that person gets sick? So it depended on who was running the show and how f–king crazy they were and how much they wanted to defend their position in their job. Then within that, of course there’s safety and we want to do the right thing and we don’t want people to get sick. But that’s not what it was really about.”

[From Esquire]

The conversation about Victorianism is fascinating. The background, within the profile, is Oscar Isaac talking about his dream project, doing Lorraine Hansbury’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window on stage, and what the play is about. The idea that even a politically and socially liberal bohemian would have “Victorian” urges, and the point of it was that the Victorians were just as dirty and messy as everybody else, they just didn’t show it publicly. It wasn’t about having Victorian purity, it was about showing and performing Victorian purity. Which goes back to Oscar’s point that so much of the world is performative now – instead of doing something on its merits, because it needs to be done and it’s the right thing to do, we do things that look good, we perform our roles so that people will believe we’re a certain way.

Cover & IGs courtesy of Esquire.

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35 Responses to “Oscar Isaac: ‘Marvel has taken the place of big comedies…in the theater’”

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  1. Meredith says:

    I can’t be the only person who stopped going to theatres in part because of the whole Marvel thing. It’s just been relentless and I’m so sick of superhero movies.

    • Chic says:

      1000x.. Add Star Wars too

      • bus says:

        Woahy woah woah! I’m still holding out for Solo The Sequel and I’ve got years of my life planned according to D+’s Star Wars release schedule so I’ll have no interference from the likes of you or anyone else for that matter!

    • Jan90067 says:

      I have no interest in these comic book movie franchises. I am not a fan of car chases, explosions, and fire ’em up gun movies either. Then again, I’m not the demographic they’re going for lol

      I really DO miss the rom-coms, the thought provoking dramas, the buddy-road trip movies from the 80s/90s….sigh… wow…in writing I’m noticing how long ago that was really!! Doesn’t *seem* so long ago in my mind! lol. I AM old!!!! Damn!

      Guess I’m destined to just keep streaming in my living room!

      • Giddy says:

        I agree on types of movies you miss, and add really good suspense. I’d rather stay home and watch Laura, Gaslight, Rear Window, etc. for the zillionth time than most things in a massive cineplex.

      • Fabiola says:

        I can’t stand these comic book movies. To me they should appeal to kids. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I’m glad I didn’t have to suffer through these marvel comics.

      • VIV says:

        I’ll enjoy the Marvel stories but the chases and fight scenes in the show and movies seem to go on for soooo long. I’ll watch them at home but really don’t like seeing them in the theater because I can’t multi-task when I’m over the fighting.

        I have been going to the theater quite a lot though only because I’m lucky to have one nearby that is supporting all of the TCM and Anniversary special releases. (Rear Window was showing this week!) I think 9/10 movies I’ve been to in the last few years were actually 20-70 years old.

  2. Digital Unicorn says:

    I stan Oscar he rocks the salt and pepper look.

    I can understand why actor’s join a Marvel franchise but they often get over exposed.

    I totally agree which what he says when he lost his mother. I still feel like that after 2 years.

    • Anners says:

      He looks so very very good with that beard! He’s so lovely and interesting…I’m really just honking for Oscar.

      I teared up over how he expressed his loss at his mother’s passing. I know it will feel the same for me, too; I will be completely devastated. And so I just wanted to send you a virtual hug DU.

  3. smcollins says:

    Just what I needed to start my Sunday, thank you! Now all I need is a post about Pedro Pascal and my day would be complete. 😉

  4. deluxeduckling says:

    I had my doubts about Moon Knight, but honestly – I love it. It’s fun and Isaac does a great job!
    I’m not that into Marvel but my partner loves it so I end up watching all of it with him. I drag him to indie movies so it’s all good 😀

  5. Eurydice says:

    So interesting what he says about Moon Knight. The superhero and sci-fi genres are useful because they can present painful subjects at a bit of a distance. The whole superhero world is basically about people who have suffered major trauma and/or have been ostracized for being different.

    • CourtneyB says:

      I totally admit I’m marvel’s bitch. Lol They got me through the Trump years and Covid. They’re deeper than people give them credit for imo. Comics have often been very topical and political, even subversive. I mean, Captain America literally wears the Stars and Stripes but he’s pretty antigovernment, anti authoritarian. He’s loyal to the Dream. They present it differently though. I can see why actors of high caliber go there. And they’re just fun. But opinions vary. And there have always been big popcorn movies, people decried the summer blockbusters of Jaws and Star Wars. Is just now they come out all year. But even they’re subject to ‘you get so many weeks and then out’. A movie like Titanic was number one for months. That wouldn’t happen today. Even endgame left the theaters when it was still making money.

  6. CocoBean says:


  7. OG Bella says:

    I love all the marvel movies and tv series. I’ve always loved super heroes, but I think Marvel makes the characters more 3D with the back stories and how all their stories intertwine.

    Star Wars was something I came back to because of my kids and husband.

    I’m more apt to go into a movie theater for a giant blockbuster that needs to be seen on the big screen to really be appreciated rather than just a movie with “a story”; something that could be more appreciated in the intimacy of your living room than in a giant movie theater.

    • FHMom says:

      I love them all, too. I can say it’s because of my kids, but I’d probably like them even if I didnt have kids. To me, it’s a fantasy where good conquers evil. I watch other stuff, also, (especially British crime dramas) but there is something wonderful about escaping reality for a few hours. When I am watching something heavy, it stays with me for too long.

    • Anna134 says:


      I agree with this. I think it takes a significant movie for people to pay money for a experience.
      I can enjoy a comedy or rom com in my home when it comes to a streaming site. I don’t feel like there is a need for me to spend money to see if on a big screen. I also won’t miss any spoilers.
      With certain actions movies like Marvel they are much better on the big screen and the crowd gets into it which just makes the experience even better.
      Though I just watched Batman at the theatres and honestly would have preferred it at home so I could be doing something else. Lol

      I also think the same about Disney animation/Pixar that they are just amazing to see on the big screen (though I’m less motivated to have to see it on screen)

      • CourtneyB says:

        Seeing Endgame on opening night was one of the funnest things ever. The audience was so hyped and it just felt like a rare communal experience.

  8. Eve says:

    I LOVE Marvel. Always have. Always will.

    Agree with CourtneyB, OGBella, FHMom and Anna134 (minus the Batman part, I really, really can’t sit through any amount of Batman on screen anymore — nope, nope, noooooope).

    I’m loving Moon Knight and Isaac is killing (also literally!!!) in it. He’s awesome.

    • Lightpurplei says:

      And Ethan Hawke is doing the villain bit really well.

      • Eve says:


        Oh, I think he’s great, too. I happen to find Hawke extremely underrated.

        May Calamawy is also great and so is her chemistry with Isaac.

    • FF says:

      I’m loving Moon Knight. I think I’d decided beforehand that if it just sexed up DID and played it for laughs I probably was going pass but they’ve really smashed it. Watching the villain constantly gaslight using mental illness has me waiting for his comeuppance. Oscar Isaac has been particularly amazing but May Calawmy and Ethan Hawke have been wonderful support.

      I actually really appreciate the work Marvel Studios puts into individual characters, and they’re great at inviting PoC and women to the table and letting them tell their personal stories through the material. They’re also good at course correcting when they make mistakes.

      I’m glad Isaac has come back to acting with this, Scenes From A Marriage and this. He’s also not wrong about liability being behind a lot of covid precautions. If it wasn’t for insurance liability I suspect things would be wildly different.

  9. Christine says:

    I can’t tell if I love Oscar Isaac because of Maaza Mengiste’s words, which read like serious literature. This is a fantastic problem to have, everyone should read it, and I have a hardcore crush on Maaza Mengiste.

    Also, I love Poe.

  10. nb says:

    My husband loves all the Marvel movies and really anything with explosions and lots of action. I can kind of get into them but I prefer to watch them at home where I can do other things in between if I get bored. We are trying to finish the new Batman but it’s so long, I lost interest around 2 hours in.

    I do miss the great older comedies – that’s what I grew up with and I still revisit them a lot. While superhero movies do have some laughs, they are more often dark in nature and sometimes you just want a silly Adam Sandler comedy to take your mind off real life.

  11. Eve says:

    I forgot to mention the amazing song that played at the second episode’s ending credits.

    A fantastic rap sung in Arabic called El Melouk.