London finally has its own MCU series... or does it?
Moon Knight — not one of the better-known heroes from Marvel's deep canon, but of interest in this parish thanks to its TV setting in London (transplanted from NYC in the comics).
The six-part series began screening on Disney+ in March 2022. Here we'll dissect each episode and extract the London goodness. And, frankly, it's a bit of a fudge.
Episode 1: The Goldfish Problem
We're introduced to the character of Steven Grant, a hapless museum gift shop worker with a voice that sounds like someone subtracted all the confidence from Russell Brand.
It's established very early on that he's a Londoner, living in London, in a London flat. But where exactly? The first outside shots are tantalising — he lives above a narrow street market which debouches onto a major road on the 25 bus route. It's convincingly London at first glance; but not at a second...
First, there's something off with that bus. Its final destination is Tottenham Court Road, which is not a location ever troubled by the 25 bus.
Then, if you look closer at the streets (on an HD television), you'll quickly notice that this isn't London at all. The street signs seem decidedly continental, and the curving road in the distance matches nothing we can think of in central London. Turns out, the street scenes were filmed in Budapest, dolled up to look all Londony.
The sense of not-quite-London is cemented when Steven arrives at his place of work. It's a weird hybrid of the National Gallery and British Museum (called the National Art Gallery), but it was clearly filmed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.
And so it continues, with various other not-quite-London shots until, two-thirds through, we finally see some actual, proper London. Steven's on his beloved number 25 travelling down Strand, when he sees Egyptian moon god Khonshu hanging about outside NatWest. Happens to us all sooner or later.
This short sequence seems to have been genuinely filmed in the capital rather than relying on CGI. But as soon as Steven steps off the bus, we're back in fantasy London.
We hardly need point this out, but THAT is not Tottenham Court Road station, and never will be. Plus, the 25 bus route is getting even weirder if it's taking its passengers east along Strand to reach Tottenham Court Road.
The rest of the episode takes place within the gallery/museum. None of the rooms seem familiar, and these scenes were no doubt shot elsewhere. So much for episode 1 of the MCU's first London-set series.
Episode 2: Summon the Suit
Steven wakes up in his massive loft conversion that's totally affordable for a low-grade museum worker. Only, we're now starting to learn that Steven has a split personality, and his other self called Marc Spector is responsible for all the weirdness he's experiencing (and might just be paying the bills on that loft conversion).
This episode suffers from a similar amount of London fakery to episode 1, but we do now finally see a few more cameos from the real capital. Here, for example, are Steven/Marc and his putative wife Layla on a moped jaunt round Vauxhall bus station.
They are presumably doubles, as we don't ever see their faces with a London background. It's starting to seem like the principals never set foot in our fair city.
Much of the rest of the episode involves mystical larking about in some ancient ruins (also not London), before the characters emerge onto the streets again for the grand finale. And here we do see LOTS of our city.
The scene begins with a bit of a punch-up on an anonymous industrial street. Yet another London bus lurks in the background (this show is obsessed with the number 25 bus).
Note the advert for the GRC — a little easter egg for those following wider Marvel arcs.
We're then up onto the rooftops for a thrilling night time chase. Here we get glimpses of some genuine London landmarks — albeit greenscreened into the background. That's the real Royal Exchange below, for example...
Suddenly we're on the riverfront, and Moon Knight dashes across the roof of the old Custom House, with some identifiable skyscrapers in the background.
The buildings have been shifted around a bit, all the better to frame that handily placed crescent moon. The moon, too, is clearly CGI... not only because it looks very CGI but also because it's due north, a part of the London sky where the moon never intrudes.
We get a final glimpse of London at the end of the chase, with a building that most people should be able to identify as the Tower of London. Sadly, when Moon Knight/Steven/Marc lands on the ground, we're back in an overseas location.
In conclusion, then, Moon Knight might be set in London, but precious little of the filming took place here. The scenes that do show real London do not feature the principal actors. It will be interesting to see if this half-hearted approach continues through the remaining episodes...
See our guide to London scenes in all the MCU films and TV shows.