Ethan Hawke has walked a razor’s edge in his career as a film star. Over the course of his many decades, he has consistently been a box-office draw and a recognizable name for mainstream films like Training Day and Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven. But he just as often (if not more) leaned toward experimental projects like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. In short, he has mixed feelings about the divide between popular entertainment and cinema as art. And now that he is about to debut in the most popular of entertainment, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the villain of the Disney+ series Moon Knight, how does he feel? Well, according to him, he is a bit frightened.
In a recent interview with GQ, Ethan Hawke revealed that Moon Knight and the entire idea of “streaming content” was scary to him on an artistic level. Here’s how he put his feeling on the whole idea:
I get scared when things get less director-driven. I’m scared of streaming, I can’t stand the word content. It starts to make me feel like we’re devising a world like Wall-E where people drink smoothies and just press play. I don’t want to be a part of that.
It is somewhat ironic that Ethan Hawke would use Wall-E as an example of the dangers of mass entertainment, given that it was a massively popular animated film produced by Disney and created by committee rather than being director-driven (as he attests to preferring). But that is not to knock the star of The Velocity of Gary too much; worrying that the iron control of Marvel Studio over their projects will remove authority and creative decision-making from directors is nothing new. It does, of course, also rely on the concept of auteur theory as promoted by 1960s French New Wave filmmakers that asserts that the director of a film is the primary creator, rather than the dozens or hundreds of people that contribute to it as a whole. Anyway, long story short, Ethan Hawke worries that the pressure of large corporations to make constantly streamed content will diminish the concept of “art.”
In the same interview, the Daybreakers star did not completely dismiss comic book films as a genre. He admitted to liking Chloé Zhao’s Eternals (though worth noting he cherrypicked the MCU film most promoted as being made by an Oscar-winning director), and definitely is not above genre films like the upcoming Jason Blum-produced horror film The Black Phone. At the end of the day, Ethan Hawke likes the kind of movies he likes, and that’s fine. Interestingly, apparently it was his daughter Maya Hawke (who currently stars on Netflix’s streaming content Stranger Things) that turned him around on the idea. According to the elder Hawke, he realized it’s probably better that people love movies and for actors to make the things people love than not, which sounds like a sweet father-daughter-Hollywood-streaming-content moment.
Moon Knight is set to premiere on Disney+ on March 30, starring Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector aka Moon Knight and Ethan Hawke as the antagonist Arthur Harrow. The series is being promoted as a darker, edgier side of the MCU (as Netflix’s Daredevil once was before it), and Hawke has said his religious zealot character was inspired by people as diverse as cult leader David Koresh, the Dalai Lama, and Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. So even if Hawke has some fears about Moon Knight and streaming content, it looks like he’s still managing to make it a bit weirder.