Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow and Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Steven Grant

We Need To Talk About Ethan Hawke's Freaky Moon Knight Character

There's... a lot to unpack.

by Ani Bundel
Marvel Studios

Moon Knight debuted on Disney+ at the end of March as the first Marvel Cinematic Universe release for 2022. The series is different from the rest of the streaming service’s Marvel shows, as it lacks any tie-in character to the big-screen films. Instead, the two leads are Oscar Isaac’s Steven Grant as the titular superhero and Ethan Hawke as the mysterious antagonist named Arthur Harrow, pursuing Steven for actions he cannot remember taking. So, who is Arthur Harrow in the series, and how different is he from the Moon Knight comics?

Warning: Spoilers for Moon Knight Episode 1 follow. Moon Knight opens with a snapshot of the life of one Steven Grant, a museum gift shop clerk with a ton of knowledge about Egyptology... and a horrific secret. He loses cognizance for entire days, and he doesn’t know why; his body gets up and wanders around at night, and he has no memory of what happened.

One night, he went to sleep in London and woke the next day in the Alps with no idea how he got there, who was chasing him, or why blood was all over him. All he knows is there are voices inside his head telling him to give them control.

While trying to blend into the alpine village, he spotted a mysterious man who the residents seem to worship as their leader. Steven watched in shock and horror as the man walked through the crowd, using his cane to judge them for their sins, as his tattoo of Egyptian scales seemed to move on his arm. A person found “guilty” collapsed as if he sucked the life out of her, and the crowd did not even flinch.

Csaba Aknay. ©Marvel Studios 2022

This man, Steven eventually learned, was Arthur Harrow. Moreover, he discovered he had something Harrowed wanted — a golden scarab. Steven had no idea what the scarab was, what it did, or why Harrow wanted it. But when he tried to hand it over, the forces inside his body refused. So Harrow tracked him to the museum and attacked him with a terrifying ancient jackal-like creature.

Moon Knight has made it clear it’s deviating from the original comics. The MCU likes to take characters and reappropriate them to fit the established narrative. For example, Moon Knight’s primary alter-ego is Marc Spector, not Steven Grant. In the comics, Spector believes he was resurrected by Khonshu (the Egyptian god of the moon) after his fellow mercenary attacks and shoots him, and he dedicates his life to the god’s service. Grant, who is supposedly a New York real estate tycoon billionaire, is one of the aliases he uses in that pursuit.

Later variations of the comics suggest that Spector has mentall illness. Khonshu’s takeover caused dissociative identity disorder, and the aliases were retconned to be his other identities. The series seems to have taken that version of the story as its jumping-off point; however, it’s already drastically altered Grant’s origins and will probably continue to rework Moon Knight’s history as the show goes on.

Marvel Studios

But where does that leave Harrow? The original villain from the comics is a doctor who has trigeminal neuralgia. His breakthrough discoveries in pain management driven by his condition make him a finalist for the Nobel Prize in Medicine; however, a fellow finalist discovers Harrow stole his research from experiments performed by Nazi doctors in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Spector comes to the aid of those trying to prove Harrow’s guilt, and although they succeed in discrediting him, Harrow escapes to continue his experiments deep in the Amazon.

That is nothing like the character Steven meets in the Alps. Ethan Hawke’s version of Harrow does not seem to be a doctor, but rather a prophet, preaching the word of Ammit. He shows signs of religious zealotry (putting glass in his sandals in the opening scene), and his followers are cult-like in their worship of him. He also seems to control the jackal-like creature attacking Grant, though where he summoned it from, and how he summoned it, remains to be seen.

Moon Knight continues with new episodes streaming every Wednesday on Disney+.