Marvel Studios' 2022 slate has officially kicked off with a new six-episode series for Disney+, Moon Knight. Starring Oscar Isaac as not one but various personas, Moon Knight is mired in a mystery involving the gods of Egypt, specifically the moon deity Khonshu. If that wasn't a bold enough swing from Marvel Studios, this standalone series has no MCU parachute in that it's disconnected from Marvel's current Phase 4. Well, that is, for the moment.
With Marvel's newest hero also comes its latest villain - the unsettling cult leader Arthur Harrow. Played by Ethan Hawke, Arthur Harrow has his own connections to the gods of Egypt and a disturbing mission.
Since only one episode has been released at this point, Arthur Harrow's reasons and intentions are currently up for debate. However, a new theory suggests just what this cultist malefactor has planned and what this bold, new series has in store for him.
Who is Ethan Hawke's Arthur Harrow in Moon Knight?
While Arthur Harrow was a character taken from Moon Knight comics, he's now a much different - and much more significant - character in this live-action incarnation.
After the show's opener shows him pouring broken glass into his shoes to walk on, Oscar Isaac's Steven Grant later stumbles upon the committed cultist talking to a group of his followers.
It's here he states that "We are here to make the Earth as much like Heaven as possible" and even praises an individual who volunteered for judgment for "Wanting to serve our goddess even before she awakes."
He then judges that volunteer "in Ammit's name with but a fraction of her power," using his signature two-headed alligator cane and a mystical tattoo of scales.
While the first volunteer is deemed "a good man" and lives, the second volunteer - an older woman - is condemned for something that she hasn't done, but will do in the future. She then dies, her life seemingly sucked from her body, while holding Arthur's hands.
In addition to these abilities, Arthur Harrow later summons a demonic jackal to hunt down Steven Grant and the show's MacGuffin, a gold beetle-shaped scarab.
Arthur Harrow's Connection to Ammit
While Moon Knight is tied to the moon deity Khonshu, Harrow is tied to the Egyptian creature Ammit or Ammut.
According to Egyptian mythology, Ammit devoured those found unworthy when Anubis, the deity of death and rebirth, would weigh a soul on the scales of Ma'at belonging to the Egyptian goddess of order and justice.
Ammit was part lion or leopard, part hippopotamus, and, interestingly enough, part crocodile. Not only does Harrow actually show this likeness to Steven Grant when he confronts him at the museum, but he also explains how Ammit was betrayed by "fellow indolent gods" and "even by her own avatar."
His flawed but persuasive argument is that if she had been free, there wouldn't have been a Hitler, Pol Pot, or other evildoers who wreaked havoc on the earth.
Did Marvel Combine Ammit & Anubis?
Due to what Steven saw in the village, it appears that Ethan Hawke's Arthur Harrow is carrying out Ammit's ancient, mythological judgment in the modern-day. But here's the thing: he's also doing the weighing, a role that belonged to the death and rebirth deity, Anubis.
While Ammit was a blend of various creatures, Anubis had the body of a man and the head of a jackal. Since the opening episode showed Harrow both summoning a demonic jackal and weighing the worthiness of souls, it looks like Marvel has combined both Anubis and Ammit into a singular deity for this series.
The being's power set, even if combined with Ammit, might play into that bit of foreshadowing at the episode's start when Steven Grant says, "That doesn't make sense 'cause I'm not dead, am I?"
After all, Anubis had a role in the Moon Knight comics, where Marc Spector's death is what led to him becoming the character of Moon Knight.
Why Arthur Harrow Wants the Moon Knight Scarab
While much of Moon Knight is still a mystery, one thing is abundantly clear: Harrow wants the gold, beetle-shaped scarab and Khonshu doesn't want Harrow to get it.
In fact, when Harrow demands Steven Grant to give it to him, Steven genuinely tries to obey. It's his body that won't let him and is seemingly controlled by someone - or something - else.
Since scarabs were associated with rebirth in Ancient Egypt, and a clip from an upcoming Moon Knight episode continues to highlight the item's importance, it's safe to say the trinket will continue to be central to the series' story.
In fact, early on in the first episode, fans got a quick tease of what's to come with the scarab while Steven Grant is in the museum stockroom. For a moment, he's posed next to a box containing an open souvenir scarab containing a green stone.
Now, Moon Knight's mystical gold scarab isn't entirely new to the character. In the comics, Moon Knight battled Kang the Conqueror - who also had Egyptian roots - for ancient items, including a scarab which had the ability to create rifts in time.
It's also not the first ancient object MCU fans have seen in recent projects, nor is it the first to involve deities. The ten rings from Shang-Chi were confirmed to be ancient and possessed a strange, certain power, while Eternals introduced gods and immortal beings and their connection to mankind.
Why Arthur Harrow Isn't an Avatar...Yet
For fans anticipating Moon Knight's live-action MCU debut, it's no secret that the character is called the "Fist of Khonshu" and executes the moon deity's judgment. While that aspect of the character is sure to be explored in coming episodes, the question is whether Arthur Harrow is also an avatar for Ammit?
While some fans seem to think so, it's worth noting that there are definite differences between Moon Knight and Harrow.
For starters, while Grant and Marc Spector hear and even see Khonshu, the audience doesn't see Harrow having the same experience with Ammit. And, again, Harrow drops clues about Ammit, including that she hasn't been awakened, that he judges with only "a fraction of her power", and that she was betrayed by other gods.
Also, in interviews, it's important to note Ethan Hawke has referred to his character as being an apostle or acolyte of Ammit as opposed to an avatar. Since Ammit hasn't "awakened," it makes sense that she wouldn't have an avatar. Yet.
Harrow walking on glass, recruiting followers, and performing her judgments is likely an audition to become her avatar down the line.
What is Arthur Harrow's Plan?
If Ammit is asleep and without an avatar, this could be why Harrow needs that gold scarab. Since the beetle-shaped objects are associated with renewal and rebirth, the scarab may be key to waking Ammit and setting himself up to act as her "Fist." This would create the possibility for Harrow via Ammit to judge all mankind and eliminate those guilty of past, present, and future sins on a large scale.
If this sounds like Thanos' philosophy, it is. Harrow believes that he is doing what's right, which makes him all the more determined and dangerous.
The only difference between him and Josh Brolin's Thanos is that the Mad Titan was motivated by resources and sustainability; Harrow is motivated by the potential for evil, failing to consider or believe in the existence of mercy and redemption.
Perhaps his philosophy is best summed up by him asking Steven, "Would you wait to weed a garden after the roses were dead?"
If this proves to be true, it could set the stage for an epic, climactic battle between Moon Knight and Harrow in his yet-to-be-seen avatar form. However, if Khonshu and Moon Knight lose the scarab to Harrow, it could spell trouble for one or all of Isaac's various character personas.
Just how Marvel Studios intends to reveal more of Ethan Hawke's unique brand of villain, and if there are any surprising twists in store, remains to be seen. The same can be said for how Marvel intends to counter Harrow's false sense of right and morality based on flawed gods when his foil is a troubled vigilante.
Regardless of what audiences are left with by the time the credits roll on Moon Knight's sixth episode, this particular series was no doubt a challenge in more ways than one, and it will be fascinating to see how it's received by Marvel fans.
New episodes of Moon Knight debut on Wednesdays on Disney+.