Moon Knight just finished up its first season, and now fans across the world have come to love both Marc Spector and Steven Grant. The two have now undoubtedly become some fans' favorite characters in all of the MCU. Despite the satisfying conclusion of the series, it's hard not to still wonder what could have been? Was Arthur Harrow always the main villain?
Jeremy Slater, the producer and head writer for Moon Knight spoke a couple of months ago about how Marc Spector's arch-nemesis Bushman was almost the main villain of the show.
For those who don't know Bushman, he was an acquaintance and mercenary connection of Marc's before he went too far during a job and ended up nearly killing Spector in the process. His existence is alluded to in some of the final episodes, but the character never makes it on screen.
But who else never made it to the final cut? Or even onto the page? The Direct was able to sit down with Slater to ask those very questions.
More Marvel Villains Were Considered
In an exclusive interview, The Direct's Russ Milheim got to sit down with Moon Knight executive producer and head writer Jeremy Slater, where he discussed why he and his team didn't use Bushman as the series' villain, in addition to who else was considered as an antagonist for the piece.
Slater confirmed that "Bushman was in [his] first couple versions of the script," but ultimately, he had "to make the decision to ax Bushman:"
“I mean Bushman was in my first couple versions of the script for sure, and we tried to have several different versions of him. Ultimately, I was the one to make the decision to ax Bushman. I went to Marvel and said I’m not comfortable with this, can we take him out and talk about different versions, and they were always really supportive."
He went on to note how "over the last forty years there have been some pretty racist interpretations of the character:"
"... Bushman as a character—over the last forty years there have been some pretty racist interpretations of the character. Like there are times where he has sort of straddled the line of caricature in really unflattering ways, and it was really hard to sort of—in order to steer clear of those sort of negative racist stereotype versions of Bushman, you had to sort of lean into the hyper-confident—this is someone who can go toe-to-toe with Moon Knight. This means he has to be the world’s best mercenary, he has to be a master of hand-to-hand combat, he has to be a tactical genius.”
The writer revealed that another big part of the problem was how "[people would] start [to] immediately [compare] him to Erik Killmonger," and if they used Bushman, they were basically "setting [him] up to fail:"
“And the problem is, once you’ve done all those things, [people] will start immediately comparing him to Erik Killmonger, because [he] is still for my money Marvel’s best villain. He stands next to Thanos, he is that sort of thing that every Marvel writer sort of aspires to. We just felt like you’re never going to top what Michael B. Jordan brought to that role, and so we’re just setting our Bushman up to fail."
Then came the imbalance of his threat to Steven and Marc, where "Bushman [would put] a bullet in [Steven's] head," but would then get his "arms [torn] off" if he went up against Spector in his suit:
"The other side of it was the fact that Bushman didn’t have powers made him a really tough antagonist, because if you put Bushman up against Steven Grant, Bushman puts a bullet in his head, and the show is over. And if you put Bushman up against Marc, who is in his costume, Marc’s gonna tear his arms off. So it’s one of those weird things where like he was too lethal for one, Steven, and not lethal enough for Marc, and the only way to sort of even that playing field, and make him—you know, because we see Moon Knight sort of struggling off bullets over the course of [the] episodes, so making his main villain a guy with a gun is really tough to do.”
If Bushman were to have made it to the final product, Slate made it clear how the story would have "to make [Bushman] an Avatar as well," and the speed at which it would all have had to be set up "never felt satisfying:"
“So we realized [that] the only way to do this is to make him an Avatar as well, but you have to introduce Bushman, you have to kind of establish why Bushman is cool before he becomes an Avatar, you have to give him a God’s power by the end of it, and we had this structure where we were starting from Steven’s perspective. We knew those first two episodes were Steven in London. You kind of had to wait until halfway through the show to even introduce Bushman, and then very quickly progress Bushman to a point where he could have God powers. It just kind of never worked, it never felt satisfying. I was like, ‘I think we need a villain who we can see right from the beginning, and a villain to can stand toe-to-toe with Steven and Marc.’"
Bushman wasn't the only villain in contention, with the writer listing off names such as "Stained Glass Scarlet" and "Zodiac." Instead, however, Slater "[grabbed] a name" from a list of "every villain who has ever appeared in a Moon Knight comic," and then used it for his original creation:
“And we really looked at all of the sort of classic villains. There was a couple that we talked about; Stained Glass Scarlet, and you know, Zodiac, and different characters like that. No one really kind of fit the parameters of the story we were telling, so we were just like, ‘You know what, can we just introduce a guy, and we’ll grab a name from some’—you know, they gave me a list of [like] every villain whose ever appeared in a Moon Knight comic. I just went through and went like, ‘Arthur Harrow, that sounds like a cool villain name, let’s go with that.’"
At the end of the day, Slater made it clear that "Marvel was really supportive" the entire time, and was always behind the idea of "not [trying] to shoehorn Bushman in:"
"... Marvel was really supportive about like, let’s figure out a villain that makes sense for the journey this character is on, and not try to shoehorn Bushman in, which would have very quickly turned the entire thing into sort of a revenge story. And it wasn’t a story that we were necessarily interested in telling.”
Moon Knight's Intriguing Rogues Gallery
Stained Glass Scarlet would have provided an extremely interesting contrast to Marc Spector. For one, she killed her abusive father when she was a child. Secondly, she comes back from the dead and becomes a new godling thanks to a cult's worship of her—an idea that would have expanded the MCU's mythos of the Gods tremendously.
As for Zodiac, well, he's a more recent villain introduced in 2009 who isn't much more unique than being an intellectual serial killer hellbent on taking down the Government and the Avengers.
If the series is given a second season, who is truly the most likely candidate to show up? Stained Glass Scarlet is probably pretty high on the list solely because of how perfectly she can parallel Marc's own journey. Another character who has a great chance to make their face seen is Werewolf By Night. It's his comic run that Moon Knight first appeared in, and seeing as the furry monster is getting his own Halloween special this year, the stage could easily be set for their clash.
The Sun King would also have a good probability. He's a man who can manifest flame out of nowhere, an ability that is derived from his belief of the God Amon Ra. His involvement would keep the Egyptian themes alive and well within the show. The God of the Sun would also potentially become heavily involved, leading to the writers playing off his ancient rivalry with Khonshu himself.
Sadly, the future of Moon Knight is unclear. While Oscar Isaac's character is undoubtedly coming back at some point, there are no clear signs indicating how or where that might happen. Fingers crossed fans get those answers sooner rather than later.
Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+.