Is Moon Knight a villain or hero? He skates on the edge of villainy

Moon Knight

  • Moon Knight was a dead mercenary who was resurrected by the Egyptian god Khonshu.
  • Knight’s multiple personalities and requests by Khonshu nearly drive him to villainy.
  • Moon Knight’s villain Arthur Harrow believes he’s undertaking a noble mission.
  • Moon Knight can be classified as an anti-hero, but isn’t as merciless as characters like The Punisher.

Moon Knight is the latest Marvel series to premiere on Disney+. It features a relatively unknown protagonist dubbed Moon Knight, a masked and caped character with what appears to be mummy linen wrapping everything other than his glowing white eyes. Knight’s costume is enough to make any bad guy quiver in his boots.

Knight has another, more sophisticated outfit that makes him look more like James Bond than Batman. Moon Knight’s different costumes mirror his dissociative identity disorder, which he acquired after his resurrection by the ancient Egyptian deity Khonshu. 

By all accounts, Moon Knight is a complicated, multi-layered character, which has some wonder whether he is a hero or a villain. 

At times, Moon Knight’s methods border on the edge of villainy

Under the mask lies a former CIA operative, Marine, soldier, and mercenary named Marc Spector. Marc was introduced in the 1975 comic book ‘Werewolf by Night’ as a mercenary tasked with capturing the series’ main monster. 

Writer Doug Moench and artist Bill Sienkiewicz picked up Spector’s story in 1980. They gave Marc a backstory involving betrayal and revival by the Egyptian god Khonshu: Marc was killed by his fellow mercenaries, and the moon god revived him.

Marc became New York’s vigilante, operating under various aliases. Steven Grant, a billionaire bankrolling the operation; Jake Lockley, a hot-headed cab driver tasked with recon; Marc Spector, the executor of the trio’s missions. 

Later writers gave Moon dissociative personality disorder, with his aliases serving as his different personalities. In the TV series, Moon Knight starts as Steven Grant, a shop employee at a British museum. 

He learns that Marc Spector, the troubled mercenary, inhabits his body during his frequent blackouts. Moon Knight certainly has good intentions, but some of his personalities often tread on the edge of villainy. 

Marc Spector / Steven Grant | Marvel Studios

Sometimes Knight can seem unhinged, but we can’t really blame him: he’s inhabited by a god harboring selfish motives. In the comics, Egyptian gods had been imprisoned; therefore, the only way they could use their power on earth was through avatars.

Khonshu didn’t resurrect Marc out of charity – the god wanted someone to carry out his will on earth. Therefore, on top of his multiple personalities, Moon Knight has to deal with the needs of the god who gave him life. 

Moon Knight can be classified as an anti-hero, but he’s nowhere near as close to villainy as, say… The Punisher. Knight is more like The Winter Soldier, a troubled and skilled assassin willing to fight the good fight. 

The villain in Moon Knight believes that he is the hero

Ethan Hawke plays Arthur Harrow in Moon Knight, a cult leader and the villain in the series. Harrow only appeared once in the comics. In the 1985 issue, Arthur is an evil scientist searching for a cure for nerve damage that has disfigured his face and left him in constant pain. 

To the outside world, Harrow is a pioneering scientist looking for a revolutionary cure for pain – he’s earned several awards and attracted the attention of the Nobel committee. However, from his secret base in Yucatan, Arthur performs inhumane experiments on locals, saying, ‘They didn’t go far enough in Auschwitz.’

Moon Knight arrives and vanquishes Harrow, who never returns in the comics, despite Knight’s ominous prediction that ‘I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Harrow.’

Harrow, in the series, has a different mission: to rid the world of evil. He serves an Egyptian deity named Ammit, the devourer of souls. Ammit believes that evil, the likes of Hitler and Pol Pot, existed only because of her imprisonment. 

Through Harrow, Ammit seeks to kill all evildoers, which Harrow sees as noble (remind you of Thanos, or is it just us?). “In his mind, he’s Saint Harrow, you know?” Hawke said at a press conference. “I mean, he thinks he’s gonna be part of the great solution.”

Indeed, ridding the world of evil is a hero’s mission. Harrow believes that some of Spector’s ancient artifacts can aid the mission to purge evil from the world. However, Moon Knight doesn’t view it that way. 

At times, it’s difficult to distinguish between the hero and the villain in Moon Knight. “You never really know who to root for and who to root against,” executive producer Grant Curtis told The New York Times