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Dr. Arthur Harrow: The Moon Knight Villain Explained

"Moon Knight" is the upcoming Disney+/Marvel Studios series that stars Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Moon Knight, otherwise known as the character from all those memes you send your friends. Marc Spector is one of the more unique characters in Marvel comics. This former mercenary suffers from a dissociative identity disorder, sometimes going so far as to have realistic visions of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America talking to him, basically functioning as the angels (or devils) on his shoulders guiding him what to do.

Based on the official trailer (via YouTube), it looks like the TV version of Marc Spector/Moon Knight will be a bit different from the comics version. For starters, the series begins with Marc living under another of his identities, a bumbling museum gift shop employee named Steven Grant. Steven has no memory of his other selves. One day, Steven begins experiencing dream-like visions that convince him he's losing his mind, but then he realizes the visions are actually real. In some of them, Steven appears as the gray-cloaked Moon Knight, a vigilante for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu.

Any superhero is only as good as their villain, and the official "Moon Knight" trailer finally revealed who the Moon Knight will be facing: Dr. Arthur Harrow. Even diehard Marvel-heads might not be familiar with the not-so-good doctor, so here's a quick explainer. 

Dr. Arthur Harrow is a minor but important character from the Moon Knight comics

Dr. Harrow appears in just one issue of the "Moon Knight" comics, the second issue of Volume 2, which was published in 1985. In the comics, he's a Nobel Prize-nominated researcher who specializes in pain tolerance. Upon his nomination for the Nobel Prize in medicine, he begins to draw the suspicions of one Dr. Victoria Grail. She doesn't believe he's been able to accomplish all that he's done on animal test subjects alone. She makes a shocking realization he's been using human test subjects against their will with experiments inspired by Nazi researchers who wanted to make humans invulnerable to pain. All of this is spearheaded by the sinister think tank known as O.M.N.I.U.M. 

Fortunately, Dr. Grail has back-up in a big way. Marc Spector receives a vision informing him of Dr. Harrow's true intentions. The two team up to break into Dr. Harrow's laboratory to stop his evil ways once and for all. It appears they were successful, seeing how Dr. Harrow hasn't popped up in the comics since, but he's about to make a grand debut once again in the Disney+ series, "Moon Knight." 

While it's easy to catch up with the lore surrounding Dr. Harrow, it's unclear how much good it will do in the lead-up to the latest Marvel show. Based on the trailer alone, it would seem there are some distinct differences between the Dr. Harrow from the comics and the one being played by Ethan Hawke.

Ethan Hawke drew inspiration from a noteworthy cult leader

The trailer only offers a few glimpses of Dr. Harrow, but from what we've seen so far, there are already quite a few differences between the comic and TV versions of the character. To begin, the comic version of Dr. Harrow suffers from a condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia, which results in facial paralysis. It also causes the left side of his mouth to remain in a permanent grimace. It would seem like the Disney+ iteration doesn't have this disease, but anything could happen over the course of six episodes.

Additionally, the "Moon Knight" trailer suggests Dr. Harrow will be a cult leader as well as a researcher if the legions of fans bowing to his whim are any indication. Ethan Hawke himself actually confirmed that cult leader status. In an interview with Seth Myers, the actor stated, "I've based my character on David Koresh" (via The Hollywood Reporter). Koresh was the leader of the Branch Davidians, claiming to be a final prophet. He played an integral role in the Waco siege of 1993, ultimately resulting in his death. 

In terms of what cult Dr. Harrow could lead in the Disney+ series, it's possible it's the Cult of Khonshu. In the comics, this is the Egyptian deity who gives Moon Knight his powers, and in the modern-day, he has a cult of his own. After all, Dr. Harrow encourages Marc Spector to "embrace the chaos," so perhaps he wants to see the next iteration of Khonshu for his own nefarious ends. 

More will undoubtedly be revealed about the character in the following weeks. Otherwise, Disney+ and Marvel Studios have kept their plans for the character under wraps. We'll know more when "Moon Knight" premieres on March 30, 2022.