Unlike the MCU’s previous small-screen projects, Moon Knight introduces fans to a new character for the franchise. Oscar Isaac returns to the Marvel sandbox after his less-than-ideal first foray, in X-Men: Apocalypse, this time joining the MCU in a hero role — albeit a complicated one in the character Moon Knight. Consisting of two personalities, Marc Spector and Steven Grant, the character becomes the conduit for the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu. In the series, Moon Knight faces off with Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a cult leader seeking to get rid of pain and suffering by preventing evil before it can happen. With only two episodes of Moon Knight released, Arthur still has plenty of time to fully execute his evil plans. But already, he has done a remarkable thing as far as MCU bad guys go. He has amassed a following that genuinely believes in him and his ways. Fans get a snippet of that in the pilot, but Moon Knight episode 2 offers a clearer look at how beloved Arthur is in his community. While misguided, these people supporting the villain are clearly fully convinced of his mission. This is something that Thanos never got the chance to do in the MCU. The Titan only had a small army of fighters recruited during his journey, and it was unclear if they were just with him because they were forced, or if they actually believed in what he wanted to do.
Thanos achieved his goal to wipe out half of all sentient life in the universe, but he never got the chance to savor the results. The Avengers took five years to undo the Decimation, but the villain was immediately tracked down by the surviving heroes and was killed during his retirement in “the garden.” MCU Phase 4 has revealed that the villain has actually garnered some on-the-ground support, with some supporting the “Thanos was right” movement. At this point, though, both his Sacred Timeline incarnation and his alternate 2014 version are dead, and neither got the opportunity to actually interact with anyone who believed in his misguided vision.
Arthur Harrow, on the other hand, has had a few opportunities to bask in the support that he’s getting. Some of these followers have been so fully convinced of what he’s doing that they even seek him out. Because of this, Arthur is able to easily mobilize them in a way that benefits his plans. Fans have seen this a couple of times in Moon Knight where Arthur turned his cult against Spector/Grant. Aside from his goons, his cult followers function as additional manpower, which makes Moon Knight’s mission much more difficult. Thanos didn’t have that luxury. Regardless of the support they’ve gotten, both Thanos and Arthur Harrow are wrong for playing god. Steven Grant perfectly summed up the issue with what the Moon Knight villain is doing in episode 2, and the MCU has demonstrated a few times why the Titan’s justification of the snap is ultimately flawed. The good thing is, Marvel Studios seems to be actively addressing criticisms that the franchise has weak bad guys.