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How Does Arthur’s Tattoo Work? Moon Knight’s Villain Powers Explained

Warning: SPOILERS for Moon Knight episode 1

Arthur Harrow’s powers and Egyptian ties are set up in Moon Knight episode 1, as Ethan Hawke’s villain is established as a major threat to Oscar Isaac’s superhero. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand in Phase 4, a new era of heroes and villains is being created for the franchise post-Avengers: Endgame. Phase 4 has rapidly added to the MCU’s mythology by introducing Eternals, the multiverse, and more, but Moon Knight is responsible for the exploration of Egyptian gods and the vast mythology that comes with them.

The main Egyptian tie in Moon Knight comes from the titular character, as Oscar Isaac plays Steven Grant/Marc Spector, two personalities fighting for control of one body. While Steven Grant is quite knowledgeable about Egyptian mythology, he is unaware of his own connection to the gods. His body and the Marc Spector personality are tied to the Egyptian moon god Khonshu in some mysterious way. This is likely due to Khonshu saving Marc Spector from dying in the past, something Moon Knight episode 1 even makes a quick reference to. The combination of Steven’s Egyptian knowledge and Marc’s superhero activities powered by Khonshu give the MCU Disney+ show a strong foundation in Egyptian mythology.

Related: Moon Knight Cast Guide: Every Marvel Character & Who Plays Them

Oscar Isaac’s lead character isn’t the only one in Moon Knight who has deep connections to Egypt and powers from their gods. Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow is properly set up as a dark mirror of Moon Knight. This comes after Marvel Studios completely reinvented Harrow from the comics, where he was a very minor villain with no real powers. Now, Moon Knight‘s villain has lofty ambitions for reshaping the world through the power of an Egyptian god.

How Arthur Harrow’s Tattoo Works In Moon Knight

Moon Knight Arthur Harrow Ethan Hawke

Arthur Harrow is treated to a creepy introduction in Moon Knight episode 1, as he’s shown crushing glass to put in his shoes. While this means he feels pain with each step, he’s also a powerful cultish leader following the ways of Ammit. Arthur Harrow gets his powers from the Egyptian god and judges people on behalf of the goddess. Arthur Harrow has a tattoo of scales on his arm that represent Ammit’s judgment, much like the scales of justice that both Lady Justice and Greek goddess Dike are depicted as carrying.

Moon Knight episode 1 shows how Arthur’s tattoo works and the dark ceremony that he uses to judge his followers. When Arthur holds onto a person’s hands, Ammit’s power flows through him and judged whether they are a good person or a bad person. If Ammit judges well, the scales tip one way and flash green, if they are judged badly, the scales tip the other way and flash red reflecting how Ammit judged humans during her life. Confusingly, Ammit judges her subjects based not only on their past actions but their future ones, like Minority Report’s precog police. If they are judged to have done something evil – or to be capable of something evil in the future – Arthur’s powers allow him to kill that person on the spot by draining their life out of them.

How Arthur Harrow’s Powers Work In Moon Knight

Moon Knight Arthur Harrow

The other aspect of Moon Knight‘s villain powers comes through the cane that Arthur Harrow carries. The double crocodile head handle shaped in Ammit’s likeness, the cane is a mysterious artifact that helps give Arthur some of the Egyptian god’s powers. In addition to helping him walk, Ethan Hawke’s Moon Knight villain uses the case as part of the judgment ritual. The cane rests between the arms of the person on trial and sways back and forth as the judgment comes. It is also known that Arthur Harrow’s cane has additional powers that come from its connection to Ammit. The purple glow of Arthur Harrow’s cane seems to suggest that the artifact is capable of magic.

Who Is Ammit? Egyptian Goddess Explained

Ammit Egyptian God

So who is Ammit in the context of Moon Knight and Egyptian mythology? She is an ancient goddess from the Egyptian religion who is known as the Devourer of the Dead, the Eater of Hearts, and the Great of Death. She’s closely associated with the scales of justice in the Egyptian underworld, where she’s allowed to devour the heart of those that are deemed impure. It was believed that those who Ammit ate would spend eternity in torment. Some believed these souls would be thrown into the lake of fire to be destroyed. The Egyptian god’s physical appearance is depicted as having the head of a crocodile, the torso of a lion, and the bottom half of a hippopotamus. Ammit’s appearance came from combining the three biggest man-eating animals in the world.

Related: When Moon Knight Takes Place In The MCU Timeline

Moon Knight‘s depiction of Ammit is mostly similar to the ancient Egyptian legends, although there are some critical changes. The MCU’s depiction makes Ammit a goddess who judges the past, present, and future of a person’s life and kills them instantly if they are deemed bad. This not only means she’s directly responsible for the deaths of many, but she also operates somewhat independently of the other Egyptian gods. In the ancient Egyptian religion, Ammit only devoured souls after Anubis judged their hearts in the afterlife, with Ma’at, the goddess of truth, often serving as Ammit’s opposition.

The reason for these differences appears to come from Moon Knight‘s Egyptian mythology including the Ennead, a group of nine super powerful gods that the museum is promoting. Ammit is not part of the Ennead in the ancient religion, but the goddess was under their supervision. Moon Knight episode 1 mentions that Ammit was betrayed by the other gods and her previous Avatar. It could be that Arthur Harrow and Ammit are operating independently of the other gods because of this betrayal. However, the goddess has also been subdued by the time that Moon Knight‘s events take place.

What Arthur Harrow & Ammit’s Goal Is

Moon Knight Arthur Harrow Ethan Hawke

Moon Knight is quite clear on Arthur Harrow’s commitment to Ammit and fulfilling the goddess’ plans, and there are essentially two different goals in mind. The most pressing goal is Harrow’s, as he wants to reawaken Ammit. He mentions that this is all happening “before our goddess awakes,” indicating that he plans to reawaken her in some fashion. This appears to be why Moon Knight‘s golden beetle scarab is so coveted. Arthur says that it belongs to Ammit and clearly needs it to awaken her, which explains why Khonshu does everything in his power to prevent Steven Grant from handing it over to him. It seems that Arthur Harrow’s goal of reawakening Ammit will be possible if he is able to acquire the scarab.

But why does Moon Knight‘s villain want to reawaken Ammit? It seems that the Egyptian goddess’ goal is rid the world of evil on a global scale. While Ammit’s judicial powers are currently confined to Arthur Harrow, it is suggested that she’ll have the ability to judge everyone once she’s free. Arthur mentions that she could’ve stopped Hitler, Neo, Pol Pot, and other incredibly evil people had she been around. Much like a supernatural version of Hydra’s Project Insight plans to eliminate future threats or Arishem wanting to judge Earth after Eternals‘ ending, it seems Ammit is the latest threat to humanity’s safety. If Arthur Harrow is successful in unleashing Ammit’s power, the Egyptian god will potentially have the capacity to create a peaceful world by killing everyone who is or could become a bad person.

More: Moon Knight Proves The MCU Needs Ghost Rider

Moon Knight releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.

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