In a recent interview, the head writer and executive producer of moon knight, Jeremy Slatertalked about why they didn’t use bushman as a villain in the series.
Slater confirmed that Bushman was in early drafts of the script, but in the end they had to make the decision to cut him out, leaving only a reference in one of the chapters.
I mean, Bushman was in my first two versions of the script, that’s for sure, and we tried to have several different versions of him. In the end, I was the one who made the decision to remove Bushman. I went to Marvel and told them I wasn’t comfortable with it, ‘Can we take it off and talk about different versions?’ And they always really supported me.
Slater went on to point out that, over the last 40 years, there have been quite a few racist interpretations of the villain, and it was hard to get away from it.
Over the last forty years there have been some pretty racist interpretations of the character. There are times where the caricature line has been crossed in really unflattering ways, and it was really hard to avoid those kind of negative racist stereotypical versions of Bushman, you had to lean into the hyper-confident – this is someone who can go toe-to-toe with Moon Knight. To be the best mercenary in the world, he has to be a master of hand-to-hand combat, he has to be a tactical genius.
Another big part of the problem was that they thought people would be quick to compare him to Erik Killmonger, the villain from Black Panther. In this way, and as a result of that comparison, just presenting Bushman would already be setting him up for failure.
And the problem is, once you’ve done all those things, people will immediately start comparing him to Erik Killmonger, because he’s still, in my opinion, the best Marvel villain. He’s next to Thanos, it’s the kind of thing that every Marvel writer aspires to. We feel like you’d never top what Michael B. Jordan brought to that role, so we’re setting up our Bushman to fail.
Another problem would be the difference when facing Marc Spector on the one hand and Steven Grant on the other, due to their different personalities.
The flip side was the fact that Bushman had no powers and that made him a really tough antagonist, because if you put Bushman against Steven Grant, Bushman puts a bullet in his head and the show ends. And if you put Bushman against Marc, who wore the suit, Marc is going to rip his arms off. So it’s one of those rare things where it was too lethal for you, Steven, and not lethal enough for Marc, and the only way to fix it, even on that pitch, and make him, you know, because we see the Moon Knight fighting bullets over the course of the episodes, so making his main villain a guy with a gun is really hard to do.
If in the end Bushman had been in the series, the only solution was to make him an avatar, and the way of developing everything did not seem satisfactory to them.
So we figured the only way to do this was to make him an avatar as well, but you have to introduce Bushman, you have to establish why Bushman is great before he becomes an avatar, you have to give him a power of God at the end, and we had this structure where we started from Steven’s perspective. We knew those first two episodes were Steven in London. You had to wait until the middle of the series to introduce Bushman, and then very quickly progress Bushman to a point where he could have god powers. It just never worked, he never felt satisfying. I thought, ‘I think we need a villain that we can see from the beginning, and a villain that can go toe-to-toe with Steven and Marc.
But Bushman wasn’t the only villain they had in mind, as the screenwriter listed names like Scarlet Stained Glass (Stained Glass Scarlet) Y Zodiac. However, Slater’s final decision was to take a villain from the existing roster of comics, and from there create an original for the series.
And we really look at all kinds of classic villains. There were a couple that we talked about, Scarlet Stained Glass and you know, Zodiac, and different characters like that. No one really fit the parameters of the story we were telling, so we thought, ‘You know what? We can introduce someone but taking a name from the list’. You know, they gave me a list of every villain that’s ever appeared in a Moon Knight comic. I just walked by and said, ‘Arthur Harrow, that sounds like a cool villain name, let’s go with it.’
In the end, Slater made it clear that he had a lot of support from Marvel Studios in all of this.
Marvel was very supportive in terms of finding a villain that made sense for the journey this character is on, and not trying to shoehorn Bushman, which would have very quickly turned the whole thing into some sort of revenge story. And it wasn’t a story we were necessarily interested in telling.