Marvel Studios’ latest television series, Moon Knight, has been notable for plenty of things including Oscar Isaac’s performance, the focus on a relatively obscure Marvel character, the exploration of complex mental health issues, and the wacky journey into supernatural realms not yet seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Another interesting aspect of the series is how distant it can be from its comics source material at times.
Not only does Moon Knight make significant changes to the identities of Moon Knight and Mr. Knight, but the hero’s supporting cast from the comics has either been missing or reduced to cameos and Easter eggs. Ethan Hawke’s villain is original (though he looks like a combination of several comics villains) and May Calamawy’s Layla was also meant to be an original character for the series despite having a what looks like nearly the exact same background and general role as Moon Knight’s love interest from the comics.
After the reference to Jean-Paul “Frenchie” Duchamp, multiple cameos from Bertrand Crawley, and Layla’s similarities to Marlene Alraune, a decent proportion of Marc Spector’s classic supporting characters have made some type of appearance in the live-action series. One of the biggest characters in Moon Knight’s history has been notably absent, but Episode 5 of Moon Knight dropped a quick reference to him.
While Marc was revealing to Steven how he met Khonshu and became his avatar, they walked through the desert area where numerous people, including Layla’s archaeologist father, were killed. Marc explains to Steven that he was not responsible for the massacre and that his mercenary partner, Bushman, got greedy and killed the crowd. It is a single, quick reference, but it is the latest purposeful inclusion of Moon Knight’s classic characters.
In the comics, Bushman (or “the Bushman”) is easily Moon Knight’s greatest enemy, and the villain appears many times over the decades of comics. As Marc mentions in the episode, he worked with Bushman while a mercenary, and Bushman killed those people in a tomb raid before nearly killing Marc as well. The superhero’s origin story in the comics is almost identical with respect to Bushman’s role in those events. Since then, Bushman remained iconic in Moon Knight comics and was a major part of numerous different arcs.
Marc did not need to say “Bushman” in Episode 5. But, obviously, the writers of Moon Knight included it for a reason. In a story that has not relied on the comics, these references were probably placed throughout the live-action series for a couple of reasons. On one hand, they could be simple nods to Moon Knight’s history and nothing more. While fan service can be great (and may sometimes be the best route), there are reasons to believe that the superhero’s supporting characters are being saved for future stories.
A couple of references to the comics stand out, but Bushman in particular should pique people’s interest. As mentioned, Bushman is an absolutely integral character in the Moon Knight comics. The villain’s actions and presence have influenced the costumed vigilante time and time again. Bushman’s importance goes far beyond the hero’s early days. Moon Knight’s arguably most violent moment came decades after his origin and involved Bushman (he tore off his face), which led into a severe depressive episode for Marc that changed the character’s course as well as heightened the mental health element of his stories.
The point is that Bushman has always been an obvious choice for a live-action Moon Knight adversary. If the superhero gets more time in the MCU, he remains a clear choice. If the series wanted to totally avoid the character and his impact, he did not need to be name-dropped. Similarly, the Crawley cameos in Moon Knight make his future appearance seem more likely—not only did he make a physical appearance, but he has appeared across multiple episodes.
Moon Knight may very well be saving some of these classic characters for future stories with Oscar Isaac’s hero. As was clear from Episode 5, the live-action series is not making too big of a deal of Marc’s original meeting with Khonshu where he agrees to be his avatar. The Disney+ show is likely setting up its finale to be, for all intents and purposes, the Moon Knight origin in the MCU.
If that is the case, the character moving forward may likely take on a more traditional superhero role. With that role, a solid supporting cast is bound to follow. The basic setup in the live-action series could be signaling that the iconic comics characters will be around in the long run. And who knows? The Moon Knight finale could prove quite informative about the future of Marc Spector’s, Steven Grant’s, and Jake Lockley’s classic entourage.
The first five episodes of Moon Knight are now streaming exclusively on Disney+.