This article contains spoilers for WandaVision
Hello, and welcome to our WandaVision episode 8 magic explainer. Before you go any further, please be aware that we’ll be going into big spoiler territory, so if you haven’t yet seen this week’s installment, avert your eyes immediately.
The eighth episode of Marvel’s first MCU spinoff was largely expository in nature, as Agatha Harkness (Katherine Hahn) forced Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) on a trip down memory lane.
First, we saw the incident Wanda originally described in Avengers: Age of Ultron where she and her twin brother Pietro were trapped by a Stark Industries bomb as children in Sokovia, then we cruised by Strucker’s lab to check out one of the experiments that HYDRA performed on Wanda using Loki’s stolen scepter and the Mind Stone, before wandering down to SWORD headquarters to witness the dismantling of Vision’s vibranium body.
Finally, we hit Westview, New Jersey as it once was – a quiet little town where Vision had bought Wanda a piece of property for them to settle down in, until his untimely demise at the hand of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War destroyed their plans forever. Or at least it did, until Wanda reached breaking point and made it happen anyway by tapping into her true power.
Yes, after enough flashbacks to put all the puzzle pieces together Agatha finally figured out Wanda’s deal: she had used Chaos Magic to create The Hex in Westview and resurrect Vision, which means she must be the Scarlet Witch. Wanda’s Marvel Comics superhero name has never been uttered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until now – we just witnessed the long-awaited birth of it in Episode 8.
But what exactly is Chaos Magic? And how will finally embracing the extent of her superpowers change Wanda’s destiny forever?
In Marvel Comics, Chaos Magic was wielded billions of years ago by an Elder God and Arch-Demon called Chthon. He reigned over Earth for a long time, and was later sealed inside Mount Wundergore, where Wanda Maximoff was born. By touching him, she was given a sliver of Chthon’s power, which in turn gave her the ability to control Chaos Energy. If this hadn’t happened, Wanda would have just grown up with standard mutant energy manipulation powers, and not been able to alter reality at all.
But Chaos Magic can’t simply be dismissed as “reality-altering” – its darkness, purity and magnitude are so great that even Doctor Strange once thought it was fairy tale nonsense. Not only can Chaos Magic be twisted to manipulate or recreate reality and existence however the user pleases, it can be wielded in such a way that destroys the entire universe. Imagine all the power Thanos had with the Infinity Gauntlet – by Chaos Magic standards, he had modest dreams by wiping out half the cosmos.
In the comics, it was Agatha Harkness herself who taught Wanda how to turn Chaos Energy into Chaos Magic and strengthen her powers, turning her into the Scarlet Witch.
Marvel boss Kevin Feige teased the arrival of Chaos Magic in the MCU last year when he described the story of WandaVision:
“If you look at the Infinity Saga, I don’t think any single person has gone through more pain and trauma than Wanda Maximoff,” Feige told Empire . “And no character seems to be as powerful as Wanda Maximoff. And no character has a power-set that is as ill-defined and unexplored as Wanda Maximoff. So it seemed exploring that would be worthwhile post-Endgame. Who else is aware of that power? Where did it come from? Did the Mind Stone unlock it?”
We find out in Episode 8 that, according to Agatha, Wanda was just a “baby witch” who wouldn’t have become anything special before she touched the Mind Stone and her true powers were unlocked. After interacting with the Infinity Stone, Wanda sees a vision of the Scarlet Witch in Strucker’s lab.
Is she witnessing a future version of herself as an all-powerful being? For Agatha to know about the concept of the Scarlet Witch, she may have existed before in another form, but could just as easily have been described in a mystical prophecy.
It seems that we’re about to watch Wanda Maximoff’s true destiny unfold as she finally becomes this incarnation of Scarlet Witch in the WandaVision finale, which will likely make her one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – beings in the cosmos. But whether Wanda will ultimately become a positive force or a villainous one in the MCU is still anyone’s guess. Without anyone to teach her how to use these immense powers properly, and with grief now flowing so deep in her psyche, Wanda could easily spin out of control.
We’re also heading towards a massive showdown between Agatha and Wanda, with SWORD having their own White Vision skin in the game, but will the Earth’s very first black magician – the demonic Chthon – also end up making an appearance? We’ll find out next week.