WandaVision ended its first and only season on a high note, most notable of which was the birth of the Scarlet Witch herself. But like any good Marvel project, there was a little something extra lurking in the corner, a hint of what’s to come in a universe that until now, has mostly been bound by the laws of metaphysical realities and quantum science.
Episode eight of WandaVision introduced a danger in printed form, a book of unfathomable power and potential, that sadly corrupts anyone who uses it with its absolute power. That dark magic bestseller is none other than the Darkhold, a collection of arcane knowledge that may have a big part to play in the future of the MCU. How? By reshaping the very fabric of the Marvel multiverse.
What is the Darkhold?
Imagine a book of dark secrets that should never be revealed, ancient black magic, and arcane spells that can literally rewrite reality, and you’ve got a solid idea of what the Darkhold is capable of. In Marvel comics, it’s one of the oldest magical artifacts in existence and it contains knowledge sourced directly from the Chaos god Chthon. Plus it created vampires, or at least the first vampire, Varnae. Spooky!
Cthon is one of the big players in the magical circles of the Marvel universe, an entity who sensed Wanda’s potential to be a Nexus Being. In a nutshell, Nexus Beings are multiversal conduits that all realities can pass through, making them immensely powerful anchors to keep existence going. Cthon himself gifted Wanda a portion of his chaotic power when she was born, which in turn allowed her to wield hex powers that grew over time from blasts of bad luck to nip/tucks of reality.
Anyway, the Darkhold book was originally forged as iron scrolls that survived the destruction of Atlantis, spent centuries in the Hyborian Age of Conan the Barbarian, and were kept secure by numerous sorcerers over the eras. In the Arthurian age, it was the sorceress Morgan le Fay who transformed the scrolls into its handy and more easily-readable book form.
Morgan’s son Mordred would wield the book against Camelot’s resident Wizard Merlin, and in 1998 Kurt Busiek and George Perez used the book in a storyline where Wanda’s Chthonic power and reality-altering abilities were used to remake the Marvel Universe into a medieval fantasy world where everyone had kind of awesome armour.
The book has pretty much been a massive thorn in the side for the supernatural side of Marvel. It’s responsible for the aforementioned curse of vampires and created the werewolf curse of lycanthropy that’s too damn convuloted to dig into in this article without derailing the entire conversation. The key point here is that in comic books, the Darkhold is a source of power linked to Cthon and can be used to create new realities. Combined with Wanda’s own powers, this opens the doors to a whole multiverse of possibilities. See where we’re going with this?
What part does the Darkhold play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Well here’s the kicker: The comic book version currently doesn’t fit into the MCU, at least not in the traditional sense, but it can be used to help usher in a new age of Marvel movies that essentially establishes the Midnight Sons. All of Marvel’s spooky villains and heroes have ties to the book, and already plans are underway for a new Blade movie that will star Mahershala Ali as the vampire-slayer.
WandaVision’s version of the book, according to Agatha Harkness at least, was the Book of the Damned that was briefly spotted in that episode. Meanwhile, Agents of SHIELD went all in a few years earlier with its Darkhold plotline, while Marvel’s Runaways featured the tome and Morgan le Fay. That appears to be two different books though, and with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Runaways, and other Marvel shows from before the current Disney era pretty much being confirmed to be non-canon, it looks like the first Darkhold doesn’t fit into the big picture.
Or does it? Because that book may not be linked to Cthon, but it is derived from the power of Dormammu and his dark dimension. As seen in Doctor Strange, Dormammu’s power works on a multiversal scale and the book itself may just be its own Nexus Being, some facet of it existing on every Earth in the multiverse.
Or as seen in AOS, the Darkhold that showed up and was tied to the story of Ghost Rider is still the same book. Ghost Rider would eventually sacrifice himself to by journeying with the Darkhold into a hellscape of a dimension, ridding the planet of its foul influence in the end. Who knows? Maybe Agatha managed to grab the book during topsy-turvy timey-wimey magical shenanigans as Ghost Rider was bouncing around the Multiverse.
The twist here is that now that Wanda has become the Scarlet Witch and can use Chaos Magic, the prophecy of her ending the world now seems a tad too close to coming true for comfort. If Dormammu’s multiversal reach extends to the Book of the Damned, then maybe the time loop that Doctor Strange trapped him in is on the verge of being broken. Wanda’s currently studying the book, but it also has other comic book connections still waiting to be explored.
Marvel’s Black Knight, who wields the Ebony Blade that Merlin forged in his battles against the Darkhold, will appear in the Eternals film, which in turn could set up further story elements that sets the book up as the next big MacGuffin now that the Infinity Stones are out of the equation. Think Doctor Strange’s next film that Wanda will feature in, the upcoming Moon Knight TV series, the Fantastic Four battling Doctor Doom, who is both technological whizz and a wizard on par with the Sorceror Supreme.
Everything is possibly connected, and in much the same way that the Infinity Stones were responsible for so many of the behind the scenes forces of the MCU, the Darkhold also has the potential to grow that universe in wild new directions.
Last Updated: March 9, 2021