SPOILER WARNING FOR THE FIRST THREE EPISODES OF WANDAVISION
We’re three episodes into WandaVision with the fourth set to arrive on Disney+… well, now! And boy am I intrigued! While I feel the Marvel show doesn’t always nail its “sitcom through the decades” schtick (although titular stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are absolutely superb at their parts), the mystery surrounding just what the hell is actually happening here is super compelling. But there’s one mystery that may have been staring us in the face for a while now with clues dropping all over the place if we just paid attention. And it’s a mystery that could lead to the next Thanos-like Big Bad of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
To get this shadowy villain though, we have to start somewhere else. Specifically, next door. Yes, I’m talking about Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes, who was originally just portrayed as the stereotypical sitcom nosy neighbour. However, in episode 3, it became clear that Agnes is in on… whatever the hell is happening Wanda and Vision’s fake suburbia. But who is Agnes?
There’s been a very compelling theory about that since the start. Namely, that she’s actually the classic Marvel Comics witch Agatha Harkness. The most obvious clue is that the name “Agnes” is actually a contraction of Agatha Harkness. Agnes is also always seen wearing a very distinct brooch with a Grim Reaper figure on it, which was an Agatha Harkness comic book staple. A preview of future episodes even shows her dressing up as a witch for Halloween.
In the comics, Agatha Harkness is directly linked to Wanda, having acted as her mentor. We know that WandaVision will see Wanda finally fully adopting her Scarlet Witch persona, so having another witch around to guide could be handy. In the comics, Agatha Harkness was also involved in that entire confusing fiasco where Wanda used her reality-altering powers to will twin sons into existence (as we just saw happen in WandaVision). As I previously explained, Wanda would lose these children when she discovered that they weren’t actually her own creation, but merely manipulated pieces of the soul of Mephisto, Marvel’s evil version of the devil.
And here’s where things get really interesting for WandaVision. While episode 3 was where Agnes’ duplicitous nature was overtly revealed, she’s actually been dropping some big clues before that. These have taken the form of jabs about her husband Ralph, who up until now we’ve yet to see on-screen. In episode 2, controlling neighbourhood queen bee Dottie Emma Caulfield Ford) mentions that “The devil’s in the details,” to which Agnes responds, “That’s not the only place he is,” with a sly wink. In episode 3 she also jokes that Ralph “looks better in the dark”. Possibly another clue also comes in Episode 2 in which Agnes lends a rabbit to Wanda and Vision for their magic act and reveals that the rabbit is named Senor Scratchy aka Mr. Scratchy. In the comics, Mephisto often uses the aliases Nick Scratch or Jack Scratch.
On their own, these just look like throwaway jokes, but it’s clear that Marvel boss Kevin Feige and showrunner Jac Schaeffer are being incredibly meticulous here, with everything being put in for a purpose. That purpose, in this case, perhaps setting up the big reveal that Ralph is actually Mephisto and the villain is behind everything happening to Wanda and Vision?
Now to rewind a bit, Mephisto is not the literal Christian devil. Instead, he was a living force of pure evil created at the birth of the Marvel universe alongside a couple of trinkets we’re all too familiar with: The Infinity Stones. Mephisto has had a long history with the Stones. In fact, in the classic The Infinity Gauntlet Saga, it was Mephisto that guided Thanos in trying to gather them, with the intention of taking them all for himself later. It was even revealed that Mephisto had been “whispering” in Thanos’ ear since the latter was a child, setting him on his path of becoming a galactic despot.
Over the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe though, as we’ve witnessed the rise and fall of Thanos in his bid to control the Infinity Stones, Mephisto has not featured at all. But what if he had been there the entire time and we had just never noticed.
Speaking in a recent interview with Lights, Camera, Pod, Bettany gave a cryptic clue about the upcoming finale of WandaVision, saying that fans are “going to be massively surprised by the end of the show.
I really think people are going to be like, ‘Oh my God!’ And they’re going to look at the MCU in a whole new light. And also have a much deeper understanding of what direction it’s moving.
Could Marvel be planning to retcon Mephisto into previous MCU history as the true puppet master who had been operating from the shadows this entire time? That would completely fit with the character’s comic book M.O. as he was never one for direct confrontation, preferring to discretely tempt and influence others to do all the hard work so that they were not even aware that they were achieving his goals. Looking further at Mephisto’s comic book history – specifically, the repeated occurrences where he used the Infinity Stones to travel through time to change key events to create alternate timelines – introducing him also plays perfectly in Feige’s plans to have the MCU focus heavily on the multiverse going forward. There’s even a teeny tiny hint of this in the trailer for Loki (check the 01:56 mark), where we briefly see a mural of what appears to be Mephisto inside the headquarters of the Time Variance Authority, the organization set up to deal with potentially dangerous alternate timelines.
There’s one other clue about a possible debut of Mephisto in the MCU that is admittedly super far-fetched, but just too fun an idea to not mention. And that is who might actually portray the devilish character if he were to show up. In the same interview above, Bettany let slip that there’s a huge WandaVision casting that has somehow not leaked out.
I would also say that… so many things get leaked, and people find out about certain things, but there’s this thing that’s been kept completely under wraps that happens. And I work with this actor that I have always wanted to work with, and we have fireworks together. The scenes are great, and I think people will be really excited. I’ve always wanted to work with this guy and the scenes are pretty intense.
Now here’s where we venture into the realm of pure fanboy speculation as we look at which major actor that Bettany has never worked with, who is intense enough for fireworks, and who could make a great Mephisto. And there’s one name that immediately springs to mind: Al Pacino.
This is not just some crazy idea I pooped out either. Way back in 2014, while appearing as a guest on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Oscar-winning legend made an offhand comment that Feige had contacted him about “something he feels is right for me”. Pacino was interrupted by a phone call at the time, and besides for joking that it had been Marvel calling to tell him to stop talking, he never mentioned it again. This was right before the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that would reveal the origins of Thanos, the Infinity Stones, and the birth of the universe. You know, that whole thing where Mephisto came from. And when it comes to a role that feels right for Pacino, one of his most popular (and intense) performances was, of course, playing none other than the biblical Devil himself in 1997’s The Devil’s Advocate. So getting him to play Mephisto is exactly the type of film geek casting that Feige would do.
Obviously, Pacino didn’t feature there as Mephisto or any other devilish villain in the MCU and there’s been no mention of anything like that since. But we also know from Feige himself that Marvel plans out its cinematic timeline around five to six years in advance. And would you look at that? WandaVision was originally supposed to release last year, exactly six years after Feige’s alleged meeting with Pacino.
This is nothing more than wild theorizing at this point, but you have to admit that bringing in Al Pacino as Mephisto, who is then revealed to have manipulated large chunks of the history we thought we knew about the MCU, would make for one hell of a showstopper for WandaVision. And I cannot wait to see if it all plays out like that!
Last Updated: January 29, 2021