Agatha Harkness’ Dark Magic & MCU Salem Origin Explained

WandaVision’s Agatha Harkness was revealed to have significant control over dark magic, and an origin linking her to the Salem witch trials – but what could this mean for the MCU? It’s now very clear that Agatha’s seemingly friendly relationship with Wanda was a lie and that she’d been orchestrating many of the strange events happening around the town of Westview, but a lot still isn’t clear about the character herself.

Though Agatha is set to be the show’s villain, this isn’t fully fleshed out yet, as – while she evidently wants to use Wanda to learn the secrets of Westview and seemingly grow her own powers – the full explanation in regards to her motivations and intentions are not properly evident. Far more has become clear about Agatha, but the more that is learned, the more questions there are about her.

This is especially true when it comes to Agatha’s powers, and how she acquired and trained said powers. While WandaVision episode 8 reveals Agatha was part of a coven, and was summarily set to be executed for practicing dark magic, it’s easy to lose track of exactly what information is given after going through the rest of the events that take place in it – even though this information could prove vital in both WandaVision’s future, and the future of the MCU.

 

The main reason Agatha Harkness presents such an effective antagonist to Wanda in WandaVision is because she’s an extensively well-trained witch, honed in her craft – whereas the Scarlet Witch is immensely powerful, but almost entirely unaware of the theory behind her chaos magic, or magic in general. Having studied the mystical arts for many, many years, Agatha’s ability to control magic is thus understandably a force to be reckoned with.

In WandaVision, a slew of magical abilities are shown at Agatha’s control. She’s capable of flight, mind control, telekinesis, and – perhaps most concerningly – is shown in episode 8 seemingly draining the life out of a fellow witch. On top of this, the fact Agatha has been able to manipulate the events of the sitcom setting of the show without anyone realizing shows she also possesses some not inconsiderable reality warping and transforming abilities, as well – although these may have been enhanced by the nature of Westview’s current surreal situation. Agatha’s practical knowledge of the field of mystic arts also allows her certain useful skills, as she’s able to nullify Wanda’s powers in her basement by placing protective runes around the room, making it so only the person who placed them there is able to use magic in the space.

It seems as though the limit of Agatha’s abilities hasn’t been shown yet, either, as in the final minutes of episode 8 she’s able to use what appears to be a kind of energy manipulation in order to keep Billy and Tommy as hostages. With this in mind, there’s a very good chance Agatha is capable of even more than she’s done throughout the course of WandaVision.

As far as the “darker magics” Agatha’s coven spoke of, these seem to refer to her ability to steal life from others, as the rest of the witch’s abilities are similar to those Doctor Strange has used – and it seems especially unlikely that the future Sorceror Supreme would be using dark arts unless he was in a situation where he absolutely had to. That said, given many have theorized Agatha is working with either Mephisto or Chthon, and if this is the case, it’s almost certain either would grant her even more unsettling powers later on when she’s carried out some or all of their respective dark plots. Or, indeed, she could become a conduit for their powers, as there was likely a reason the other witches were so concerned about her using darker magics, and this may have potentially been because she could act as a way for demonic forces to appear on Earth.

Episode 8 of WandaVision opens with Agatha being tried by her coven for practicing dark magic. The scene contains a classic shot of Agatha being tied to a stake and tried for magical crimes, and the time period it also appears set in clearly alludes to that of the Salem witch trials – even if this is practically a far different scenario, as the Salem witch trials were intended to find out if someone was a witch, instead of being used by witches to discuss magical crimes.

In the comics, Agatha is also tied to the Salem witch trials – although in a way that makes her appear even crueler than she is in the show. This is because Agatha supported the witch trials that were actively killing off her peers, believing it a form of natural selection, and that allowing “weak” witches to be murdered would ensure the magical community grew stronger. Of course, this didn’t prove true, and would in fact result in Agatha being tried in New Salem many years later when the coven she formerly ruled over believed her to have betrayed them – which would lead to her meeting Scarlet Witch and eventually revealing that her children were the product of Mephisto’s energy.

Thus far, it seems like the MCU has toyed around with the timeline of Agatha’s life – which makes sense, as the circumstances in the comics and the film franchise are significantly different – for example, Agatha’s temporary employment as a nanny for the Reeds family isn’t yet possible for the MCU, as they haven’t been introduced into the universe. As such, the scene with Agatha and the coven could be set far closer to the current WandaVision timeline, with the witch appearing in Wanda’s reality in order to hide from anyone else seeking to capture her. Either way, her MCU origins make it just as clear as her comic origins that she’s immensely power-hungry and willing to do just about anything in order to continue to grow her abilities.

While Agatha’s origins are only shown briefly in WandaVision episode 8, her potential future status as either Wanda’s rival, mentor, or Mephisto’s ally could see it come into further focus, especially if this helps explain more about the magic in the MCU in time for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

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