WandaVision episode 8 revealed Agatha Harkness is a much more experienced but less naturally talented witch than Wanda Maximoff, so how do their magical abilities compare? Ever since Wanda was introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron, it has been suggested that she has the potential to be the most powerful MCU character. Avengers: Endgame cemented her as a Thanos-level fighter as Wanda almost defeated the Mad Titan by herself. Not long after, WandaVision has confirmed she is a Scarlet Witch, a living legend among witches.
How powerful magic users are compared to each other is trickier to determine than, say, artificially enhanced beings like Captain America or armored characters like Iron Man, as it isn’t yet clear how magic can be measured precisely in the MCU. So far, it’s known that sorcerers like Wanda Maximoff, Loki, and Billy Maximoff aka Wiccan are innately endowed while others, such as Karl Mordo and Agatha Harkness have had to actively study the ways of magic. Both opposites are bound to clash, although it seems that the former has a natural advantage over the latter.
Although Stephen Strange is destined to be the best Sorcerer Supreme in history, the legend of the Scarlet Witch suggests Wanda Maximoff will be the most powerful magic user in the multiverse. Wanda only showed a tiny sliver of her true potential during her stint with the Avengers, and even then, Agatha Harkness is brimming with envy at the sight of her abilities. Here’s why.
Agatha Harkness has many advantages over Wanda Maximoff. She has been a powerful sorceress for centuries, with her earliest display of power dating back to the Salem Witch Trials back in 1693. Apparently, she also tapped into an unknown img of dark magic that allowed her to deflect the simultaneous attacks of various witches and drain their life force, which also seems to have given her an extended lifespan and a greater amount of power. Besides, she has a deep knowledge of incantations that allow her to achieve similar feats to Wanda’s, such as mind control and transmutation, and enchantments not even Wanda knew were possible, such as necromancy.
WandaVision has only shown a tiny fraction of Agatha’s powers. However, Agatha’s deception all throughout the first seven episodes of WandaVision is enough to establish her as an intimidating presence. She was able to “create” a fake Pietro, complete with superspeed and a few false memories to trick Wanda. Agatha adapted to the rules of Westview and transformed her appearance accordingly. She mind-controlled Herb with a flick of her fingers (which apparently requires less energy from her than Wanda’s nightmare-inducing mind control in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Agatha also seems to know how to fly without being impulsed by her hands and can nullify Wanda’s powers with runes. In short, Agatha could defeat the multiverse’s most powerful witch with enough knowledge and discipline.
For a long time, it was thought that Wanda Maximoff’s powers were a direct consequence of Hydra’s experimentation with the Mind Stone. However, WandaVision episode 8 revealed that Wanda always had dormant abilities that allowed her to disable the missile that killed her parents. This Chaos Magic was awakened with the Mind Stone, which enhanced Wanda’s magical skills that otherwise would have faded away. Afterward, Wanda started developing telekinesis and mind control by mere intuition and was able to fight the Avengers and Ultron’s army without previous combat experience. Wanda soon developed other skills, such as telepathy (Ultron’s vision of a cataclysm), force fields, matter disintegration, and even the ability to alter Vision’s density.
The most evident power upgrades have always aligned with Wanda’s grief. All the accumulated pain of all the tragedies she faced before the events of WandaVision culminated in an explosion, which affected the very fabric of reality. Hence, Westview is not an illusion, but rather a place where reality is actually altered at a molecular level. Vision’s consciousness was resuscitated out of Wanda’s pure energy and the Hex materialized without Wanda knowing how it happened. The Hex also modified Monica Rambeau’s genes to the point that she developed her own superpowers. At this rate, it’s possible that Wanda’s powers of “spontaneous creation” can easily affect the entire world. With her status as a potential Nexus Being or her connection to the Nexus of All Realities, Wanda could easily affect the entire multiverse.
Although natural, Wanda Maximoff’s magical power needs certain skills from her. Wanda has always used hand gestures to wield her magic. For instance, she moves her wrists and fingers when employing her telekinesis, and in Captain America: Civil War, she manipulated a central orb of energy to modify Vision’s density, which she struggled to maneuver. However, these gestures seem to have come to her subconsciously, as Wanda has never had any mentor to teach her. The combination of her natural skills and the effects of the Mind Stone may have awakened expertise that takes other sorcerers and witchers years to perfect, and it’s possible the Scarlet Witch vision that appeared before her eyes when she first interacted with the Infinity Stone instantly downloaded all of this knowledge into her mind.
On the contrary, Agatha Harkness uses more complex hand gestures and needs to utter enchantments in Latin to achieve the same feats as Wanda. As Agatha tells her in WandaVision episode 8, it took her “years of study to achieve the smallest convincing illusion.” So, as talented as she could be, Agatha still hasn’t come remotely close to Wanda’s power. The same happens to most of the students in Kamar Taj, who need years of practice to become sorcerers. Similar to Agatha, Kaecilius needed to utter incantations in order to make contact with Dormammu and the Dark Dimension, and even Doctor Strange had to separate his soul from his body in order to study ancient texts while his body slept, which he did for a long time.
It’s no secret that Agatha Harkness has control over Wanda during most of WandaVision. The beloved “Agatha All Along” sequence is a testament to the advantages her experience and deceit give her over Wanda’s raw potential. However, Wanda happens to be at her most powerful when she’s in dangerous situations. Outside Agatha’s basement, Wanda can use her powers even if she doesn’t really know where they come from or how they work. On the other hand, Agatha must have a whole gallery of incantations for every situation. Thus, nothing can compare to the power of the Scarlet Witch, which Wanda will probably harness before WandaVision ends. As powerful as Agatha can be – and as cheesy as it may sound – Wanda has the power of love and grief (which is love persevering) on her side.