WandaVision‘s Scarlet Witch retcon could finally explain Odin’s fake Infinity Gauntlet plot hole. When Marvel Studios began to market the first Thor film, they did so by showing off some of the treasures of Odin’s vault at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of what has proved to be Marvel’s biggest, most awkward plot hole to date.
The centerpiece of the treasure vault was the Infinity Gauntlet, and the artefact wasn’t restricted to marketing; if you look closely at Thor, you can actually see it in the background when the Ice Giants break in steal the Casket of Ancient Winters. But when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out just a couple of years later, a post-credits scene showed Thanos himself donning the Infinity Gauntlet, leading viewers to wonder why there were actually two in existence. It fell to Thor: Ragnarok to attempt to fix this plot hole by explaining the Infinity Gauntlet on Asgard was fake all along. And then Avengers: Infinity War made the whole thing even more problematic, revealing Thanos was the first one to have an Infinity Gauntlet made. The Infinity Gauntlet plot holes became worse rather than better; what was Odin’s a fake of in the first place?
Fortunately, one major twist in WandaVision may finally provide an answer to this question – because it seems history may well be a lot more fluid than we thought.
It’s long been clear Marvel intended to retcon Wanda Maximoff in some way; the only debate was whether they would choose to turn her into a mutant or a sorceress, given there’s comic book precedent for either. In the end, though, WandaVision has gone with the latter; in one gripping scene in episode 8, Agatha Harkness confronted Wanda and revealed she is a rare type of sorceress known as the Scarlet Witch. According to Agatha, these beings possess the ability to manipulate Chaos Magic, meaning they are capable of spontaneous creation. Traditional magic draws power from other dimensions, thus complying with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but a Scarlet Witch appears to be a wellspring of power in her own right.
Chaos Magic is lifted straight from the comics, where Agatha Harkness told Wanda it is “wild magick, nature magick.” At its most basic, it can be used to create probability-ruptures, temporal shifts, and sudden gusts of physical force – powerful attacks Wanda herself dubbed “chaos grenades.” WandaVision has faithfully reproduced all these effects, with Wanda manipulating time around a SWORD agent perceived as a beekeeper, and blasting Monica Rambeau out of the town of Westview in a powerful burst of kinetic energy. But the sheer scale of Chaos Magic was only seen in the House of M event, where Wanda rewrote reality itself in order to create a “Happily Ever After” world in which everyone got their heart’s desire. This corresponds with what Wanda is doing in Westview – and there’s no reason to assume that, with training, her Hex could not expand over the entire world.
In the comics, the Scarlet Witch is a title Wanda Maximoff inherited from her mother; she is part of a line of Scarlet Witches and Warlocks that runs through the centuries. But it’s clear the MCU’s version of the Scarlet Witch is something very different; according to Agatha Harkness, they are extremely rare beings, so much so Agatha herself believed them to be nothing more than a legend. Now Agatha knows there is an element of truth in the myths and tales she heard; there is a Scarlet Witch at loose in the present, and there must have been others in the past.
This forces viewers to confront an intriguing question; in the long term, is there really such a thing as continuity in the MCU? The narrative flow of history could well have occasionally been interrupted by the power of a Scarlet Witch, with reality rewritten spontaneously according to their will. Westview’s false reality may be collapsing, in part because of the interference of Agatha Harkness, but there’s no reason to assume previous reality rewrites – which could have taken place on a global or even cosmic scale – didn’t stick. Who knows what secrets have been forgotten, erased from the collective memory of the universe? Perhaps there has indeed been a previous Infinity Gauntlet, one an early Scarlet Witch attempted to erase from all memory because she feared anyone else trying to combine the power of the Infinity Stones.
This kind of cosmic rewrite has actually happened in the comics themselves, most notably in the aftermath of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars event in 2015. That led to a Al Ewing’s popular Ultimates run, in which he revealed there had been seven previous iterations of the Multiverse, which had been systematically rebooted by cosmic events – a nice way of explaining some of the inherent contradictions in Marvel Comics’ own shared universe. In the MCU, it is entirely possible the Scarlet Witches are the catalysts of these Multiversal relaunches.
But why would Odin commission a fake Infinity Gauntlet for his collection? As the All-Father of Asgard, he may well have been resistant to Chaos Magic, and thus retained memory of the original timeline. Fearing a race memory of the Infinity Gauntlet remained, he could well have had a fake constructed – complete with pretend Infinity Stones – to trick anyone pursuing this unlimited power into confronting him on Asgard. There is comic book precedent for Odin considering himself a protector in this way, choosing to draw fire away from others who cannot defend themselves.
Of course, this is only a theory. While there have certainly been previous Scarlet Witches, there is currently no evidence one has been tied to an Infinity Gauntlet plot. But suddenly continuity errors are a lot more problematic in the MCU, simply because in the longer term continuity may well have been rewritten by a Scarlet Witch. WandaVision has added an exciting new element to the history of the MCU, one Marvel are sure to exploit.