WandaVision‘s villain reveal cleverly inverts Scarlet Witch’s own role in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s easy to forget that Scarlet Witch made her MCU debut not as a hero, but rather as a villain. This was the same kind of adversarial role she originally played in the comics, where she was part of Magneto’s first Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
In the MCU, Wanda Maximoff and her brother Pietro were the only two Hydra test subjects to survive experiments with the Mind Stone. They agreed to be subjected to these experiments because of their experience of the civil war in Sokovia, which they partly blamed on industrialists like Tony Stark, who had made themselves rich profiting on selling weapons to both sides. Thus when the Avengers arrived – most notably Stark himself – the newly-empowered Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were hardly likely to believe them a force for good. And so Wanda first came to the Avengers’ attention when she stepped out of the shadows and began to telepathically invade their minds, granting them a series of hallucinatory visions.
There is, therefore, a rich irony in the fact WandaVision has just introduced its villain Agatha Harkness by using a similar concept. The villain reveal was conducted in a smart way, with Agatha raising her hand and magically invading Wanda’s mind in order to grant her a vision – not of the future but rather of the past, explaining how Agatha had been working in the shadows of Westview all along. The flare of power and the glow over Wanda’s eyes is almost identical to the one seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but with one particularly visible difference; Wanda’s telepathic power effects are red, while Agatha’s are purple.
This is significant because it essentially serves as a shorthand to help understand Agatha Harkness’ role in WandaVision – as well as the nature of Wanda’s own powers. Marvel has always tended to like doing so-called “Mirror Image” villains, enemies who are distorted reflections of the heroes themselves. Thus the Hulk fights a muscular green Abomination, Tony Stark tussles with the Iron Monger, and Captain America battles the Nazi super-soldier the Red Skull.
By using the same power effect, Marvel is telling viewers Agatha Harkness is the mirror image of Wanda. She is everything Scarlet Witch herself would be – if the Avenger were evil, and had continued down the path started in Age of Ultron. But this in itself has major implications, because it confirms Marvel is retconning Scarlet Witch herself as a sorceress in the MCU, and that her telepathy and telekinesis were really magic all along. That fits with Agatha’s taunt that Wanda should not have believed herself the only “magic-user” in town.
There is one further intriguing difference too; the way Agatha Harkness’ vision operated. When Wanda invaded Tony Stark’s mind, she projected all his worst fears, his belief the human race would eventually be rendered extinct by the alien threats he sensed were out there. In contrast, Agatha’s vision reveals her role in the past, and it notably follows the sitcom genre conventions of WandaVision – right down to a catchy theme tune of her own, “It Was Agatha All Along.” This suggests that, while Agatha can indeed wield the power of the nexus at Westview, she is not fully in control of it, because its nature shapes her actions as well. For all her power, then, Scarlet Witch may well still be able to defeat Agatha Harkness in the final two episodes of WandaVision, by wresting full control of the nexus.