Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may have introduced plenty of new characters and concepts, but one of its most important can trace its origins back to before Doctor Strange 2, before WandaVision – and into a Marvel project that now has murky ties to canon.
Even so, it’s a lineage that is incredibly important given the mystic nature of the sequel, Scarlet Witch’s involvement, and its links to a Doctor Strange villain. Read on as we discuss the unlikely starting point for one of the MCU’s most powerful objects.
Spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness follow. You have been warned.
The Darkhold’s MCU history
Yes, the Darkhold is brought back in Doctor Strange 2. Last seen during the WandaVision finale, the tome – or Book of the Damned, as Agatha called it – features a catalog of dark and forbidden spells. During Multiverse of Madness, for instance, Wanda uses it to ‘Dreamwalk’, which sees jer temporarily taking over another version of herself in the multiverse.
We discover that the physical book of the Darkhold is a copy of the spells etched into the walls in Chthon’s tower on Mount Wundagore. That’s a similar origin to its comic book counterpart. There, it’s formed from the writings of an Elder God named Chthon, also known as the Archdemon of Chaos. Its genesis in the Marvel shows and movies, however, can be found in Agents of SHIELD.
In the series, the book is uncovered by Lucy and Joseph Bauer during the fourth season. It caused so much chaos and destruction that it was eventually taken into Hell by Ghost Rider. It later appeared in another Marvel series, Runaways, and was obtained by Morgan le Fay – who ultimately ended up banished from Earth.
From there, it ended up in the hands of Agatha Harkness, before being claimed by Wanda and used to search the multiverse for her boys Billy and Tommy.
Ultimately, Doctor Strange 2 made no reference to the Darkhold’s storied TV show history. There was no mention of Agents of SHIELD, nor Morgan le Fay’s antics in Runaways. Indeed, those two shows’ place in Marvel canon is murky.
The WandaVision/Multiverse of Madness version of the Darkhold has a different design to the one found on Agents of SHIELD, WandaVision director Matt Shakhman telling Screen Rant (opens in new tab): “We didn’t look at the other Darkholds that had been designed.”
So, there still isn’t confirmation that either Agents of SHIELD or Runaways is officially tied to MCU canon. Doctor Strange 2 does reveal, however, that multiple copies of the Darkhold existed across different universes. That opens up the possibility that the Darkhold in Agents of SHIELD and the Darkhold in Runaways could have been from different universes or, to take it further, those shows could also have taken place in different universes.
That’s all a moot point now, though. The Darkhold – along with Wanda, it seems – is destroyed in all realities by the end of Multiverse of Madness. And that’s the end of one of Marvel’s most confusing chapters in recent memory. Phew.
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