‘WandaVision‘: Everything You Need to Know About THAT Marvel Character
The following post contains SPOILERS for WandaVision Episode 7.
The title of her WandaVision-esque show-within-a-show says it all. It was Agatha all along.
“Breaking the Fourth Wall” reveals that Wanda’s neighbor Agnes (played by Kathryn Hahn) isn’t really Agnes — she’s famous Marvel Comics witch Agatha Harkness, making her MCU debut. Agatha was the one messing with Wanda’s mind, and making life miserable in the town of Westview. Her motivations for doing all of this are still unclear, but looking at the character’s history in Marvel Comics might offer some clues.
Agatha was created by Marvel legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the very end of their epic collaboration. In 1970’s Fantastic Four #94, Reed Richards and Sue Storm need a nanny for their newborn son Franklin. They choose Agatha, who lives in a spooky old house with her cat Ebony.
Over the course of this first issue, Agatha exhibits a variety of magic powers. Despite her old, fail appearance, she helps the Fantastic Four defeat the issue’s villains, The Frightful Four.
Agatha remained Franklin’s nanny for several years, then decided he was big enough to carry on without her. She then turned her attention to a different Marvel character: Wanda Maximoff. Although her code name was always Scarlet Witch, Wanda wasn’t an actual witch like Agatha. Instead, she was a mutant (in the comics, Magneto’s her dad, in the MCU who knows) who can use what she describes as “hex powers” to alter probabilities and tweak reality. Eventually, someone at Marvel realized if she was called the Scarlet Witch then ... maybe she should be a real witch? That’s when Agatha showed up in 1974’s The Avengers #128, offering to train her in the mystic arts.
Wanda and Agatha maintained a friendly mentor/student relationship until Agatha’s apparent death at the hands of a group of evil witches. Eventually, Wanda married fellow hero Vision, and the pair quit the Avengers, bought a house in the suburbs of New Jersey, and began a domestic life together not all that different from the early episodes of WandaVision. Later, Wanda got pregnant and gave birth to twin sons, Thomas and William.
That remained the couple’s status quo until famous X-Men artist John Byrne took over the Avengers spinoff series Avengers: West Coast in 1989. He literally broke up Wanda and Vision, first by disassembling the android and then putting him back together in a newer, more robotic form. During this period, Wanda’s twins began disappearing and reappearing at random. That’s when Agatha Harkness re-entered the picture, in Avengers: West Coast #51. (In classic comics fashion, her death was only temporary.)
Over the course of several issues, Agatha explains that Wanda’s children weren’t real, but rather magical constructs borne of her powers. “She so greatly desired a family — in her mind the perfect symbol of a perfect happy life — that she suffered what in a human woman would have been a hysterical or imaginary pregnancy,” Agatha explains. “Wanda’s power to change probabilities created Thomas and William.”
Wanda could use her hex powers to alter probabilities but not create actual life, which meant that she unintentionally used discarded fragments of the villain known as Mephisto (basically Marvel’s non-denominational stand-in for Satan) to imbue Thomas and William with souls. After the twins were kidnapped by a villain named Master Pandemonium, the Avengers and Agatha Harkness try to rescue them — only to see them reabsorbed by Mephisto, although not before the reader is treated to this absolutely horrifying image.
After a futile battle with Master Pandemonium, Mephisto traps the Avengers in some kind of alternate dimension. The only way to bring them home, Agatha claims, is to erase the twins from Wanda’s memory. (Apparently she had been reading from the book of magical spells known as the Retconomicon.) John Byrne left Avengers: West Coast not too long after this storyline, and that was the last anyone heard of Thomas and Billy for many years.
As these early appearances suggest, Marvel Comics’ Agatha is a bit different than the one presented so far in the MCU. Although some of her actions aren’t exactly heroic — it’s pretty twisted to erase a mother’s memory of her children, a fact that the other Avengers noted at the time — Agatha was always an ally of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Unless someone is manipulating her the same way she is manipulating Wanda, the MCU’s villainous Agatha would be a major break from her previous appearances in Marvel Comics.
Still, those old appearances in Avengers and Avengers: West Coast are full of little details that seem to have influenced WandaVision. In these panels from West Coast #51, for example, Wonder Man compares the disappearance of Wanda’s twins to an episode of Bewitched — the show that became the inspiration for WandaVision Episode 2.
A few issues later, Wanda even started resurrecting dead people in much the same way she apparently did to Vision in WandaVision:
The implications of Wanda’s reality-changing powers were fully explored in a later series called Avengers: Disassembled, where the team faces a series of inexplicable threats that Wanda causes while suffering a psychotic episode. When the Avengers finally confront Wanda, they find her in a false reality filled with her lost kids and even Vision. These panels look a lot like the early episodes of WandaVision.
This same issue showed that Wanda had killed Agatha Harkness, and had spent an unknown amount of timing chatting with her rotting corpse — a la Norman Bates hanging out with his poor old mother in Psycho. In other words, WandaVision isn’t copying any of these storylines directly.
That’s a good thing. That means even if you know all these decades of Marvel stories about Wanda, Vision, and Agatha, you still don’t know what’s going to happen on the final two episodes of WandaVision. They premiere weekly on Fridays on Disney+.
Gallery — The Coolest WandaVision Episode 7 Easter Eggs: