WandaVision: what Chaos Magic and the Scarlet Witch could mean for Doctor Strange 2

WandaVision episode 8
Wanda Maximoff wears her traditional Scarlet Witch costume for Halloween. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Spoilers for WandaVision follow. 

Wanda Maximoff has been known as the Scarlet Witch since she first appeared in Marvel comics in the 1960s – but you won’t have heard any of her fellow Avengers using the moniker on screen.

When Agatha Harkness referred to Wanda as the Scarlet Witch in ‘Previously On’ – WandaVision’s eighth episode – she became the first character to mention the name in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The way she said it, however, suggested it’s much more than your average superhero alias.

The episode features strong hints that Wanda’s Thanos-bashing powers were created by a mysterious entity lurking inside one of the Infinity Stones – and that she’s one of the few beings capable of wielding a mythical source of energy known as Chaos Magic.

Whatever it all means, it has huge implications for the MCU. So we’ve taken a deep dive into WandaVision and Marvel comics to explain what the Scarlet Witch and Chaos Magic could mean for the season finale, Wanda herself, and upcoming movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.


Agatha Harkness used a fake Pietro – 'Fietro' – to spy on Wanda as she tried to understand her Scarlet Witch powers. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

What do we know about Chaos Magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

While we don’t understand much about its mechanics – yet – we now know that Chaos Magic is the reason Wanda Maximoff has been able to transform the New Jersey town of Westview into a living, breathing sitcom.

Having spent the entirety of WandaVision trying to understand how Wanda was able to get a whole town interacting together in “complex storylines” over large distances, witch Agatha Harkness finally cracked the puzzle in episode 8.

Holding Wanda’s twin sons – Billy and Tommy – hostage, Agatha told Wanda that, “You have no idea how dangerous you are. You’re supposed to be a myth, a being capable of spontaneous creation, and here you are, using it to make breakfast for dinner. Your children, and Vision, this whole little life you’ve made… This is Chaos Magic, Wanda. And that makes you the Scarlet Witch.”

Why is the Scarlet Witch important?

In the Marvel comics, Scarlet Witch is Wanda Maximoff’s superhero alias.

Although they eventually became Avengers, Wanda and her twin brother Pietro originally came to prominence as members of Magneto’s X-Men-bothering Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – they later learned that Magneto was their dad. This version of Wanda was given the Scarlet Witch nickname by the angry residents of a village she’d accidentally burned down.

The name has different meaning in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Although the screen incarnation of Wanda has long been referred to informally as Scarlet Witch, the name wasn’t used in any of the MCU movies or TV shows until Agatha mentioned it in WandaVision’s penultimate episode – in fact, Agent Jimmy Woo assured SWORD director Hayward in episode 5 that Wanda has no “funny nickname”.

The way Agatha tells Wanda that she’s the Scarlet Witch suggests this is a specific – and possibly unique – entity possessing immense power in the MCU.

Scarlet Witch

Wanda sees a vision of the Scarlet Witch in the Mind Stone. (Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

How did Wanda get those Scarlet Witch powers?

We know that Wanda’s abilities are a mixture of the innate powers she was born with, and her exposure to the Mind Stone, the Infinity Stone that was housed in Loki’s Scepter.

‘Previously On’ confirmed that a 10-year-old Wanda used a probability hex to save Pietro and herself from an unexploded bomb in Sokovia. Years later, when she volunteered for HYDRA’s top-secret experiments to create superpowered humans, her powers (almost definitely) protected her from the Mind Stone – its energy had killed everybody else who’d come near it. The Mind Stone subsequently magnified Wanda’s abilities exponentially.

We’re not entirely sure how this power transfer happened, but it seems probable that the Scarlet Witch is an entity that lived inside the Mind Stone. When Wanda looked at the Stone, she saw a female figure, wearing the crown-like headpiece Scarlet Witch has traditionally worn in the comics – it was also part of Wanda’s Halloween costume in WandaVision’s sixth episode, ‘All-New Halloween Spooktacular!’.

We’re guessing that the Scarlet Witch saw Wanda as the ideal vessel for her energy, and possessed her, sharing her immense powers in the process. Alongside her previous skills, Wanda now had strong telepathic and telekinetic abilities, as well as the power to manipulate matter – as we’ve seen in WandaVision. This is presumably the reason Wanda is one of the only beings in the MCU strong enough to take on Thanos. (Like Captain Marvel – who sits alongside her at the top of the superhero power league – her skills are the result of exposure to an Infinity Stone.)

Indeed, the way the Scarlet Witch manifests is reminiscent of how the Phoenix Force appears to the X-Men’s Jean Grey. In the comics, both Wanda and Jean are Nexus Beings, possessing the ability to influence probability. Knowing that 10-year-old Wanda unwittingly wielded a probability hex – and episode 7’s hints that the MCU Wanda also has ties to the Nexus – suggests that her abilities made her the ideal host for the Scarlet Witch, and all that reality-altering power.

The question is, can Wanda control this Chaos Magic? Jean Grey always had issues with the Phoenix, and even a witch as strong as Agatha Harkness believed (and maybe even hoped) that Chaos Magic was a myth. Great power traditionally requires great responsibility, but can Wanda handle it?

What is Chaos Magic in the Marvel comics?

It’s already clear from WandaVision that the MCU strain of Chaos Magic is a ridiculously powerful form of magic, giving its wielders the power to reconstruct reality how they see fit – you’re not going to transform an entire town into a sitcom with a few cheap conjuror’s illusions.

In the comics, Chaos Magic goes back millennia. Chthon was one of the Elder Gods and a demon who used his Chaos Magic skills to subjugate the Earth, where he was known as the God of Chaos. He was overthrown by a group of mages, who managed to trap him inside Mount Wundagore in the Eastern European country of Transia.

Thousands of years later, this is where the comic book version of Wanda Maximoff was born, and some of Chthon’s Chaos Energy passed into the infant. This enhanced Wanda’s natural mutant abilities, much as the Mind Stone enhanced the MCU Wanda’s skillset. That means there’s a reasonable chance that the MCU’s Scarlet Witch entity will play a similar role to Chthon in the comics.

Doctor Strange

How will Chaos Magic play into the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

What does this mean for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?

In the comics, Agatha Harkness trained Wanda to get the most out of the Chaos Magic she’d previously been using instinctively. We’re not yet sure about the MCU Agatha’s motives – while her efforts to work out the source of Wanda’s power seem sinister, there’s a chance her goal is protecting the Earth from a dangerous magical force – but she may also offer to take on Wanda as a pupil.

Whether or not Agatha has a role to play in the MCU beyond WandaVision, the Sorcerer Supreme – aka Doctor Strange – will be duty bound to take an interest in Wanda’s abilities, and ensure they don’t threaten the Earth.

In the comics, Strange was initially sceptical about the existence of Chaos Magic, but now that a giant energy field has turned a town’s residents into sitcom characters, the MCU incarnation is going to have to take notice. Maybe the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (which will definitely include Wanda when it arrives in 2022) will feature the Sorcerer Supreme training Ms Maximoff to make the most of her Scarlet Witch abilities?

New episodes of WandaVision are available every Friday on Disney Plus.

Richard Edwards

Richard is a freelance journalist specialising in movies and TV, primarily of the sci-fi and fantasy variety. An early encounter with a certain galaxy far, far away started a lifelong love affair with outer space, and these days Richard's happiest geeking out about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other long-running pop culture franchises. In a previous life he was editor of legendary sci-fi and fantasy magazine SFX, where he got to interview many of the biggest names in the business – though he'll always have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum who (somewhat bizarrely) thought Richard's name was Winter.