Lovecraftian evidence from Agatha’s lair indicates that a certain Elder God could be the true enemy of WandaVision.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for WandaVision Episode 7, “Breaking the Fourth Wall”, now broadcasting on Disney +.
WandaVision He has carefully executed the full slide into the horror that he has been approaching since his very first episode. The revelation of Agnes’ identity as a witch and nemesis Agatha Harkness is combined with a view of her hidden lair. But the lair’s overriding aesthetic is a far cry from the hellish gothic you’d expect from a Mephisto acolyte. Instead, it suggests something naturalistic but terrifyingly warped. It’s a supernatural place, in other words, and the ancient Chthon horror seems like a likely force behind Agatha’s motivations.
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Agatha’s lair is dimly lit the lower Wanda goes down, and gradually the concrete basement gives way to something that looks more like the ruins of a monastery buried deep under twisted roots. The roots flash the supernatural purple that marks Agatha’s mark of magic, and while there’s a quick transition to Agatha’s triumphantly lighthearted villain theme, it’s hard to shake off the implied terror of her lair. Is chthonic, an earthly Greek word used to describe a potentially hellish underworld.
Marvel introduced its own Lovecraftian horror, Chthon, in 1979. Mighty avengers # 186. Written by Mark Gruenwald, Steven Grant, and David Michelinie and drawn in pencil by John Byrne, Chthon’s arrival quickly pits the Elder God against Wanda Maximoff. In the following issues, Chthon has taken control of Wanda’s body and the supernatural god illustrates his evil beginnings in a villainous monologue. It is a properly Lovecraftian tale that testifies to the creation of the evil tome, Darkhold, the emergence of cults in the terrible name of the god and the struggle of saviors like Morgan Le Fay to contain the being.
Chthon’s ultimate goal is to shed the ties of the outer dimension in which she is trapped and become a corporeal entity on Earth. Chthon wants to become an apocalyptic scourge in the world he was born into long ago, and although he is defeated at the end of his introductory arc, the Ancient God becomes a potent example of how Lovecraftian horror can fit into the Marvel Universe. Chthon’s lore would deepen in her appearances, codifying her as a primordial figure as opposed to the nature goddess Gaea and Doctor Strange’s own pious protector Oshtur.
Although the supernatural being is subject to his extradimensional outer realm, he can influence Earth to some extent. A powerful telepath and reality distorter, Chthon can also temporarily use human hosts to act overtly. In 2009 Mighty avengers # 23, by Dan Slott and Khoi Pham, Chthon even takes Pietro Maximoff as host against Pietro’s will, trapping the hero’s consciousness within the Darkhold while Chthon attempts to manipulate reality for another escape.
It’s a terrifying implication for the Pietro seen on the show so far. More than simply rephrasing, this Pietro could have been ripped from his other universe, emptied his spirit, and thrown the body at Westview for Chthon and Agatha Harkness to manipulate. This week’s mid-credits scene finishes the job of ensuring that viewers know that something is not right with this Pietro beyond his looks, and this time, Agatha’s magic was not seen controlling him.
A creature of pure chaos magic much like the one Wanda wields would find her abilities an irresistible temptation. Chthon may well manipulate his way around her, seek to distract her through diabolical allies like Agatha Harkness, and drain Wanda’s sanity and power as she searches for a door to physical reality. While it’s also possible for viewers to discover Mephisto’s influence somewhere behind Agatha’s actions, Chthon is a more far-reaching villain, the type that is sure to draw in Doctor Strange to resolve the situation in Westview.
More convincingly, it’s never easy to wrap the predations of a supernatural horror with a snap. WandaVision is setting the stage for Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness, and the premise of Lovecraftian creatures trying to make their way into a world still recovering fits that movie better than Mephisto’s temptations. Letting the increasingly unstable Wanda face something far worse than devilish temptation is too likely to rule out. The stars over Westview are about to go horribly to the right.
Written by Jac Schaeffer and directed by Matt Shakman, WandaVision stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany as Vision, Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo, Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Kathryn Hahn like Agnes. New episodes air Fridays on Disney +.
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