Doctor Strange 2: What is the Darkhold?

If you watch “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and have any questions about the Darkhold, the book Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) uses to enact her plans, we’ve got you covered. The book has a long legacy in the MCU, but audiences most recently saw it in “WandaVision.” When Wanda’s nosy neighbor Agnes was finally revealed to be the witch Agatha Harkness, and the true evil mastermind behind Westview, Wanda found a strange old book sitting in her creepy basement, surrounded by tendrils of magic.

That book was Darkhold, a text that had already appeared on multiple Marvel TV shows. In the comics, the Darkhold is an ancient text filled with spells, curses, and dark magic. In the MCU, it first served as a major plot element in “Agents of SHIELD”, where the story was revealed on screen: a text made of dark matter, from the “Dark Dimension”, containing infinite knowledge but it also seems to have a dangerous and corrupting influence on those who read it. Also worth noting: The Dark Dimension played a major role in the first “Doctor Strange” movie, so it makes sense that the Darkhold would also appear in the sequel.

In “Agents of SHIELD”, the Darkhold was eventually used as part of the Framework storyline, in which the characters are trapped in an alternate virtual dimension. Ultimately, the android Aida attempted to use the knowledge of the Darkhold to create a human (or, rather, inhuman) body for herself and remake the real world in the image of Framework’s twisted virtual reality. Her attempts created a rift in Hell, and the Spirit of Vengeance, housed within Robbie Reyes (also known as Ghost Rider), wanted to kill Aida and bring the Darkhold back to Hell. Robbie teamed up with Phil Coulson and his team to trick and destroy Aida, and Robbie eventually opened a portal back to Hell and took the book with him.

Somehow, the Darkhold was brought out of Hell by Morgan le Fay, one of the main villains in the MCU show “Runaways.” There, Morgan attempted to use it to conquer all of the land, but it was eventually used against him. After the Runaways and their allies, Cloak and Dagger, rescued one of their own from the Dark Dimension with the help of Darkhold magic, they used it to cast a powerful banishing spell to get rid of Morgan.

Until “Wandavision”, the Darkhold’s whereabouts and ownership were unknown. One of his key powers is the ability to pave the way for his readers to believe his hearts desires, at any cost. The “instructions” in the book can teach its readers how to build items that harness energy from other dimensions, making them almost impossible for anyone on earth to understand.

“Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” added more to the Darkhold mythos. At the beginning of the film, Wanda still has Agatha’s copy of the book, which she intends to use to steal America Chavez’s powers and travel the multiverse until she retrieves her children. Eventually the wizards, led by Wong (Benedict Wong), are able to destroy it. But Wong reveals that the book known as the Darkhold was actually a copy of spells written by Chthon, a mysterious entity. Those spells are carved into a castle on top of Wundagore Mountain, and Wanda has Wong take her there so she can read them on the wall.

During “Multiverse of Madness” we learn that an important spell in the book is “Dreamwalking”, which allows a user to possess their body in another universe. Wanda uses this to try to trap Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), with Dr. Strange eventually using the same power to fight Wanda from another universe.

At the end of the movie, Wanda destroys the castle and all copies of the Darkhold in all universes. But this being the MCU, there’s always a chance she’ll come back.

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