The devil is in the details...or the “strange” for the marvel cinematic universe!
There are hardcore comic fans, there are childhood Saturday morning cartoon fans and movie fans. I had some exposure to comics growing up but I don’t know why it never caught on. I didn't like reading. Having dialogue spread about sporadically on pages with pictures was confusing to me. Skimming through the pictures, I was able to get the gist of a story.
Saturday superhero fans, like myself, enjoyed the likes of Superman to X-Men. Anything that was put on air I liked. When I was a kid I did not know the difference between DC and Marvel. DC was a shoe brand and The Avengers was a spy movie with Sean Connery.
All this to say, the hardcore comic book marvel fans have always known the darker side of Marvel. However, this could not be a starting point to sell it to a mass audience. Especially after Disney acquired Marvel.
Early on we got a first glimpse of something sinister, a possible correlation to the western concept of Satan. It was the villain Red Skull in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Red Skull was exactly that, a man with a skull for a face that was red. Evil or devil like would fit his persona.
He was defeated and fell into a portal. The idea of dimensions (Thor used realms, Avengers used portals) did not come up until Dr. Strange (2016). Magic and books filled with mystic spells and a dark dimension of power were more than portals or realms. Dr. Strange introduced us to the unseen forces in the universe. Different dimensions of reality where evil entities are kept at bay.
As well, the bad guy in this film was from another dimension. However, the concept still felt more alien by the end. This villain, Dormammu, was given the name the “Destroyer of Worlds.” Implying he at one point was in our reality somewhere in outer space. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, MCU, focused on threats to earth and threats from outer space. Clearly there was power drawn from other dimensions. In the end, however, the encounter with Dormammu was in no way frightening. Super fans were probably disappointed.
Before Dr. Stranger, there was another magic wielding character named Wanda Maximoff. She made her debut in 2015’s Age of Ultron, Wanda was an enemy at first used by Ultron. Her powers of mind control, on screen, came across as some form of witchcraft (Foreshadowing). However, once she became one of the good guys, her mind manipulation went on the back burner.
Wanda's on screen powers for the following three movies were different. She could control physical things with here glowing red hands. One thing almost everyone agrees on is that her telekinesis was so strong, she could have stopped the major villain Thanos, in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.
The Scarlet Witch
Fast forward to 2021, four movies and a Disney+ series, we see the full development of this character. Wanda comic book name had not been stated on screen until just recently at the end of the Disney+ series WandaVision.
I think her real name was hidden because the focus of her character story arch was meant to keep her in the background and save her true storyline for the next phase of Marvel madness.
WandaVison, the Disney+ show, had an awkward two episode start. However, the purpose was to keep us in the dark about what the creators were up to. We soon get the picture that Wanda has everyone under her mind control. We haven’t seen this power since Ultron.
Now the gloves are off and Marvel spends nine episodes building up her true identity as the wielder of “Chaos Magic.” The villain, pretending to be a towns person names Agnus, let the cat out of the bag. She was a witch from at least the Salem witch trials time period, named Agatha Harkness. Agatha reveals her witch chamber to Wanda and keeps trying to get Wanda to use more of her magic. She finally says to Wanda, in the second to last episode, "You are The Scarlet Witch."
Super hero fans peed their pants, finally the word "Witch" is used. This reminds me of this classic scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
“She’s a witch.” - Monty Python
Witches, Hexes, and Spells...Oh My!
Before our very eyes, all of her power that she didn’t understand was changed from "abilities" into "witchcraft." She was retconned. Agatha had already explained hexes, spells, and the more surprising twist was Wanda’s connection to a book called the Darkhold. This book, in the comics, has evil origins. One might call it demonic.
Agatha was merely meant to set up the mythology of witches in the MCU, but more importantly she reveals the origins of Wanda Maximoff.
If we didn’t get it with the Sorcerer Supreme, it is undeniable now that witchcraft and the demonic realm is firmly planted in the MCU. The sequel to Dr. Strange is "Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness." This will feature The Scarlet Witch as a major player and now we know why. She can wield chaos magic, similar to the dark dimension power. I think the title is very literal, this movie will deal with dimensions of madness or possibly horror.
Dr. Strange and Scarlet Witch are cut from the same cloth. Their power is not some enhancement, mutation or alien advantage. Their power is harnessed from unseen dimensions. In the Bible this is called the spiritual realm. With this venture comes our journey into the demonic. The Bible references this as "The evil forces in the heavenly realms."
Now this is where the problem for the Christian lies, there is a bit of truth behind all this chaos. Super powers and infinity stones, not real. Magic books and evil in invisible places, very real. I've told my students many times, the only way as Christians we are allowed to try and access the spiritual realm is through the Holy Spirit. Any other way is not from God, it's demonic.
The second credit scene after the final episode drove home the film makers purpose of this show. We see her eerily prying her minds eye into the Darkhold, searching it and studying it.
Being in our Culture, not of it.
Just prepare yourself, before it happens, that there will be a lot of Christians boycotting some of these future movies as they did with Harry Potter.
Future marvel movies won’t be for kids, as many of them are not. What we do do is point out to people that we still believe in good overcoming evil.
We can have conversations on how all desire justice. These are impossible concepts without religion. Atheism cannot explain our deep conviction that there is evil and that justice is when evil is punished. When wrong things are made right. How could a random act of evolution give rise to convictions of right and wrong? Even if it is possible, it would all be arbitrary?
In dealing with the demonic in our culture I am always reminded of the Ephesian church. Paul writes:
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
The villain in our made up MCU, will start to look like the Christian version of Satan. It doesn’t mean that it is satanic in and of itself. Watch it, but don’t practice it because the stuff in movies isn't real.
Also realize that everyone recognizes that these are stories that are made up. Writers borrow from hundreds if not thousands of years of human mythology. Even then, these stories are not meant to explain our reality but are meant to show this cosmic fight against dark vs light, good vs evil.
Ultimately, if you are convicted to not watch Marvel movies, that is okay. That does not make it everyone's conviction. I'm just calling it ahead of time so people are not surprised by the dark side of our beloved heroes.
What do you think, does watching a movie or show that features witchcraft mean you support it? Is there a difference between the fantasy movie version of magic and real people who claim to practice magic or witchcraft?
Leave a comment below.
In Truth & Love,
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