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Wanda's Drastic Change In Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Explained

Contains major spoilers for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"

The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) has come a long way since first appearing as a secondary antagonist-turned hero in 2015's "Avengers: Age of Ultron." In the Infinity Saga, Wanda joins the Avengers after her brother Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) dies fighting Ultron (James Spader). Her growing pains as a superhero-in-training serve as one of the catalysts for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers' (Chris Evans) feud in "Captain America: Civil War," and she finds love in quite literally the most unexpected of places in the Mind Stone-fueled android Vision (Paul Bettany). Of course, Thanos murders Vision in "Avengers: Infinity War" before snapping Wanda and half the universe out of existence for five years.

With many of the original Avengers dead or off Earth after "Avengers: Endgame," Marvel Studios has leaned hard on Wanda to provide a throughline for Phase 4's stories so far. "WandaVision" caught up with the character just after the Infinity Saga ends in one of Marvel's most inventive projects, showcasing Wanda's power growth as she grieves Vision's death. In "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," Wanda returns as the Scarlet Witch, more powerful — and scarier — than ever.

Wanda's arc in WandaVision only made her more powerful and more unbalanced

MCU fans have long-held suspicions that Wanda is among the universe's most powerful characters, based on both the original comics and examples from the movies, like when Wanda basically bests Thanos in a one-on-one fight during the climax of "Avengers: Endgame." The 2021 Disney+ miniseries "WandaVision" only further fueled the notion that Wanda is among the most powerful beings in the world; she alters reality within an entire town's borders, turning it into a fictional sitcom surrounding her, Vision (Paul Bettany), and their two sons living an idealized suburban lifestyle. Wanda's grief for Vision made her personality less balanced and her powers more dangerous. She steps into even more of a moral grey area after besting Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) and acquiring a copy of the Darkhold, combining her rare chaos magic abilities with dark magic forbidden even to masters of the mystic arts.

In "WandaVision," Agatha tells Wanda that the Scarlet Witch's power surpasses even the Sorcerer Supreme's. While Stephen Strange is not actually the Sorcerer Supreme by the time the new "Doctor Strange" movie starts, he also directly acknowledges to Wanda that she's more powerful than any Avenger still on Earth when he tries to recruit her to help him and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). While Wanda acknowledges her mistakes in holding an entire town against its will during "WandaVision," she dreams of the life she wishes she could have with her sons more than anything else.

Wanda's grief over the life she doesn't have turns her into a powerful antagonist

By the time "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" starts, Wanda has basically lost everything. Vision is dead, and White Vision went missing after regaining Vision's memories at the end of "WandaVision." The Avengers are more or less disbanded, and after the incident in Westview, Wanda does not even have a reality in which she has her children. The prospect of making that reality her own drives her first and foremost. While Strange has nightmares concerning the details of his variants' lives across the universe, Wanda says her nightmares begin when she wakes up each morning and remembers that her chance at having a family is gone — unless she finds another one in the infinite multiverse.

Wanda uses the Darkhold's disturbingly powerful magic to dreamwalk — possessing alternate versions of herself — and send monsters after America Chavez throughout the multiverse. These entities prove disturbing enough that when Strange and Wong first meet America, she describes the thing chasing her as a demon. Surely enough, that comes to pass: Wanda's emboldened usage of the Darkhold in her pursuit of America and Strange turns her and her possessed Earth-838 counterpart into monstrous villains straight out of a classic horror movie. Wanda displays her significantly scaled-up power level multiple times and warns Strange that her violent destruction of Kamer-Taj constitutes her attempt to be reasonable. The Scarlet Witch even carves up the Illuminati in a gloriously dark sequence. Even after Earth-838's defenders assure Strange that they can handle Wanda, she turns Reed Richards (John Krasinski) to shreds, makes Black Bolt's (Anson Mount) brain explode, and snaps Charles Xavier's (Patrick Stewart) neck.

In the end, Wanda destroys the Darkhold across the multiverse

Wanda actually succeeds in her attempt to capture America. Even after bringing her back to Earth-616's Darkhold Castle, Wanda still must fend off desperate attacks from Wong and Strange, who dreamwalks into the alternate Strange's corpse that followed America to Earth-616 in the first place. A key lesson from "WandaVision" returns when America stops Wanda from stealing her powers and finally uses her portal-opening abilities intentionally, sending the Scarlet Witch to Earth-838, where that universe's Wanda does live happily with her children, Billy and Tommy. At this moment, Wanda sees everything she ever wanted and learns why she can't make this reality her reality: the other universe's Billy and Tommy recognize the Scarlet Witch as the evil and threatening entity she has grown into, not the loving mother Wanda truly wishes she could be.

Wanda comes to a conclusion similar to the one that is reached at the end of "WandaVision," but this time, her grief and desperation have caused significant harm to multiple universes, rather than just one town. In a sudden change, Wanda users her magic to destroy every copy of the Darkhold in existence and disappears, seemingly rendering the dark magic she uses throughout the movie useless. It's unclear what may happen to the character in the MCU moving forward or if she will retain the Scarlet Witch moniker after destroying the Darkhold, but it seems she finally learns the lesson she should have after "WandaVision" — she can't use her powers to force her desired universe into existence.