“Embrace the Chaos”
With those three words, Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow teased what we’d already suspected: Chaos Magic has a key role in the MCU’s next phase. While Moon Knight generally gets powers from his connection to Khonshu, it seems like this series might reimagine those as more connected to the Chaos Magic already at play in the MCU. And it’s actually not unprecedented. A recent comic introduced a possible Chaos connection. So if you’re wondering how all of this fits in, we’re here to dig deep into Marvel’s Chaos Magic, the characters who wield it, and how Moon Knight could fit into the vast and sprawling cosmic chaos coming in the MCU. Grab your copy of the Darkhold and jump through our portal.
Moon Knight and Khonshu
Let’s start with the main man: Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight. In the comics he gains his powers after the Egyptian god Khonshu brings him back from the dead. The show will likely replicate or slightly reimagine that. But one new comic book addition we think will play a factor came in the recent Marvel series King in Black: Black Knight #1. During this event, Knull, the eldritch god of darkness, revealed that Khonshu was not just an Egyptian deity. No, he was actually an Elder God.
This recontextualization of Khonshu feels relevant as the Elder Gods serve as powerful figures in the Marvel Universe. They traffic in cosmic power and ancient magic. Other Elder Gods include the creator of the Darkhold, Chthon, and the tentacled beast, Shuma-Gorath. It seems an unlikely coincidence that Marvel recently recast the comic book Khonshu as an ancient deity with connections to these other gods just as they’re about to join the MCU. It’s also probably worth noting that they revealed it in a comic starring Black Knight, a.k.a. Dane Whitman.
Shuma-Gorath and Gargantos
One of the most famous Elder Gods in Marvel is Shuma-Gorath, the Lord of Chaos. Known as the master of the Great Old Ones, Shuma-Gorath inhabits a dimension all his own. It’s dubbed the Chaos Dimension. This is an unusual bit of unintentional transmedia storytelling. Shuma-Gorath only appeared in a handful of comic books until he was made a playable character in Marvel Super Heroes. This 1995 fighting game from Capcom named his hyper combo Chaos Dimension and turned the monster from an obscure Doctor Strange villain into the fave of gamers around the world. In the 2011 release Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Shuma-Gorath had the entrance line “Embrace Chaos!” As the character’s cult celebrity grew, so did Shuma-Gorath’s recent comic book appearances, slowly becoming a mainstay magical villain at Marvel.
That’s why many fans felt confused, after years of Doctor Strange 2 rumors, to see a Marvel LEGO set featuring a monster named Gargantos instead. This is likely due to a technicality of Shuma’s creation and a potential licensing conflict. Specifically, Marvel pulled the name Shuma-Gorath from an offhand mention in a Robert E. Howard story. Although the character’s design and characteristics all come from his Marvel appearances, they gave credit to Howard during the monster’s earliest comic books. Now, with Howard’s library licensed elsewhere, that potentially creates an obstacle for Disney’s licensing department.
Enter Gargantos, an even more obscure comic book character with a sole appearance—and a single flashback—to his name. Created by Roy Thomas and Marie Severin, Gargantos looks just enough like Shuma-Gorath to be a cinematic stand-in for the Lord of Chaos. And, as we know from the title, the multiverse presents any and all possibilities. It seems that for now in the MCU, Gargantos is the future Lord of Chaos.
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
One of Marvel’s original Chaos Magic users and anchor of this theory? Wanda. Her hex powers have long been the result of her ability to become a conduit for Chaos Magic. None other than Agatha Harkness taught her that she had this power. It’s an immense and heavy burden to carry. As we saw in WandaVision, it can literally change the world. With Wanda now in possession of the Darkhold, she has access to more Chaos Magic than ever. And she has a reason to pursue greater power than ever before: finding her sons Billy and Tommy. Her connection to Chaos Magic could play into the MCU’s future oo.
Chthon, the Elder God we mentioned earlier, wrote the Darkhold in the depths of Mount Wundagore. That’s where, in the comics, Wanda and her brother Pietro were born and briefly cared for by the cow-human hybrid Bova, a servant of the High Evolutionary. According to Agatha, Wanda’s powers come from her being “touched by Chthon.” While it seems unlikely that the weirdness of the High Evolutionary will make it to the MCU, we may have already seen Mount Wundagore. The end of WandaVision sees Wanda studying the Darkhold in a remote cabin near a mountain range. We believe this could be Wundagore, and that the home of Chthon’s Chaos Magic and Wanda’s comic book birthplace could play a large role in the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Doctor Strange and Strange Supreme
What If…? introduced us to Strange Supreme, the corrupted version of Doctor Strange. In the animated TV series he became damaged and compromised after trying to save his love, Christine. We saw him play with all kinds of dark magic including summoning the tentacled (yet unnamed) creature resembling Shuma-Gorath, a.k.a. the MCU’s Gargantos. That’s important because, as we mentioned, Shuma-Gorath is an Elder God and Lord of Chaos. It’s likely that the dark magic we saw Strange Supreme use was Chaos Magic. All of that is relevant because we know a (or possibly even this) corrupted version of Strange will appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. That supports the theory that Chaos Magic will be crucial, especially with both Wanda and Strange playing a big part in the film.
So They’re All Chaos Magic Users, What Does That Mean for Moon Knight and the MCU?
In the case of Moon Knight, it likely means that Chaos Magic and the Elder Gods will play a larger role than expected in the upcoming series. We’ve already suggested Marc Spector/Steven Grant might have a connection to the Eternals and Blade, and in that case him utilizing or having a connection to Chaos Magic would make a lot of sense. If Blade is looking for people wielding dangerous powers in London, Steven could be another port of call. And the fact that Arthur Harrow utilized a similar phrase to Shuma-Gorath’s famed slogan makes us think the little known Moon Knight villain could have a Chaos Magic connection. If that’s the case, then we could see the new Disney+ series lead directly into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which would make sense as the movie comes out soon after the series ends.
Could Khonshu end up in the Multiverse of Madness? It seems unlikely but Moon Knight’s connection to the Elder God makes him a powerful ally for Wanda and Stephen. We know that the creature named Gargantos will be in the Multiverse of Madness. If he does take on the Shuma-Gorath role, then it’s likely Chaos Magic will be key.
There’s also the chance that Wanda and her quest for Billy and Tommy actually serves as the catalyst for the cosmic chaos we see in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In which case Doctor Strange will need all the Chaos Magic users he can find to help him defeat her. If we look at Moon Knight’s comic history too, then he could become part of a supernatural team. Supposing that does happen, there’s always a chance his new MCU connection to Chaos Magic could warn him about Wanda’s plans, helping him and his crew come to Doctor Strange’s aid.
Whatever happens, Chaos is coming to the MCU and we cannot wait.
Featured Image: Marvel Studios