After months of waiting and tons of speculation, it happened. Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes revealed herself to be Agatha Harkness on WandaVision. She showed herself to be the villain with a catchy theme song and unveiled how she’s been pulling the strings. Agatha used her magic to control the citizens of Westview and Wanda. We’re still waiting to learn to what extent she’s interfering and why, but until then, let’s take a look at Agatha’s history in Marvel comics.
Who Is Agatha Harkness?
Marvel in 1970 was a strange place. The burgeoning Bronze Age of comics was beginning; creators were leaning into the darkness and doom that would soon be a hallmark of superhero storytelling. Before the year was up, Jack Kirby would leave the company for its Distinguished Competition. But as he left, he created the wild witch Agatha Harkness alongside Stan Lee in Fantastic Four #94. Yes, Agatha is originally a Fantastic Four character—we’ll come back to that later—appearing first as a nanny to Franklin Richards, Reed and Sue’s son.
Turns out that the new nanny is a powerful witch who protects Franklin and the Fantastic Four when the Trapster (nee Paste Pot Pete) tries to defeat them in Agatha’s scary old house. She would become a recurring character in the series; the Fantastic Four even saved her after she and Franklin were kidnapped by Agatha’s son, Nicholas Scratch. Agatha is always accompanied by her familiar—a black cat named Ebony who can transform into a giant creature—as well as demonic spirits that she often conjures if threatened.
What’s Her Connection to Wanda and Vision?
Agatha made the transition from the Fantastic Four series to the Avengers main title in Avengers #128. In that issue, she saved the titular heroes before revealing her plan to teach Scarlet Witch the ways of magic. It was a fateful meeting that would change Wanda’s life forever. The pair have had multiple magical adventures together connected to Agatha’s role as a witch in New Salem. But when the Seven killed Agatha, her astral form gave Scarlet Witch some terrible but empathetic advice. This advice ties directly into the upcoming WandaVision series.
During 1985’s The Vision and Scarlet Witch vol. 2 #3, the unusual couple share a romantic stroll by an idyllic lake when they accidentally stumble upon New Salem. Waylaid by the witch coven known as the Salem Seven—who recently killed Agatha—the Vision and Wanda fight back, distracting them from their conversation about the potential for them to have children. But when Wanda uses the magic her mentor taught her to channel the Seven’s power into Hex Magic, she sees an apparition of Harkness who tells her not to just channel the magic but to “use it.” Wanda takes this as a hint to use the magic to create the children that she and Vision long for so much. By the next issue, she was pregnant with Billy and Tommy, the babies we see in the trailer.
The Truth about Billy and Tommy
Agatha wasn’t just key to the creation of the kids, though. In the West Coast Avengers series she reappeared, alive, in issue #51. It was a response to Wanda’s deteriorating mental health and the twins’ ever-weirder behavior. In a heartbreaking moment, we discover Billy and Tommy are actually shards of Mephisto’s soul. We know that the demonic character is a likely contender for the big bad in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so it would make sense that they play into that aspect here. In an attempt to help Wanda get over this terrible truth, Agatha wipes the heroes’ memory of her sons and her former husband Vision which had massive ramifications on the Marvel Universe as we know it.
Her actions gradually drove Wanda mad. Combined with her grief over the apparent loss of her children, Wanda eventually became a woman deranged which destroyed the Avengers. All of this led her father Magneto and brother Quicksilver manipulating Wanda into erasing all but 198 mutants in the aftermath of House of M. That controversial Brian Bendis and Oliver Copiel arc will almost certainly be a part of Wanda’s future in the MCU as it concerns multiple realities, timelines, and versions of the Marvel Universe, which we know will come into play in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. Could we see those realities created in WandaVision? Establishing the multiverses that will come into play in the sequel?
Why Does She Matter?
Harkness is a key part of Wanda’s life and lore. From teaching her about her powers to the conception of her children and later the mind wipe that drove her mad, Agatha has always had a hand in Wanda’s most defining moments. In the trailer we see Hahn as a meddling neighbor who seems to know far more than she’s letting on. She even wears a witch’s hat at one moment, hinting at her powers in the comics. WandaVision‘s version of Agatha might not be your standard witch, but with Doctor Strange already introducing magic into the MCU, it wouldn’t be too crazy for them to go the magical route with Hahn’s version of the character.
Whichever way they represent her powers, it’s clear she’s going to play with the fate of both Wanda and Vision. Something interesting about the trailer is how it skips between time; not only is it a fun visual bit, but it could also hint at something bigger going on. We know in the comics, Agatha wipes Wanda’s mind to help her get over the grief of her children not being real; could the show be Wanda trying to recreate her memories that have already been wiped? Or even a new dimension Wanda has created to have the life she always wanted after the death of Vision? And if so, did Agatha help her create it and is now trying to warn Wanda and her hubby about the truth of their situation?
The introduction of the Young Avengers is also at play here. Billy and Tommy are both founding members of the group under the names Wiccan and Speed. And viewers will need to understand how the pair can go from figments of Wanda’s imagination into fully functioning heroes. Agatha’s magic could be an easy shortcut to making that part of WandaVision come to life.
Agatha Could Also be a Way of introducing the Fantastic Four…
This is mostly my Fantastic Four conspiracy theorist coming out; seeing as Agatha was first introduced via Marvel’s first family, it doesn’t seem too crazy. We know that Hahn is playing a meddling neighbor. As the twins are clearly a key part of the show, maybe Hahn will be introduced as a nanny? Just like she was in the Fantastic Four. And if that’s the case then it’s pretty likely she might mention some of her former employers. WandaVision could easily introduce Reed and Sue with a name check or even a little visual nod like something on Baxter Building stationary. It does seem like a smooth way for the Fantastic Four to be introduced into the wider world of the MCU before whatever happens next.
Featured Image: Marvel
Originally published on September 21, 2020.