If someone can search the infinite multiverse for their missing children it’s only logical to assume they’d also look for their dead husband in other worlds. But that’s not what Wanda Maximoff did in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Not a single Vision Variant appeared in the movie, as the Scarlet Witch never tried finding the synthetic humanoid she loves. On the surface that might seem like a bizarre oversight by the film. However, there is a legitimate storyline reason she didn’t: the Darkhold didn’t want her to. And understanding why better explains what went wrong with Wanda once she began studying that sinister tome.
While watching Multiverse of Madness it was impossible not to wonder why Vision barely merited a single mention in the film, let alone Wanda’s complete indifference to his existence. The grief from losing Vision drove her to imprison a whole town of innocent people in Westview in WandaVision. Yet, she didn’t spend a single thought on being with him again this time. Her only goal was to reunite with Billy and Tommy no matter the cost.
Elizabeth Olsen herself has tried to explain the reason behind that decision. Collider asked Olsen if anyone at Marvel provided the rational for why Wanda never looked for Vision. They didn’t, but she tried to make sense of it, along with why she didn’t seek out her dead parents or brother either.
I think the main reason when we would talk about if there is this multiverse, and in the version of the universe this woman wasn’t with Vision. We liked having that be a mystery. For some reason he’s not in her world. I always thought of her as more of a domestic Wanda. They got divorced. They’re separated. She’s not wearing a wedding band for a reason. Like those kinds of things. We liked the idea of her being on her own. The idea really is that the most important thing once you become a mother in the world are your children, and that’s why.
That doesn’t actually address the question every moviegoer had during and after Multiverse of Madness. That explains why a Wanda Variant in a parallel world doesn’t have Vision in her life. But it doesn’t explain why the Wanda of Earth-616 didn’t want him back. But WandaVision‘s post-credits scene and Multiverse of Madness do.
Agatha Harkness said the Darkhold is also known as “The Book of the Damned.” And Doctor Strange 2 made clear what fate awaits those who read it. That book, created by the evil Elder God Chthon, corrupts anyone who studies it and uses its dark forbidden magic. That’s exactly what happened to both prime Wanda and two Strange Variants.
The last time we saw her before Doctor Strange 2 Wanda was deep into her work with the Darkhold. She had so completely committed to mastering the book she used her astral form to read while her physical form enjoyed a cup of tea. And in WandaVision‘s final moment we saw how the Darkhold was already setting her down the dark path she followed in Multiverse of Madness. She heard her missing boys call out to her for help.
Despite having atoned for her actions at the end of WandaVision, Wanda was already a villain when Strange went to her for help. But the specificity of her objective in Doctor Strange 2 shows exactly how the Darkhold used her for its own nefarious goals. She originally heard what she perceived as her specific children—the ones she created in Westview—calling out to her. But in the film she was seeking out any version of them, even though she knew the kids had their own Wanda Mom Variant. If your kid is trapped in a burning building you don’t go running into a different house, grab someone else’s child, and think you’ve saved your own. Yet Wanda saw no difference in doing just that, because the Darkhold manipulated her into not seeing a difference.
Who or what Wanda heard at the end of WandaVision is unclear. Major questions about Billy and Tommy remain unanswered. (Were her versions ever real? Do they still exist in some hidden dimension? If they aren’t real how do their Variants exist in other worlds?) But there’s no question why Wanda heard them. As Agatha once told her, the Darkhold— created inside a throne built specifically for Wanda—says the Scarlet Witch is destined to destroy the world. And Wanda gaining America Chavez’s powers would have led to that. It’s why Defender Strange was willing to kill America in the film’s opening scene. He thought it was the only way to save everyone in the multiverse.
Wanda’s “madness” over finding replacement children and keeping them safe drove her to do the Darkhold’s bidding. It made a good person murder anyone who stood in her way. But finding Vision, her brother Pietro, or her parents, would have complicated that demonic book’s ultimate goal. Any of them could have appealed to Wanda’s better side. Her husband did exactly that on WandaVision, when he tried to confront her about Westview. Even thinking about “Vis” during her quest to master the multiverse might have stopped Wanda from continuing down that corrupted path. And someone reminding her of who she really ultimately stopped her. Seeing Billy and Tommy cower in fear from her ended the book’s hold over her.
Until that moment Wanda only did what the Darkhold wanted her to do. And that book did not want Wanda even thinking about Vision so she didn’t. The book thought it only needed to weaponize her grief, despair, and desperation as a mother to get what it wanted. Fortunately for the entire multiverse the Darkhold never realized that the very same love for her children that drove her to darkness would also bring her back from it.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.