After a season full of sitcom hilarity, WandaVision took a sharp turn in the final two episodes as the magical mysteries were uncovered. Agatha Harkness introduced Wanda to the Darkhold, revealing her true nature as the Scarlet Witch. Having defeated the Salem witch, Wanda began studying and growing corrupted by the Darkhold, leading to her recent villainous turn in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
In her pursuit of finding her children from across the Multiverse, Wanda used the Darkhold for an assortment of nefarious purposes, including Dream-walking into the body of her Earth-838 self to attack the Illuminati and Doctor Strange. Ultimately, Scarlet Witch eventually realized her corruption and set things right, destroying the book with it.
Multiverse of Madness finally answered many of the questions fans had about the Darkhold after WandaVision, including explaining the origin of the book. While the Darkhold has only proven central to the blockbuster side of Marvel in the last year, its history on-screen doesn't start there as it previously appeared in two Marvel TV series in a major way.
The Darkhold's Role in Marvel TV
The Darkhold came into play in Agents of SHIELD Season 4 after a group of scientists became corrupted by the book during their studies. The ancient book was later used by Holden Radcliffe and his AI Aida to enhance their Framework virtual reality, within which they trapped several members of the team. Aida later used the book to make herself a fully human body, eventually leading to her face-off against Ghost Rider who managed to defeat her before returning the Darkhold to the Dark Dimension.
Runaways villain Morgan le Fay later managed to get her hands on the Darkhold, planning to use the book to merge Earth with the Dark Dimension. The Runaways were, fortunately, able to defeat her and used the Darkhold to imprison her within the Dark Dimension. After that, things get a little messy, as the book somehow ended up in the possession of Agatha Harkness.
Neither WandaVision nor Multiverse of Madness delivered an explanation of how the Darkhold got from the Runaways to Harkness in the six years between the two. Many took this as an indication Agents of SHIELD and Runaways are not canon to the MCU, something which was only furthered by the drastic difference in appearance between the two.
Fans took this as just the latest of many indications the Marvel TV series doesn't take place in the same timeline or universe as the MCU movies and Disney+ series. However, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may have offered an explanation for why the two books look so different.
How Doctor Strange 2 Fixes the Darkhold Problem
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness revealed the Darkhold was initially transcribed from carvings of the demon Chthon's dark magic spells, found in a castle atop Mount Wundagore in Eastern Europe, which also served as the demon's resting place.
Chthon inscribed the Darkhold onto the walls of the castle which was built to serve as a throne for the prophesied Scarlet Witch and as a canvas to bear his spells upon. The temple was guarded by the monstrous demon guards known as the Knights of Chthon - who strongly resemble the Chthon's comic appearance.
The ancient book of the damned was believed to have roots in the Dark Dimension and to be created from dark matter, with its origins believed to be in the early days of bookmaking. With the Darkhold in the MCU simply being a transcription of Chthon's original spells, this may explain the difference between the book's two designs.
Who's to say there was only one transcription of the Darkhold? After all, the transcriptions have been sat atop Mount Wundagore for centuries, possibly even millennia. There's no doubt Wong and Scarlet Witch weren't the first people to manage the dangerous journey up the mountain, maybe previous visitors made their own attempts at transcribing the spells.
If this were to be the case, there may well be more than one Darkhold floating around the MCU. Of course, the movies and series will almost certainly never address Agents of SHIELD's Darkhold, but this theory offers one potential explanation for its existence that avoids canonicity issues.
The real-world explanation behind the difference has previously been offered by WandaVision's showrunner and director. The creatives from the Disney+ series confirmed they created the Darkhold anew without examining previous designs, partially due to a lack of knowledge of Agents of SHIELD and Runaways.
Is the MCU Done with the Darkhold?
With the final battle of Multiverse of Madness, Scarlet Witch realized the actions she had taken under the corruption of the Darkhold and decided to make amends. Standing atop Mount Wundagore, Wanda used a blast of her Chaos Magic power to destroy the Book of the Damned across every dimension, topping Earth-616's Darkhold Temple with it and making the ultimate sacrifice.
By all accounts, the ancient book and all copies of it appear to be gone, but that's not to say its power is. The Darkhold has never been a source of power within the comics, but rather an outlet to channel Chthon's magic. Given this knowledge, there remains a possibility that Chthon and his magic may return in some way, but the Darkhold itself is likely gone for good. After all, now that the stories of WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness have come to an end, there is no current need for the Darkhold.
If the Darkhold in Multiverse of Madness is the same book found in Agents of SHIELD, as opposed to a copy, then it's unfortunate that fans never got an answer as to how the book got to Agatha Harkness got her hands on the book. That being said, the Darkhold has had a complicated history in the MCU as it is already. Runaways never offered any explanation as to how the book got from being in Ghost Rider's possession in the Dark Dimension into the hands of Morgan le Fay for her villainous plot.
Perhaps more answers surrounding the Darkhold may lie in the Agatha: House of Harkness Disney+ series which is expected to be coming to Disney+ between late 2023 and early 2024. But for now, WandaVision is streaming now on Disney+, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still playing in theaters around the world.