‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’: Demystifying the Darkhold and Book of Vishanti
Understanding the mystic tomes at the center of the blockbuster.
Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. In Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange learns of the Darkhold, the Book of the Damned, and its antithesis, the Book of Vishanti — two mystic tomes with deep implications for the Multiverse.
At the end of Marvel Studios' WandaVision, Wanda learns about the prophecy of The Scarlet Witch from Agatha Harkness, which revealed The Scarlet Witch possesses greater power than the Sorcerer Supreme. Wanda walks away from WestView with the Darkhold, a powerful grimoire full of eldritch magic, in hopes of finding a way of reuniting with her family within its pages.
Upon learning Wanda’s ascension as The Scarlet Witch, Wong explains, “The Scarlet Witch is a being of unfathomable magic. She can rewrite reality as she chooses and is prophesied to either rule or annihilate the cosmos.”
Sinister Strange cautions Doctor Strange, “The Darkhold exacts a heavy toll.” It’s this dark tome that propels the film forward as its contents corrupts Wanda Maximoff into searching for a universe where she exists with her children, Billy and Tommy, without care of any consequence. Wanda adamantly states, "The Darkhold only showed me the truth. Everything I lost can be mine again."
Marvel.com had the opportunity to speak to the creative team behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on the true nature of the Darkhold and the Book of Vishanti.
WHAT IS THE DARKHOLD?
According to film co-producer Richie Palmer, “This is the book of ultimate evil. There is a chapter about Wanda The Scarlet Witch.”
“With Sam Raimi at the helm, we were definitely going to have some fun with some magical books, good and bad,” explained Palmer. “We set up the Darkhold in WandaVision as an ultimate tool of evil.”
Film writer Michael Waldron added, “The Darkhold was introduced as this terrible force in WandaVision, and Wanda walked away from that show with it.” On the decision of Wanda’s level of corruption by the dark tome, Waldron noted, “[Following WandaVision,] you’re wondering what’s going to happen now? Something we were very excited about was that audiences might expect that Wanda’s corruption at the hands of the Darkhold is going to take a long time, and maybe that’s what this movie is about — her slow corruption. To me, what felt like the boldest choice was, ‘What if that’s happened already? Why let another movie have the fun of an evil Wanda?’ So the Darkhold was a handy little trick for her getting to a place where she was evil enough, or at least, consumed by her own selfish wants enough to do some pretty terrible things in our movie and make her a worthy antagonist.”
During the film, while The Scarlet Witch is distracted performing a spell from the back pages of the Darkhold, Sara, a sorcerer at the Kamar-Taj, rushes up to the Darkhold and destroys it, destroying herself in the process as well. Enraged, Wanda tortures Wong, who reveals that the destroyed Darkhold was only a mere copy. The original Darkhold had its spells etched into the walls of Mount Wundagore by the evil entity Chthon. It is at Mount Wundagore that Wanda discovers a throne for The Scarlet Witch with massive demons protecting the location — the source of the Darkhold’s powers.
“We find out that where there is evil, there is good,” shared Palmer. “Where there is ultimate evil, there’s ultimate good.”
WHAT IS THE BOOK OF VISHANTI?
“On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Book of Vishanti,” explained Palmer. “It exists in the space between universes, and is not for any one sorcerer to wield or keep as their own. The Darkhold has the quality about it where you want to possess it and you want to keep it. The Book of Vishanti is the opposite. It’s for everyone and all sorcerers. It’s a magical book that gives— if you’re good, it will give you the power you need to defeat any bad. It will fight the Darkhold; it is good, and it is pure.”
As Doctor Strange and America Chavez travel to another universe, Earth-838, they learn the Illuminati defeated Thanos in their universe with the aid of the Book of Vishanti. With The Scarlet Witch trailing them, Strange, America, and 838’s Christine Palmer seek out the book and its power.
However, as quickly as it’s introduced, it’s destroyed within the film. “You see what happens to the Book of Vishanti,” laughed Waldron. “We blow it to hell. I was so excited to do that.”
ON DESIGNING THE TWO TOMES
The creative team pulled inspiration for its designs from its comic book counterparts. “It’s just cool to bring them to life from the comics, and to work with our production designer Charlie Wood,” explained Palmer. To ensure the Darkhold was consistent with the one introduced in WandaVision, Palmer added, “We worked with Russell Bobbit, who’s the prop master and father of all of the greatest props in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to make sure it had the same throughline, which is really cool.”
“When you look at both books together, the Darkhold and Book of Vishanti, visually, you could see that they’re the antithesis of one another,” remarked Palmer. “It was very cool working with those two books, and it was also very cool destroying both in our movie.
ON THE FUTURE WITHOUT EITHER MYTHICAL BOOK
Palmer concluded, “It’s really exciting that we introduced these books, and then they got destroyed. What does that mean for the Multiverse? You have the greatest power of good and the greatest power of evil, as far as the Masters of the Mystic Arts are concerned. They’re used to their fullest in this movie, and then they’re destroyed.”
“Wanda destroyed both,” continued Palmer. “There was one pure source of good, the Book of Vishanti, which lived in the space between each universe, and one pure source of evil, the Darkhold. At the end of the movie, Wanda destroyed the Darkhold in all universes.”
“Does that mean there is only one well of good in all of the Multiverse, and one well of evil, and Wanda cut off the links to both of them? The hole that leaves going forward, who knows what that can bring?”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+!
Witness the mind-bending alternate realities of the Multiverse when Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuts on all major Digital platforms June 22 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on July 26.
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