Agatha All Along
Kathryn Hahn’s WandaVision character finally gets to be the star of her own Disney+ show.
Agatha Harkness stole the show in WandaVision in more ways than one, especially with the announcement that the character, played by Kathryn Hahn, is getting a Disney+ spinoff series.
Many long-term Marvel fans greeted the announcement with some confusion. Of all the characters that have appeared in Marvel Comics’ massive back catalog across 80+ years, Agatha is far from the obvious choice for a leading lady. A longtime supporting cast member for both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, she’s never headlined her own comic series.
Thankfully, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have an arch-enemy all of her own — or a fantastic story that’s ready to be brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Originally introduced in the ‘70s as the nanny to Franklin Richards, the son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, Fantastic Four #94 immediately revealed Agatha to be a witch, mainly as a plot device to reassure the Fantastic Four (and readers) that Franklin was safe from whatever superhuman threat happened to be around.
It would take seven years for Agatha to be given any backstory all of her own, but Fantastic Four issues #184 through #186 proved to be well worth the wait, and then some.
Investigating the apparent kidnapping of Franklin and Agatha, the Fantastic Four ultimately discover the town of New Salem, as well as the city’s mayor, Nicholas Scratch — only to almost immediately discover that New Salem is actually no regular city, but instead a one filled with gothic architecture, where everyone wears cloaks and follows Scratch and his so-called “Satan-Staff” because, of course, they’re all witches. (“New Salem” should have been a clue, let’s be honest.)
As luck and the plot would have it, Nicholas Scratch was behind the disappearance of Agatha and Franklin. Scratch kidnapped Agatha to stand trial for treason… which is where the fun really begins.
As Scratch melodramatically explains, New Salem was formed explicitly in response to the Salem Witch Trials, as a community made up solely of witches who have abandoned humanity. In the eyes of Scratch, Agatha’s crime wasn’t just that she’d left the city and rejoined humanity or even that she’d done so after being the former leader of the town. It was how, in a roundabout fashion, she’d allowed humanity to discover the existence of New Salem via the Fantastic Four searching for her.
Of course, things don’t work out for Nicholas Scratch; they never do for anyone fighting the Fantastic Four in a series called Fantastic Four. After it’s revealed that he kidnapped Franklin Richards along with Agatha, thereby bringing the Four to his doorstep, the New Salem witches banish Scratch, and he disappears into another realm. At the end, Agatha reveals the story’s final secret: Scratch is her son.
If the introduction of an entire city made up of witches out for revenge against Agatha Harkness — led by her own son — isn’t the kind of thing that you think would make a great Disney+ show, then there are two immediate responses. Firstly, what is wrong with you? Secondly, don’t worry; there’s even more.
As Fantastic Four #186 reveals, Scratch doesn’t just have a city of regular witches to back him up — he also has a team of mutant supervillain witches called Salem’s Seven, all of whom happen to be Nicholas Scratch’s children and, therefore, Agatha Harkness’ grandchildren.
What’s great about Salem’s Seven is that they are utterly generic for the most part. Taking their abilities from the natural world, they each have unique looks and names — Brutacus looks like a lion, Reptilla is a snake woman, and so on. But because they only ever appear as a group of seven villains with a unified goal, they’re ultimately interchangeable and enjoyably cartoonish as a threat.
What could be more fun than seven beast people who also happen to be witches and yet can’t help but get their butts handed to them on almost every occasion? They’re the running joke that keeps on giving every single time.
Putting aside, for a second, the inherent comedy of Salem’s Seven or the greatness of the name “Nicholas Scratch” — it references two different nicknames for the devil! — there’s a lot of potential in bringing this particular comic book storyline into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
WandaVision has already laid the groundwork for the story of Agatha’s past, so bringing New Salem in to unpack that further would only make sense, and adding her son (and potentially grandchildren) as antagonists would create personal stakes for Agatha almost immediately.
Agatha going to trial for treason against all of witch-kind simply because she wanted to live amongst humans works dramatically. It makes her easier to empathize with, giving the audience a greater evil to root against without necessarily having to redeem Agatha for her WandaVision antics. Furthermore, bringing in an entire community of witches offers Marvel the opportunity to define the rules of magic ahead of future projects featuring either Scarlet Witch or Doctor Strange.
Of course, Marvel might want to go in an entirely different direction and create a show that’s more focused on setting up upcoming movies or other Disney+ shows. That, too, wouldn’t be out of character for Agatha Harkness, whose comics career has been spent almost entirely in supporting roles for more prominent names. But on this rare occurrence where Agatha gets some time in the spotlight, why not make a point of telling the story that’s closest to her heart?
Of course, the MCU doesn’t have a Fantastic Four just yet; someone else will be needed to fill their roles on screen. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Elizabeth Olsen repay Kathryn Hahn’s guest appearances in WandaVision with some cameos of her own to stir up trouble in the to-be-titled Agatha Harkness series?
Marvel has not announced a release date for the Agatha Harkness Disney+ series.
Agatha All Along