Nightmare could be the secret villain of WandaVision before the character's rumored role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Marvel Studios is expanding the empire of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the small screen through Disney+. They're developing multiple live-action shows with some kind of direct ties to the movies. Marvel confirmed all of these plans this summer at San Diego Comic-Con and D23.
While several of these series' may set up future MCU films, WandaVision is the only one confirmed at this point. After starring in the series, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) will take on a significant role in Doctor Strange 2 in 2021. What role she has to play in the story hasn't bee revealed yet, but it will see her and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) presumably work together. As implied by the title, the sequel is expected to properly explore the multiverse, with the villainous Nightmare expected as the primary antagonist of the film. But, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased WandaVision will directly set up the story of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The exact details of how this will be done aren't confirmed, but many theories have tied Scarlet Witch to the reason behind the madness of the multiverse. While this very well may be the case, there is an added possibility that will link the stories of WandaVision and Doctor Strange 2 together. We think Nightmare could be the villain of the Disney+ series too - and Marvel may have even secretly announced the role.
Scarlet Witch Will Alter Reality in WandaVision
From what we do know about WandaVision, it is clear that the series will deal with Scarlet Witch altering reality in some form. It will continue Wanda's storyline after what has been a trying few years. She was partially responsible for the deaths of many in Lagos after not being able to contain Crossbones' blast, which ultimately led to her being a fugitive. Then in Avengers: Infinity War, she had to come to terms with killing Vision so Thanos couldn't win, only to see the Mad Titan reverse time so he could pluck the Mind Stone from Vision's head. As a result, Vision was not among the heroes who were brought back when Hulk snapped his fingers.
Even though he is dead, Vision will return in WandaVision. Concept art for the series teased the film's 1950s approach and how Wanda may have messed with reality to make it seem like he is still around. This idea is something that has been dealt with in the comics before, with the suburban lifestyle story recently given to Vision on Tom King's run. Older stories have seen Wanda create an entire family for her and Vision, with her creating twin superpowered boys Wiccan and Speed, who go on to become Young Avengers. As much as WandaVision may make it look as though this lifestyle and happiness are for the best, many suspect that Wanda will lose it all in some way by the time the series ends.
There are a few possibilities for how or why this could happen. After messing with reality to this level, she may lose her grip on it and not be able to maintain the illusion. There is also the potential for Wanda to learn that she shouldn't have altered reality to this level to keep Vision around and once again comes to terms with having to leave him behind. But, there is also another possibility that could see this life be ripped away from her.
Theory: Nightmare Could Ruin Wanda's New Life
The MCU has only loosely established what Wanda can do, but they've never shown her alter reality to this degree before. With an undefined power set, WandaVision could use her ability to show people visions/nightmares of the future to explain this new altered life she creates. It is even possible, if not likely, that it could all be in her head. Whether it is in her head or actually happening in the real world, Scarlet Witch could unknowingly tap into a power she hasn't before to create this life, such as the power of the Dream Dimension.
The Dream Dimension in Marvel Comics is another realm that is comprised of the collective human unconscious and has sub-realms within it. One of the most notable domains is Nightmare World, which is ruled by the powerful demon fittingly named Nightmare. He has spent decades tormenting Marvel heroes like Spider-Man and Hulk in the comics by invading their dreams, but he is also one of Doctor Strange's biggest foes. In WandaVision, Nightmare could invade this alternate reality or even help create it.
Nightmare's plan could be to help Scarlet Witch establish this altered reality only to rip it away from her at the perfect time. To do this, Nightmare would need to keep a close eye on Wanda, possibly making Kathryn Hahn's mysterious "nosy neighbor" role in WandaVision a perfect fit for Nightmare. This could then cause Wanda to break open the multiverse out of anger, grief, or a combination of many emotions. In this instance, Nightmare could then potentially be free to terrorize humanity - or even the universe - on a larger scale.
How This Sets Up Doctor Strange 2
If Nightmare secretly is the villain of WandaVision, then the series will prove even more important in setting up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness than previously suspected. The series will obviously set up where Wanda is at mentally when she re-appears in the sequel, but it could also give her the history with the movie's main villain. It would also provide Scarlet Witch clearly defined motivations for Doctor Strange 2. Avengers: Endgame showed how she almost beat Thanos by herself out of anger towards Thanos. If Nightmare potentially takes an entire family away from her, there's no telling what she would want to do to the demon.
Not only would WandaVision then be responsible for setting up Scarlet Witch for the sequel, but it could also be used to introduce Doctor Strange 2's main villain. Marvel Studios has used other movies to set up how Loki and Thanos could be bigger villains in the future, but this would be a new way of doing the same practice for Nightmare. The sequel will still need to explain aspects of the character so general audiences who don't watch the series are up to speed though. But, WandaVision could otherwise give diehard MCU fans more context on the character's plans and history. And, if our prediction of Kathryn Hahn playing Nightmare is correct, then Marvel may have already secretly cast the role.
But, all of this could also be used to explain how Doctor Strange gets involved in this story. Many have hoped that he will help train Wanda and teach her to control her powers, but her history with Nightmare would then make it clear why she is the ideal hero paired with Strange in the sequel. Regardless of how Strange learns of Nightmare's plans, Wanda could be an invaluable partner for the Sorcerer Supreme to have should WandaVision establish a history between them.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022