With WandaVision and Loki, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has firmly stamped its runes on all things occult, much as it did with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel, which embraced its more interplanetary paradigms. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to go even deeper into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s mysterious lore and enchant audiences.
The following is a quick rundown of how the many realms of magic behave and interact within the constraints of the accepted MCU canon so far, and how their differences inform the multiverse characters that audiences are familiar with.
Asgardian magic is essentially technomancy, and technomancers are its practitioners in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a hybrid of arcanum and super-science, or science so sophisticated that it appears to be magic. The Asgardians, or Aesir, referred to it as a soul forge, a device that transmits molecular energy from one location to another, but Foster termed it a quantum field generator. Odin also revealed the qualities of relics, ancient magical artefacts that retain huge quantities of power, including a handful that existed before the known cosmos, known as the Infinity Stones, in addition to these marvels of magecraft.
The Sorcerer Supreme and their acolytes use Eldritch magic on Earth. Though everyone who applies intense study can access its nearly unlimited reservoirs, certain people are born with a natural predisposition for the mental rigours required to tap into them. Whereas the Aesir’s magic is primarily focused on the person, Eldritch Magic is significantly more flexible and adaptive, yet it is far less potent, with a few exceptions. The flexibility of earthborn relics reflects this.
Although Eldritch Magic draws energy from other dimensions, there are some realms where the energies are so vile or tied to such a great force of nature that metaphysical contact is forbidden. One such area is the Dark Dimension, which is home to the ageless creature known as Dormammu. Most people associate touch with the Dark Dimension with a deal with Dormammu, but great sorcerers like the Ancient One are capable of diverting large quantities of energy unnoticed for generations.
Chaos Magic is the capacity to access mystical energies through reflexive instinct without the use of verbal or bodily components, and it is possessed by only one individual in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the Scarlet Witch. Her magical authority extends to casting probability hexes to influence the future in minute ways and influencing reality itself on a grand scale. The Scarlet Witch is a legendary creature whose abilities were strengthened by the Mind Stone and who was thought to be beyond even the Sorcerer Supreme’s control.
The Darkhold is a book of dark matter magic written in Hell that contains endless knowledge. It, like contact with the Dark Dimension, has a corrupting effect, comparable to Tolkien’s One Ring. The pages are malleable, looking blank to some but inked in their original tongue to those with talent, revealing long-sought secrets and the possibility of endless damnation.