Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The newest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduces one of the most powerful magical artifacts from the comic books, The Book of Vishanti. But with the Darkhold, another powerful magical book, being in the film, we have to ask which artifact is more powerful, the Darkhold or the Book of Vishanti? Be warned as spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be discussed in depth.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which was directed by Sam Raimi, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, and introduces Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. The film features both artifacts, the Book of Vishanti and the Darkhold as important plot devices, so let’s delve into how they are used in the film before comparing their power.
The Darkhold was introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Wandavision as it was the evil magical book, often referred to as the book of the damned, that was in the possession of Agatha Harkness. Once Agatha had been defeated, Wanda retreated to an isolated cabin in the woods where she consulted the Darkhold. The evil book revealed Billy and Tommy’s voices coming from another universe, and this is most likely what spurred Wanda to try and capture America Chavez and steal her ability to travel through the multiverse to be with her children. As she used the Darkhold she became corrupted by it, which is why she was villainous in Multiverse of Madness and was willing to kill people to get what she wanted.
Wanda uses the Darkhold throughout Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and performs evil magical acts with it. While she was the Scarlet Witch and already quite powerful before she used the book, her power was no doubt amplified by the Darkhold which made her unstoppable, and able to obliterate half of Kamar-Taj. America Chavez arrived in the main Marvel universe, which was later dubbed 616, after Wanda’s forces caught up with her and Defender Strange in the world between the universes. She was able to give Wong and Strange an idea of how to defeat the forces after her, which turned out to be Wanda.
America Chavez brought up that she and Defender Strange were trying to acquire the Book of Vishanti, an extremely powerful book that could grant the wielder the power to defeat any enemy. The book served as the antithesis to the Darkhold, the book of the damned, as the Book of Vishanti was the book of ultimate good. Doctor Strange first brushed the Book of Vishanti off as a myth, until Wong, who was now Sorcerer Supreme, confirmed that the book did exist but that it was said to be unreachable.
While Doctor Strange and America Chavez tried to search for the Book of Vishanti in another universe, Wanda had a problem of her own. The sorcerer Sara managed to destroy the Darkhold while Wanda was using it to dreamwalk in the other universe. Wanda threatened to kill the remaining sorcerers of Kamar-Taj so Wong revealed that the now destroyed Darkhold was a simple copy, a transcription of the original Darkhold which was carved into a dark ancient temple. Once Wanda ventured there she returned to the other universe by dreamwalking into her alternate body.
When Doctor Strange, America Chavez, and an alternate version of Christine Palmer finally found the Book of Vishanti their celebrations were short-lived as Wanda caught up with them and promptly destroyed the book. But was the Book of Vishanti only destroyed because of the Darkhold and does that mean the Darkhold is the stronger artifact? Let’s judge how powerful the books are based on how they were used in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The Darkhold was used by multiple different people throughout Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, all to varying results. The most powerful use of the Darkhold was when a version of Doctor Strange who was corrupted by the Darkhold, caused an incursion. An incursion is explained in the film as a universe clashing into another in the multiverse resulting in a sort of half-world, where the reality of both universes converges into one killing of their inhabitants.
The Darkhold is also not only used by Wanda to become stronger and improve her magical abilities in general, but she also used it to dreamwalk, which is an ability that cannot be used without the Darkhold. More impressively, and perhaps further proving the Darkhold’s power, Doctor Strange dreamwalks into the 616 universe and because there is no Doctor Strange in that universe at that moment, he dreamwalks into the dead Defender Strange, effectively turning him into a zombie.
Strange also manages to use demonic souls, called the Souls of the Damned, who are warning him that controlling the dead is against the rules, but that might be an example of Strange’s power not the Darkhold’s. Either way, the Darkhold was an item of immense power and that was shown many times throughout Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The Book of Vishanti on the other hand, barely had any presence in the film, as it was only shown to be used once, and that was offscreen. When Doctor Strange encounters the Illuminati, they mention that the Book of Vishanti was used to defeat Thanos in their world. This would therefore mean that the Book of Vishanti was more powerful than Thanos who presumably had the Infinity Stones in that universe. We could infer that the Book of Vishanti is therefore one of the most powerful weapons in the MCU.
However, the Book of Vishanti was dispatched quite easily by Wanda who was using the Darkhold. But Doctor Strange had only just opened the book and he had not begun to use it, so he could not use its power to defend the book. It’s also worth noting that the Book of Vishanti in the comic books was used for defensive purposes only, so the book would have been useful in defending against Wanda at the very least. If the book essentially granted omnipotence to its user in order to defeat whatever enemy they are facing, it seems unlikely that the Darkhold, which does have limits, would be more powerful than the Book of Vishanti.
The biggest difference between the two books is that seemingly every universe contains a copy of The Darkhold whereas there is seemingly only one Book of Vishanti in the entire multiverse. It seems like an infinite number of Darkholds might add up to more than one Book of Vishanti and beat it in just sheer numbers. But if you were to weigh up the power of both books one versus the other, it seems like the Book of Vishanti would win out. Because it is doubtful that Wanda would have survived her encounter with the book if she had not destroyed it first.
So while both books are powerful it does seem that the one that got the less screen time, The Book of Vishanti, is the superior and more powerful artifact in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Hopefully, the book makes a return in a future Marvel project as not seeing the Book of Vishanti used on screen seems like a waste of one of the most powerful artifacts in Marvel Comics and in Doctor Strange lore.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in theatres now.