How does magic work in the MCU? Marvel’s Mystical Beings, Explained
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of miraculous feats. Technological advancements we could only dream of have made men and women heroes and villains, but technology isn’t the only tool to create Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Magic has also created legendary characters like Thor, Doctor Strange, and Scarlet Witch, along with other big names in the MCU. Unlike technology, however, magic is something that is only shaped as an idea in our minds. While we might not have a hard time believing that an actual Iron Man costume could be made with enough time and money, very few people would officially say that it is possible to develop supernatural powers. . Can such an abstract concept really be explained, and how does the MCU attempt to deal with such explanations?
The most important takeaway from the MCU and its explanation of magic is that it varies. Neither method is concrete, and it seems that several explanations of magic can be simultaneously correct. For example, Black Panther uses the astral plane, something which is inherently magical but not fully explained. Despite the lack of an explanation, it exists canonically, and its existence is not hampered by the explanations of magic in other films, and those explanations do not necessarily clarify how the astral plane exists. A similar plane of existence is seen in the end of Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos (Josh brolin) finds himself in an ethereal realm with a young Gamora (Ariana Greenblatt), but it is not explained if these two realms have a connection, and Thanos is seen right after being exactly where he was on Earth. So, although they are both canonical and act the same, these two magical planes of existence are probably completely separate. To put it simply: Magic is unrelated to some form of existence. It can manifest itself in various ways, and these ways can coexist without depending on each other.
The first time the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced magic to its canon was in 2011 Thor. The film centers on the divine being Thor (Chris hemsworth) and his stay on Earth after being hunted by his father Odin (Anthony hopkins). While the movie itself doesn’t explain much about how Thor’s powers work, it does note at one point that what we on Earth call magic and science is the same where it came from. For him, there is no real difference between the two. It helps us understand how magic is perceived by those who use it all the time, and it is important when trying to understand what magic is. So, for Thor, understanding how his brother can manifest in different forms is like understanding a scientist’s ability to spontaneously detonate two liquids upon contact with each other.
Another big time the MCU introduces us to magical beings is Avengers: Age of Ultron with the presentation of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Elizabeth olsen and Aaron Taylor Johnson, respectively). These two develop supernatural abilities after being exposed to the Mind Stone during experiments conducted by HYDRA. Their abilities are related to an object of mystical power, and so it is the Mind Stone itself that is the source of magical energy. While they don’t need to use the Mind Stone as a source of energy to use their powers, it is still proof that magical abilities can be bestowed upon those who were otherwise powerless before. Canonically, in the MCU, magic is both something that can be granted to users and something that can be harnessed by those with innate magical properties such as Thor. While it is true that Thor had to learn and understand how magic is used, it is also true that he was born with magic in himself, just as we can understand science but we are always born with presence. science innate in us through cells and chemical reactions and kinds.
Without a doubt, the most in-depth explanation for the presence of magic within the MCU has to come from the movie. Doctor strange. In a scene from the film, the Elder (Tilda swinton) explains to Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) how they harness and use magic. To them, spells are created as follows: “We harness energy drawn from other dimensions of the multiverse to cast spells, to conjure shields and weapons … to do magic.” The Elder describes spells as being synonymous with programs, “… the source code that shapes reality.”
In this way, it is explained that spells are not necessarily usable only by those who are endowed with innate magical properties, but by anyone with sufficient time and practice with the arts. This similarly matches the intended concept for Wanda’s ability to use magic, although in her storyline, magic was not learned but rather granted through experimentation. In order for Stephen Strange to become as powerful with magic as he is portrayed in later films, he had to study and practice a multitude of spells and rituals. It’s the same concept as someone who goes to college for something like biology. The more one learns from a subject, the more its capacity to implement and use that subject increases. Where the similarity perhaps ends is when Doctor Strange uses the Time Stone. This connection between the ability to study magic and the innate magical properties of an Infinity Stone shows that the combination of two different properties is possible to enhance magical abilities.
Things get more complex once you start to factor in things like the Star Lord’s celestial being from an Ego Father or the existence of the Infinity Stones in the first place (their existence is more or less explained in Avengers: Infinity War as being made from the Big Bang) or even the whole concept of the Multiverse as seen in recent MCU media such as Loki and Spider-Man: No Path Home. Regardless of the origin, the general conclusion is that magic exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the same way science exists in our universe. It is simply something that exists, and is exploited and used in various ways by various entities. Whether that use is through Thor’s lightning powers or Wanda’s telekinesis, the magic in the MCU is, perhaps disappointingly, just an innate property of the universe. Humanity has always had this desire to think about what we think is impossible, and yet, as we move forward, these impossibilities become reality. Medicine, space travel, even things we take for granted every day like cell phones were once just ideas presented in our minds. Perhaps the same can be said of magic, and like with Stephen Strange, we just need enough time and practice to unlock these magical properties for ourselves.
The footage gives us a better look at another Dr Strange, Scarlet Witch, and a few other expected characters.
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