Production value on Marvel’s Disney+ tie-ins is so invariably top-drawer, it’s hard to believe early concept designs for WandaVision’s top witches weren’t nearly as ethereal. And yet, as Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha once said, “same story, different century.” Senior concept artist for Marvel and freelance costume illustrator David Masson San Gabriel shared the sketches on Instagram: first Agatha Harkness, then Wanda Maximoff two weeks later. The originals were noticeably more streamlined, but also seemed to belong in an entirely different branch reality.
Agatha’s initial design displayed a full corset. It was the same period look, complete with the lacy blue silk, but it didn’t have the final product’s imposing purple tresses. The original was more Pride and Prejudice, if you will, while the one worn by Kathryn Hahn in WandaVision was more ancient Harry Potter — the sort of cloak, cape, and robe ensemble an evil sorceress during the times of Salazar Slytherin would have fashioned from whatever was lying around in a war-torn battlefield. Agatha Harkness’s eventual costume was both elegant and menacing, and in one look told us, “That’s right. You should be afraid of me.” The old look retained Agatha’s pendant, but as a silver-plated neckband, it wasn’t nearly as coyly archaic or ritualistic. The cloth turtleneck weaved into the dress, with the pendant necklace wrapped around, had more of an oomph.
This is Agatha Harkness’s original design for WandaVision:
Wanda’s original look was even worse. It was basically the same Captain America: Civil War slash Avengers: Endgame costume with more black balancing out the deep ruby color, and a similar Victorian corset running down the middle. The garment was weaved into the zippers and latches on the leathery fabric of the overcoat and was more reminiscent of Doctor Strange’s Kamar-Taj outfit. Even as a WandaVision exclusive, it failed to stand on its own.
Though it tried to incorporate stylistic elements of Agatha’s first design to make Wanda look just as forbidding — and completely in line with the tone of the Salem witch trials — it fails even in that regard; Wanda Maximoff is supposed to come out of WandaVision an infinitely more intimidating creature than Agatha Harkness. If just watching Agatha move from place to place makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff should elicit a more unsettling response. Yet this costume induces little of that. Here, she’s still a superhero. An Avenger. Not the freakish force of nature she’s become.
This is Wanda Maximoff’s original design for WandaVision:
The final look for Wanda accomplishes exactly that. It’s wraithlike, unearthly — meant to be feared, not admired. The new Wanda coming into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness from WandaVision is not the chic, partly Americanized Scarlet Witch we’ve seen grow from Age of Ultron; she’s almost like Agatha Harkness in this regard, more ancient and frightful in the way she creates dread just by being around. One look from her and Agatha froze; that is the reaction an updated costume is meant to evoke. And Agatha was a top-level witch thoroughly practiced in dark magic.
Chaos magic is supposed to be an even more insidious beast, which Wanda also is. Eerily enough, Scarlet Witch’s last-episode outfit is a sleek, modern-day rendition of Agatha’s original design; it consolidates the same dignified, baronial lines into a spectral motif that would have been befitting of a character like Cleo Strange (comic book spoilers!) but would have also made Wanda unnervingly out of place among both Masters of the Mystic Arts and dark magicians like Baron Mordo and Doctor Doom. Making Wanda a class of her own. Not only that, the final WandaVision look was the most comics-accurate we’ve seen Wanda Maximoff so far, from the form-fitting ensemble to the horned tiara reminiscent of a Japanese happuri. And it’s not nearly as overtly sexualized as the original Scarlet Witch, with decidedly more emphasis on impact than convention.
David Masson San Gabriel is a Spanish-American artist with credits in Chris Hemsworth’s Thor: Love and Thunder, Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, action-comedy MIB International, Tom Hardy’s Venom, Fox’s final X-Men movie Dark Phoenix, and Steven Spielberg’s VR epic Ready Player One. Talk about an equally imposing portfolio. WandaVision received several Emmy nominations this year. Unlike Loki, it hasn’t been renewed for a second season, but Elizabeth Olsen is expected to reprise the role of Wanda Maximoff in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on March 25, 2022.