Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness: The Book Of Vishanti Explained

Warning: major SPOILERS ahead for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."

Sam Raimi has, once again, managed to take us on a hellish ride via his recent "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which includes a lot of multiverse hopping, Raimi-esque horror elements, and a handful of violent (yet PG-13) deaths. Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) lies at the nexus of the dark magic and chaos that propels the plot of the film. Her goal? To gain access to the multiverse, which could have catastrophic repercussions. This leaves Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) to try their damndest to stop her plans.

Those familiar with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" and "WandaVision" already know the extent of powers that the Darkhold possesses, as Wanda is last seen perusing its dark contents at the end of the Disney+ show. Also known as the Book of the Damned, the Darkhold's powers grant Wanda access to spells that allow her to dreamwalk through the multiverse, while taking a hold of her psyche, egging on her innate need to reunite with her children (although they technically never existed, in a certain sense). When matters seem hopeless and bleak, America and Stephen decide to get to yet another book of spells to put a stop to her schemes: The Book of Vishanti.

An antithesis to the Darkhold

After Stephen and America meet Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is the Sorcerer Supreme in reality 838, the latter tells them about the Book of Vishanti, describing it as an "antithesis" to the Darkhold. However, what exactly does this book of spells do, and what are its origins within the Marvel Comics mythos?

While chaos magic and the darker aspects of witchcraft used by Wanda can be deemed as dark or black magic, spells used with the intention of healing, restoration, and protection are commonly termed white magic in the Marvel Comics. The Book of Vishanti contains powerful white magic spells and counter-spells, which can only be used for defensive purposes (as opposed to the Darkhold's spells, which can be used for both defense and offense). The Book of Vishanti exists to create balance between light and dark spells, between order and chaos. In most cases, the Sorcerer Supreme of every universe keeps the book safe in a space called the Gap Junction, which is portrayed twice in the film.

Furthermore, as per Marvel Comics mythos, the Book of Vishanti can be used to deflect dark magic of any kind, and the knowledge within the tome can prove to be instrumental for any wizard battling dark forces.

Oh no, a McGuffin

In "Multiverse of Madness," the Book of Vishanti is posited as an artifact that grants a sorcerer any spell they require to combat an opposing force. When America mentions the book for the first time, Stephen dismisses the idea, saying that its existence is merely a myth.

However, Wong (Benedict Wong), who's currently Sorcerer Supreme, confirms that the book exists, and America explains that the artifact was what she and Defender Strange (the Strange variant in the opening scene) were moving towards in another universe before being attacked by monsters. At this point, after it is revealed that Wanda is using the Darkhold to get to America, the central characters decide that the Book of Vishanti is the only way to stop her.

While this positions the book as a pivotal aspect of the narrative, it only turns out to be a McGuffin: a plot device that solely exists for furthering a narrative, without possessing any intrinsic value of its own. After Stephen and America end up in reality 838 and are captured by the Illuminati, it is revealed that the Strange of this universe (who is dead, RIP) kept the Book of Vishanti safe in the Gap Junction, and the duo, alongside variant Christine (Rachel McAdams), try to get to it before Wanda gets a hold of them.

However, all of this is an exercise in vain, as Stephen, while able to wield the book in his hands, is unable to do ANYTHING with its famed powers, as Wanda simply destroys the pages that contain the spell that can defeat her. The book is essentially useless against her insurmountable power, unable to deflect her spells or offer defense to Stephen, which really poses the question of whether the Darkhold is too powerful an artifact compared to its antithesis. In the end, it is America's actions that save the multiverse (for now), as she forces Wanda to face the cruelty of her actions by hurtling her inside Wanda-838's home, where Billy and Tommy are present.

There's imbalance once again...

The Book of Vishanti and the Darkhold need to exist simultaneously in order for the multiverse to maintain magical balance, as light and dark need to exist together for the other to emerge. However, Wanda decides to annihilate all traces of the Darkhold in every universe, nipping the risk of any practitioner being tempted by the Book of the Damned, now, or ever. She topples the stronghold at Mount Wundagore upon herself while destroying the Darkhold (given the nature of her death and the extent of her powers, this is definitely not the last time we see her).

Now with the Darkhold gone, the Book of Vishanti still exists, in almost every universe, with the Sorcerer Supreme in charge of protecting it for the most part. While the book cannot be used for offensive spellcasting, it does contain important information about the mystical arts and can lead to disaster in the wrong hands, despite the purity of its spells (spells can be corrupted, or manipulated for nefarious means). Spells like the Group Spell of Dimension Reversal have been used by the likes of Strange and the Scarlet Witch in order to banish evil in the comics, but the book has also been stolen numerous times by the likes of Kaluu, a sorcerer who called Kamar-Taj his home at some point.

Without the Darkhold, the Book of Vishanti might not be used prominently by the MCU in the future, but it can definitely be referenced for its huge repository of knowledge about dark forces, including antidotes to conditions such as vampirism and lycanthropy. There's also an interesting storyline in which Loki creates an illusion that the book has chosen him as its protector, however, that was simply a ploy for a greater plan for power by the God of Mischief. 

Apart from this, Stephen of Earth-616 (the one we follow) has a third eye as a result of using forbidden magic via the Darkhold, and even if the book does not exist anymore, its effects are permanent on the user. Will Strange go rogue in the future, and will the Book of Vishanti help offer an antidote for his condition? Keeping these possibilities in mind, the artifact might still have some use in the future, maybe in some capacity across the multiverse. 

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is currently playing in theaters.