Stranger Things is finally back with Season 4 of the Netflix show. However, the final season will be split into two parts, with the first seven episodes arriving on May 27. In these seven episodes, everything is a bit upside down – pun intended – as Hawkins’ friends are pitted against a brand-new villain.
And the name of the big bad is Vecna, another Upside Down villain named after a monster from Dungeons & Dragons. More than any other season of the show so far, he’s the show’s most complex and intricate villain. So we give a breakdown of who Vecna is and what he might want.
Warning: there are many spoilers ahead for Stranger Things Season 4 Part 1.
The Dungeons & Dragons version of the character:
The name “Vecna” comes from D&D, as the character debuted in 2nd Edition – her eye and hand did, however, appear in 1st Edition. While the character’s backstory has changed a bit over the years, he was originally a wizard, and after his mother was executed by the government, Vecna swore revenge. He mastered the dark arts, became a lich (an undead magician) and killed many people.
Vecna was eventually met with his death by a sword he made for his most trusted lieutenant, and in the end only Vecna’s left eye and hand remained – which became magical items. in the world of D&D – but Vecna himself became trapped on another plane of existence. Eventually, Vecna returned as a demigod, thanks to the cult that rose in his absence. And a team of adventurers dispatched him and reduced his powers.
Vecna from Stranger Things isn’t that far off:
Looking at Vecna’s story from Stranger Things, he looks a lot like his D&D counterpart. He was a human who had natural abilities (telekinesis), had many deaths in the family, had been trained to hone his abilities, and had a student below him who ultimately betrayed him. Vecna was living on another plane – the Upside Down – when he regained power. If you’re deep into the world of Forgotten Realms, you could probably see where the story was heading at times. But let’s go into a bit more detail about Vecna’s version of Stranger Things.
Born Henry Creel (played by Raphael Luce as a child, Jamie Campbell Bower as an adult), he grew up in Hawkins. Henry was the son of Victor Creel (Robert Englund), the man who allegedly murdered his family. He had natural telekinetic abilities – far more powerful than anything we’ve seen. He trained in using his powers, killing animals, accessing memories, but pretending he was normal for his parents.
Henry felt his family was living a lie, so he entered their minds, driving them crazy. Virginia Creel – his mother – knew young Henry was behind it all and wanted to seek the help of a doctor to “lock him up”, according to Henry. So he decided to kill his mother. He then killed his sister and passed out in a coma. Her father, Victor, was blamed for both deaths. Henry later explains that the people he kills become a part of him, making him stronger.
Henry awoke in Hawkins Lab under the supervision of Dr. Martin Brenner. Brenner wanted to control Henry and his powers, but couldn’t. This led to the Doctor starting a program in which he would try to recreate the boy – with all of his powers. Henry became 001 in the program. However, because he was so powerful, a chip was implanted in him called Soteria – which follows him and weakens his powers.
Years later and still imprisoned in the lab, an older Henry meets Eleven – or 011 – and he becomes his mentor to develop his powers. He gains her trust enough to get Eleven to remove the Soreria chip from her neck as he tried to help her escape. The chip is removed, but the two are cornered by lab security. This is where Henry uses his powers to kill anyone he sees in the lab. Eleven feels completely betrayed by this, as she is the only other survivor of her program. Henry wants to work with Eleven to rule the world.
Eleven refuses the proposal and the two have a battle of brains. And although it seems Henry has the upper hand, Eleven turns out to be stronger and uses her powers to seemingly disintegrate Henry. What remains in its place is a portal to the Upside Down.
Brennen walks into the room, sees Eleven standing there, and assumes she killed everyone.
However, Henry was not destroyed, his mind and body were sent to the other dimension, where he transformed into a monster that terrorizes and murders people in Hawkins this season. This is where it becomes Vecna. And he has extended powers that help tie all the seasons together a little better.
And while Vecna himself doesn’t appear until Season 4, the monsters of the Upside Down are revealed to be under his control. “Vecna is the puppeteer of all these monsters, and the Demogorgon is like this wild, rabid dog that used to attack people,” Charlie Heaton – who plays Jonathan Byers – explained at a press event. “Vecna is smart and smart and gets into your deepest fears and dreams, and he’s part of the mythology of the whole series. He’s our ultimate adversary – or at least Eleven’s ultimate adversary. He is also, I think, the scariest villain that We’ve faced. It’s not a quick attack out of nowhere; it taunts its prey and chases its prey and plays with them, and it’s scary.
Vecna goes on the hunt in reverse, invading people’s minds in the real world. He kills cheerleader Chrissy in episode 1 and then young boy Fred in episode 2. He targets Max, but the gang finds that playing his favorite song opens a portal for his spirit to return to the real world . Finally, in Episode 7, Nancy becomes Vecna’s target, and that’s where things end until Part 2 begins in July.
It looks like Vecna is working on getting revenge on Eleven, but it’s a slow process, getting closer and closer to her – killing people in order to access their memories/essence. And while Part 1 explains a lot about this character, there are still tons of missing pieces that won’t be filled in for a while. And we won’t know until Episodes 8 and 9 arrive on July 1.