Vecna (born Henry Creel) is the secondary antagonist of the Netflix sci-fi series Stranger Things. He is portrayed by Jamie Campbell Bower.
Vecna was born as Henry Creel in 1947 to Victor and Virginia Creel, and had an older sister named Alice by three years. Henry was born with an ability to sense the supernatural, which came off to his father simply as him being a “sensitive” boy and led him to not fit in with his peers. Many of his teachers and doctors labeled him as “broken”. In the spring of 1959, Virginia’s great-uncle passed away, leaving her a small fortune that was used to buy a large home in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, as a fresh start for Henry and Alice. Henry was reluctant, believing Hawkins to be indifferent to how everyone else treated him. But to his surprise, Henry found solace in his new home through a nest of black widows living inside the house’s bathroom vent. Henry found the spiders fascinating yet comforting, bonding over them being misunderstood and the “most important of the predators” due to providing structure for the weak.
Henry grew to hate human civilization, most specifically its structure of time and evolution. Henry did not want to be apart of society in doing a “mindless play” of eating, sleeping, working, reproducing, and dying, but realized he didn’t have to. One day, he harnessed the energy of an old grandfather clock in his home and gained the ability of telekinesis. He began practicing his ability through animals in his yard, mutilating rabbits he had trapped. The surrounding dead animals throughout the neighborhood were labeled as attacks of a wildcat, which caused Henry’s father, Victor, to become paranoid for his family’s safety. His powers also caused him to see into people’s past and haunt them with their actions, causing Victor to hallucinate memories of fighting in the war and inadvertently setting fire to a cradle with a screaming baby inside. Victor’s paranoia drove him to believe that a demon lived inside their home, but Virginia slowly began to realize it was her son’s evildoing, and began to despise him for it. Virginia wanted to send Henry away to a psychiatrist, but Henry believed it to be ridiculous, since “he wasn’t the one who was broken”. One night, as the Creels ate dinner, Henry used his powers to set off the radio, distracting his father. The lights began to flicker as Virginia was launched into the air and mutilated, her bones cracked and eyes gouged out of her face. Victor took a screaming Alice and a silent Henry and attempted to escape to the door, but Henry used his powers to block it and caused Victor to hallucinate back to the war. While Victor was hypnotized, Henry did away with his sister, killing her the same way as their mother. However, this caused Henry to faint from exhaustion, leading Victor to wake up as the sole Creel family member unscathed from the massacre. Victor was arrested for the murder of Virginia and Alice and sent away to Pennhurst Mental Hospital, driving himself insane and attempting suicide by gouging his eyes out as well, but being stopped.
Victor was told that Henry was in a coma and died a week after the murders due to shock. His death was revealed to be a hoax ordered by Dr. Martin Brenner, who Virginia wanted to assist in taking Henry away. Brenner wanted to both study him and also control him, starting a program at Hawkins National Laboratory that studied children like Henry. He gave Henry a tattoo on his wrist with the letters “001” and began inducting other children. Overtime, as more experiments began filing in, Henry was given the name “Peter Ballard” and became an orderly for the children in the lab’s Rainbow Room, and had a device called Soteria inserted into his neck to suppress his powers.
On September 8, 1979, after he murdered the test subjects, Eleven banished One into The Upside Down. When he was sent there, he became horrifically burned and mutilated. Brenner or any of the other scientists aware of The Upside Down either never knew Creel was banished or never tried to save him. Over the course of 7 years, he adapted to the environment to the point he himself became a monster, thus creating Vecna.
In 1986, Vecna began to strategically prey on teens who have trauma or who are currently going through a rough patch, using his psychic powers to enter their minds, and plants his curse on them to suck up their energy and grow more powerful. At every location that he killed somebody, a portal to the Upside Down was created.
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