“There Are Other Worlds Than These:” The MCU Multiverse in Phase 4 and Beyond

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“There Are Other Worlds Than These:” The MCU Multiverse in Phase 4 and Beyond

“There Are Other Worlds Than These:” The MCU Multiverse in Phase 4 and Beyond

For me, the real appeal of Marvel’s comics isn’t the larger than life heroes.  It isn’t the megalomaniacal villains.  It isn’t the increasingly zany superpowers, the richly detailed continuity nor the bombastic, world-shaking fight scenes.  Al of these are amazing in their own right, and are part of why I love the comics, but they aren’t what keeps me coming back time and time again.

What has always attracted me to Marvel is its expansive multiverse of settings.  You see, it’s never just the Marvel comics or the Marvel movies: it’s every variation, adaptation and presentation of its settings cast out over all the media its ever appeared in.  The “baseline” universe, that is to say the comic book universe, is merely the first among equals.  And while their rivals over at DC Comics have a multiverse of their own, they keep rebooting (and, subsequently, shrinking) it and it never has felt as rich or complex or extensive as Marvel’s, the point of most immediate comparison.

“There Are Other Worlds Than These:” The MCU Multiverse in Phase 4 and Beyond

So, yes, you have the comic book universe (Earth-616).  And you have the MCU (Earth-199,999).  And you have the Raimi Spider-Man movie (Earth-96,283).  And you have Fox’s X-Men series (Earth-10,005).  You have the setting for Days of Future Past (Earth-811), Age of Apocalypse (Earth-295) and House of M (Earth-58,163).

There is a paninfinite number of worlds to choose from: ranging from the mundane (Earth-1218 is our reality) to the unbelievable (Earth-8311 is filled with anthropomorphic animal versions of Marvel superheroes, like Peter Porker, aka the Amazing Spider-Ham).  It includes everything from established worlds to new ones just beyond the horizon of our understanding.  And, for the very first time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be plunging into this spectrum of realities head-on.

“There Are Other Worlds Than These:” The MCU Multiverse in Phase 4 and Beyond

Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch recently teased Marvel’s greater cinematic ambitions in one of the special features of Thor: Ragnarok.  In the special Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years — The Evolution of Heroes, Cumberbatch hinted at the possibility of the MCU quickly expanding beyond the boundaries of Earth-199,999, stating that

“What we’ve seen happen within the Marvel Cinematic Universe is this ever-expanding couture of superheroes. And I think now we’re at the stage where this universe, even within our world, has gotten quite crowded and it’s just about to explode into other dimensions.”

“There Are Other Worlds Than These:” The MCU Multiverse in Phase 4 and Beyond

Although Marvel’s big screen franchises have hardly leapt blindly into that particular rabbit’s hole, they have already taken their first tentative steps into a larger multiverse of storytelling.  Doctor Strange feature The Dark Dimension: a universe “beyond time” that is ruled over by the ageless Dormamu, who pulls other dimensions into his own in order to grow his power and dominion.  Ant-Man featured a quantum realm that exists between subatomic particles, which is uncannily similar to the Microverse from the comics.

It has further been speculated, by both myself and others, that the plot of Avengers 4 could involve some extra-dimensional fallout from Thanos wilding the Infinity Gauntlet: a weapon that makes him functionally omnipotent.  Particularly by utilizing the Reality Stone (last seen in Thor: The Dark World), the movie could adapt one of the crazier comic plotlines: House of M, in which Humans are subservient to Mutants (itself an excellent way to introduce the newly reacquired X-Men franchise into the MCU).

The fact that Marvel’s considering these kinds of stories in the first place opens up worlds of possibilities for the MCU.  They could adapt Spider-Verse — in which every alternate version of Spider-Man is hunted down by extradimensional vampires — for the mega-franchise.  They could introduce amazing new characters like Spider-Gwen and Gwenpool to the series.  They could depict plane-hopping teams like the Exiles or the Web Warriors for even more zany, big screen antics.  The possibilities, just like the potential settings, are literally infinite and I personally cant wait to see where Marvel takes the concept in the MCU.

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