The MCU is finally embracing the multiverse, and it could be the most important development in Marvel’s shared cinematic universe since the arrival of THE AVENGERS in 2012. Marvel has been building up to this ever since 2013’s THOR: THE DARK WORLD, which featured a scene in which Erik Selvig scrawled multiversal pseudo-science on a chalkboard. The studio committed to the idea when the Avengers created new timelines as part of AVENGERS: ENDGAME.
If Mysterio is to be believed in SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, all of the cosmic events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME have created a tear in the fabric of reality itself. Now, beings from other dimensions are making their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Mysterio himself claims to have come from Earth-833, a dimension similar to our own. That sets up all types of exciting possibilities for the future of the MCU.
Anything Is Possible
Assuming Mysterio is telling the truth, the idea is lifted straight from the comics. In the “Age of Ultron” crossover event in 2013, the abuse of time travel “broke” time. Realities merged, portals opened between the dimensions, and people were dragged unwittingly from one reality to another. New characters could be introduced from alternate timelines; the X-Men could end up in the MCU despite not having been around prior to now. Alternate stories of the future and the past (like BLACK WIDOW, perhaps?) are all fair game.
DOCTOR STRANGE 2, in particular, could be influenced by the multiverse. No doubt the Masters of the Mystic Arts will find themselves pressed to continue their battle against extra-dimensional invaders. Unfortunately, they’ve lost their greatest weapon, the Time Stone, which means they may no longer be sufficient to defeat the various inter-dimensional threats they’re faced with.
Meanwhile, the multiverse gives Marvel a convenient way to bring back Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. AVENGERS: ENDGAME created an alternate timeline in which the Trickster God escaped in 2012, with the Tesseract in hand. If the walls between dimensions have broken down, that version of Loki could potentially make the jump back to the MCU.
Marvel Comics has always used the multiverse as an opportunity to explore various “what if” questions. Some of them were simply alternate takes on comic book events. Things like “what if Wolverine became Lord of the Vampires,” “what if Captain America won the superhero Civil War” and “what if Earth was conquered by the Skrulls?”
Others, however, were far more creative, experimenting with gender- and race-swapped versions of established characters. Marvel has used stories like these as testing ground for new ideas. The MCU now has an opportunity to explore realities in which Peggy Carter becomes Captain America or Jane Foster wields the hammer of Thor. Some of these may make their way to small-screen Marvel properties, but there’s no reason they couldn’t be part of the big-screen MCU as well.
The Captain Britain Corps
If Marvel plans to explore the multiverse, they’ll need heroes who are familiar with it. That’s the cue for Captain Britain to step forward. He’s a superhero who, in the comics, became a member of an inter-dimensional police force known as the Captain Britain Corps. There have been long-standing rumors that Marvel is developing a CAPTAIN BRITAIN film. AVENGERS: ENDGAME name-dropped a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named “Braddock” who could easily be connected to the hero, whose alter-ego is Brian Braddock. And Mysterio claims that his Earth doesn’t have a Spider-Man; in the comics, Earth-833’s Spider-Man was recruited into the Captain Britain Corps, becoming Spider-UK. Maybe there’s something to all of this?
Even if Mysterio is not telling the truth about his own origins, the Marvel multiverse is here to stay. While there will certainly still be MCU stories which are limited to the franchise’s own original timeline, the story potential of being able to hop between dimensions is absolutely tremendous. More than the loss or remaking of classic characters, the multiverse could redefine the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making the next phase bigger than anything Marvel has done so far.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME opens on July 2.