Fair warning: this two-part series will contain spoilers for pretty much everything in the MCU, but specifically for the latest episode of Hawkeye, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
The first ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were focused on one thing and one thing only: the Infinity Stones. In fact, the first three phases have been called the Infinity Saga, culminating in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. Many people questioned where the MCU would go from there, with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes having defeated their biggest baddie in Thanos and saving half of existence as we know it.
Marvel, and the rest of the world, took a break in 2020, but when things started up again earlier this year, Marvel was running full steam ahead on a concept that was mentioned and proven to be a lie in Spider-Man: Far From Home: the concept of the multiverse.
In summary, the multiverse describes a set of infinite universes that exist in parallel. Some of those universes are exactly the same as ours, some of them differ by one tiny detail, and some are completely different. The key point is, there are an infinite number of Earth’s with an infinite number of versions of ourselves, known as variants as we would soon discover in the Disney Plus series Loki.
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) claimed to be from a parallel Earth that was destroyed by the so-called Elementals, the monsters that turned out to be drone-created illusions wielded by Beck to gain control of Tony Stark’s satellite network from Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Beck was lying, but based on Peter’s reaction to hearing that the multiverse was real, though this was the first time audiences were hearing about it, it was clear that those in intellectual circles in the MCU had theorized about the multiverse before.
Then the Disney Plus shows came out, and some multiversal shenanigans ensued. We all thought that the multiverse would crack open in WandaVision, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Then Loki debuted and we learned all about how the multiverse was created and who was in charge of it all, and in the very last episode of season one, the female Loki variant Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) killed He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) and because of this threw the multiverse into chaos.
That’s where the animated series What If…? picked up. Now that audiences were aware of the multiverse and its implications, What If…? explored a series of different universes in one-off episodes. The universes shown in each episode varied by one key point from our own; for example, there was an episode that explored what would happen if Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) got the super soldier serum and became Captain Carter. There was another episode where Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) did everything he could to stop Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) from dying.
The first season of What If…? culminated in the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) starting a team of heroes called the Guardians of the Multiverse to stop an all-powerful Ultron who had gathered together all of the infinity stones and become the most powerful being in the multiverse. We saw Ultron tear through universes as if they were his play thing, and the only way to stop him was to have Supreme Strange (an evil version of Doctor Strange) contain him and an Erik Killmonger-turned-Black Panther in a pocket dimension, locked in battle for all eternity.
The concept of the multiverse came to a head in the recently released Spider-Man: No Way Home, where a forgetfulness spell gone wrong pulls people from across the multiverse who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man into the MCU universe, threatening the very fabric of existence as we know it. In the movie, we see non-MCU versions of the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), the Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Doc Oc (Alfred Molina) come into the MCU with their memories of their own universes in tact. In the phenomenal third act of the film, we see the heroes from those universes, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, reprise their roles as Peter Parker/Spider-Man as they team up with Tom Holland’s web head to put the villains on a path of redemption and send them back to their own universe.
By the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange successfully casts a spell to make everyone in the multiverse forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, sending the people from other universes back to their own. Which leaves the question: what happens next? What are the rules of the multiverse, and how will Marvel use those rules in future projects?
Next week, we will take a look at characters from other universes who have entered the MCU to try and piece together the rules of the multiverse so that we can try to figure out Marvel’s greater plan for this next phase of projects. We’ll look at characters like J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), Venom (Tom Hardy), the Vulture (Michael Keaton), Supreme Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), Wanda (Elizabeth Olson), Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Matt Murdoch (Charlie Cox).
Make sure to follow Boss Rush on Twitter so that you can see when we post part two of this look into the MCU multiverse.
Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.
Featured Image Source: Lineup-Mag