Marvel-ous! Issue #8: Multiverse: Explained!

Hello True Believers!

One of the most confusing things for new comic book readers is the idea of the "multiverse." I know that when I first started reading comics, I was completely lost by this concept. Why is Ultmate Spider-Man a young black boy, while Amazing Spider-Man is a young white man? Why is Uncanny X-Men part of the main Marvel Universe, but X-Men Noir is not?

It took quite a bit of digging for me to unwrap and understand this large concept. While learning about this, I was also introduced to other ideas that Marvel has used over the years in conjunction with the multiverse. It was a little overwhelming at first. So the point of this blog is to open up this concept in simple terms, so that any new reader will be able to understand it. That being said, there are some aspects that I am still working with, so some of my information may be incomplete, or slightly off. If you are a seasoned comic reader, and understand the multiverse, please feel free to leave a comment below. As always, this is meant to open conversation, and help those who are new to the community and literary form.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the multiverse is to think of it as a series of timelines. An analogy that I read once was that the multiverse is like a tree (now the picture makes sense, right?). The timeline moves along like a tree growing, and every time a choice is made, a branch grows for each possible choice. Then each branch grows out until another choice is made, and again, a new branch grows for each possible choice. This goes on forever. That's one big Groot!

What this means is that there is literally an infinite amount of possible universes in the Marvel Multiverse. For example, there is one universe where Peter Parker became a villain, one where he was killed by the Green Goblin, and one where he is a pig named Peter Porker... Yes, I'm serious.

The reason Marvel has used this concept is that it allows them to change their characters in subtle or drastic ways, without having to change the mainstream Marvel Universe. For example, there is a universe where Marvel heroes and villains are present in 1602, in England. Obviously, this world cannot coexist with the mainstream Marvel Universe, where these same characters are acting in the present day. Thus, a separate universe (timeline) is required for this to make any sense at all. The multiverse allows them to do this.

Now, it is important to understand that the events in one universe DO NOT effect the events of another universe in most cases. Peter Parker was killed in the Ultimate Universe, but Parker is alive and well in the mainstream universe. This is because they are completely separate from one another. It is possible for characters to travel to other universes, and there are even characters from alternate universes that are currently living in the mainstream universe. For example, at the time I am writing this, there is an event occurring called "Spider-Verse" where many different Spider-Men from many different universes are meeting together to fight against a common threat.

Each universe is given a number that they can be referred to by. These numbers get complicated, and only a few are commonly memorized by readers. I will give you a list of some of the most prevalent, largest, and interesting ones. You can see a semi-complete list here, and you can look at some of the crazy stuff that's out there.

Earth-311: Marvel 1602
Earth-616: Mainstream Marvel Universe
Earth-811: Days of Future Past
Earth-928: Marvel 2099
Earth-1610: Ultimate Universe
Earth-2149: Marvel Zombies
Earth-90214: Marvel Noir
Earth-199999: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel has also stated that there will be more universes coming in the future because every time a choice is made, a new universe is created. This is genius because Marvel now has free license to do whatever they want with these characters. If the idea they try doesn't work, they can just ignore that universe. But it also allows them to carry on the successful ideas, without changing the rest of the universes' continuity.

I hope that this cleared up some problems! If you have any questions, leave a comment below!

As always, thank you so much for reading!