With just a few lines spoken by John Krasinski’s Reed Richards, Marvel Studios seemingly set its course to its next big event: Secret Wars. The project, once seen as “too big” to be done correctly, is one on the list of projects that Marvel Studios’ favorite sons, Joe and Anthony Russo, have said would bring them back into the fold and one that has swirled around insider circles for a few years now. The first hints to its eventual arrival came during an animated sequence in Loki but the truest indicator of Marvel’s intent to bring the thrice-done comic event to the MCU came in Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness when Richards briefly explained the concept of Incursions. The concept of Incursions was given all the explanation it needed in the film, but for those unsure of how that concept leads to Secret Wars, we’re here to help.
Incursions made their way into the Marvel Comics lexicon in 2013 when writer Jonathan Hickman introduced the idea in New Avengers Volume 2 when T’Challa witnessed one. As was the case in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, smart guy Reed Richards explained the concept to the audience.
Over the course of a page and a half, Richards-with the aid of very Hickman-esque illustrations-gives his “Everything Dies” speech in which he explains to the Illuminati that as a result of the early “death” of an alternate Earth, the contraction of the multiverse had begun. The death of that Earth caused the first Incursion, the collision of two other Earths that lead to the destruction of both of them. One Incursion sped up the timeline for another, accelerating the ends of each of the universes in which those Earths existed and it would only be a matter of time before the final Incursion destroyed the entire Multiverse.
The Incursion of Earth-616 that T’Challa witnessed was stopped when the Black Swan (a fascinating character who we can only hope makes her way into the MCU) destroyed the other Earth, sparing Earth-616. The knowledge of the Incursions sent the Illuminati scrambling to devise a plan to save their universe. Ultimately, Earth-616 and Earth-1610, the Ultimate universe, were the last standing and as their Incursion began, the heroes of both worlds fought to destroy each other, with both sides ultimately falling short and being destroyed. A group of heroes, led by Richards, who had built a “life raft” found themselves on a new planet known as Battleworld and worked together to unravel the great mystery of where they were and how Doctor Doom came to be in charge. Those events made up the 2015 event Secret Wars, which takes us right back to where we began. Marvel Studios is building towards an adaptation of Secret Wars.
If you’ve paid attention for a few years, you’ve heard it from me that this event was in the making, but this is the closest Marvel Studios has come to admitting it. And with John Krasinski’s Reed Richards-who VERY closely resembles the Richards written by Hickman over his time on the Fantastic Four, New Avengers, and Secret Wars- being given the job of explaining the concept of Incursion to the MCU audience, it seems like it will indeed be Hickman’s version of Secret Wars that is adapted, rather than either of the previous comic events. Hickman’s version is by far the most cinematic of the options available but is also problematic in that it is loaded with dense scientific concepts that might make for a tough sell to general audiences. As we know, Marvel Studios doesn’t go with straight page-to-screen adaptations of their comic book stories, so it’s more likely than not that the MCU’s Secret Wars will simply be 616 vs. 1610, allowing for dead heroes to reappear as their 1610 counterparts. What does this mean for Doctor Doom, the Molecule Man, and other characters who played a huge role in the comic event? Probably nothing good.
It is interesting to see that Marvel Studios has chosen Stephen Strange’s sequel to lead the charge to Secret Wars. Strange does play a key role in the 2015 event as one of Doom’s right hand, but readers would certainly not consider him “central” to the story. Whatever the case, we are likely still at least 3 years away from Secret Wars and there’s lots of building to be done, but with the mention of Incursion, it should now be clear to fans that the project is now the inevitable end to the developing Multiverse Saga.