The MCU Could Set Up a Non-Earth-616 Universe With Phase 5 and 6 Projects

With Avengers: Secret Wars on the horizon, the Marvel Cinematic Universe could set upcoming live-action projects in a universe other than Earth-616.

One of the many reveals at Marvel Studios’ Hall H Panel at San Diego Comic-Con was that two Avengers films would be the final events of Phase 4-6, now officially coined the “Multiverse Saga.” While Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars were new announcements, many were already speculating that a Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars-inspired event with Kang the Conqueror as a main villain was the endgame of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe saga.

Avengers: Secret Wars gets its name from two major Marvel Comics events—Secret Wars (1984) and Secret Wars (2015). Both share some similar elements, such as Beyonder(s) and the creation of a Battleworld, and Marvel may very well take elements of both of these events to craft the 5th and 6th Avengers movies. Still, considering the 2015 event was prefaced on the destruction and ultimate revival of the multiverse, it does not take a scholar to guess that the 2015 event and the events leading up to it will be an extremely heavy influence on Secret Wars.

Earlier this year, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness actually gave us potentially the first direct reference to a Secret Wars (2015)-inspired event. While before the Illuminati, Reed Richards told our 616 universe Doctor Strange about the phenomena called incursions, where universes get destroyed when colliding with one another. A simplified summary of the igniting event before 2015’s Secret Wars is the incursion of the last two surviving universes in the Marvel multiverse—Earth-616 and Earth-1610. Many are familiar with Earth-1610 as the “Ultimate” universe, as it was the subject of Marvel Comics’ imprint Ultimate Comics. Earth 1610, among many other contributions, was responsible for the introduction of Miles Morales as Spider-Man. 

Part of the reason Secret Wars (2015) was as compelling and exciting as it was is due to the long-running and meticulous building of that separate universe—Earth-1610–alongside the primary Earth-616 storylines. Secret Wars (2015) writer Jonathan Hickman was the driving force behind the Avengers, New Avengers, and some Ultimate Comics, which all led into the event. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a very different state than the comics were ahead of Secret Wars. We know that the 6th Avengers film of the same name will release in just a little over 3 years. As such, the MCU will have trouble being able to capitalize on its storytelling during those years given the limited amount of projects it can feasibly churn out in comparison to comics. Still, if the MCU wants to ensure its next major event feels and hits like the massive event it purports to be, it might take specific inspiration from the comics that inspired it. 

Specifically, the MCU would benefit from having at least one universe separate from Earth-616 for audiences to be invested in. While there are bits and pieces scattered throughout the Multiverse Saga already (such as in What If… ? and Multiverse of Madness), there is no particular set of stories taking place in a dedicated separate universe yet. With two entire Phases left to go before the end of the Saga, Marvel Studios has a decent amount of time and a sufficient quantity of projects lined up to explore something akin to the Ultimate universe in live-action. 

While some of the MCU’s animated projects leave the multiverse implications wide open, the MCU could boldly step into the next few years with major live-action projects that actually take place in a non-616 universe. Marvel Studios has said nothing to indicate this about any of its upcoming projects, but it would be a relatively easy and low-stakes (in the long-term) way of building up to Secret Wars and its aftermath. In the comics, the conclusion of the event saw the reconstruction of the multiverse, but it did not return to exactly how it existed before its destruction. An easy example is, again, Miles Morales. Though his home was the 1610 universe, the new multiverse saw him established as part of the main 616 universe.

The MCU would similarly have this option with any non-616 characters it established. In other words, the fact that some major characters could debut and exist outside of 616 in the coming years would not mean that our main MCU timeline would be without them in the long run. This could mean anything from the upcoming Fantastic Four, Blade, Deadpool 3, Daredevil: Born Again, or other projects could take place outside of the MCU’s Earth-616 universe fans are accustomed to. Aside from telling the Multiverse Saga story, it could also help Marvel Studios better integrate some of its newer properties from Fox or reboot Marvel TV projects into the proper MCU.

We have yet to see what the next Phases of the MCU will bring, though the Multiverse Saga would be quite bland if the multiverse did not dramatically expand story-wise ahead of its conclusion in Secret Wars. Bits and pieces of other universes will play their part, but firmly establishing major live-action storylines in another universe would heighten the overall narrative and experience for fans since we now officially know where the current saga ends. We will find out more, presumably soon, but some of the upcoming live-action projects could very well begin establishing an entirely new universe than the one the MCU has spent virtually all of its time in. 

In light of all the new MCU announcements, check out Murphy’s Multiverse’s continuously-updated What to Expect from the Future of the MCU and When to Expect It.

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