Multiverse (Marvel Comics)

Within Marvel Comics, most tales take place within the fictional Marvel Universe, which in turn is part of a larger multiverse. Starting with issues of Captain Britain, the main continuity in which most Marvel storylines take place was designated Earth-616, and the multiverse was established as being protected by Merlyn. Each universe has a Captain Britain designated to protect its version of the British Isles. These protectors are collectively known as the Captain Britain Corps. This numerical notation was continued in the series Excalibur and other titles. Each universe of the Multiverse in Marvel also appears to be defended by a Sorcerer Supreme at nearly all times, appointed by the mystic trinity of Vishanti to defend the world against threats primarily magical in nature from within and beyond and bearing the Eye of Agamotto.

Later on, many writers would utilize and reshape the multiverse in titles such as Exiles, X-Men, and Ultimate Fantastic Four. New universes would also spin out of storylines involving time traveling characters such as Rachel Summers, Cable, and Bishop, as their actions rendered their home times alternate timelines.


The Multiverse is the collection of alternate universes that share a universal hierarchy. A large variety of these universes were originated from another due to a major decision on the part of a character. Some can seem to be taking place in the past or future due to differences in how time passes in each universe. Often, new universes are born due to time traveling, another name for these new universes is an "alternate timeline". Earth-616 is the established main universe where the majority of Marvel books take place.

Nature of the Multiverse

According to Forge, mutants living on these alternate Earths have lost their powers due to M-Day, as stated in "Endangered Species", however, this mass depowering has not been seen in any of Marvel's current alternate reality publications such as Exiles, the Ultimate titles, Amazing Spider-Girl, the Marvel Adventures titles or GeNext, though it is possible that the issue of time may be related to their exclusion. This was apparently retconned during the "X-Men: Messiah Complex" storyline, where Forge stated that all mutants in possible future timelines were depowered, not in parallel universes.[1] This, in addition to A.R.M.O.R.'s observation that Lyra arrived from an alternate reality[2] indicates that the topology of the Marvel multiverse is based on new realities branching off from key nodes of a timeline instead of strictly parallel dimensions.

Other realities

Not every alternate reality is an entire independent universe, but instead maintain a parasitic relationship to a parent reality. Others can exist outside the multiversal structure altogether.

Pocket universes

External realities


The classification system for alternate realities was devised, in part, by Mark Gruenwald.[3]


A Universe/continuity is a single reality, such as Earth-616, the mainstream Marvel Universe/Continuity. In Marvel Comics, the concept of a continuity is not the same as "dimension". For example, demons like Mephisto and gods like Odin hail from separate dimensions, but they all nevertheless belong to Universe-616. A continuity should also not be confused with an imprint; for example, while the titles of some imprints, such as Ultimate Marvel, take place in a different continuity, some or all publications in other imprints, such as Epic Comics, MAX, and Marvel UK, take place within the Earth-616 continuity. Note that in context the Marvel Universe is sometimes used to refer to the Marvel Multiverse, and sometimes used to refer to the Earth-616 continuity.[4]


A Multiverse is the collection of alternate universes, with a similar nature and a universal hierarchy. The Marvel multiverse contains the universe that holds Earth-616, most of the What If? universes, as well as the vast number of the alternate Marvel Universe Earths.

The original term and concept were coined by Michael Moorcock for his "Eternal Champion" sequence. The lead characters from Moorcock's work are obviously the inspiration for the Captain Britain Corps.


A Megaverse is a collection of alternate multiverses, which do not necessarily need to have similar natures and universal hierarchies. The term was posited in the 21st century edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.


According to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes, and building on Mark Gruenwald's original definition of the term,[5] the Omniverse consists of all of fiction and reality combined, including all the works that are outside of Marvel's copyright restrictions. As such, there can logically only be one omniverse, as everything is a part of it, with fictional stories obviously unable to affect reality itself, regardless of any claims within them.

Known alternate universes

As stated above, nearly every imprint, timeline and appearances in other media have its own separate universe. Most of these have been cataloged by Marvel Comics in many publications, being most notable the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes. The numerical designations for these are rarely revealed outside of reference works such as the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005. A.R.M.O.R. and Project Pegasus however seem to possess vast knowledge of other Marvel realities, utilizing the same designations; whether this is simply narrative convenience on behalf of Marvel's authors or an unusual decision by these agencies to utilize an effectively alien catalog method is as yet unstated.

The numeric designations of these alternate universes have been confirmed by Marvel Comics throughout the years and compiled in 2005's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes, and in Marvel publications since the release of the Handbook. The prevalent method of labeling an unnamed universe is to derive numbers in some way from the publication date of the relevant issue featuring its first appearance. This is, in turn, based on the mistaken belief that "Earth-616" derived its number from the publication date of The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961), although the origin of this term in particular has been under debate. Many official numbers are random or use other numbers as a base, the best example of this is Ultimate Marvel. 1610 is the swapped numbers of 616 with a 0 to differentiate it from the already existing 161. In addition, many universes have also been designated with numbers by fans with various methods for the numbering, such as the birth date of an important Marvel staff member (artist Nelson Ribeiro for the Transformers U.S. Universe, Earth-91274) or the spelling of a name with a touch-tone phone (Animated Silver Surfer Earth, 936652, spells out Zenn La).

In 2014, during the publication of Spider-Verse, writer Dan Slott posted on Twitter that the numbers that appear in wiki entries and handbooks don't count, only those that are published within "actual" stories do. This was in response to the questions that the different numbers for some Earths appearing in Spider-Verse brought up, such as the Spider-Friends being from Earth-1983 and not the believed designation of Earth-8107.[6] This has created some debate among readers as some believe that the "Spiders" with numbers that don't match the "original" ones are alternate versions or if the former numbers should be completely dismissed, despite being official.

Main alternate universes

Below is a short list of the main universes in the Marvel Multiverse:

Name First Appearance Notes
Marvel Universe
Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 (1939)
  • Reality of the original Marvel Super Heroes and its mainstream continuity. Differences between universes are usually described in comparison with Earth-616.
  • First numbered in The Daredevils.
  • As of Secret Wars, gained the designation of Prime Earth.
Ultimate Marvel
Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (2000)
  • Reinvention of the Marvel Universe for the modern age. Initially beginning with Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men.
  • Home reality of The Ultimates (counterparts of The Avengers) and Miles Morales Spider-Man.
  • First numbered in Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four.
  • As of Secret Wars, the Ultimate Universe no longer exists as it was merged with Earth-616.
Marvel Animated
Night of the Sentinels (Part 1) (October 31, 1992)
Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)
Iron Man (May 2, 2008)
  • Continuity of The Avengers and related film and TV franchises.
  • Other film franchises such as Fox's X-Men, Fantastic Four and Sony Pictures' Spider-Man films from 2002-2014 do not take place in this continuity, although certain characters from such films have had appearances in this universe, such as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (who are no longer considered mutants and have a different origin in the MCU) and Spider-Man (thanks to a special deal with Sony).
  • Number revealed in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Volume 5 hardcover.
Animated Disney XD/Live-action Disney Channel sitcoms Universe
That's So Raven (January 17, 2003)
Ultimate Spider-Man (April 1, 2012)
  • Formerly, just the home reality of Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble, until Ultimate Spider-Man crossed over with Jessie, bringing the two universes together, although the series from Disney Channel barely reference the existence of the superheroes.
  • The universe is designed to simulate a version of Earth-199999 (MCU), including original characters from the Earth, such as Phil Coulson and characters that Marvel Studios does not own the film rights to.
Larval Universe
Marvel Tails #1 (1983)
  • Home reality of Peter Porker, the spectacular Spider-Ham and anthropomorphic funny-animal parodies of the Marvel characters.
  • First numbered in Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four. However, in Spider-Verse, Spider-Ham is revealed to be from Earth-25.
Marvel 2099
Spider-Man 2099 #1 (1992)
  • Alternate future of Earth-616 set in 2099, with futuristic incarnations of Marvel heroes, villains and teams.
  • First numbered in Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four. However, in the Spider-Verse event (Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #14) it was revealed that Marvel 2099 takes place in the future of Earth-616.
What If? vol. 2 #105 (1998)
  • Home reality of Spider-Girl, J2, A-Next, Wild Thing, the Fantastic Five and other descendants of the Marvel Super Heroes and Villains.
  • Set in an alternate version of Earth-616 in the late 1990s.
  • First numbered in Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four.
Marvel Zombies
Ultimate Fantastic Four #21 (2005)
  • Reality of the original Marvel Zombies series where an outbreak of a zombie virus turned all costumed heroes into evil, cannibalistic zombies.
  • First numbered in Alternate Universes 2005.
Squadron Supreme
Avengers #85-86 (February–March 1971)
  • Home universe of the Squadron Supreme, a superhero team that is a pastiche of the Justice League and other DC Comics characters.
  • As with other worlds in the Marvel Multiverse, there are multiple versions of it. In some instances, the Squadron exists even within other 616-based worlds.
New Universe
Star Brand #1 (1986)
  • Created by Jim Shooter as a "more realistic" alternative to traditional super hero comic books to honor Marvel Comics' 25th anniversary in 1986.
  • Set in a mirror 1986 Real World where "The White Event" suddenly grants superpowers to some individuals. Aging, major influence by superhumans in world events and "real-time" are the base concepts of this comic book line.
  • Home reality of Justice, Nightmask, Star Brand and Spitfire and the Troubleshooters.
  • First numbered in Alternate Universes 2005.
newuniversal #1 (2006)
  • Reinvention of the New Universe to coincide with its 20th anniversary in 2007, keeping most of the key concepts of New Universe.[7]
  • Unlike its first incarnation, the history of this Earth is already different from that of the Real World before the White Event occurring in 2006.
Strikeforce: Morituri
Strikeforce: Morituri #01 (1986)
  • Reality where a scientist named Dr. Kimmo Tuolema in 2072, discovers a process which can provide humans with superhuman powers in order to fight back a ravaging alien invasion that started in 2069.
  • First numbered in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005.
Dr. Zero #1 (1988)
  • Created by Archie Goodwin under the Epic Comics imprint as a mature-themed line for Marvel Comics.
  • Home reality of Doctor Zero, Power Line, and St. George and origin of Terror.
  • First numbered in Alternate Universes 2005.
Razorline: The First Cut #1 (Sept. 1993)
Hardcase #1 (1993)
  • Home reality of Prime, Hardcase, and the Ultraforce appearing in Malibu Comics (purchased by Marvel Comics in 1994).
  • In the Ultraverse Future Shock one-shot finale, it is revealed that the Malibu version co-existed with the Marvel (Black September) version instead of being replaced.
  • First numbered in Alternate Universes 2005.

See also


  1. David, Peter. X-Factor vol. 2 #25
  2. All New Savage She-Hulk #1
  3. "Alternate Earths". Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  4. Archived October 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Mark Gruenwald, the father of modern superhero comics
  6. "Dan Slott on Twitter: "Nick confirms Japanese Spiderman (that's the only time I write it without the hpyhen) from the '70s live acti..."". Retrieved 2015-06-21. External link in |title= (help)
  7. "CCI, Day 4: Ellis talks "newuniversal"". Comic Book Resources. 2006-07-23. Retrieved 2012-08-02.


External links

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