Marvel Studios and DC Films. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. These are two of the biggest franchises in the world created by two of the most influential production houses in the world.
Both are similar, yet extremely different. Both the MCU and DCEU worked their way up with each individual film (with varying degrees of success) to create a world involving superheroes.
However, both Marvel Studios and DC Films have taken a very different approach to their world building.
The MCU follows a tight structure of interconnected storylines. Elements left hanging are usually meant to service a story later, which becomes relevant to the overall universe.
The DCEU follows what I consider to be “a loose continuity.” Each individual film has its own storylines that rarely (if ever) overlap with the story of another. It’s all the same world, but each character has its own set of problems rarely getting the attention of the wider universe.
Now, both worlds reached a point where superheroes are simply the norm. They are a part of everyone’s daily life. As a result, both franchises are bringing things to the next level.
Marvel Studios and DC Films are introducing the multiverse!
The First Steps
Doctor Strange introduced the concept of the multiverse to the MCU, confirming the earth we know is part of a wider ocean of dimensions, each with rules of its own. Avengers: Endgame introduced time travel and established altering the past doesn’t change the future. Instead, changing the past just creates new timelines (i.e., new universes).
At San-Diego Comic-Con 2019, Marvel Studios officially announced Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (coming in 2022), implying the multiverse will be further explored.
Meanwhile, the second season of the CW’S The Flash introduced the concept of the multiverse to its Arrowverse. Their earth, which they call Earth-1, is only one among a billion more, all existing in parallel with each other. Originally a concept exclusive to the CW, the Crisis On Infinite Earths event later established that every live-action DC property produced was part of their multiverse, including the DCEU.
The event broke the Internet when Grant Gustin’s Flash came face-to-face with Ezra Miller’s Flash. The multiverse is not only real, but it will be appearing once again in the DCEU film The Flash (2022).
The DC Formula
In August 2020, DC held its own online event, called DC FanDome. DC Films’ Walter Hamada, DC Entertainment CCO Jim Lee, and The Flash director Andy Muschietti went into great detail on how the live-action multiverse will work moving forward.
The DCEU will continue, but movies like Joker and The Batman, that are set in their own worlds, will also be produced. TV shows like Titans, Doom Patrol, and Stargirl will continue to be set in their own universes, while content for the CW universe will continue to be produced.
DC is using the multiverse as a way to keep everything connected, while still honoring what makes the DCEU work: individuality. From now on, filmmakers can choose if they want their films to be part of the main DC Universe, or if they want to create their own worlds devoid of the pressure of continuity. Either way, it’s all connected.
The Marvel Formula
What makes the DC Extended Universe work is its many faces. What makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe work is its overarching feeling of progression Marvel Studios has created. DC is tackling the multiverse using the method that makes the DCEU work.
And Marvel Studios should do the same. Interconnectivity made the MCU the powerhouse it is today. If they are going to embrace the multiverse, Kevin Feige and the people at Marvel Studios need to make it in such a way that it will service their story. Marvel can establish new realities, or even bring back old ones from Marvel’s legacy.
However, this has to be done in a way that makes the MCU move forward. In other words, these new stories can be separate, but somehow their narratives have to circle back to the main continuity we’ve been following since 2008. Otherwise, Marvel is just copying DC.
The multiverse should be a multi-part crossover event with serious ramifications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, similar to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Like the Infinity Stones, the multiverse should be a plot device that unifies the franchise.
This might sound ambitious, but Marvel is all about planning things years in advance. Also, I believe they’ve already begun the process.
The Marvel Studios Theorem
At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Kevin Feige revealed the slate of Marvel’s Phase 4. There, he revealed WandaVision will directly tie into the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Fast forward a few months, and Feige confirms the Disney+ series Loki , which will deal with the alternate timelines introduced in Endgame, will also tie into the events of the film.
Being Thor’s brother, it is highly likely that Loki will also tie-in with Thor: Love and Thunder. We know Jane Foster will somehow get her hands on Mjolnir, and a popular fan theory is that Foster will acquire the hammer from another universe, with Loki’s help.
We got the Infinity Saga, and now it’s time for the Multiverse Saga! But the real question we all want to know is…
WTF is going on with Spider-Man?
Many fans (including me) were left with a huge cliffhanger at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Peter Parker’s identity is now public knowledge, and according to Kevin Feige, the ramifications of that reveal will lead to a “Peter Parker story: never been done before“. Fast forward to today and we still have no idea what the movie will be about.
That is, until now.
The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Jamie Foxx will be reprising his role as Electro from Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It is still unclear whether this will be the same version of the character or a rebooted version for the MCU (like J. Jonah Jameson).
Jamie Foxx’s comments on the role made it sound like he’ll be portraying a rebooted version of the character.
However, THR later reported that Benedict Cumberbatch will also appear as Doctor Strange, which added credibility to the theory that this is the same Electro. Also, the multiverse will have some sort of role in the movie.
It’s all up in the air. Either we’re getting the wrong idea, or all of this could be Marvel Studios working towards…
The Next Big Event!
It is possible that all of these small details are leading to a major event in Doctor Strange’s next installment, which also happens to be Marvel’s last Phase 4 movie. Turning an entire phase into a major event hasn’t been done before, but it sounds exactly like something the MCU would do.
Marvel Studios could go even further. We could get a Secret Wars adaptation as the final installment in the “Multiverse Saga”. This way, Marvel Studios could bring in every property to have used the Marvel logo.
Seeing characters like the 20th Century Fox X-Men, Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk, the 2005 Fantastic Four, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, and even Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man, would be amazing. All while still putting the main Marvel Cinematic Universe front and center.
Connecting imaginary dots is fun, but that’s all they are: imaginary.
Right now, we don’t know how Marvel Studios is planning to tackle its multiverse. For all we know, they might go smaller and focus on individual productions, just like DC. However, Marvel has proven repeatedly that they have a formula that works for them, and I highly doubt they will deviate from said formula. At least, not anytime soon.
Do you agree? How do you think Marvel should handle the multiverse? Is it too risky? Should they even attempt it after spending 10 years building this world?