In the Marvel Universe, cosmic entities (also referred to as cosmic beings) are characters possessing superpowers on a planetary, stellar, galactic, universal or even multiversal level, powers far beyond those of humans or conventional superheroes, and usually serving some natural function in the universes in which they exist.
The Marvel Universe contains a number of beings in this category that are literally part of the universe, with their existence necessary to provide a certain function. Much like organs provide specific functions for the human body, these entities provide functions for the universe itself. There is no official (known) name for these beings, but they are often referred as cosmic entities or cosmic beings. Almost all of them embody some concept or fulfill some essential need.
Each cosmic being is unique, but they often have the following characteristics in common:
- Power much, much, much greater than that of any mortal or human being; the weakest of them can destroy entire worlds and planets (by using the Power Cosmic - see Marvel Universe: Concepts). Note, however, that the level of power among these beings varies tremendously, with some being able to affect the whole entire universe.
- No physical form: to visit the material universe they must use ‘M-bodies’ created for them by an entity called Anthropomorpho (most likely a cosmic being itself) in the ‘dimension of manifestations.’
- A completely amoral nature, uncaring about anything but their purpose of existence. (But some beings have displayed human emotions on occasion.)
The Marvel Universe versions of the gods of most earthly religions, excepting Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are not cosmic in the traditional sense, although the strongest of them such as Atum, Odin, and Zeus can rival or exceed the vastly limitless god-like cosmic power of certain cosmic beings, as can the strongest and most powerful demons or independent mystic entities such as Zom, Dormammu, Mephisto, or the Vishanti. Certain mortal beings such as the Molecule Man, Mad Jim Jaspers, Franklin Richards, Hyperstorm, the Scarlet Witch and others have reached universe or even multiverse-affecting status. Heralds of Galactus are granted a small fraction of his power, proven enough to shatter planets, and the Elders of the Universe possess comparative, or in rare cases superior, power, as do certain other elite Marvel superheroes or supervillains, but their existence is not necessary for the universe to function. Others pretend to embody existential concepts, but lack the power of the true entities, such as the demon D'Spayre who has claimed to embody despair. Exactly how many true cosmic entities exist is unknown, and more keep being discovered as time passes.
Cosmic entities appear to have a loose organization, where each acts by itself, or in a small group; some are actively opposed to another being. However, they are all bound by a common set of rules, as imposed by the Living Tribunal (see below). The only being above the cosmic entities, in all the Marvel multiverse is the One-Above-All, as he is not bounded to the rules of the Living Tribunal.
These beings include:
- The Living Tribunal
- The Cosmic Compass - Death, Eternity, Oblivion and Infinity
- Master Order and Lord Chaos
- Mistress Love and Sire Hate
The following is a partial list of the known cosmic entities and their functions:
- Living Tribunal is the judge of the cosmic entities who ensures that the cosmic laws are obeyed. It claims that it receives its authority from an even higher being, one that has never been revealed; though this higher power is believed to be the creator of all things and has been referred to as the One Above All (not to be confused with the ruler of the Celestial race). The Tribunal is considered to be the most powerful of all known cosmic entities. Before the Living Tribunal can act his three faces must reach a unanimous verdict; his three faces represent Necessity, Vengeance and Equity. Note that the Tribunal rules over all of the Marvel Universe's infinite alternate universes as well; an M-Body of the Living Tribunal is present in each universe of the Marvel multiverse.
- Nemesis is a being formed when the seven Infinity Gems come together. It claims to exist to create universes.
- The Beyonders are a race from outside the main physical universe. Their form and purpose is unknown. It is known that they exist outside of linear time, and that they created the Cosmic Cubes. They may be the same beings known as "the Infinites".
- Eternity - Sentience of the universe, believed to be the embodiment of the time and vitality aspects of the universe. Sometimes acts along with its counterpart, Infinity. The face of the Living Tribunal that represents Necessity is Eternity.
- Death - Embodies the end that eventually comes to all living things, ranging from single cell organisms, sentient mortal beings to the universe itself. The opposite of Eternity. The face of the Living Tribunal that represents Vengeance is Death.
- Infinity- The counterpart of Eternity, but appears as a female. Believed to embody the concept of space, and along with Eternity embodies the space/time continuum. Perhaps better described as "the other side of the coin," and not as a fully separate entity from Eternity.
- Oblivion - The counterpart of Death, but appears as a male. Embodies the nothingness from which everything came and will eventually return to. Perhaps better described as "the other side of the coin," and not as a fully separate entity from Death.
- Galactus - The devourer of worlds. He exists to bring balance between Eternity and Death, keep Abraxas' influence on the universe nullified, and will likely initiate the creation of the next universe. It has been said his is possibly the most important role of all - due to his existence being tied to the previous universe, the current universe, and likely the next universe as well. The face of the Living Tribunal that represents Equity is Galactus.
- Master Order - Embodies the universal concept of Order. Opposite of Lord Chaos.
- Lord Chaos - Embodies the universal concept of Chaos. Opposite of Master Order. Together with Master Order, Lord Chaos claims to be responsible for assigning fates to mortals. Master Order and Lord Chaos created the In-betweener as a balance between them.
- Destiny - Embodies the concept of Destiny. Appears as a teenage girl. Rarely observed, her powers are not entirely clear.
- The Phoenix Force- The culmination of all psionic energy that exists, has existed, or ever will exist, via sentient life. Its actual function is unclear, but is possibly that of rebirth through destruction - in the universe which existed before the current Marvel Universe, the Phoenix Force saved all life from damnation and ensured that Galan remained alive long enough to meet and thus merge with the Sentience of the Previous Universe to become Galactus in the current universe. It has a tendency to materially manifest via telepathic mortals - at which times it is often portrayed as being the most powerful known force throughout Marvel multiverse. At other times, it is known to exist as a non-conscious essence of nature, devoid of interaction with the physical realms. The Phoenix Force is usually associated with the mortal mutant Jean Grey, who is the living embodiment of the Phoenix Force.
- Celestials - A group of cosmic beings with several human-like qualities; may be a mortal race ascended to cosmic status. Apparently, they guide human evolution. They have numerous possible origins.
- In-Betweener - Represents the synthesis between all concepts within the universe, such as life and death, order and chaos, love and hate, god and man, impotence and omnipotence. However, it resents its servitude to Order and Chaos, and has tried to break free several times. The In-Betweener was directly created by Order and Chaos and is looked upon by them as an agent; contrast this with Galactus who is a natural part of his universe and considered a peer and a sibling by Eternity and Death, the opposing forces he balances.
- Cosmic Cubes - Objects of great power (not always cubical) created by the Beyonders to test the concept of desire in mortal beings. They can grant wishes, but eventually are "born" into individual entities. The Shaper of Worlds, Kubik, and Kosmos are all former cosmic cubes.
- Stranger – A cosmic mystery; could have been the fourth face of the Living Tribunal but refused, choosing instead to remain a stranger. The Stranger may in fact be a composite being, the result of the planet Gigantus' population merged into one entity, though this is likely a lie told by the Stanger to keep his true origin shrouded in mystery. The Stranger himself may not know his true origins, thus making him a stranger even to himself.
- Chronos- Once the ruler of Eternals of Earth. One of his experiments blew his atoms apart, so he now exists as a humanoid nebula. Apparently considered a cosmic entity with control over time.
- Anomaly - A bizarre being that embodied exceptions to all things. It existed in a state similar to that of Chronos, but was killed (and its power stolen) by Oblivion’s agent, Maelstrom.
- Eon - Responsible for choosing the Protectors of the Universe, mortal champions elected to face one specific menace to life in the universe each. Killed by Maelstrom, but succeeded by its "daughter" Epoch.
- Origin - A being apparently responsible for the existence of all superheroes and villains, by manipulating events and implanting ideas in their minds. Needs to incarnate in living bodies. Its enemy is the Un-Being.
- Un-Being - An agent of Oblivion, seeks to kill Origin and erase all reality. Apparently also needs to incarnate in living bodies.
- Unipower - A force that maintains balance with the Enigma force, the force that allows the Microverse to exist. It manifests by transforming humans into the superhero Captain Universe for short periods of time.
See the List of Marvel Cosmic Beings for more information.