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Multiversal Cycle

The reality of Earth-616 has gone through eight different incarnations, all triggered by different instances of multiversal renewal, which constitutes in the destruction and re-creation of everything there is.[10]

Little is known of most of Earth-616's incarnations. The fifth is said to have been a dark cosmos of deep magic,[11] and the sixth was the universe where the paradise-like planet of Taa existed.[12] When the sixth incarnation was destroyed, it was eventually reborn as a consequence of the Big Bang.[13]

This seventh incarnation is the most widely known of them all, where the Earth existed, protected by heroes like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. The seventh iteration of Earth-616 suffered from an early death as a consequence of the multiversal phenomena known as the incursions.[14] The intervention of Mister Fantastic in its rebirth caused the eighth incarnation to be a direct continuation of the seventh, instead of being a completely new version.[7] Because of the abnormal nature of the most recent death and rebirth of the Multiverse, some of the Cosmic Entities argue that the current incarnation is still the seventh, while others claim it is the eighth indeed.[15]

Reality

Earth-616 has all the features of our reality: same countries, same personalities (politicians, movie stars, presidents, etc.), same historical events (Trojan War, World Wars, 9/11, etc.), and so on. However, it also contains new ones, such as countries like Wakanda or Genosha, and organizations like the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and its main enemy, Hydra. Earth-616 is the mainstream continuity of the Marvel multiverse and where most of Marvel's comics take place.

A + X Vol 1 1-4 Textless (Combined Covers)

Super Heroes and Villains

The tradition of using costumed secret identities to fight (or commit) evil had long existed in this world (for example, with the medieval Black Knight) but it came into prominence during the days of the American 'Wild West' with heroes such as the Phantom Rider. During the 20th Century, the tradition was reinvigorated, first by Captain America in the '40s (not the first costumed hero of the time, but the most influential) and then by the Fantastic Four in modern times.

Earth-616's major heroes (the ones who get involved in most of the important events) are the Amazing Spider-Man, the Invincible Iron Man, Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme, Daredevil the Man Without Fear, the Mighty Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s director Nick Fury, and Captain America. The Avengers and the X-Men are the biggest team players, although the memberships of both groups have often changed. The Avengers have included most of Earth-616's major heroes as members at one time or another. The X-Men consists of various mutants, such as Wolverine, Storm, and Phoenix brought together by Professor X. Dr. Strange has often formed an ad-hoc team of heroes called The Defenders to help him deal with major menaces to the world, often including the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, the Silver Surfer and various other heroes.

Of course, as one would expect in a universe with superheroes, there would inevitably have to be crime and evil, and this universe is no exception. Arguably the most dastardly and dreaded villain in Earth-616 is Victor Von Doom, perhaps better known as Doctor Doom, archenemy of the Fantastic Four. He has the record of most heroes fought, having fought nearly every hero on Earth. Other major villains include Magneto, the mutant master of magnetism, and the mutant overlord Apocalypse, both archenemies of the X-Men; corrupt businessman Norman Osborn, the megalomaniacal Green Goblin, Doctor Otto Octavius, a.k.a Doctor Octopus, and Venom are all top archenemies of Spider-Man; Victor Creed, Sabretooth, archenemy of X-Men member Wolverine; the Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk and the mercenary Bullseye are archenemies of Daredevil; Samuel Sterns a.k.a. The Leader and Emil Blonsky, the gamma-irradiated monster known as the Abomination, who are archenemies of the Incredible Hulk; the Dreaded Dormammu and Baron Mordo, archenemies of Doctor Strange; the Nazi Fascist Red Skull, archenemy of Captain America; the trickster god Loki, archenemy of Thor; the Mandarin, archenemy of Iron Man; Thanos, Kang the Conqueror and Ultron, archenemies of the Avengers; and Mephisto, archenemy of both Ghost Rider and the Silver Surfer; the terrorist organization known as Hydra and its leader Baron von Strucker are the archenemies of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury. Another huge threat is the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus, who was fought many times by the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer.

A degree of paranoid fear against mutants exists due to stories of mutants being a race or even a species (Homo superior or Homo sapiens superior) that is evolving and is meant to replace normal humans. This has caused organizations to form to deal with the problem, who can be divided into three camps: those who seek peaceful coexistence between mutants and normal humans (the X-Men and their affiliated groups), those who seek to control or eliminate humans to give mutants safety or dominance (Magneto and his followers, as well as other mutants such as Apocalypse), and those who seek to regulate or eliminate mutants in favor of humans. The latter often use the robots known as Sentinels as weapons.

Origin of superhuman powers

Most of the superhumans owe their powers to the Celestials, cosmic entities who visited Earth one million years ago and experimented on our prehistoric ancestors (a process they also carried out on several other planets). This resulted in the creation of two hidden races, the godlike Eternals and the genetically unstable Deviants, in addition to giving some humans an "x-gene" in their genes, which sometimes activates naturally, resulting in sometimes superpowered, sometimes disfigured individuals called mutants.

Others require other factors (such as radiation) for their powers to come forth. With the exception of psionic abilities, these powers are usually random; rarely do two people have the exact same set of powers. It is not clear why the Celestials did this, although it is known that they continue to observe humanity's evolution.[16] The majority of the public is unaware of what may cause superhuman powers.

Earth-616 0001

Other possible origins for superhuman powers include: magic, genetic manipulation or bionic implants. Some heroes and villains have no powers at all, but depend instead on hand-to-hand combat training or advanced technological equipment. Technology is slightly more advanced than in our world; this is due to unique individuals of genius intelligence, such as Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic) of the Fantastic Four, Tony Stark (the Invincible Iron Man), Bruce Banner (the Incredible Hulk), and Doctor Doom. However, most of the really advanced devices (such as powered armor and death rays) are too expensive for the common citizen, and are usually in the hands of government organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D., or powerful criminal organizations like the Maggia, A.I.M., and Hydra. One major company producing these devices is Stark International, owned by Tony Stark (Iron Man), but there are others. Advanced technology has also been given to humans by hidden races, aliens, or time travelers like Kang the Conqueror, who is known to have influenced the robotics industry in the past.

  • The battery effect; the cells in the body have the same function as batteries, being charged with energy that comes from an outer source. This is most often seen in gamma exposed individuals as the Hulk, who get their powers from this stored energy. The powers will remain as long as the energy is present, and can even be increased by filling the "batteries" even more. If the energy is emptied, the powers will fade away.
  • Power Primordial is a leftover force from the Big Bang, and is controlled by the Elders of the Universe.
  • Psionic energy, which is assumed to be an invisible, unknown form of energy generated by all living brains which has the ability to manipulate other forms of matter and energy.
  • Universal psionic field is a force present everywhere in the universe, but only those with abilities to connect to it can make use of its energy.
  • Enigma Force is suspected to be connected to the Microverse, and is also the source of the Uni-Power, which transforms an individual into Captain Universe.
  • Extra-dimensional space: dimensions which can be tapped in order to pull mass from them, to add to objects on Earth, or take away from those objects and be stored in those "pocket dimensions" to be retrieved later. This is how characters like the Hulk can grow and shrink with no visible absorption of mass. A type of subatomic particle called Pym Particles can be used for these effects. (Note that many giant-sized characters have the secret ability to manipulate gravity to handle their increased weight.) The change in mass can be in the form of a density change instead, allowing a character to become harder or incorporeal. Some characters can seem to "transform" themselves (or others) into nonliving substances, or even pure energy, by storing their bodies in extradimensional space and replacing them with bodies made from matter or energy from that dimension, while their souls remain on Earth, controlling their new body. Travel into other dimensions can also be used as a way to "teleport" by exiting the Earth dimension and re-entering it at a different point.
  • The Darkforce is an unknown, dark substance from another dimension (known simply as the Darkforce Dimension) which can be summoned and manipulated in many ways: to create impenetrable darkness, to solidify it in various forms, and (most notably) to absorb the "life energy" from living beings (not all users can use all these effects). The Darkforce can also be used to travel to and from its home dimension, but this is dangerous to all except those with Darkforce powers. Some believe that the Darkforce is sentient and sometimes has an evil influence on those who use it. Various heroes and villains have versions of Darkforce powers, including Darkstar, the first Blackout, the Shroud, Cloak and Quagmire (of the Squadron Supreme Universe). Cloak seems to be the prime 'portal' to the Darkforce, however.
  • The Living Light is the opposite of the Darkforce: a form of energy which resembles light and also comes from its own dimension, but has healing effects on living beings (except ones made of darkness or Darkforce). It is unknown if it might be sentient. Cloak's partner, Dagger seems to be the Living Light's main avatar.
  • The Power Cosmic is a force which can alter reality, allowing the user to do whatever he or she wants (including breaking the laws of physics), only being limited by how much cosmic energy the character can harness at one time. It seems to be part of the universe itself and it can be linked directly to Galactus as its primary wielder or even source. The Heralds of Galactus, including Silver Surfer and Nova are imbued with the Power Cosmic.
  • Magic also appears to be like a form of energy, except that it can defy the laws of physics naturally. However, it does have rules of its own to follow, which vary with the method of invocation, usually in the form of spoken spells. It appears to be present in everything, even living beings. All humans in the Marvel Universe have the ability to use magic, but only if properly trained. Most people are unaware that magic actually works. In addition, powerful magical beings from other dimensions have created specific, extremely powerful magical spells that they allow to be used (often indiscriminately) by those sorcerers who invoke their names; one example is the trinity of beings called The Vishanti, who serve as patrons to heroic sorcerers. At any given time, there is a sorcerer on Earth whose task is to protect the universe against extradimensional mystical invaders; this sorcerer is known as the Sorcerer Supreme, an office formerly held by Doctor Strange, and later held by Doctor Voodoo.
  • "Hellfire" is a magical force which resembles fire, but is cold and hurts the soul rather than the physical body; it is used mostly by demonic beings.

Nonhuman races

In addition to mutants, Eternals and Deviants, several other intelligent races have existed secretly on Earth. These include: The Inhumans, another genetically unstable race (like the Deviants, but in their case its due to their use of a substance called 'Terrigen') which was created by a Kree experiment long ago; The Subterraneans, a race of humanoids adapted to living below the surface, created by the Deviants (some subterraneans were transformed into 'Lava Men' by a demon); and Homo mermanus, a humanoid race of water-breathers that lives in Earth's oceans. Most of these races have advanced technology but existed hidden from humanity until recent times. More variants of humanity can be found in the Savage Land (see the "Places"-chapter, below).

Alien races

There are hundreds of intelligent alien races. Earth has interacted with many of them due to the fact that a major "hyperspace warp" happens to exist in our solar system. The three major space empires are:

The three are often in direct or indirect conflict, which occasionally involve Earth people; in particular, the Kree and Skrulls are ancient enemies, and the Kree-Skrull War has involved humans on several occasions.

Another prominent alien race is the Watchers, immortal and wise beings who watch over the Marvel Universe and have taken a sacred vow not to intervene in events, though the Watcher assigned to Earth, Uatu, has violated this oath on several occasions.

The Elders of the Universe are ancient aliens who have often had great impact on many worlds, for billions of years, acting alone or as a group.

Many other races exist, and have formed an “Intergalactic Council” to have their say on matters that affect them all, such as interference from Earth humans in their affairs.

Supernatural creatures

Also abundant are legendary creatures such as gods, demons and vampires. The ‘gods’ of most polytheistic pantheons are actually powerful, immortal human-like races from other dimensions who visited Earth in ancient times, and became the basis of many legends (obviously not all such legends can be true, since they contradict scientific facts, as well as each other). Besides mythological gods, many deities made up by Marvel writers exist as well, such as the Dark Gods, enemies of the Asgardians. Note that many persons and beings have falsely pretended to be gods or demons during history; in particular, none of the ones claiming to be figures from Judeo-Christian beliefs (such as Satan, God, or the Angels) have turned out to be the real article.[17]

Similarly, demons are evil magical beings who take affairs in the matters of the universe, one of the most notorious being Mephisto. Others include Nightmare, D'Spayre, N'Astirah, Dormammu, and Shuma-Gorath.

Most of the current generation of gods have been revealed to be the descendants of the Elder Goddess Gaea. The two most prominent pantheons are the Asgardians (of whom Thor is a member) and the Olympians (of whom Hercules is a member). The lords of the various pantheons sometimes gather in groups known as the Council of Godheads or the Council of Skyfathers.

The gods were forced to stop meddling with humanity (at least openly) a thousand years ago by the Celestials, and most people today believe them to be fictional.

Cosmic entities

Above all other beings in the Universe are the cosmic entities, beings of unbelievably great levels of power (the weakest can destroy planets) who exist to perform duties that maintain the existence of the universe. Most do not care at all about "lesser beings" such as humans, and as a consequence their acts can occasionally be dangerous to mortals.

When dire threats threaten the universe it is not uncommon for these beings to gather together to discuss the threat, and even act.

Characteristics

Dimensions

Several Dimensions coexist simultaneously without affecting each other directly. There’s a score of such dimensions, ranging from the Earth-like to the totally alien. Some are magical in nature and others are scientific; some are inhabited and others are not. These include realities like the Microverse, Darkforce Dimension, the Mojoverse, and many more.

Time

Another noteworthy feature of this universe is that time "branches out" creating new alternate realities when certain important events happen. Those realities can also spawn realities of their own. There exists hundreds, probably thousands, or even millions of such realities. It is unknown why this happens, though a warp known as the Nexus of All Realities exists in a swamp in Florida. For the most part this does not matter, as most beings are unaware that this occurs, or even that their universes were recently "born" from another. However, organizations exist which try to monitor or manipulate the various realities. These include the Captain Britain Corps, the Time Variance Authority, and Kang the Conqueror's forces. See Continuities, below.

Marvel Universe Timeline

The following timeline describes the major events of Earth-616. Only major fictional historical events are listed here. Please note that few exact dates have been given for these events, so approximations are used instead. Note also that a sliding timescale applies to Earth-616, so that events involving its inhabitants can only be determined as having happened a certain number of years before whatever the current date is.[18]

Places

Certain places, some of which exist in real-life and some of which are fictional, figure prominently in the Marvel Universe.

New York City

Most of the action of Marvel Comics takes place in New York City.

New York City is the site of many places important to superheroes, notably the Avengers Mansion, the Baxter Building and Four Freedoms Plaza, Hell's Kitchen, the Raft, Sanctum Sanctorum, Stark Tower...

Two universities are also especially prominent in the Marvel Universe:

Regions and Countries

Planets

Extradimensional places

Artifacts, material, objects of power

Some items have been created specifically for the Marvel Universe and carry immense powers, among them the Adamantium, the Book of the Vishanti, the Cosmic Cube, the Eye of Agamotto, the Infinity Gauntlet, the Mandarin's Ten Rings, Thor's hammer Mjolnir, the M'Kraan Crystal, the Quantum Bands, the Serpent Crown, the Siege Perilous, the Ultimate Nullifier, the Unstable molecules, the Vibranium...

Culture & Media

TV

  • "Lacuna with the Stars" - talk show hosted by "8th X-Statix" Lacuna, wherein she reveals celebrities' secrets.
  • X-Statix Pay-Per-View events.[citation needed]

Films

  • Fantastic Four (in-universe movie) - movie about the family of superpowered adventurers.[citation needed]
  • Spider-Man (in-universe movie) - movie about the famous superhero.[citation needed]

Print Publications

Trends

  • "Magneto was right" - after Magneto was believed dead in the Genoshan holocaust, he became a popular t-shirt logo and graffiti image.
  • Mutant culture - in the time leading up to M-Day, mutant fashion, music, and art became very popular.
  • "Tony was right/Cap was right" t-shirt logos popularized after the Civil War.
  • "Cyclops was right" - a popular t-shirt logo and movement based on Cyclops point of view on how humanity treated mutantkind.

Commercial Products

  • Doop key-chains and plush toys.

Notable Figures

Politicians

Businessmen

Scientists

Government Agents

Others

Organizations

Corporations

Charity, Volunteer, and Outreach Organizations

  • Captain America's Hotline - a nationwide phone service that lets civilians contact Captain America with information pertaining to national security or crises beyond the scope of conventional authorities. Established using Captain America's back pay since World War II. Stars and Stripes, a network of volunteer data processors, scan the messages and forward them to Captain America, based on suitability, location and urgency.
  • Excelsior - support group of former teen superheroes that helps their peers make the transition to a civilian lifestyle. Founded by Phil Urich and Michiko "Mickey" Musashi. Bankrolled by Rick Jones.
  • Mutantes Sans Frontières - charity organization run by Warren Worthington III.
  • X-Corporation - outreach program that provides rescue, relief and refuge to mutants, with embassies in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mumbai, Nairobi, New York, Paris, and Singapore. After M-Day, several embassies were bombed, so all of X-Corporation has been evacuated to the X-Mansion in Salem Center, NY.
  • Hellfire Club - international social club for the social elite and wealthy.
  • Maria Stark Foundation - non-profit organization uses donated funds to finance various charities and renovation projects, as well as the Avengers.

Landmarks

Government Agencies

  • S.H.I.E.L.D. - founded to combat technologically advanced threats on world security, S.H.I.E.L.D. has, throughout the years, remained on the front lines fighting terrorism and extraterrestrial menaces working as an international intelligence agency.
  • H.A.M.M.E.R. - created by Norman Osborn as a S.H.I.E.L.D.'s replacement. Currently became a terrorist organization.
  • S.W.O.R.D. - counter terrorism and intelligence agency which deals with extraterrestrial threats to world security.
  • A.R.M.O.R. - extradimensional security agency to guard against contamination and conflict from alternate realities.
  • S.T.R.I.K.E. - British intelligence agency dedicated to dealing with threats beyond the remit of the regular intelligence services.
  • O*N*E* - government agency created to protect/observe the X-Men and the remaining mutants after the M-Day, which reduced the number of mutants on Earth to a very few hundred.
  • X.S.E. - paramilitary police force charged with keeping the peace between mutants and humans. X.S.E. was founded by Storm at the behest of the United Nations in order to police the growing mutant population.

Criminal

Education

Retail Outlets

The super-heroes provide material for merchandising, sold at the store located on the ground floor of the Baxter Building, in comic-book stores or at X-Force Café...

Pharmaceuticals/Narcotics

Many drugs (often related to mutants) such as the Kick" or the Mutant Growth Hormone exist within the Marvel Universe, as well as mutant-related diseases and medicament.

  • Marvel tries to explain most superpowers and their sources scientifically, usually through the use of pseudo-scientific concepts.
  • Franklin Richards insisted on the fact the universe was both sentient and female.[19]
  • The central concept of the Marvel Universe is that it is just like the real world, except that superheroes (and super-villains) exist. It is more than just that, however. The Marvel Universe includes examples of most major science fiction and fantasy concepts, and writers keep adding more continuously. Further, these concepts are often (though not always) developed in ways that don't contradict each other, but instead form a unified background. This concept is fairly rare; another example of a fictional universe that seeks to use all types of fantastic elements is the DC Universe.
  • The numerical designation for realities, and the assignation of 616 to the core reality, occurred during Alan Moore's run on Captain Britain, Vol. 2 in the 1980's. Alan Moore has confirmed that, contrary to popular belief, there is no particular significance to the number (one popular rumor suggests that it has something to do with the date of the release of the first Fantastic Four issue in 1961). There is considerable irony in the fact that the "primary" Marvel reality has been assigned a number quite a way down the scale.
    • From a fourth wall perspective, it should be noted that the main Marvel Universe will always be Earth-616, regardless of the internal rules guiding the fiction. As an example, the Marvel Universe experienced a reality-altering event known as the Age of Apocalypse that altered 20 years of history through time travel before reverting to "normal". It's generally understood that the main Marvel Universe, before and after the AOA, was Earth-616. A closer look refutes this, however. When Legion traveled back in time and killed Xavier, the Marvel rules involving time travel mean he created two timelines: one where he traveled back in time (the Age of Apocalypse) and one where he didn't. Characters from the AOA then traveled back in time after Legion did and stopped him from killing Xavier. The Marvel rules of time travel mean this created a SECOND split in the timeline (instead of undoing the first), resulting in THREE timelines:
      • The original reality (0 time travels)
      • The Age of Apocalypse (1 time travels)
      • And the new prime reality where Legion was stopped from killing Xavier but Sugarman and Dark Beast escaped into the past thus creating the Genoshan Mutates and Morlocks (2 time travels)
    • The last reality has been treated like "Earth-616" ever since the AOA, even though the original reality would have been Earth-616 when Earth-295 split off thanks to Legion, and the new prime should have been given a third reality designation when IT split off from Earth-295. Instead, it stole the designation of the original reality because renaming Earth-616 would have been too confusing.
  • It must be noted that, due to the fact that Marvel's publishers do not want to allow their characters to age, the setting of the stories has to be updated every few years; Marvel's major heroes were created in the 60's, but the heroes have only been allowed to age about a decade in that time. Unlike DC Comics, who uses the idea that interference with time by villains caused reality to reboot a few times, Marvel simply assumes that the stories happen in the space of years instead of decades; this is known as a sliding timescale. Thus, the events of previous stories are considered to have happened within a certain number of years prior to the publishing date of the current issue. Where stories reference real-life historic events, these references are later ignored or rewritten to suit current sensibilities. For example, the origins of Iron Man and Professor X were recently changed to refer to armed conflict in Afghanistan, where they had originally referred to southeast Asia and the Korean War and there have been numerous references to Spider-Man's four decade history taking place within the space of five years. However, there are a few exceptions to the sliding timescale policy. This is usually when characters are tied inextricably to a certain time period. The most notable example of this is Captain America. Captain America has remained a World War 2 hero for his entire existence. Marvel has devised several different ways to get around him aging, but openly admits he's been an adventurer for over sixty years.
  • The Marvel Comics company itself exists within the Marvel Universe, and versions of people such as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have appeared in some of the stories. The entire 1977 Marvel Bullpen appeared in Fantastic Four #176, where Reed Richards convinces Stan Lee to make a comic book about The Impossible Man to stop his tantrum. The Marvel of this reality publishes comics that adapt the actual adventures of the superheroes (except for details not known to the public, like their secret identities).


For Alternate Universes, Dimensions, and Pocket Universes, see: Multiverse.

Marvel Logo


  1. Avengers #375
  2. 2.0 2.1 JLA/Avengers #3
  3. She-Hulk Vol 2 #21
  4. Marvel NOW! Point One #1
  5. Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe #2
  6. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 4 #11; Dark Beast's entry
  7. 7.0 7.1 Secret Wars #9
  8. Contest of Champions #7
  9. New Avengers Vol 4 #17
  10. Ultimates Vol 2 #1
  11. New Avengers Vol 4 #2
  12. Ultimates Vol 2 #2
  13. Thor #169
  14. Secret Wars #1
  15. Ultimates Vol 2 #6
  16. A Marvel series called Earth X explored one possible reason: that superhumans are meant to protect a Celestial that is "growing" inside Earth; but this series repeatedly contradicts previously established Marvel continuity.
  17. This is obviously a conscious decision on Marvel Comics' part.
  18. In general, most recent sources place Fantastic Four #1 (the beginning of the Silver Age of Comic Books, and of the modern Marvel Universe) as having occurred 13 years ago as of Indestructible Hulk #3 (January 2013). Alternately the sliding time scale can be fixed at the millennium if historical events in the 20th and 21st century do not take place at the same they do in the real universe. See Marvel Time and also Marvel Universe Reading Order.
  19. FF #23


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