In theaters this past week, Marvel Studios dropped the latest installment in Phase 4; Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The film, directed by Sam Raimi, pushes the MCU’s boundaries beyond its self-contained universe and unleashes the Multiverse further than ever before. It also explores one of the greatest dangers to the Multiverse – an incursion.
[This article will delve into some heavy spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This is your only spoiler warning.]
Doctor Strange (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch), along with the help of mystical allies old and new, travels the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse. As the movie dives deeper and deeper into the Multiverse and the concept of alternate realities, we eventually reach Earth-838, otherwise known as the “Illuminati-Verse.”
In this universe, the Strange-838 formed the Illuminati, a group of the world’s most powerful superheroes, to make the decisions that no other hero could. This group comprised Captain Carter, Black Bolt, Captain Marvel, Mordo Supreme, Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, and an unnamed 7th member.
Richards (portrayed by a fan-favorite fancast, John Krasinski) enlightens the MCU Strange with several concepts regarding alternate realities and the Multiverse. According to him, the MCU’s Strange visit to their universe destabilizes reality and increases the risk of an incursion.
What is an incursion?
As described by Richards, an incursion is a phenomenon in which the boundary between two universes erodes, ultimately colliding with each other, destroying one or both universes entirely as a result.
Based on several context clues that the movie provides, we know that there are two causes for an incursion to occur. The first would be the one Reed Richards explained previously; the longer an individual from one universe remains in another universe, the greater the risk of causing a collision between both universes.
The other reason would be caused by the phenomenon known as “dreamwalking,” a technique both Wanda Maximoff and Stephen Strange use to travel into alternate universes and possess the bodies of their variants.
How does this affect the MCU?
Now that we know what an incursion is, let’s focus on how this knowledge affects our current MCU.
In the post-credit scene of the Multiverse of Madness, you’ll spot our Stephen Strange walking down a street in New York before encountering Clea (portrayed by Charlize Theron). In this scene, Clea informs Stephen that he’s caused an incursion and that they need to fix it before jumping into a portal, taking them to the Dark Dimension.
This scene sets up several questions that require answers, but it also gives us some context of what we can expect from the MCU moving forward.
Earth-616 is colliding with another universe
Right now, Clea’s warning indicates that the MCU we know is currently colliding with another universe. For an incursion to occur between two universes, the universes involved have to be the universe from which the person causing the incursion is from and the universe that the person causing the incursion is traveling to.
Using that principle and the movie’s logic, the only two universes that are the likely candidates for the Incursion with 616 are Universe-838 (Illuminati-Verse) or the Sinister-Verse (The Universe where Sinister Strange exists).
Now, this part is purely speculative, but given how much time Stephen spent in the Illuminati-verse, as well as Wanda’s dreamwalking into that universe, I’d say the more likely of the two is Universe-838. It also makes sense from a narrative standpoint because it allows the MCU to play with even more possibilities than before.
With Universe-838 colliding into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Feige and Marvel Studios now have the perfect opportunity to introduce new characters into the MCU that they’ve evaded for years. For example, if the events of Multiverse of Madness tie directly into the upcoming X-Men ’97 series, that means the X-Men are from Earth-838 and that mutants could now be on a direct collision course for their debut in Earth-616 thanks to the incursion.
The same could be said for Earth-838’s Fantastic Four and the Inhumans. The Incursion of Universe-838 with the MCU also allows characters like Billy and Tommy Maximoff to crossover into the MCU and make their superhero debuts alongside the Young Avengers in a few years.
The incursion could also lead to some fascinating storylines and interactions down the road, like Billy and Tommy Maximoff, finally being able to exist in the MCU or 838’s Maria Rambeau facing her daughter Monica Rambeau in the MCU (if she is still alive). It could even lead to a possible Avengers vs. X-Men storyline featuring the MCU Avengers with 838’s X-Men.
But what do you guys think? Let us know in the comments or on social media!