Over the past few years I’ve noticed a growing trend – the development and exploration of multiverses. Sure, every studio under the sun might tell you it is keen to create a cinematic universe, but could we now be shifting to something even greater – and possibly more cost effective?
What is a multiverse?
If you’re a fan of TV series, The Flash then you’ll be more than familiar with the idea of a multiverse. But for those who are new to the concept, a multiverse is effectively a collection of universes all with unique variations.
For example, in this universe I spend my time writing a blog about geeky things while watching re-runs of ’90s shows. In an alternate universe there might be a version of me who spends his day writing ’90s shows while watching programming about blogs.
There could be another universe where I’m a 90-year-old who spends his day trying to figure out what a blog is. Or a universe where I’m a character in a TV show who blogs about 90-year-olds!
You get the idea.
Basically, a multiverse is a collection of parallel universes. Each universe is similar, yet significantly different, and each just as valid as the next.
Going back to the TV series, The Flash, it has been noted there are multiple Earths (Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-X etc) where events play out differently. Heroes are villains, dead characters live and history is radically altered.
Now I bring this up because it’s not just The Flash that uses the concept of a multiverse. Oscar-winning animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has also made use of the multiverse concept, as has sci-fi/horror movie, Happy Death Day 2U.
Is it possible that we’re about to see more multiverses in the coming years?
I expect so – and here’s why.
Are multiverses the next big thing?
Let’s take Into the Spider-Verse for example. The movie introduces the idea that multiple Spider-Men/Women/Hams exist, with each inhabiting their own universe. Not only does this allow for variations on the same character, but it also allows Sony Pictures – the studio behind the Spider-Man films – to say, ‘look, we can create as many Spidey films as we want and they are all part of the Spider-Verse’.
Moving forward this is great for producing multiple Spider-Man movies, but looking back to the past it also means the old Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield films can also be part of this multiverse. What a great way to stitch together all of the Spidey projects without having to worry about continuity.
I predict this is where we will soon be heading with the Marvel Cinematic Universe too. No longer content with just one universe, I believe Disney/Marvel Studios has a plan to establish multiple universes.
Why do I think this?
a.) As part of the Fox acquisition, Disney will shortly acquire almost 20 years of X-Men movies and what better way to keep this product semi-relevant than to say it is part of an alternate Marvel Universe? This way the X-Men movies remain a valid part of Marvel’s grand plan, without seeming like an inferior product.
b.) The Marvel Studios/Sony partnership to produce Spider-Man films is soon set to end. Spidey exists as part of the Spider-Verse, but what if the Spider-Verse was also part of the MCU?
c.) Sooner or later, Marvel/Disney will have to say goodbye to its current roster of actors/actresses. If Marvel Studios establishes a multiverse it gives plenty of wiggle room for new stars to do their thing without having to explain why Robert Downey Jr isn’t around any more.
Marvel movies have already toyed with the idea of multiverses (see Doctor Strange), but could this be made official in the not too distant future?
Is DC developing a multiverse?
Moving outside of Marvel and back over to DC, Warner Bros./DC Entertainment is already turning its back on the idea of a cinematic universe. With the box office disappointment of Justice League, the studio seems to be having a rethink and the DC Extended Universe is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Batfleck is gone; Cavill is unlikely to play Superman again; and the new Joker movie – due out later this year – has nothing to do with any of the previous DC movies. Even the movies themselves are being re-branded as ‘Worlds of DC’, suggesting there are multiple worlds out there, rather than one cohesive universe.
Are multiverses the future of streaming?
Many studios have an eye on streaming and are trying to develop content – either through new products or through their back catalogue. Imagine if DC made a concerted effort to say all of its properties are connected via a multiverse. Wouldn’t that make the streaming service/content that more desirable?
A multiverse exists in the Arrowverse, but it’s largely contained within the scope of a series of TV shows. But what if that sprawled out into the films too? Make it 100% official and every DC property, live-action and animated, could all be part of one rich tapestry.
Into the Spider-Verse made it clear that when it comes to Sony & Spider-Man, everything is connected. If Marvel Studios were to do a similar thing, or DC was to push this beyond the Arrowverse then I’m confident multiverses would become common practice.
And I’m pretty sure this would become a model adopted by other studios. Universal Pictures struggled to get its Dark Universe off the ground, but it could simply produce one movie which suggests that all of its back catalogue of Universal Monster movies are all connected to its new horror pictures.
What about every Zorro or Tarzan picture? What about a multiverse based on these characters?
Want to build a cinematic universe, but don’t have the time or money to do it the Marvel way? No sweat – simply produce one film which makes it clear that all of your past movies/shows are connected and you have a multiverse.
Studios only need do this for one or two films every so often. Once the multiverse is established all other projects can come and go as they please, while the marketing team do the rest to tie it all together.
I’m not giving studios ideas, this is genuinely where I see things heading and I’m convinced this is already in the pipeline. If not this year, then within the next couple of years.
I guess we’ll have to see what happens, but I feel a change is coming. That change is in the shape of a multiverse. Or rather, multiple multiverses.