SALT LAKE CITY — It might seem like another "Spider-Man" movie, but the new “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is something of a game changer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For those who haven't yet seen the latest MCU offering, which opened July 1, what follows here is all contained in the trailer, so no spoilers — although, we do have "Endgame" spoilers.
In the "Far From Home" trailer, we see Peter Parker (Tom Holland) waffling over his decision to remain a superhero after the death of Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in "Endgame." Soon enough, though, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) reaches out to Parker, asking him to help out a mysterious man named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Fury admits to Parker that Beck is from another version of Earth, adding that there’s a multiverse. Fury says, “the Snap tore a hole in our dimension,” which led to Beck coming into the new world.
So why is this a huge deal? Because it signifies a change of pace for the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. It means that there will be an alternate timeline where a myriad of things can happen in our universe involving Marvel characters, and that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to switch to a more cosmic, multiverse world, much like the comics.
Marvel has no plans to stop its run of films. “Avengers: Endgame” topped $2 billion worldwide in fewer than 11 days, and it’s the second-highest grossing film of all-time as of this week, sitting just behind “Avatar” for the top spot.
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MCU movie multiverse
The idea of a multiverse emerged from “Avengers: Endgame.” In the film, the Avengers travel back in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones so they can bring them to their present and stop the Snap from ever happening.
But there are consequences to that — the Avengers risk creating alternate timelines based on what they did in the past. For example, in one scene in “Endgame,” Tony Stark and Scott Lang lose the Tesseract to Loki, who snags it and disappears. “Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo confirmed that Loki remains unaccounted for and could still be alive in another timeline.
"It gets very complicated, but it would be impossible for (Captain America) to rectify the timeline unless he found Loki," Joe Russo said, according to Business Insider. "The minute that Loki does something as dramatic as take the Space Stone, he creates a branched reality."
Speaking of Captain America, he might have created his own timeline as well when he went back in time at the end of “Endgame” to return the Infinity Stones.
“The Russos have gone on the record as stating that when Captain America makes his final time jump at the end of ‘Endgame’ in order to live out the rest of his life peacefully, he doesn’t simply go to the past in order to be with Peggy Carter, he hops into a completely different dimension,” according to Gizmodo, although "Endgame" screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely say otherwise.
So it’s clear that the MCU is moving in this direction of multiverses and alternate timelines, which represents a major shift for the Marvel films to be more like the comic books.
MCU comic books multiverse
In the Marvel comics (and even in the DC Universe’s comics), there are multiple universes where different people become different superheroes, and where different events happen in alternate ways. For example, there’s an entirely different Marvel universe called the Ultimate Universe, which takes place on Earth-1610.
We’ve seen this in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” where a young Miles Morales meets up with various versions of the Spider-Man character from different timelines and realities.
Of course, the multiverse storyline in “Spider-Man: Far From Home” may not be entirely true. The character Beck claims he’s from another version of Earth, but in the comic books he is a “Spider-Man” villain, Mysterio, who is a noted liar and trickster who confuses people all the time.
But that’s not to say Marvel isn’t opening itself up to be more like the comics. Marvel plans to dive into more cosmic-related storytelling for the new films with the release of “The Eternals,” a film centered around humans who were created by an ancient group of Celestials, some of the oldest living beings in the Marvel Universe.
And it’s those cosmic characters who could bring back Thanos, and shift the MCU forever.
The Hollywood Reporter had an extensive deep-dive into how Thanos (Josh Brolin) had a rather diminished role in “Infinity War” and “Endgame” compared to what the Mad Titan does in the comic book series, but Marvel may have opened the door for his return.
In the Marvel comics, Thanos falls in love with Death (yes, there’s actually a character representative of death) and starts off the entire Infinity Gauntlet storyline to impress her.
“With this shift, it wouldn't take much for the minds behind the Marvel movies to reintroduce the Mad Titan, possibly even as an ally to the heroes who are left, which has happened more than once in the source material. He could also return as a true messenger of Death, ready to finally repay the entity who taught him so much and potentially returned him to life. With the Fantastic Four now available to Marvel Studios, Thanos could even be what brings the Silver Surfer to Earth, with the Surfer searching down the source of the Snap and its reversal.”
Adam Warlock plays a major role in the original Thanos storyline in the comics. And he spends a lot of time flying throughout space, meeting with cosmic forces. He’s also just an odd character that seems almost nutty compared to the down-to-Earth heroes we’ve seen in the MCU so far.
“Well, in the comics, he’s a super-being who is strong, fast, durable and doesn’t need to eat or drink. He can also heal and fly and is functionally immortal because he can continuously heal himself in that creepy-looking cocoon. He also looks incredibly fly in a red bathing suit,” according to Vanity Fair.
All of this is to say that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is becoming increasingly more like its comic book counterpart. We’re now seeing the opening of the multiverse, and we’re on the path to seeing more cosmic forces that could bring us back to the source material.