Crisis on Infinite Marvel Universes

Good vibes only.


When I was a kid reading my Dad’s comics, my favorite stories were the Crisis issues of Justice League. It was nearly always a JLA/JSA crossover event, and we would see alternate Earths depicted with new heroes and villains. These stories started the DC multiverse, culminating in one of the biggest events in DC comics history: Crisis on Infinite Earths.

As Crisis on Infinite Earths unfolded over 1985, I was enjoying every panel and page. Having read so many of the 60s and 70s Earth-1/2 stories starting with “Flash of Two Worlds,” I was well versed in the DC multiverse and could tell you exactly who the main players were on Earth-Prime all the way to Earth-X. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed the multiverse disappeared after the maxi-series ended. Of course, subsequent Crisis events have brought it back in various incarnations.

Alternate realities and multiverses have always been a large part of my imagination. I wasn’t alone in my appreciation.

DC Comics came out with their Elseworlds tales, and Marvel Comics spent years with their What If? comic book series. Evil alternate versions of favorite characters are my go-to concept, and I know the first time I saw it on Star Trek with “Mirror, Mirror,” I was hooked. The Crime Syndicate from DC and the Squadron Sinister/Supreme from Marvel were my favorites.

This brings me to the latest iteration of the multiverse concept in live-action with Loki.

As a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, I happily watched Wandavision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, hoping for at least an extension of the movie universe on a smaller scale. The extension stuff definitely happened in both, but I was pleasantly surprised by the experimentation with the television medium that happened on Wandavision and the discussion of race and idealism in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The themes of Loki were more about free will, identity, and love, three ideas I would never have thought the show would tackle.

After finishing Loki, I wasn’t left to wonder about the many unanswered questions because I knew full well at the mid-credits that this Disney+ series would be coming back for a season two, and the answers and likely new questions would be forthcoming. Cliffhangers can be tricky if a second season isn’t guaranteed, and luckily there’s no worry. Of course, after seeing the end credits scene with Wanda at the end of Wandavision and knowing she was appearing in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I was wondering how Loki and the Time Variance Authority might fit in. Also, with just a few clicks on the internet, I can see the Loki finale’s “Special Guest Star” Jonathan Majors, known as only “He Who Remains” in the episode, is showing up in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as Kang the Conqueror. I knew “He Who Remains” was Kang (especially with the outfit the statuary at the end of the episode has him dressed in), but the average fan probably had no idea.

While I’m steeped in comics lore and completely comfortable with time-traveling super-beings, a void monster who eats timelines, and multiverse wars, I can see the average viewer may not. It can be tricky, and a lot of plot holes can look like lazy writing. Loki is a show about characters interacting with a plot that’s certainly not linear.

The chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino was a joy to watch. Owen Wilson brought his charm and wit. Together, all three were infinitely more entertaining to watch on screen than trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. The rest of the characters, such as Renslayer and Hunter B-15, not to mention all the Loki variants, are interesting, but nothing is more important than Loki and Sylvie. And Kang. Ahem, “He Who Remains.”

The bottom line is that the finale set up Loki as one of the most important MCU characters. It properly sets up the franchise’s future through both Disney+ streaming shows and movie events at theaters. A unified network of streaming television and theatrical releases is something the DC Cinematic Universe only dreams of creating.

One of the knocks about Marvel movies is that they only exist to set up the next movie. I get the appeal of a beginning, middle, and end narrative, and there are amazing stories set up that way. However, comic books are serialized storytelling. The very name means it keeps going. Extending that concept to the MCU only makes sense.

Of course, the most important thing that happened in Loki was the multiverse is now set firmly as a storytelling device. Hints were all around in the names of movies, previous actors in various Marvel movies reprising their roles and the phenomenal success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Phase 4 in the MCU screams multi-universal madness, with the obvious ones being the Doctor Strange sequel, the cameo-filled Spider-Man 3: Far From Home, and Quantumania. Let’s not forget there’s a Fantastic Four movie on the way too. Plus, the future of the MCU appears to be starting on Disney+ with Ironheart, She-Hulk, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel and the exciting Marvel multiverse cartoon What If…? which is no doubt tying into the multiverse shenanigans.

Interestingly, the powers-that-be over at the Distinguished Competition has also noticed the multiverse trend. The currently filming Flash movie will have Barry Allen jumping from multiverse to multiverse and, at least, encountering Michael Keaton’s movie Batman. Considering how the multiverse concept started in the ground-breaking Flash story, “Flash of Two Worlds,” I find this development making me giddy with anticipation.

Loki sets up Phase 4, and now the line is truly blurred between streaming and theater. With the success of Disney+, I can see this only getting wider, wilder, and most definitely weird.

I can’t wait.

Leave a Reply