The MCU has not been shy of mentioning the possibility of a Multiverse before in its projects, most notably in 2016’s Doctor Strange in which the titular character witnesses a multitude of different realities — one of which is where the evil being Dormammu resides. But Avengers: Endgame is the first movie which creates and then explores differing dimensions, with the Avengers’ interactions being the catalyst for the new changes.
In the film, Professor Hulk explains to the team how traveling in time doesn’t work like the film tropes we’re so used to and instead by traveling to points in the past, it actually creates splintered timelines. This is explored further when the Ancient One explains how removing the Infinity Stones causes disastrous repercussions for each universe.
Alternate Dimension #1 – 2012
When Steve, Tony, Bruce and Scott returned to the events of The Battle of New York in 2012, we see them almost pull off the perfect time-heist. Unfortunately, Tony gets knocked out by Past-Hulk and the Tesseract finds itself in the hands of the mischievous Loki who uses it to escape.
Of course, for the Avengers it’s a simple case of heading back in time to the 1970’s and retrieving the Tesseract from then so that they can use it. But when Steve Rogers returns it towards the end of the film, we are to assume that the stone later ends up in Loki’s hands. So what does this mean for this dimension? Do the events after The Avengers still happen or does Loki deliver his promise to the Mad Titan Thanos in this reality?
We know that even in The Avengers, Loki was frightened of Thanos’ power and now he has the power to disappear from his grasp. Could this be the story that takes place in Disney +’s upcoming Loki show? We know that the show looks to detail the demigod’s life, but what if we’re actually seeing a DIFFERENT life? Potentially, this opens up more storytelling in a world where the villain actually won for once!
Alternate Dimension #2 – 2014
As Rhodey and Nebula travel to Morag in 2014 to take Peter Quill’s place in retrieving the power stone, the two Avengers accidentally alert this alternate Thanos to their future plan due to Nebula’s mind being connected to the same network as past-Nebula. Because of this, an alternate selection of Thanos’ army, including the Mad Titan himself, the Black Order, Nebula, and Gamora, travel to the main MCU dimension (set in 2023).
While the evil threats are all defeated this presents both universes with a variety of questions. For this alternate 2014, are we to assume that while Thanos will no longer be a threat for this particular dimension, Ronan the Accuser is still active in pursuing ‘Kree Justice’ against the Nova Corps? And without Gamora, would the Guardians of the Galaxy even have formed? How many lives would be at risk in this scenario? Would Ego have been able to trick Peter without the backup of his newfound family?
Also, there are severe repercussions for our own main dimension with regards to this change. Now, this version of Gamora is stuck in 2023 without any of the experience she had with the Guardians. We saw Peter Quill scanning for her whereabouts at the end of Endgame. Could this potentially be part of the plot for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3?
Alternate Dimension #3 – 1940’s
After Steve Rogers delivers the Infinity Stones back to the point they were originally taken by Bruce, he instead spends the rest of his life married to his beloved Peggy Carter. Now, while the Russo Brothers and Markus/McFeely have differing opinions on whether Steve lived out this life in an alternate timeline, the film seems to suggest that it DOES. Not only because of Professor’s Hulk’s explanation of how time-travel works but also it would seem extremely out of character for Steve to just stand aside for decades without doing good.
This development has fascinating, endless potential for this particular timeline where Steve could have helped Peggy, and Howard Stark found SHIELD, warn them of HYDRA’s interference (therefore avoiding decades of political manipulation and wars), save Bucky from becoming the Winter Soldier and much more. Steve could also watch Tony grow up as a child, and help impart some friendly advice for his friend.
Alternate Dimension #4 – Earth 833
Now that Avengers: Endgame opened the gateway for other dimensions in the MCU, it’s clear based on the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home that this will be a long-stay repercussion with Mysterio claiming to have travelled from an alternate Earth.
That Earth in question is apparently classified as Earth 883, with Quentin Beck (Mysterio) claiming that the MCU is designated as Earth 616, much like the prime comic book universe. Now, while many are adamant that Mysterio is in fact lying about his dimension-hopping, there are some reasons why we should take some of his explanation to heart.
In the 2012 series Spider-Men, writer Brian Michael Bendis finally crossed over the Ultimate and Earth 616 Marvel universes providing the first encounter between Peter Parker and Miles Morales. In this story, it was revealed that the Mysterio of Earth 1610 (Ultimate) who had also been plaguing the alternate version of Peter Parker for years was in fact the SAME Mysterio from the traditional timeline. Frustrated by being beaten by Spider-Man, Quentin Beck set his sights on another universe by using technology and his prior-knowledge of similar social-political events for his own good. Perhaps the Mysterio in the MCU is in fact from an alternate universe but is only lying about having met Spider-Man before and manipulating the current volatile state of a post-Iron Man world.
It’s clear that Marvel Studios want the sacrifices of Avengers: Endgame to have longstanding story repercussions, and doubling down on the existence of alternate timelines provides them with unlimited story potential for not only future theatre releases, but for their Disney+ lineup too. For example, the ‘What If?’ animated series could in fact have their own designations provided and be classified as alternate dimensions. Either way, it’s certainly an interesting time to be a fan of the MCU — anything could happen!