Not content with the Marvel Cinematic Universe just being the most ever-expanding and populated franchise in the known universe, fans now think there’s another very meta layer to the Marvel cake.
During the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and the What If…? series, audiences learn of the idea of multiverse theory as well as the idea of numbered universes. Traditionally in Marvel comics, the mainline universe is denoted as Earth-616: but in the comics, the MCU is numbered Earth-199999.
So what exactly is the deal with the MCU being both Earth-616 and Earth-199999? Well one fan theory thinks they’ve cracked the case, and it’s doing numbers on Reddit.
Posted by the aptly-named /u/Antman269, the theory believes that the MCU is a franchise based on the 616 Marvel comics, that exists within the 616 comics. Essentially, the MCU is an adaptation of the “real world events” that are happening for comics 616 universe citizens. Following along?
This would mean that there’s a lot more going on than many initially realised in the MCU, and sort of explain why some actors have returned to their roles, such as Patrick Stewart from the X-Men films in Multiverse of Madness, or Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield from their respective Spider-Man films in No Way Home.
Or, it’s an over-intellectualising of a property that shouldn’t really be that complex, and is constantly on the verge of collapsing up its own backside as it tries to expand its universe. Either way, it’s a fun time to speculate on Marvel properties.
Regardless, there’s countless stories left to tell within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the latest entry, Thor: Love and Thunder currently in cinemas.