DC and Marvel will be throwing a lot of Multiverse your way on the page and screen

DC Infinite Frontier and Marvel Avengers Forever images
DC Infinite Frontier and Marvel Avengers Forever images (Image credit: George Marston)

While these days the decades-long rivalry between Marvel Comics and DC is now mostly relegated to nostalgia like the Comics Code Authority symbol or the ubiquitous Charles Atlas bodybuilding ads, there does seem to be one particular battleground the publishers are still waging war on.

Both publishers (and their sister Hollywood studios that adapt their stories to live-action and animation) are seemingly going all-in on the Multiverse at the exact same time. 

The simultaneous pushes by the two biggest US comic book publishers and parent media companies is similar to a phenomenon that is referred to by the term 'twin films.' That's when Hollywood develops and releases very similar projects within a short time with of another, like once upon a time when they made 'twin films' about giant meteors threatening the Earth and erupting super-volcanoes. 

More recently we've gotten 'twin' biopics about Christopher Robin (the real-life inspiration for the Winnie the Pooh character) and CGI-heavy adaptations of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book in relatively short timespans.

Multiverses will be 'twinned' at Marvel and DC for the foreseeable future in a variety of projects on the page and on the screen. Here's a look at recent Marvel and DC adventures in their Multiverses and what's coming up in 2022 alone.

The 'Marvel'ous Multiverse

Marvel Comics just recently launched Avengers Forever (opens in new tab) - a new version of the well-regarded 1998 Kurt Busiek-Carlos Pacheco 12-issue series (opens in new tab) that teamed a disparate group of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes plucked throughout their history to combat Immortus, a version of the time-traveling tyrant Kang from a variant timeline.  

Avengers Forever #1 variant cover (Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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The new Avengers Forever ongoing by writer Jason Aaron and artist Aaron Kuder deviates from the original's formula a couple of degrees and instead focuses on various Avengers throughout the Multiverse (the "Multiverse's Mightiest Heroes") including an archeologist Tony Stark who is the "Invincible Ant-Man" rather than Iron Man. 

Marvel is even 'twinning' itself, launching two new separate but similar series Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse and What if...Miles Morales starring multiple Multiverse versions of Spider-Gwen and man who shares the Spider-Man title with Peter Parker, respectively. 

Marvel is even more Multiverse-preoccupied on the film and TV side. 2019's Avengers: Endgame was one of the biggest films of all time and after a 2020 COVID-19 pause, 2021 gave us the Disney Plus series Loki (which introduced Kang and a Kang variant He Who Remains to the MCU) and What If…? along with Sony's pandemic-defying monster hit Spider-Man: No Way Home

May's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will up the ante and 2023's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (which will also feature Kang) also seems destined to swim in the waters of variant alternate timeliness and the Multiverse.

In fact, the Multiverse appears to be the leading candidate to serve as a narrative throughline for the MCU for its next phases the same way the Infinity Stones were for the first four phases.

DC won't be left behind

On DC's side, January 2021's finale to Dark Knights: Death Metal (opens in new tab) gave us an Omniverse  - which the publisher describes as a Multiverse of Multiverses - and its new 'Infinite Frontier' editorial era. 

Over the past year that's begat an Infinite Frontier (opens in new tab) special and then limited series (opens in new tab) by writer Joshua Williamson and his follow-up limited series Justice League Incarnate (opens in new tab) that stars a Justice League featuring characters from around its Multiverse, which includes a couple of 'variants' (President Superman, Aquawoman) of core Justice League members Superman and Aquaman and the Flashpoint Batman, a variant Batman who is Bruce Wayne's father from an alternate timeline in which Bruce and Martha Wayne were killed in Crime Alley.

If Justice League Incarnate sounds like it shares some conceptual DNA with the new Avengers Forever, you'd be right. But to be fair, Justice League Incarnate was announced first, but both were almost certainly developed separately and without knowledge of one another.

And not for nothing, Justice League Incarnate also co-stars a new character Dr. Multiverse, who is from DC's Earth-8; a multiversal world that's more or less DC's version of the Marvel Universe. 

And Justice League Incarnate is only part of the second act of an 'Infinite Frontier saga' that seems to be headed towards a Darkseid-focused new Crisis - the latest offshoot of the granddaddy of all comic book Multiverse stories, Crisis on Infinite Earths (opens in new tab)

Flashpoint Beyond #0 cover (Image credit: DC)
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But wait, there's still more!

If you act now and pay separate shipping and handling you can also read Flashpoint Beyond, a just-announced follow-up to the 2011 alternate reality series Flashpoint that led to the DC full reboot 'The New 52 (opens in new tab)' which was undone by the reboot Rebirth (opens in new tab) which slowly led to the series that combined the DC Universe and Watchman Universe's Doomsday Clock (opens in new tab)

Flashpoint Beyond stars the aforementioned Thomas Wayne Batman who survived the destruction of his alternate Earth, which he learns in the new series still exists. 

Got all that? 

There will be a quiz. 

For its part, WarnerMedia is also knee-deep in DC-adapted Multiverse projects itself. 

The entire CW-DC TV world is based on the Multiverse foundation and given Warners boldly connected the TV world to the feature film world in its event crossover adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths when Ezra Miller's Flash made a cheeky cameo, there's every reason to suspect the CW shows and films co-exist in the same multiverse with its HBO Max streaming series like Titans and Stargirl and newer TV series like Superman & Lois and Naomi.

And of course, Miller's Barry Allen/Flash gets his own feature film later this year, which is adapted from the DC Flashpoint event series (opens in new tab) which if you remember from a couple of paragraphs ago was all about an alternate, variant timeline. 

The film will guest star both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as their versions of Batman from different film series and that's likely just the tip of the iceberg of the variant timeline/multiverse shenanigans The Flash will spring on us. 

The Flash promo image

promo image for The Flash (Image credit: Warner Bros. )

Plus there's the animated film adaptation of the popular DC game Injustice (opens in new tab), which takes place in a variant world in the DC Multiverse in which the Joker tricks Superman into murdering a pregnant Lois Lane and millions of people in Metropolis, which transforms him into a ruthless tyrant. 

So, yeah...

A Multitude of Multiverses

So for fans and readers who cross boundaries for comics from both publishers and the films and TV shows adapted from their stores, they're going to be seeing a lot of the concept for the foreseeable future. Multiverses are more or less distilled fan service steeped in what Stan Lee called the "illusion of change," so it'll be interesting to see how big an appetite for Multiverses exist while Marvel and DC both serve big heaping portions of it simultaneously. 

Not that the Multiverse is a Marvel or DC invention. Star Trek's Mirror universe with its bearded, evil Spock was an earlier genre/pop culture breakthrough that proved the mettle of the premise among fans. 

More recently Sony's highly-regarded animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse demonstrated critics and even mainstream audiences will embrace the concept, and likewise, Loki was a hit among both hardcore Marvel fans and more casual MCU fans. 

And Spider-Man: No Way Home removed any doubt that might have existed that the Multiverse can be a mainstream draw.

The question now isn't 'Will fans dig the Multiverse?'; it's more like 'How much is too much?' (if that's even a thing).

There are likely alternate timelines in which fans embrace it all happily and timelines in which they might get a little exhausted from it all, and we'll find out which is our 'sacred' timeline soon enough because a lot more Multiverse is coming. 

Newsarama explains the Marvel Multiverse and the meaning of Earth-616.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.