Is The Marvel Cinematic Universe About To Explore The Multiverse?

Big things are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s a sentence you can plug into virtually any article on the subject, but it feels especially so today. Not only is the MCU kicking off its tenth-anniversary celebration this year, but a key part of that celebration is the release of ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘. That film, which serves as the beginning of the end of Phase Three of the cinematic endeavor that has reshaped the Hollywood landscape, is in turn (along with next year’s ‘Avengers 4‘) said to reshape the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

How so? Well, those involved have understandably been mum on the subject so far. (All we know for sure is that Big Changes Are Coming.) But Benedict Cumberbatch may have just given us a hint of what to expect. Speaking during the ‘Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years – The Evolution of Heroes’ featurette that accompanies the home video release of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (in which Cumberbatch briefly reprises the role of Doctor Strange), the actor had this to say:

“What we’ve seen happen within the Marvel Cinematic Universe is this ever-expanding couture of superheroes. And I think now we’re at the stage where this universe, even within our world, has gotten quite crowded and it’s just about to explode into other dimensions.”

Yes, Cumberbatch could well be speaking metaphorically, referring to any number of unforeseen directions the films might take or how the audience they draw may yet continue to expand. But what if he’s being literal?

Given how cagey Kevin Feige has been about ‘Avengers 4’ (suggesting that even the title might give something away) and some of the vague allusions that have been made to the changes fans will be seeing in the post-‘Infinity War’ Cinematic Universe, it certainly wouldn’t be the strangest twist. Fans have long been speculating that Phase Three of the MCU might wrap up with some sort of reality-altering bombshell, and a sojourn into the multiverse would certainly fall under that umbrella. And to be sure, the idea of a multiverse isn’t entirely new. It has been teased both in ‘Ant-Man’ and Cumberbatch’s own ‘Doctor Strange’. Even Marvel’s TV properties, which often avoid direct references to the films, have made allusions to the possibility, most notably with ‘Agents of SHIELD’ and ‘Iron Fist’.

The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Black Panther’, stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman, and Daniel Kaluuya, and is now playing in theaters.

The next installment, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, will feature appearances by virtually every major character who has appeared in the MCU to date, as the Avengers team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to kick off their long-awaited showdown with Thanos. The film will arrive in theaters on May 4, 2018.