The MCU has been riding the multiversal wave for quite a while now. As Marvel’s Above-All Kevin Feige continues expanding his claws to the never-ending alternate timelines and different dimensions, stuff gets confusing for us mere mortals behind the screen.
Keeping track of all the realities, infinite universes, and character variants is an excellent mental exercise on its own, assuming you’re an avid M-She-U fan who has no problem covering all the Disney+ shows and theatrical releases with ease. (Purposefully excluding Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania because Jonathan Majors.)
Amongst all the new releases and attempts to keep the MCU wagon afloat, there’s one question that stands in the way of fans trying to understand how all of this equates to the timeline shown in the original source material: Marvel Comics.
Is MCU Earth-199999 or Earth-616?
From the dawn of time, it was widely accepted that Marvel Comics carried the storylines from Earth-616. All the characters and major events existed within the confinements of this particular continuity (For the most part, of course).
But as the years unfolded, putting legends like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on the backseat as a cinematic paradigm shift occurred in 2002 with the release of ‘Spider-Man,’ or in 2008 when MCU kicked off with ‘Iron Man,’ things were bound to become complicated.
While MCU’s longtime poster boy Robert Downey Jr. was taking all the praises for his role as Tony Stark, the ‘Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z: Vol. 5’ released in 2008 stated that the comic-universe operates under Earth-616 continuity while the MCU goes with Earth-199999.
Hold on…Why was Earth-199999 dubbed Earth-616 in MCU phase-4?
Following the events in 2008’s ‘Iron Man,’ all the way up to ‘Avengers: Endgame’ things have been pretty straightforward in terms of continuity and the concepts of time travel as explained by Bruce Banner in the fourth Avengers movie.
However, as soon as Tony Stark left the scene, the discussion took a turn as in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home,’ Mysterio tells Peter Parker that there are multiple realities. Mysterio also stated that he was from Earth-833, while the MCU is a part of Earth-616.
Later debunked in the movie, Mysterio was a former Stark Industries employee Quentin Beck who, in an attempt to get his hands on the latest Stark Tech (Tony’s Glasses), had put on an Avengers-level threat and misguided Peter Parker and Nick Fury.
Also, there’s no evidence that Beck knew about the concept of the Multiverse at all. It was just a line added to his script without any relevant information.
Strange, isn’t it?
Okay, so the MCU is Earth-199999, and the Marvel Comic Universe is Earth-616, right? Well..no. As the MCU began experimenting with the concept of the Multiverse a little and we saw characters from other franchises, ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ whole-heartedly confirmed that the MCU Earth is, in fact, from the 616th dimension. The Illuminati kept referring to Stephen Strange’s universe as the same continuity, which was earlier dubbed otherwise.
Well, now we have concrete evidence that the MCU timeline was Earth-616 all this time (maybe) and should be put in the same spectrum as Marvel Comics, even though the comic universe has labeled itself as Earth-616 since 1983 to explain the different branchings of its storylines in crossover events. These two timelines or sources can co-exist simultaneously.
Later some light was also shed on Mysterio’s source of information about Earth-616, as in the first episode of Ms. Marvel. It was revealed that the events of Avengers: Endgame were communicated to the public via many of the interviews that the heroes gave before the events of ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home.’ One such instance was The Powered Life’s podcast episode “Big Me Little Me: A Scott Lang Interview.”
It is also possible that Quentin Beck must’ve read one such interview(s) and written that off in his script.
Is Earth-199999 Mentioned in Comics?
Marvel Comics has always labeled itself as Earth-616, before the events of Secret Wars, at least. But another character jumped into this discussion, representing the comic version to some extent.
We’re talking about Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a Spider-Man 2099. A few days ago, Sony dropped the second trailer for its long-awaited animated release ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,’ and it was stated by Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Issac) that the MCU Earth is, in-fact, Earth-199999.
He deliberately tells Miles Morales not to get him started on “Doctor Strange and that little nerd (Tom Holland’s Peter Parker) back on Earth-199999!”
Does it mean Miguel O’Hara just put an end to all the chaos and confusion that’s been going around for ages? Well…for now. But what about other characters from different universes? What’s their designated Earth serial number?
What Earth Is Venom From?
Taking Venom’s Comic Book origins and connecting the dots to Sony’s Spidey Universe, Eddie Brock, and Venom are from Earth-688. Also, after the events of ‘Venom: Let there be Carnage,’ the Venom symbiote explained to Eddie that its Symbiote Hive-Mind granted it billions of years’ worth of knowledge from wherever symbiotes existed across the Multiverse.
Moments later, Eddie and Venom were transported to Earth-199999 (or whatever you’d like to call it.) in the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home.’ Although Dr. Strange fixes everything making Eddie and Venom return to their universe, a small portion of the symbiote still dwells in the main timeline.
What Earth Is Deadpool From?
The new and improved Deadpool from Fox (It feels good to call him that.) is from Earth-414 and, after Disney acquires Fox, will be a part of the MCU’s Earth 616 or Earth-199999.
So What Now?
It can be safe to say that the MCU’s main timeline is Earth-616 and Earth-199999. Maybe, the franchise must’ve faced some issues with its continuity, or the screenwriters and Kevin Feige are so reluctant to state that MCU belongs to Earth-616 for some unknown reasons.
Whereas the characters from Sony’s Cinematic Universe say otherwise. Corporate dispute, is it? Who knows? We’re just out here scratching our heads and enjoying the show!