Marvel Universe (Earth-616)
The Big Bang/intelligent design
Points of Interest
Aerie, Asgard, Astra, Broodworld, Centari-IV, Earth, Counter-Earth, Dakkam, Elanis, Eyung, Galador, Gevaltu, Hala, Halfworld, Heliopolis, K'ai, Korbin, Kree-Lar, Kymellia, Lolium, Lotiara, Luphom, Mekka, microverse, Moord, Olympus, Phantus, Poppup, Ria, Rigel-3, Sakaar, Shaskofrugnon, Skrullos, Snarkworld, Technarch, Timor, Titan, Tryl'sart, Xandar, Xantar, Yann, Zen-Whoberi, Zenn-La
Atlantis, Attilan, Avengers Mansion, Avengers Tower, Baxter Building, City of Dragons, Daily Bugle, Genosha, K'un-Lun, Latveria, Lemuria, Monster Island, Sanctum Sanctorum, S.H.I.E.L.D. Central, Stark Tower, Wakanda, Watchtower, Wundagore, Xavier Institute For Higher Learning
Motion Picture Funnies Weekly (1939)
The Marvel Universe is renowned for the presence of fantastic superhuman beings, the supernatural, and the cosmic. Some have claimed it is the “prime reality” in which events of universal significance occur (and, indeed, megaversal and/or Omniversal significance), though other cross-dimensional entities state it is no more significant than any other reality in the overall scheme of things. Regardless of whose claims are right, this reality is designated as number 616 (thus, “Earth-616”) to differentiate it among the infinite numbers of alternate realities.
No one can know for absolute certainty the events that led to the existence of the 616 reality— the fact that various individuals have experienced or witnessed differing origins only compounds the difficulty.
One such account was how Sise-Neg became Genesis. Sise-Neg was a mystic of the 31st Century who found a way to draw mystical energy into himself. However, since the mystical energy was limited by the number of sorcerers in his time, he determined the best way to seek ever-increasing power was to travel back in time when there were increasingly fewer magic-users to dilute the ambient energy. He was continually drawn back further and further in time, encountering Doctor Strange along the way, until he reached the beginning of time itself and found he had ultimately absorbed near-infinite power. Finally discovering himself to be a god but realizing that he had a responsibility to re-create reality, Sise-Neg released his power to create a Big Bang.
A somewhat similar situation had Reed Richards and an alien from the future traveling to the beginnings of the universe. When investigating the origins of the Fantastic Four, Richards struck upon the idea that the cosmic rays that gave the Four their powers could have been an attempt at extraterrestrial communication. When the exact combination of cosmic rays was detected again, Richards did, in fact, contact an alien being. The alien was actually branded a heretic for his search for knowledge, and the Fantastic Four helped it ward off its brethren who sought to destroy it. Richards and the Entity found themselves adrift in time and space, drawn back by their inquisitiveness to the beginnings of the universe. The question was how did existence come from non-existence— the question was the fire, born of their need to understand, and it became the spark that lit the fire of creation. The Entity merged with the energies and forces that became creation, but because it searched for only for truth, it lacked the knowledge to form anything but chaos and destruction. Richards, still outside of time, had searched always for knowledge, and the pair could bring balance to the creation before it returned to the void. The universe was created—a sentient, conscious universe that, in trying to understand itself, gave birth to growth, to struggle, to life.
Perhaps only one being truly knows the origins of the universe, preciesly because he was there previous to its existence. Prior to the creation what has become the Marvel Universe, there was another universe which was collapsing in on itself. The being known as Galen set out into space in order to find a way to save his world. Unable to find a way from stopping the destruction of the universe, Galen and his shipmates decided to plunge their ship into the Cosmic Egg, the focal point which the universe was collapsing. The Cosmic Egg exploded into what is known as the Big Bang. The Marvel Universe was created in a massive explosion and mass and energy condensed to form the universe.
Galen emerged from the Big Bang as Galactus and shortly after other cosmic beings (Eternity and Death) came into existence. Numerous intelligent races would eventually evolve but most became extinct while few left behind a single survivor. These survivors formed a brotherhood known as the Elders of the Universe.
Perhaps the fact that multiple beings have experienced multiple origins of the universe actually means that the 616 reality is always in a state of flux, constantly re-writing itself as time goes on. Nevertheless, there has been evidence pointing to an all-powerful entity, the one the cosmic Living Tribunal calls “The One Above All.” The Fantastic Four recently encountered such a being when storming the gates of heaven to rescue their friend Ben Grimm from death. The being took the form of a kindly artist toiling at his drawing board. He praised the Fantastic Four for their persistence in exploring the Marvel Universe and promised extraordinary new wonders to be discovered as the years go by.
The mysterious cosmic beings known as the Celestials began experiments on evolution of intelligent races across the universe, which created races like the Kree and Skrulls. Continuing their experiments, the Celestials landed on Earth and experimented on the ancestors of the human race. This in turn lead to the creation of the Eternals, Deviants and gave some humans the ability to develop super powers.
While there may have been conflicting accounts of the beginnings to the Marvel Universe, there have also been more than one ending! Thankfully, the end of the universe typically becomes undone and/or the universe becomes remade, thereby maintaining a tenuous status quo.
The most obvious example of this occurred when Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell) literally ended the world. He had long been under the influence of the embodiments of Entropy and Epiphany, abstractions taking human form so that Captain Marvel and his counterpart, Rick Jones, could interact with them. Entropy considered itself the offspring of Eternity, the embodiment of the Marvel Universe, and drove Captain Marvel insane in order that Genis could destroy its “father.” Although the exact details of how Genis caused Eternity’s destruction remain unrevealed, Genis, Rick, Entropy, and Epiphany were the only beings left in the nothingness that was the Marvel Universe. Left with no other purpose, and with Rick Jones’ suggestion, Entropy decided that, contrary to its purpose, it would create. So Entropy created another Big Bang and the Marvel Universe was reborn. (Although the universe tried to right itself immediately, some details may have “shifted” before returning to its status quo.)
Apparently, the existence of the Marvel Universe is dependant upon a cosmic “anchor” being. Since the days of the Roman Empire, an alien known as Atlez held this position, keeping the universe fixed in its cosmic position and unable to fall into the void of Final Oblivion. A group of genetic duplicates of the madman Thanos who shared in their master’s nihilistic vision took it upon themselves to seek out Atlez and discover the secret of the Final Oblivion and end all of existence. Indeed, during their search, which was opposed by Warlock, Pip the Troll, Gamora, and others, including Thanos himself, pockets of “nothingness” began appearing across the universe. The heroes learned from Atlez that he had tipped the Thanos duplicates into searching for him in order that Warlock would be drawn into the conflict and search out his replacement, who was born too early but destined to be the next anchor being. The duplicates were defeated and Atlez’ replacement was found in time to prevent the Final Oblivion, and the universe was ultimately restored to its natural state.
Following these events, there appeared the powerful Ankhenaten, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who sought out the mystical object known as the Heart of the Universe, from which all energy physical and metaphysical emanates, and thereby gained infinite power. Several heroes tried to stop Ankhenaten’s rampage, and the conflict gathered Thanos, Galactus, and other cosmic beings as well. Through a mixture of guile and power, Thanos stole the Heart of the Universe, merging with it to make himself like unto a god. First defeating Ankhenaten in ancient Egypt, Thanos remade the universe as if Ankhenaten never appeared. The Marvel Universe seemed once again safe.
Nevertheless, a cabal of cosmic beings of power, such as Eternity and the Living Tribunal, ruled that the now-omnipotent Thanos must be stopped. They prompted an assembly of nearly every super-being, god, and cosmic entity (such as Galactus and the Celestials) help take Thanos down. Dismissing them all, Thanos proved to be too powerful. He could even kill a Celestial with but a glance! Thanos decided that the true sign of his ultimate power would be to destroy the universe and become the one true supreme being. However, after doing so, he realized that this role was ultimately hollow, unfulfilling and empty, not to mention unnatural. He subsequently undid the destruction of the universe and obliterated the Heart from existence. Thus, not only did he strip himself of power, but he made the entire series of events null and void.
Multiverse refers to a group of related realities, usually those sharing the same high-ranking cosmic entities (Eternity for example).
Megaverse refers to a larger group of realities, usually including partial and whole multiverses, which may be considered in some way "closer" to one another, thus making travel between them somewhat easier than between realities not within the same megaverse.
Omniverse is EVERY reality, including those published by other companies.