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Just like in the DC Comics realm, the Marvel Comics mythology isn't limited to just one universe. While the majority of Marvel's comic book tales take place in one main continuity (officially known as Earth 616), there are numerous alternate realities where different versions of our favorite heroes and villains are having their own adventures, forming a Marvel multiverse. In recent years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has established its own multiverse, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who briefly reprised Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok, has seemingly hinted that future Marvel movies could be spending more time in these other realities. As Cumberbatch put it:
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.
Appearing on "Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years - The Evolution of Heroes," one of the special features attached to Thor: Ragnarok's home release, Benedict Cumberbatch touched on the MCU's continuous growth, and with this franchise currently being 18 movies strong, he seemingly suggested that we'll soon hit a point where some of the action will start to spill over into these other universes in a more permanent way. If that is indeed what Cumberbatch is hinting at, it's hard to say when this might happen, though with Phase 4 looking to tell more cosmic stories, I wouldn't be surprised if Kevin Feige and the other Marvel Studios bigwigs are interested in also having one or more of its protagonists either venture into another corner of the multiverse or deal with trouble that comes from one of these other realities.
The concept of the MCU multiverse was introduced in 2015's Ant-Man with the Quantum Realm, the microscopic world where Janet van Dyne (the original Wasp) was lost and Scott Lang was nearly trapped. Doctor Strange expanded upon the multiverse, as Stephen Strange learned from the Ancient One about other parallel dimensions that exist, including the Dark Dimension, where Dormammu resides. TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Iron Fist have also touched upon the multiverse. From what we've seen so far, it looks like the epic event that is Avengers: Infinity War will only take place within the main MCU reality, but perhaps to set the stage for Phase 4, maybe there will be a development in Avengers 4 the following year that allows for easier interaction with these parallel universes going forward.
Thor: Ragnarok is now available for digital purchase, and the Blu-ray and DVD copies will arrive on shelves March 6. Black Panther is currently enjoying great success in theaters, and the next MCU installment, Avengers: Infinity War, will be released on May 4. You can learn what other MCU projects are on the horizon in our handy guide.