Warning: Full spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness follow.
While Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness features cameos from some familiar faces, one of the main new additions in this sequel isn’t a character at all, but a concept. The film introduces MCU fans to the phenomenon of Incursions. When two universes collide, everyone’s life is at stake.
Now that the Marvel movie multiverse has been unlocked, we can expect Incursions to play a part in many MCU stories to come. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to brush up on the history of Incursions at Marvel Comics and why this reveal could be the next step in setting up a Secret Wars movie.
The Marvel Multiverse: What Are Raids?
The Marvel multiverse is made up of many thousands of parallel universes, all coexisting in cosmic harmony, but never interacting directly. Or at least, that’s how it should work. Raids happen when the fabric of one universe is disrupted by another, usually centered around two parallel versions of Earth. When a rift is formed, a chain reaction begins that will eventually destroy both universes.
There are ways to stop Incursions, but it’s never easy and rarely without a huge cost. One of the only surefire solutions is to destroy one of the two Earths, sacrificing billions of lives so that trillions more can live.
The first time the Avengers encountered an incursion, Captain America was able to use the Infinity Gauntlet to force the invading Earth back into his universe. However, the sheer amount of energy required was so great that five of the six Infinity Stones were shattered, forcing the team to resort to increasingly desperate solutions to avert future Incursions. As Thanos once mused, the hardest choices require the strongest will.
How the raids lead to secret wars
The phenomenon of Incursion is a major plot point in writer Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers comics. The MCU already drew on Hickman’s work when it came to portraying Thanos and the Black Order in Avengers: Infinity War, and it looks like those stories are set to play a role again in Phase 4.
Hickman’s New Avengers, in particular, revolved heavily around the Incursion issue. That series introduces a new incarnation of the Illuminati, which consists of Black Panther, Namor, Iron Man, Beast, Mister Fantastic and Doctor Strange. The group finds that the number of raids into the multiverse increases exponentially over time. It wasn’t long before the Illuminati had to make some very tough decisions about whether it’s morally justifiable to sacrifice one planet for two universes. And as you might imagine, the rest of the superhero community isn’t too excited to find out what’s going on behind their backs.
Over the course of the two series, readers learn that the Incursions are the result of a massive war between the Beyonders (almighty aliens living outside the multiverse) and a death cult led by the fanatical Rabum Alal (eventually revealed as Doctor Doom). The Beyonders hope to use each universe’s Molecule Man as a collective bomb that will destroy all of reality in one fell swoop. Doom and his allies (including Earth-616’s Molecule Man) began killing these Molecule Men prematurely to disrupt the Beyonders’ plans.
Secret Wars Gallery: God Emperor Doom rules the Marvel Universe
Eventually, the Incursions increase to the point that only two universes remain: the regular Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. That’s where 2015’s Secret Wars begins, with the final chapter in Hickman’s great Avengers saga.
In Secret Wars #1, the two universes are rocked by one, final Incursion, and both are eventually destroyed. But Doom turns out to be the hero that existence needs. With Molecule Man feeding him a constant stream of divine power, Doom is able to create a single planet called Battleworld. Stitched together from fragments of dozens of shattered universes, Battleworld is the only planet that still exists in the endless void that was the multiverse. Secret Wars is about what happens when Doom crowns himself God-emperor of his new world, and how Marvel’s heroes understand what happened and find a way to restore everything they’ve lost.
Raids in the MCU: What Happens Next?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the first MCU movie to feature Incursions, but it probably won’t be the last. Everything we know about this phenomenon from the comics suggests that this is a problem that will continue to grow in the multiverse. The film’s mid-credits scene, featuring the debut of Charlize Theron’s Clea, suggests Clea and Strange will combine their magical talents to stop future Incursions.
They may not be the only ones. There’s a good chance we’ll see Earth-616’s version of the Illuminati in a future MCU project sometime. Maybe they’ve been working behind the scenes all along, or maybe they’re getting together for the first time now. But either way, the MCU could easily build on the idea of the Illuminati working together to face the Incursion threat.
The end goal is very likely to be a full-fledged Secret Wars film heavily inspired by the 2015 comic. It’s easy to imagine Incursions becoming a recurring plot element in a number of future films, culminating in the multiverse ending as we see it. know in stage 5 or 6 of the MCU. The MCU could even replicate the two-part approach used in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. The first film could show the futile struggle to preserve the last two remaining universes, and the second could explore what survives in the aftermath.
This is not to say that the MCU will adapt Secret Wars beat-for-beat. That’s never really been the approach to these movies in the past. One major difference is that Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror is likely to play a major role in the MCU’s Secret Wars, while Kang is only a supporting character in the 1984 comic and not a major part in the 2015 version. Thanks to Loki: Season 1, we know that He Who Remains was responsible for eliminating the multiverse and preserving its “Sacred Timeline,” which prevented its other selves from waging their destructive war across time and space.
Now that the multiverse is back, it makes sense that Kang is an important part of the puzzle that is Secret Wars. Kang may even be the source of the raids on the MCU, rather than the Beyonders. Or he can take the place of Doctor Doom in this version as we have yet to meet Victor von Doom of the MCU or his nemesis Reed Richards.
With Spider-Man: No Way Home also leaning into the multiverse, we have to wonder how much the Spider-Verse can play in Marvel’s long-term plans. No Way Home teased the debut of Venom from the MCU, and it’s worth remembering that Peter Parker first encountered the alien costume in the 1984 Secret Wars comic. Will we see Tom Holland don the black costume as part of the Secret Wars movie?
Do you think the MCU is working towards a Secret Wars movie? Will Doctor Doom or Kang the Conqueror be the last villain standing? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and let us know in the poll about which upcoming MCU movie you’re most looking forward to:
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