Spoilers for Spiderman: No Way Home, Hawkeye, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki. So Marvel finally did the thing they’ve been hinting at for years now: the multiverse is very real, and crossovers are coming. We’ve already seen multiple alternate versions of Loki, who was the first major multiversal character, and in Spiderman: No Way Home, we got all three Spidermans on the big screen. And if you’ve gotten a chance to check out the Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness trailer, you might’ve noticed that an alternate version of Steven Strange himself is coming to town.
Meanwhile, while characters like Hawkeye and Captain America aren’t dead, they’ve passed on the mantle. Instead of Clint Barton and Steve Rogers, we’ve now got Kate Bishop and Sam Wilson; our new Black Widow is Yelena (and I for one am thrilled about that). And the teams are expanding too: if you haven’t seen the writing on the wall, the Young Avengers are assembling soon—we’re still missing a few key characters in the MCU, but America Chavez is joining us for Multiverse of Madness, and I wouldn’t be surprised if our last member, Hulking, shows up in the Secret Invasion TV show (also releasing this year).
In other words, Marvel looks very different from the original Avengers team we first saw in 2012. Like many other Marvel fans, I loved that team, and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for them. But the universe is growing, and so is its ability to more accurately represent Marvel fans the world over. The first team was all white, except for the one member who was occasionally green. There was one singular woman on the team. And as far as the MCU goes, they’re all cisgender and straight. When your heroes only represent certain demographics, that says a lot about who has power.
So yeah, I’m a fan of the Multiverse because it can show us possibilities. It asks the questions about identity that I think our modern world, with its ability to remake and redefine yourself both online and off, is being forced to grapple with. Would I still be me if I’d been born in another city? If I’d been born in a different body? If I’d been the youngest child instead of the oldest?
Is Loki still Loki if he won against the Avengers? If he was never adopted by Odin? If the body he’d been born into looked differently? These questions are important because they put our choices under a microscope. They remind us that we are both creatures of choice and creatures fundamentally shaped by things out of our control. We do not have to be what we are. Fate is not final. And in the end, I think the variety and possibility of the multiverse reminds us that, if only choices or circumstances were shifted slightly, we could easily be a hero or a villain, a bystander who does nothing or an active participant for better or for worse.
It reminds me to have grace, with myself and others. There are things I cannot control. And it reminds, at the same time, that my choices do matter. They can change the world, even if only a tiny corner of it. We have no idea what our impact can be, so we have a responsibility to act as moral agents and to hold ourselves to standards of integrity. To me, that’s the beauty of the multiverse: it reminds us, in the end, that we are not alone, and we cannot act as though we are.