Jonathan Majors as Kang/He Who Remains in Marvel and Disney+'s Loki series.

Marvel’s Multiverse Saga, Explained

KAAAAAAANG!!!

It’s official: the MCU films and Disney Plus series that we’ve all been following since 2021 have now been dubbed The Multiverse Saga. But what does that mean, exactly? Here’s what you need to know!

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The Hall H Announcement

At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Marvel took to the stage in Hall H to announce its next slate of movies and TV series. Kevin Feige announced that Phase 4, which began with WandaVision, would end with November 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. He then revealed the release dates for all of Marvel’s Phase 5 offerings, from Ant-Man: Quantumania in February 2023 to Thunderbolts in July 2024.

All that news was exciting, but aside form the new Daredevil series, there wasn’t all that much that was really surprising. Until Feige revealed Phase 6, that is.

Phase 6 will start with a new Fantastic Four film, and after a couple of years’ worth of mystery releases (we got release dates but no titles yet), the phase will culminate in the next two Avengers movies: The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars.

Feige also revealed that the collective title for phases 4, 5, and 6 is now The Multiverse Saga. The MCU’s first three phases, The Infinity Saga, covered the rise of the Avengers, Thanos’s quest to collect all 6 infinity stones, and the Avengers’ eventual effort to stop Thanos from killing half the universe and then undoing the damage when he succeeded. The Infinity Saga was sweeping and epic in scope, with cosmically high stakes and an incredibly satisfying payoff after years of buildup. Will The Multiverse Saga deliver like the first saga did? Time will tell, but in the meantime, here’s a breakdown of each phase.

Phase 4: New Heroes Rise and the Multiverse is Born

Sam Wilson holding Captain America's shield
image: Marvel

The end of Phase 3 saw several beloved characters die or retire, which left some pretty big shoes for future heroes to fill. Luckily, Phase 4 has given us a whole new cast of characters. Monica Rambeau, Yelena Belova, Shang-Chi, the Eternals, Ms. Marvel, America Chavez, and She-Hulk are just some of the new heroes who will presumably be filling out the Avengers’ roster by the time Phase 6 rolls around. Plus, other characters have taken on new roles, with Loki becoming a good guy, Wanda becoming a villain, and Sam Wilson taking on the mantle of Captain America. Other characters, like Doctor Strange and Thor, are still sticking around the MCU.

Plus, Phase 4 gave us the birth of the multiverse. In the season 1 finale of Loki, the Loki variant Sylvie unleashes the multiverse by killing He Who Remains, the guy in charge of keeping all of reality confined to one timeline. (Remember He Who Remains, because that guy’s going to be pretty important later.) The multiverse pulls in alternate versions of Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and we first see America Chavez’s multiverse-traveling powers in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

Phase 5: Things Heat Up in the Multiverse

In Multiverse of Madness, we learned that you can’t just hop from universe to universe all willy-nilly. Those kinds of shenanigans have consequences, and in the MCU, those consequences are incursions: phenomena in which the border between realities starts to weaken, and those realities collide, destroying one or both of them. Given that by the end of Phase 4, multiple characters will have means of traveling the multiverse (e.g., Loki’s TemPad, the sorceress Clea’s knife, America’s powers), we’re probably going to start seeing some incursions in Phase 5—or, at least, evidence that things are getting pretty shaky in the multiverse.

Plus, as He Who Remains explains to Loki and Sylvie in Loki, the whole reason he’s keeping reality confined to one timeline is to prevent his alternate selves from starting a multiversal war as they vie for control over all realities. Not good!

While we don’t know the plots of most of Phase 5’s offerings yet, we do know that He Who Remains is going to make his next appearance in Ant-Man: Quantumania as the villain Kang. Once we get acquainted with the first of Kang’s evil variants, we may get a better sense of where Phase 5 is going.

Phase 6: The Avengers Assemble

Phase 6, which will go from Fall 2024 to Fall 2025, is currently the most mysterious of Marvel’s new slate, but we can infer some details from the Avengers movie titles alone.

Avengers 5, The Kang Dynasty, will very likely be adapted from the comic book run of the same name. Written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Alan Davis, Kieron Dwyer, Ivan Reis, and Manuel Garcia in 2001 and 2002, The Kang Dynasty depicted Kang traveling back in time from the 30th century to try and take over Earth. This scenario would fit perfectly into what the MCU has set up so far. Scott Lang’s encounter with Kang in Quantumania might even set up Kang’s decision to target the 21st century specifically, if he harbors a vendetta against Lang or spots something shiny in our period of history that he wants to get his hands on. (I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here. Ever since Loki ended I’ve been wondering how the MCU will handle a villain who won’t be born for another thousand years.)

Avengers 6, Secret Wars, also takes its title from a comic book run (two, actually!) in which incursions start happening in full force, and Earth-616 (that is, “our” Earth) becomes the epicenter for one. The Avengers have to band together to stop it from happening. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff that goes on, like all of them being forced to fight each other on a patchwork planet called Battleworld, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Put it all together, and you’ve got a likely trajectory for The Multiverse Saga: the new roster of Avengers will have to come together to stop Kang and prevent their universe from being destroyed in an incursion.

And we thought The Infinity Saga was exciting!

We’ll keep posting updates and analysis as new details about The Multiverse Saga come out, so stay tuned!

(image: Marvel)


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Author
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>