‘Spider-Verse’ Trailer Further Divides Marvel Fans Between Earth-616 and Earth-199999
That age-old debate (or at least, that’s how it feels) has once again reared its head: What is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s central version of Earth really called? Though it was originally designated as Earth-199999 by the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z: Volume 5, published in 2008, the MCU has slowly been trying to convince audiences that the MCU’s main Earth is called Earth-616. The problem with that, however, is that the main Earth in the Marvel Comics continuity is called 616, and has been for decades. So why complicate things even further?
Except that’s exactly what Sony did. Despite Marvel Studios’ attempts to label the MCU’s primary Earth as 616 in Spider-Man: Far From Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the latest trailer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse very obviously disagrees with that idea. Oscar Isaac’s character Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099, seems to have a very low opinion of the MCU’s Spider-Man and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), calling Tom Holland’s version of the iconic character that “little nerd back on Earth-199999.”
So, is it Earth-199999 or Earth-616?
Well, Kevin Feige and Sony Pictures Animation clearly disagree. Most of the internet latched on to the discrepancy in the Across the Spider-Verse trailer, once again advocating for the MCU’s continuity to simply be called Earth-199999 and be done with it.
Those people on Twitter have full support from the formidable Iman Vellani, who plays Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, in the MCU. In an interview with Deadline in 2022, Vellani very openly contradicted Feige, saying that the MCU couldn’t possibly be known as Earth-616. While the MCU takes inspiration from the comics, many comics-canon elements aren’t present in the movies and shows; Ms. Marvel would be an Inhuman, for starters, but the Inhumans have had a rough go of it in the MCU, to the point where they just basically don’t exist anymore.
The Earth-616 MCU designation seems to be an Easter egg taken too far: Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) mentioned the number in Thor: The Dark World as a wink to the MCU’s comic-loving audience; years later, Jake Gyllenhaal’s villain Quentin Beck mentions Earth-616 in Far From Home (but why should his word be taken seriously when all he did was lie and he wasn’t actually from another universe?); and finally, Rachel McAdams stated that the MCU’s primary Earth was called 616 with a very authoritative tone in Multiverse of Madness.
Technically speaking, one could say that within the grand scheme of the entire Marvel multiverse—which includes the comics, the MCU, Marvel’s What If …?, and the Sony live-action and animated movies—the MCU can still be called Earth-199999, and that any reference to Earth-616 in the MCU is simply being made by individual characters and that it has no bearing on its real-world designation. The 199999 number has never been uttered by any of the characters within the MCU, after all.
But really, Sony didn’t have any other choice. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse mentioned that Peter B. Parker was from an Earth-616. As he’s clearly not the MCU’s version of the character, nor the comics version of the character (the one who’s never been allowed to have a happy ending), Sony was left with a choice between not-so-subtly admonishing the MCU for making everything so complicated or retconning their own character’s backstory. Of course, they chose the former.
Those who thrive on linear continuities will undoubtedly be disappointed by the confusion. Until Marvel overlord Kevin Feige makes a pronouncement on the true designation of the MCU, its hard to know which answer is correct. But personally, I am in full agreement with the MCU’s mutant Ms. Marvel and most of Twitter.
(featured image: Sony Pictures Animation)
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