In the last few years, there has been a trend in the cinema of the mainstream genre — the multiverse. The concept of the multiverse is far from new in fiction, especially in the science fiction genre. However, never before have so many famous films focused on this idea in such a short period of time, popularizing stories from parallel universes like never before.
This trend was hailed as the breakthrough success of the 2018 animated hit “Spider-Man: Across the Universes,” but it especially intensified last year. “Spider-Man: There is No Way Home,” “Everything is everywhere at once” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” — they all appeared in theaters in just a few months. It’s safe to say that multiverse movies are the next big thing in genre cinema. The question is, why are we seeing so many right now, and why does everyone love them?
The Multiverse of Wonders
Like many Hollywood trends of the last decade, the popularity of the multiverse can probably be attributed to the superhero genre. Parallel universes have been the basis of superhero comics since 1961, when Barry Allen, the Flash from Earth-1, met his colleague from Earth-2 Jay Garrick. In fact, Garrick was the original Flash, who was removed after Allen’s introduction. But thanks to the introduction of the DC multiverse, both iterations of the character were able to coexist simultaneously. Since then, the multiverse has become a crucial aspect of both DC and Marvel Comics’ lore, with countless stories focusing on alternate timelines and multiverse travel. However, superhero films did not consider the concept of a multiverse until 2018, when Spider-Man: Across the Universes appeared in theaters.
By now, it’s almost become a cliche to praise Spider-Verse for its impressive visuals and artfully crafted plot, but the film also deserves credit for a plot that focuses on multiverse travel but never looks bloated or confusing. . Spider-Verse uses its multiverse elements to support its story and themes, not the other way around. And thanks to this, he can explore the concept of the multiverse in a fun, creative and easily digestible way. But, of course, Spider-Verse won’t be the last Marvel adaptation to dive into the multiverse. The 2021 Loki television series was the first entry in the Marvel cinematic universe to explore alternate timelines, creating its own MCU multiverse, as well as setting up the arrival of Kang the Conqueror, the MCU’s next major villain. And, of course, soon this newfound emphasis on parallel universes leaked into MCU films.
In the 2021 film Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) teams up with his big-screen predecessors, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Men to battle a group of returning villains led by Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. And, of course, immediately on the heels of No Way Home came Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness, in which the Scarlet Witch pursues Stephen Strange through parallel worlds. Along the way, he meets the Illuminati, a group of heroes from another world that includes Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic. Both characters have yet to be properly introduced in the MCU, but they can nevertheless appear alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange thanks to the infinite possibilities of the multiverse.
More than 60 years after Barry Allen first met Jay Garrick in the comics, parallel worlds are still being used to allow superheroes to team up with alternate incarnations of familiar characters. It is said that even the upcoming movie “The Flash” includes a team between the Batman versions of Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton. Thus, the cynical explanation for the popularity of films about the multiverse is that it is a cheap trick to attract the attention of fans. However, this is not the only side of the matter.
Of all the recent multiverse films over the past few years, one particularly stands out because it has nothing to do with the superhero genre or any high-budget franchise at all. “Everything and Everywhere, all at Once” in 2022 is a hit that combines action, comedy, drama and, of course, science fiction. The plot of the film centers on Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeo), a middle-aged immigrant who does not have a self-service laundry, a dysfunctional family and no special hobbies or talents in life. But one day Evelyn is visited by a parallel version of her husband Waymond from an alternate timeline, who enlists her help to prevent the omnipotent multiverse entity from destroying everything.
The alternate Waymond gives Evelyn the ability to “jump through the verses”, gaining access to the skills of her alternate timeline counterparts, from martial arts to gestural rotation.