The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the DC Universe both explore the concept of the multiverse, but they have different interpretations. The multiverse means there are infinite realities existing alongside each other, each with variations. The idea originated in comic books and has been adapted into movies by Marvel Studios’ MCU and DC Studios’ DC Universe.
Marvel Studios started exploring the multiverse in Avengers: Endgame and continued with the Multiverse Saga, a long-term plan to explore the vastness of the multiverse. The DC Universe introduced the multiverse in The Flash, but movies like Joker and The Batman had already shown different versions of DC characters from other realities. However, the rules of the multiverse differ between the two franchises.
In the MCU, Loki and What If…? established the rules. Branching timelines are created when variants make different choices, resulting in alternate realities. The DC Universe, as shown in The Flash, has different rules. Barry Allen’s time travel changed the future and the past, affecting the entire timeline rather than just branching off.
It’s important to note that projects like Joker and The Batman exist in separate universes called “DC Elseworlds” and are not part of the main continuity. They are independent realities within DC’s multiverse. In the MCU, variations in the multiverse are the result of different choices, while in DC, separate universes exist independently.
The Flash can travel through time in the DC Universe, but not necessarily between universes. In the MCU, America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness can open portals to alternate realities, making multiversal travel easier. The details of how the new DC Universe will explore the multiverse are still unclear.
In the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, Kang the Conqueror is the main antagonist, and his time-traveling exploits create multiple variants of himself. In the DC Universe, variants exist in each universe without the need for time travel. Kang’s ability to create branching realities allows for his multitude of variants.
The MCU also introduces the concept of incursions, where universes collide and destroy each other.