|Created by||Alan Moore|
|Type||Marvel Comics multiverse|
Origins of the term
The designation "Earth-616" has its origins in Captain Britain comics from the early 1980s and can be attributed to both Dave Thorpe and Alan Moore. The term was first used in "Rough Justice", a story credited to both Alan Moore and Alan Davis published in July 1983 by Marvel UK in the seventh issue of the anthology comic The Daredevils (and was later reprinted in the Captain Britain trade paperback). Due to this, it is often credited to Moore, though Davis said in 2007 that the term had been internally established earlier by Thorpe, who was the previous writer for Captain Britain, as part of the "Captain Britain folklore". He said that it came from a variation on the number of the beast, picked because Thorpe "wasn't a fan of the modern superhero genre" and expressed this in his stories, "such as recording his opinion of the Marvel Universe with the designation 616."
In a 2019 interview with Rich Johnston, Thorpe confirmed that the number was derived from subtracting 50 from 666, but that the reference to the number of the beast was due to the fact that the designation was intended for the "Crooked World" of the Jaspers' Warp storyline. However, when Moore wrote the story for The Daredevils, the Crooked World was designated Earth 238, and Earth 616 was used by Saturnyne to differentiate Brian Braddock, the Captain Britain of the regular Marvel Comics universe, from the other members of the Captain Britain Corps, each of which inhabit different universes.
After its use in The Daredevils, the designation was later used by the American branch of Marvel Comics in the Excalibur title, which frequently referenced Captain Britain's early UK-published adventures. This comic was written by Chris Claremont, who had created Captain Britain, and pencilled by Alan Davis, the artist on the UK-published series. Davis later had a run as both writer and artist on the book.
References to Earth-616
Any Marvel comic book since Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 that is not explicitly designated an alternate universe or timeline is assumed to take place within the Earth-616 continuity. It is the "status quo" that all other universes diverge from and iterate on. Earth-616 is referenced by name numerous times over the decades, primarily in Marvel UK titles, in Excalibur, or in Marvel reference texts such as the guide to Alternate Universes (2005). In addition, there are a number of other references to Earth-616:
- In Marvel 1602 #6 (March 2004), Uatu the Watcher refers to the universe as Earth-616.
- In Marvel Knights 4 #15 (April 2005), Earth-616 is mentioned.
- In Uncanny X-Men #462 (September 2005), an alteration in reality of Earth-616 causes trans-temporal devastation, and Saturnyne attempts to destroy that particular temporal continuity to "cauterize the wound".
- In Iron Man: Fatal Frontier #10, Doctor Doom mentions that they are in either Earth-616 or in Earth-615.
- In all the issues of Deadpool Kills Deadpool (July 2013), the story centers around the timeline of the Earth-616 Deadpool rather that any of the alternate universe versions.
- In Secret Wars (2015) #1, the universe where the main story line takes place is referred to as Earth-616.
There has been at least one attempt within Marvel canon to change the designation of Earth-616. In the final story arc of X-Man (issues #71–74), writer Steven Grant began to refer to the planet as "Earth-611" due to the destruction of several other Earths (which were all apparently "higher on the list" of the Multiverse than the Marvel Earth) by a godlike entity. This change, an allusion to the events of DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, was not adopted by other writers.
In other media
Marvel Cinematic Universe
- In the film Thor: The Dark World (2013), Erik Selvig is portrayed as being somewhat mentally unstable and in his time at a mental hospital he draws a number of diagrams and equations on a blackboard. Near the center of all of this, the words "616 universe" can be seen underlined.
- In the second season of Iron Fist (2018), Misty Knight is driving with Colleen Wing when they hear a police radio broadcast alerting all units to "multiple fatalities at a nearby nightclub" and a "code 616". Misty explains that 616 is the police code for a "possible suspect with abilities".
- In the film Avengers: Endgame (2019), Ant-Man's van was being held in a storage area labeled "616".
- In the film Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), Mysterio claims that the main Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity exists on "Earth-616", despite every line the character says comes from a fictional writer named Guterman.
- In the film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), Christine Palmer of Earth-838 informs Doctor Strange that the Illuminati named his universe "Earth-616".
- In the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Earth-616 is seen in a monitor along with other Earths, while Peter B. Parker arrives on Earth-1610 (the home universe of Miles Morales) when the interdimensional machine starts malfunctioning.
- The sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023), designates Peter B. Parker as from "Earth-616B".
I can tell you for sure that those of us actually working on the books virtually never use the term—and I kind of wince inside whenever I hear somebody use it. It just sounds so stupid to my ear, and so counter to the kind of mindset we try to foster in regard to the stories we create and the thinking we try to employ.— Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort
I never use it, I hate the term pure and simple and agree with Tom's assessment of it. I can't remember ever hearing it in the office and only really see it used online for the most part. I think the term really came into vogue when the Ultimate Universe came into prominence, but in my world, the language and distinctions are simple, there is the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. Anything other than that reeks of all that DC Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth Prime stuff which I've never really taken to, but then again, I got into DC when they got rid of all that stuff so it was from and for a different era than my own.— Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, 2007
- Babos, John (August 6, 2011). "Marvel's New Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales: A Significant And Safe Leap Forward". Comic Nexus.
- Tom Brevoort (May 29, 2007). "Marvel.com Blogs - Blah Blah Blog by Tom Brevoort". Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
- Rich Johnston (July 2, 2019). "Dave Thorpe, the Man Who Invented Marvel's "616", Explains Where It Came From". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved March 6, 2023.
- "'Thor: The Dark World' Easter Eggs, Trivia & References". Screen Rant. November 11, 2013. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- "Iron Fist Season 2 Gives a Clever Nod to the Marvel Multiverse". Comic Book Resources. September 7, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
- "Marvel Multiverse Easter Egg Discovered in Avengers: Endgame". MovieWeb. August 5, 2019. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
- Kleinman, Jake. "Earth-616? 'Doctor Strange 2' just changed a foundational fact about the MCU". Inverse. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
- "DOCTOR STRANGE 2: The MCU's Marvel Universe Numbering System, Explained". Nerdist. May 6, 2022. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
- Johnston, Rich (January 13, 2016). "Tom Brevoort Confirms 'No More 616' - And It's The Last Fantastic Four Story". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
- Quesada, Joe (2007). "New Joe Fridays – Week 44, A Weekly Q&A with Joe Quesada". Newsarama. Archived from the original on June 23, 2007.