Yesterday’s Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer raised some interesting questions about the nature of reality within the MCU. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio is apparently from an alternate Earth, which implied the existence of a multiverse within the shared universe–but considering Mysterio’s comic book history, some fans were skeptical about the legitimacy of his claim.
However, an extended look at a scene from the trailer aired today on the Ellen show, making the concept seem even more plausible. In the scene, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is formally introduced to Quentin Beck for the first time–though he already knows him as Mysterio–and Beck knows Peter’s heroics, so they’ve definitely already encountered one another before. Nick Fury explains that Beck is from another dimension, which Beck then clarifies. Peter’s earth is “Dimension 616” while Beck himself is from Earth-833.
These numbers are pretty significant. Over in Marvel comics, Earth-616 is the popular shorthand used to describe the “main” Marvel universe where the primary shared continuity exists. The term got its start in the late 1980s as a very literal signifier of an Earth in the multiverse, but has since lost some of that concrete meaning after multiple crossover events have shaped and reshaped the multiverse. Now, rather than explicitly meaning the literal Earth-616, comics fans will use “616” to define any main continuity story in virtually any context. Most of the time it’s literal, but other times it isn’t.
For the comics, all you need to remember is that seeing the numbers “616” means you’re reading or watching a story that is considered part of the primary continuity. Don’t stress the details too much.
In the MCU, things get a little less muddy–this is the first time we’ve really encountered any potential alternate dimensions, so the 616 signifier is both literal and totally specific. If Mysterio is to be believed, every movie in the MCU thus far has taken place on the cinematic Earth-616 from the get go.
Mysterio himself, however, is from Earth-833. In the comics, that particular Earth is the home of a character known as “Spider-UK,” a, well, British version of Spider-Man who served with the Captain Britain Corps, led by the, uh, British equivalent of Captain America.
Why would British Spider-Man drop the “Man” in favor of “UK?” Your guess is as good as ours. Sometimes the differences between different Earths in the multiverse are really, really goofy–like on Earth-999, where Spider-Man is actually a cat (“Spider-Cat”) who fights a pigeon named Venom, or Earth-71912, where all of Marvel’s heroes are Rugrats-style talking babies.
Earth-833 doesn’t have a very long or storied history in the source material–in fact, it was recently destroyed by the machinations of a villain known as Karn, or the Master Weaver, whose goal was to scour the multiverse in search of more Spider-based powers to collect. All of which is to say the MCU could be inventing an entirely new take on the dimension with an entirely new Mysterio. It’s important to keep that in mind. If anything, this is more likely given the way Mysterio tells Peter they could “use someone like him” back on his home world, implying there sadly won’t be a cinematic Spider-UK cameo.
It’s also important to remember: This is all assuming that the entire multiverse isn’t just some incredibly specific grift Mysterio is pulling. Only time will tell.
Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters on July 2 and stars Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon.