What Are ‘Multiverse Incursions’ in Marvel Comics Lore?

Spoiler Alert

In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a major plot point is the idea of an incursion in the Multiverse. In fact, the word incursion comes up more than once… and it’s not a good thing. According to the people of Earth-838, incursions are the collision of two separate universes which result in one or both of these realities’ destruction. But does this event have a Marvel Comics precedent?

Oh boy, do they ever. And it all could lead to the MCU’s biggest movie event yet— Secret Wars. But before we get to that, a little history lesson on Marvel’s Multiversal incursions, a relatively recent creation in the comics.

It All Begins in Wakanda
Black Panther witness Earth 616's first incursion.
Marvel Comics

The first time we heard of Multiversal incursions was in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers run, starting in 2012. And it was Black Panther who discovered them. When a rhinoceros suddenly appeared through a portal in Wakanda, T’Challa went through that portal to investigate. He walked into an alternate Earth, only to see yet another Earth looming in the sky, approaching as if on a collision course. (This is all very similar to rival DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, way back in 1985).

Realizing there was a universe-destroying threat, Black Panther reforms the Illuminati, knowing that he needed the world’s biggest brains to work together to stop it. (Even if one of them, Namor the Sub-Mariner, was his sworn enemy). What the Illuminati learn is that at some point, an entire universe was annihilated. When that occurred, it pushed the two adjacent universes right next to it on a collision course with each other. What T’Challa saw was a version of that event.

Jonathan Hickman's explanation for incursions, as seen in New Avengers #3.
Marvel Comics

All of this created a cascading domino effect, with one universe destroying the next, and then the next, and so on. When the inhabitants of a particular Earth see another version of the planet in the sky, they have approximately eight hours to stop the incursion. If it’s not stopped, both universes will destroy each other. The only way to stop an incursion is for one Earth to destroy the other. And killing billions.

Even the Infinity Stones Couldn’t Save Them
Black Panther reforms the Illuminati to try to stop the incursions.
Marvel Comics

It’s at this point that the Illuminati reform the Infinity Gauntlet to try and stop the incursion. They choose Steve Rogers/Captain America, the most moral among the group, to wield it. And although they are able to temporarily push the other Earth away, this act destroys the Infinity Stones. The Illuminati then decide they have no choice. For their Earth to live, the other must die. Unwilling to go along with that decision, Tony Stark orders Doctor Strange to mind wipe Steve Rogers of knowledge of the Illuminati and the incursions.

All Roads Lead to Doctor Doom
Dr. Doom steals the godlike power of the Beyonders.
Marvel Comics

So who annihilated the first universe, causing all these incursions? Turns out, it was Marvel’s biggest bad guy, Doctor Doom. It all began with him. Although, it was an accident. This ties into the Beyonders, a race of beings so powerful they exist beyond our multiverse. It was a Beyonder who was responsible for the first Secret Wars event. Actually, it ties in first to the Molecule Man, a C-list villain who first appeared in 1963’s Fantastic Four #20. Owen Reese was an unassuming guy from Colorado, who gained incredible powers to transmute matter in a lab accident. At least, that’s what everyone thought. This low-rent villain was the key to it all.

A C-List Villain Is the Most Dangerous Man in Existence
Doctor Doom and the Molecule Man in Secret Wars 2015.
Marvel Comics

In reality, the Beyonders caused Reece’s accident years ago. Although omnipotent beings who exist beyond the Multiverse, they created the Molecule Man as a singularity, a being who is exactly the same in every reality. This singularity was to have the function of a “bomb,” which would destroy its respective universe if he died. The purpose of their experiment was to eventually kill all of the Molecule Mans at the same time, as a fail safe. Destroying a multiverse they deemed as “flawed.”

Secret Wars
The survivors of Earth 616 escape an incursion.
Marvel Comics

So Victor Von Doom went to one of the alternate realities and killed its Molecule Man, and this event triggered the incursions, and the death of one universe after another. Doom forms a group known as the Black Swans to slow down the incursions, but has limited success. Ultimately Doom decided the only way to hurt the omnipotent Beyonders is with their own creation, Molecule Man. They take many a Molecule Mans and “detonate” them at once, destroying the Beyonders with their own weapon. Thus, Leaving Doom to absorb all their powers.

This event leads to Secret Wars, where a Beyonder-powered Doctor Doom becomes God Emperor Doom. He created Battleworld, which consists of pieces of salvaged realities. The resulting saga reshaped the Marvel Comics universe. Is this where the MCU is headed? We know Kevin Feige is a big fan of Jonathan Hickman’s work, more than any other modern creator.

Two Earths destroy each other in an incursion event.
Marvel Comics

There are many Hickman references in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. And the incursions mentioned in Multiverse of Madness are shouting with a bullhorn that an adaptation of the 2015 version of Secret Wars is the Avenger’s next big Infinity War/Endgame event. But first, they have to introduce Doctor Doom. And with Fantastic Four on the way, we think that happens sooner rather than later. One thing’s for sure, name-dropping incursions was not just an Easter egg. Cosmic-level destruction is coming to the MCU. Perhaps making the Avengers long for the days of just one solitary Thanos with a glove.

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