8

The Original universe of each character could stand on their own as good/great stories, so why make alternate universes with different stories that couldn't cross (in most cases) with the same character of the other universe?

I mean, i get the time travel and alternate timeline stories plus author wrote itself to a corner...But there are so many Multiverses now. Heck, there are even types of "Verses" now!

When did multiverses start and why? Was it more due to fan demand or Marvel studios just wanting to keep the business afloat?

8

Not sure if it was the overall earliest example, but Earth 6799 of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon would be a candidate.

As for why: outlandish "what if" stories can be fun, but besides that, it's just a logical consequence of how superhero comics work:

  • They're published incrementally, with different writers and no true long-term story planning
  • The stories are often very dramatic and earth- or even galaxy-shaking in scope. People die, entire cities or even planets are destroyed before the heroes save the world.
  • The starring characters are the absolute focus of attention for the readers, so their story cannot end. Ther comic must continue.

This makes it very common to have stories that change the world - but keeping track of all those changes is hard, and often they represent constraints on future stories which other writers don't want to take into account.

And of course there's also the fact that there's new readers being born constantly (who don't want to read 30 years worth of back issues) and the real world changes, so the heroes and their origin stories have to be updated periodically - thus reboots. And moving to a new medium (like with the cartoon I mentioned above) means you have to make the story accessible to a whole new audience, which makes a reboot almost mandatory.

  • This one takes it because it answers the "when" specifically. The "why" makes sense too. – jagc Nov 16 '15 at 9:43
3

The Original universe of each character could stand on their own as good/great stories, so why make alternate universes with different stories that couldn't cross (in most cases) with the same character of the other universe?

I think you're thinking about this from the wrong direction. Each character doesn't start out in their own universe: they all start out in the same universe! So you've got a single universe that contains the X-Men, Silver Surfer, Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc. This means that when you're reading a Spider-Man comic, Tony Stark is walking around somewhere in that world, doing whatever he's doing over in the Iron Man comic. You can think of individual comics as windows into that single universe, shared by every Marvel character.

So, why create a new universe? Well, after 50 years of these stories, the universe can be pretty confusing, not to mention outdated. Maybe somebody wants to tell a new story without all of that baggage. Maybe they want to tell Spider-Man's origin story, but set it in the present day instead of 1960s. Or maybe you want to tell a story about all of the heroes turning into zombies.

The problem with that is, you can't just ignore the stories from the previous universe, otherwise people feel like you're invalidating the characters. So the solution is easy: you simply say that your story takes place in a different universe. That way you can tell your new stories, and the old stories will still be "true".

That's the "why", but as for the "when", check out this Marvel wikia or this wikipedia article for a list of universes within Marvel, as well as the dates they appeared.

  • There's one piece missing from your answer, I think, and that's why all the characters are in the same universe to start with. And the reason for that is pretty simple - because by doing so, it lets the writers do crossovers and teamups and everything else that the fans lap up. – ConMan Nov 10 '15 at 4:14
  • You have a point on your "why", but i was looking for something much more specific for the "when", that's why i chose the other one as the answer. :) – jagc Nov 16 '15 at 9:44
  • 1
    @jagc The last two links I provided list every (or at least very many) alternate universes and when they were created. They provide at least two universes that were earlier than the accepted answer: 1939 (Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1) and 1965 (Avengers #18). – Kevin Workman Nov 16 '15 at 13:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.