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Warning: mild spoiler for Daredevil TV show.

The third episode of The Defenders TV show on Netflix starts with

the resurrection of the Black Sky by the Hand

Shortly after, Alexandra has a discussion with this character (named X hereafter) that starts like this:

Alexandra: My name is Alexandra. You were born. You lived and died. And what you saw on the other side... the darkness, the absence of everything... it's horrifying, isn't it? I have seen it too. More than once. And all I want in this life is to never see it again.

(from Netflix's subtitles of the episodes)

What does the afterlife in Marvel look like?

Is there a Paradise and Hell? Do Asgardians go to Valhalla? Alexandra's speech seems to imply that there is nothing after death but she is completely evil, and had been using magic for a long time, and X is a kind of "the end justifies the means" character and had not been afraid to do bad things in the past, so it may be that this "nothingness" Alexandra is mentioning is a kind of Purgatory.

On the other hand, death is not definitive in comics, so what happens to dead people before they get resurrected?

Note that the question sprung from watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I am interested in answers from the broad Marvel universe (comics, TV and movie universes alike).

4 Answers 4

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From the comics:

I can think of at least one (Patsy Walker/Hellcat) who was definitely in Hell, but in her case this was determined by her family (I think her mom had something to do with it; and, she was definitely the wife of Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan).

Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) was in a similar situation - his "afterlife", such as it was, was connected to his father, Azazel.

Thanos was, if I recall correctly, either with Death, or in the Soul Gem.

Shuri (T'Challa's sister, the female Black Panther) was in a place tied to the Panther God.

Various gods who've died have wound up in their pantheon's afterlife (For the Norse, Valhalla or Hela's Hel; for the Greco-Roman, Pluto's domain).

Some characters who've been dead have, of course, not really been dead:

  • Jean Grey wasn't who was killed in X-MEN #137 (just before the title officially changed to UNCANNY X-MEN); it was a Phoenix-force created cloneish version of her. She was actually in a cocoon underwater near New York City.
  • Charles Xavier was believed dead in the 1960s, but it was actually a shapeshifter who had assumed his form who died.
  • Starlord, Thanos, and Nova (Richard Ryder) were trapped in the Cancerverse - where, in fact, it was basically impossible for them to die. Starlord and Thanos returned, at least (I haven't read the most recent run of NOVA, to know how Rich is back - he did appear to die in that story).

However, for the most part, the characters that have been resurrected have not discussed this.

I cannot recall storylines discussing what happened to the likes of Wolverine, Northstar, Elektra, or Otto Octavius (all resurrected by the Hand). Similarly, I cannot recall Colossus discussing anything he experienced between dying to cure the Legacy Virus, and being brought back.

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There has been a great number of stories that deal with the Afterlife in Marvel comics, with almost no similarity between them.

During the events of the original Infinity Gauntlet event, Rick Jones is Snapped away, and when he returns, he says that he "met Elvis".

The Fantastic Four travel to (what they believe to be) Heaven to recover the soul of Ben Grimm, and meet God, who looks like Jack Kirby. This is after having already damned Doctor Doom's soul to Hell.

Heaven and God are mentioned in Ghost Rider and other books.

Marvel has gone to great lengths to make clear that Mephisto is NOT in fact the Devil, or even a demon as we perceive them, but an extra-dimensional being of no fixed religious affiliation.

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The afterlife's true nature is impossible for the human mind to comprehend so a person may perceive the afterlife as something more easily recognizable to them.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the afterlife was first shown to the audience in Black Panther (2018), as the Ancestral Plane. In Black Panther, it was revealed that T'Challa (Black Panther) and Killmonger had different visions of the Ancestral Plane.

The afterlife is expounded upon in Moon Knight (2022 miniseries) S01E05 "Asylum", where it was mentioned by Taweret, an Egyptian goddess, that it is not a singular realm, but is actually "many intersectional planes of untethered consciousness," and that the Ancestral Plane is one of them. Taweret also mentions that a person "may perceive this realm [the afterlife] as something more easily recognizable to [them].

Related dialogue from Moon Knight S01E05 "Asylum":

Taweret: Welcome, gentle traveler... Travelers, to the realm of the Duat.
Steven Grant: Duat? The Egyptian underworld. This is Taweret, goddess of women and children... and she's guiding us through our journey to the afterlife.
[...]
Marc Spector: Okay. Right. So, this is the afterlife? The afterlife?
Taweret: An afterlife. Not the afterlife. You'd be surprised how many intersectional planes of untethered consciousness exist. [Gasps] Like the Ancestral Plane. Oh! Just gorgeous. Anyway.

Taweret: Because the Duat's true nature is impossible for the human mind to comprehend, you may perceive this realm as something more easily recognizable to you.

The background to the scene where the above dialogue took place was that Marc Spector (Moon Knight) and Steven Grant (Marc Spector's alter-ego) died, and then went to the afterlife (called "the Duat" by Taweret). Taweret was explaining to them what the afterlife/Duat is.

Do Asgardians go to Valhalla?

Yes. In Thor: Love and Thunder, Dr. Jane Foster (Mighty Thor, and wielder of Mjolnir) dies, and in a post-credits scene, gets to Valhalla, where she is welcomed by Heimdall (who was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War). It is currently unclear if Valhalla is one of the "many intersectional planes of untethered consciousness" mentioned by Taweret.

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In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as of Black Panther, we’ve seen one possible afterlife — the Ancestral Plane. However, it’s not clear whether that’s an actual afterlife, or some sort of Heart-Shaped-Herb-induced hallucination.

As of Avengers: Infinity War

there’s a chance that roughly half of our heroes have just been very rudely introduced to whatever afterlife there might be.

Although in Avengers: Endgame, we hear

Peter telling Tony about his recent experiences, and it sounds like he has no memory of not existing for five years.

And in Hawkeye, we seem to see the actual experience from the point of view of

Yelena Belova, who merely perceives the bathroom she's in changing appearance, and — like Monica Rambeau in WandaVision — is entirely unaware of what happened to her, or that five years have passed.

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