Multiple Timelines in the #MCU

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I’ve never liked plots with infinite realities. The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, Parallels, is an exception, but for the most part it’s not only unwieldy, but it also ruins its own efforts. As to being unwieldy, Star Trek generally did things right. They stuck to only two realities: The Prime Universe (where most of the stories take place) and the Mirror Universe (where the Federation is evil). Two realities are really easy to track for the viewer and allow the realities to be true opposites rather than meaningless shades of grey that wouldn’t produce much drama. As to ruining its own efforts, forgetting all its other faults, consider Terminator: Genysis. In that movie, we learn that there are an infinite number of realities in which humans are battling Skynet. We all presume that in some realities the machines win, and in others, the humans win. In the particular reality that we’re shown, (SPOILER ALERT!), the director chose to show us one in which the humans win, but that choice was arbitrary. I’m left thinking, “Yeah, but there are an infinite amount of people suffering in other realities, so this isn’t much of a happy ending, is it?”

This is why I’m (slightly) worried about the multiverse coming to the MCU. According to Dr. Strange, only 1 in 14,000,605 possible outcomes resulted in the defeat of Thanos. This is horrible math, but let’s say that means only 1 of each 14,000,605 universes enjoy that success (which poorly assumes that each outcome has the same chance of occurring). Bad math aside, that means the number of sad endings far exceeds the number happy ones. Just because the Russo brothers arbitrarily chose to show us one of the happy endings doesn’t mean we should walk away thinking everything is great. It isn’t. In the grand scale of things, it’s actually rather bad.

This entire train of thought originated with a tweet of mine, which I retweeted and added to after seeing the latest commercial for Wandavision:

While I expect Dr. Strange to deal with a lot more than two realities, they don’t have to do so going forward. Assuming that each of the teams from Endgame traveled to the same alternate reality, everything that we’ve seen/will see occur with both Loki and Vision could be explained by only two realities. That is, the other Thanos came from the same reality in which Loki escaped using the space stone, and since that Thanos was from 2014, died, and never returned to his reality, his reality’s Vision survived as well. The MCU could therefore focus on just those two realities. That’d be a lot easier to manage, and yet the MCU could still address infinite universes where, as with Parallels, that can actually work. I hope they generally stick to just the two, though of course I’ll watch their movies regardless.

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