This week’s Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer dropped some pretty major curveballs about how it’s going to deal with Peter Parker’s post-Endgame life – one of which was an allusion to the young hero’s first step into a much larger world. Or, rather, set of worlds. And a new clip has us even more intrigued.
Aired on The Ellen Show as part of an interview with Jake Gyllenhaal – the clip itself has not yet officially been uploaded online but is floating around; you can only check out the interview segment itself below – the brief sequence expounds a bit further on the moment Peter Parker is more formally introduced to Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio, by Nick Fury. Fury and Beck quickly reveal to Peter that not only is the latter not of this Earth (simply a Earth), but also that there are enough alternate realities out there in the multiverse to give all these alternate Earths numerical designations.
Designations that have some very interesting connections to the comics.
The first, of course, is Earth-616 – which is, in the comics, the primary Marvel Universe, the one we all know and love. The one where Peter Parker sold his marriage to the devil and Captain America was briefly a fascist dictator... you know, all that stuff that happens on the regular in the pages of Marvel Comics. It’s an interesting nod to denote the MCU’s Earth as 616 beyond just the obvious parallels – although as an aside, considering that the movies have taken plenty of aesthetic and even tonal ideas from the Ultimate Marvel Universe, home to Earth-1610 (it’s where the Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury design first appeared!), it’s kind of funny to connect it directly to the main 616 one.
Loki’s multiversal passport includes a cheeky ‘Cinematic Universe’ stamp for Earth-199999 in Young Avengers #8. Image: Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)
But it’s also interesting because Marvel’s Cinematic Universe actually already has a numerical demarcation within the comic book version of the multiverse: it’s Earth-199999, as first recognised in 2008's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #5 and referenced in fits and starts ever since. Don’t try and square the circle on how that one might get explained now that an actual movie has declared otherwise, it’ll be enough to make your head spin – especially after we only just got done trying to wrap our heads around quantum realm-induced time travel with Endgame.
But Earth-616 isn’t the only comics reality that gets some love in this clip – Beck alleges that his home reality is Earth-833, which not only has comic book roots, but also has some very interesting ones specifically for Spider-Man fans. Earth-833 is the home reality of the Captain Britain Corps, a pan-reality union of the Captains Britain of many realms in the multiverse that came together to investigate the slow but sure eradication of the Marvel Multiverse, something that was happening in the comics as a precursor to the events of Secret Wars in 2016. In fact, it got destroyed, leaving one sole survivor: 833's Captain Britain, William ‘Billy’ Braddock... better known for also being that reality’s Spider-Man.
Billy making his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #7. Image: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, and Edgar Delgado (Marvel Comics)
Yes, Earth-833 is where Spider-UK came from – first introduced for the excellent 2014 event series Spider-Verse that would go on to partially inspire the even more excellent 2018 movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Billy stuck around in the comics for a bit after Spider-Verse, helping to lead the Web Warriors, a group of spider-heroes who safeguarded the multiverse’s connection to the myriad spiders who inhabited it – but he ultimately perished early in last year’s sequel to Spider-Verse, Spider-Geddon, leaving Earth-833 as nothing but a memory.
That is, until Far From Home just revived it. Mysterio notes in the clip that his earth “could’ve used a hero” like Peter, so maybe in the movieverse – now even more confusing, connection to the comicsverse brought by invoking Earth-616 aside – Spider-UK doesn’t actually exist. But even if Billy Braddock isn’t running around in Mysterio’s world, it’s still a cool little mention for diehard Spider-Man fans.
Or you know, maybe Mysterio’s magical green pants are on fire and it’s all a ruse, and he’s just making numbers up for a multiverse that doesn’t really exist as he goes along in his latest illusory con act. We’ll have to wait until July to see, when Spider-Man: Far From Home hits cinemas.