clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Spider-Man: Far From Home is the first Marvel movie to number the multiverse

Shout out the 616

Image: Sony Pictures via Polygon
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Clips and trailers for Spider-Man: Far From Home have already given us one big reveal of the movie’s plot: Mysterio is from a parallel Earth. But not just that: We know exactly which parallel Earth he’s from.

But there’s more to it than that. Join me, after the warning, for a spoiler-filled examination of Mysterio’s understanding of the Marvel multiverse, and the significance of those funny little numbers.

[Ed. note: This post will contain major spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home.]

Spider-Man: Far From Home - Mysterio in Venice Sony Pictures

If you’ve seen Spider-Man: Far From Home you now know what we’d suspected all along: Mysterio is a lying liar who lies.

He’s not from a parallel Earth, he’s just a disgruntled Stark Industries employee with a lot of holographic drones.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no significance to his claims. Quentin Beck still holds the dubious honor of being the first Marvel Cinematic Universe character to do something deeply nerdy and vital from Marvel Comics themselves: He numbers the parallel earths.

OK, OK, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it visual reference to Earth-616 in Thor: The Dark World as well, but Mysterio says it out loud, a detail so comic-booky that Commander Talos and his wife were ready to believe he was from another world entirely.

“This is Earth Dimension 616,” he tells Peter when he explains his quote-unquote origins. “I’m from Earth-833. We share identical physical constants, level four symmetry.”

Marvel’s universe numbers mean something

The way the Marvel makes sense of its multiverse’s parallel earths is a fundamental differences between the comics company and competitor, DC. Where the DC multiverse is generally considered to contain a finite number of stable parallel worlds — usually, 52 of them — the Marvel Multiverse contains a theoretically infinite number of worlds.

How do writers keep all those worlds straight, then? What about fans? The characters themselves? The answer is a system of numerical designation, where every parallel world can be called “Earth-” and then some numbers. Numbers are assigned somewhat haphazardly by whatever creator pens their first appearance — some of them seem to be references to issue numbers or dates of publication, but overall, they don’t have any secret meaning.

This is all to say that when Mysterio says that he’s from Earth-833, and Peter is from Earth-616, those terms have history in the Marvel Universe.

And also Mysterio is totally wrong about both of them.

What is Earth-616?

Earth-833, which Mysterio claims as his own, is an established Marvel parallel Earth, but it doesn’t have much significance to Spider-Man: Far From Home. We don’t know much about Earth-833 except that it’s the home of Spider-UK, a sort of amalgam of Spider-Man and the Marvel hero Captain Britain, who played a pivotal role in the original Spider-Verse crossover. It could be that the folks behind Far From Home picked this one as a reference to the movie’s climax, which takes place in London, but otherwise there’s no direct connection to the plot.

On the other hand, Earth-616 is a pretty big deal: It’s the numerical designation of the main Marvel Comics universe, where the regular version of Spider-Man and the Avengers and the X-Men and all those folks are from. Mysterio says that Peter’s world is Earth-616, and that feels like it would make sense.

But he’s still wrong.

Earth-616 is the main Marvel comics universe, in which the majority of the stories in Marvel comics take place. Spider-Man: Far From Home, Avengers: Endgame, and all the other Marvel Studios films take place in their own parallel Marvel earth, which has its own numerical designation: Earth-199999. That’s a one followed by five nines, if you’re already squinting at it.

Which just goes to show: Mysterio is a lying liar who lies, and he can’t even get his lies right.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.