Whether you need a new villain or an old Spider-Man, your sci-fi movie will sound more scientifically credible if you use the word multiverse. The Marvel multiverse puts multiple different versions of our universe “out there,” somewhere. In these films, with the right blend of technology, magic, and imagination, travel between these universes is possible.
For example (spoilers!), in Spider-Man: No Way Home, we discover there are other universes and other Earths, some of which have their own local Spider-Man. In the universe of the movie, magic is possible.
This magic, thanks to a misfiring spell from superhero Dr. Strange, causes some of the other Spider-Men to be transported into our universe, along with a few supervillains.
In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (in cinemas now), the universe-on-universe buffoonery threatens a “desecration of reality.”
So, which of these ideas has Marvel based on science, and which ones are just pure fiction?
Multiverse lite: a really big universe
Could there be other Earths? Could there be other people out there, who look a lot like us, on a planet that looks like ours? Scientifically, it’s possible, because we don’t know how big our universe actually is.
We can see billions of light years into space, but we don’t know how much more space is out there, beyond what we can see.
If there is more space out there, full of galaxies, stars, and planets, then there are more and more chances for Another-Earth to exist. Somewhere. With enough space and enough planets, any possibility becomes likely.
The fiction of the Marvel multiverse stems from the ability to travel between these other earths. There’s a good reason why Dr. Strange needs to use magic for this.
According to Albert Einstein, we can’t travel through space faster than light. And while more exotic ways to travel around the universe are scientifically possible – wormholes, for example – we don’t know how to make them, the universe doesn’t seem to make them naturally, and there is no reason to think they’d connect us to Another-Earth rather than some random part of empty space.
So, almost certainly, if Another-Earth is out there somewhere, it’s unimaginably far away, even for an astronomer.
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