The MCU Referenced Earth-616 Way Before 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'

The Marvel Cinematic Universe just got shaken up by the latest trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which dropped the major reveal that the MCU is just one of many alternate realities. This concept is not new to readers of Marvel Comics, who have become familiar with the concept of other Earths — mostly since Marvel uses it as leeway to create as many "alternate" titles as possible.

But the Marvel multiverse is entirely new to the MCU, which until now, had operated under the assumption that there was only one reality. Earth's Mightiest Heroes had only recently discovered that they were not alone in the universe! But with the establishment of alternate realities, Spider-Man: Far From Home just opened up the door to infinite possibilities — or did it? It may turn out that the upcoming Spider-Man movie wasn't the first to introduce the concept of the Marvel multiverse to the MCU after all.

The Marvel multiverse will get its official introduction in the MCU with Spider-Man: Far From Home, with the revelation that the mysterious new character played by Jake Gyllenhaal, Mysterio, comes from another Earth. While Mysterio hails from an Earth called Earth-833, the MCU reality is dubbed Earth-616 — the label of the primary timeline in Marvel Comics. But that's not the first mention we've had of Earth-616 in the MCU.

The first mention came six years ago, in Thor: The Dark World, which snuck in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to alternate realities. In the Thor sequel, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) has been driven mad from the effects of the Tesseract that had been used against him in 2012's The Avengers. We know now that the Tesseract housed the Space Stone, which has the power to enhance an individual's abilities. Selvig may not be superpowered, but he's a brilliant scientist, and perhaps the Space Stone opened his mind to the universe's secrets, including alternate realities. How do we know? Just look at his scrawlings on the blackboard behind him, one of which are the underlined words "616 universe."

Of course, this isn't the only nod to alternate realities that the MCU would sneak in. The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) mentioned it again in Doctor Strange, asking the title character as his spirt was sent on a tour through the cosmos "Who are you in this vast multiverse, Mr. Strange?" But this nod in Thor: The Dark World was still fairly early on in the MCU's phases. You could write it off as an Easter Egg for comic book readers, but with Spider-Man: Far From Home establishing Earth-616 as the reality of the MCU, this was probably some major foreshadowing.

Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Far From Home stars Tom Holland and swings into theaters on July 2, 2019.

Peter Parker's relaxing European vacation takes an unexpected turn when Nick Fury suddenly shows up in his hotel room. Parker soon finds himself donning the Spider-Man suit to help Fury stop the evil Mysterio from wreaking havoc across the continent.