What I hope for in Marvel’s Secret Wars (2015)

Every year now both Marvel and DC subject us to a summer crossover event. Much of the time it only involves a single team or character, but every two or three years it involves the whole of each universe. When Marvel had its Civil War, DC was having it’s Final Crisis. DC’s Flashpoint had to contend with Marvel’s Age of X. And so on…

The general rule with Marvel is that their crossovers involve heroes fighting villains, or heroes fighting heroes. At the end of some truly epic battles nothing much changes in the universe even if a few heroes die or get new costumes.

DC on the other hand likes to make their crossovers end with company wide changes in many, if not all, of their titles. Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Flashpoint, these all resulted in huge changes for the DC universe, and in some cases total reboots.
This year Marvel is announcing its big crossover event: Secret Wars. The premise is mostly the same as 1984s Secret Wars: Heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe(s) are put together in a planet called Battleworld (itself made up of other planets) and must fight.

Sounds like the Marvel status quo right? Perhaps not.

The original Secret Wars didn’t change much, but this Secret Wars is epic compared to the original. In this instance, every single character in the Marvel Universe will presumably be involved. That’s because every single universe in the Marvel franchise will be a part of the Secret Wars.

The new Battleworld is composed of several Universes: House of M, Age of Ultron, Earth 616 (the main Marvel Universe), Planet Hulk… the full list can be found here.

What may (and I hope this is the case) be different in this version of Secret Wars is that instead of it being simply a gigantic battle as previous Marvel based crossovers have been, this might actually involve a re-haul, or if we’re all very lucky, a hard reboot, of the Marvel franchise. Now this is probably wishful thinking, but something we should keep in mind is the teaser tag line for the event:

Time Runs Out. Everything Ends. The Secret Wars commence in May 2015 from Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic!

“Everything Ends” is the line upon which I’m basing all of my hopes. It was also confirmed by Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s Executive Editor:

“The Marvel Universe as you know it is done. The Ultimate Universe as you know it is done.” – @TomBrevoort #SecretWarsLive

This might not mean anything. The Ultimate and Earth 616 universes might die for the purposes of Secret Wars and then be stitched back together afterwards with just a few changes in order to keep things in line with Marvel’s new direction but with no major changes.

But if everything ends, if after Secret Wars we have a new Marvel Universe, then we may be given what has never happened in the Marvel franchise (and something that is desperately needed): a company-wide hard reboot. DC did it a few years ago with their New 52 (with the exception of Batman and Green Lantern… two of the series’ that desperately needed a reboot) and it’s worked out (mostly) well. Perhaps Marvel might be considering the same thing.

This is purely speculation, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that any of this will come to pass. We honestly don’t know anything about what the aftermath of Secret Wars will bring. But we do know a few things:

Marvel’s Ultimate Imprint is Ending

Ultimate was the closest thing to a reboot we’ve had from Marvel, but this just takes place in an alternate universe. The Ultimate universe is one where heroes didn’t start existing until the 20th century. Its quite similar (but not the same) universe as the MCU, partly because both universes take a slightly more realistic approach. But after more than a decade of publication the Ultimate Marvel Universe has been whittled down to only one publication a month. And that publication too is probably coming to an end with Secret Wars.

Marvel wants to hurt Fox

We are also painfully aware of Marvel’s feud with Fox, which owns the rights to Fantastic 4 and X-Men. Unlike Marvels’ relationship with Sony, which as of this writing is so amicable that it appears Spiderman will appear in Captain America: Civil War. But Fox owns the rights to both the X-Men and Fantastic 4 franchises. And although Fox has done relatively well with the X-Men films I’m not holding out hope for the new Fantastic 4.

The problem is that Marvel’s mechanic for so gaining super powers, mutants, is also open to Fox. Any X-man hero or villain is open game. But these characters are also involved in the Avengers, as well as other franchises. Case in point: Quicksilver (not by that name) appeared in Fox’s Days of Future Past film and will be appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron this summer. This is a sticking point with Marvel marvel for obvious reasons. Marvel has gone so far to hurt Fox that it’s no longer allowing any writers to create new X-Men and has cancelled the Fantastic Four.

Marvel Appears to want to merge the MCU with its Comic Universe

Finally, we know that Marvel is attempting to make the comics universe as similar as possible to their MCU counterparts. Relatively speaking. They removed the old Nick Fury and replaced him with Nick Jury Jr, his African American son after the success of Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal in the MCU. There are a few other more subtle changes being made.

Marvel, unlike DC, appears to want to have all of their franchises tie in to each other. This includes the comics, and primarily the Films and TV Series’ that its producing. This may be a factor in determining what the result of Secret Wars may be.

Marvel Cares about Continuity

Marvel hasn’t had to have a company wide reboot because unlike DC, who appears to need it every few decades, Marvel pays a little bit more attention to continuity. It’s why Spiderman stayed married to Mary Jane-Watson for so long. It actually took a demon re-writing continuity (in-canon) to un-mary Spiderman.
Of course Marvel does retcon when needed. The original X-Men would be in their 60’s rather than late 30’s without some much-needed retcons. Ditto for Spiderman and Iron Man, among others. But generally speaking Marvel keeps a pretty good lid (much better than DC) on continuity errors.
Marvel is very keen on reducing continuity errors in the MCU films, as well as creating a clear link between all of the films and the MCU as a whole. There have been a few hiccups, but generally speaking Marvel has done a good job at keeping continuity whole.

Where is this all Heading?

It might be possible (though if I’m being honest unlikely) that Marvel is going to use the aftermath of Secret Wars to reboot the franchise. Whether this will be a hard or soft reboot I have no idea. But it may be that Marvel wants to merge their properties into one universe. Imagine if the film version of Iron Man matched the main Marvel Universe version? This would make continuity, as well as tie in opportunities, much simpler for Marvel.
As I stated above, Marvel sees all of their properties as a brand. Anything and everything on the table (except for those owned by Fox). Marvel may be using Secret Wars as an opportunity to simplify the publishing wing of the Marvel franchise. In addition, and I really hope this is not the case, Marvel may retcon the X-Men into a bleak, non existent oblivion, or possibly put them in their own separate universe.
Many people probably don’t want a reboot, but I do. First of all, it would give the writers an opportunity to re-write many heroes’ origins with a modern twist. Iron Man technically got his injuries in the Vietnam War, and retcons aside this could give Marvel an opportunity to start fresh. In addition, it could give Marvel the ability to give younger audiences that are being introduced to Marvel Characters via the MCU films a chance to read the official origins at the same time as everyone else rather than having to play catchup.

Of course this is all speculation, and if I’m being honest probably not the direction Marvel is going. Marvel’s never done a reboot, and frankly it probably doesn’t want to. The risks outweigh the benefits. Destroy 50 years of comic book history? Make hundreds of fan favorite story-lines no longer matter? Marvel probably won’t go this far, but perhaps the end result of Secret Wars will be somewhere in between the total hard reboot I’m personally hoping for and the return to the status quo that is probably more likely.

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Christopher James

Christopher James

The Founder of TPK Media.

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