It’s not so much the connection to the character, so much as the importance of the word and how it affects both mainstream comic book publishers and their history.
Let me back up for a minute, when seeing Dr. Strange in the theater I was excited. Finally Marvel was bringing magic to the movieverse and all of us as viewers were going to have a better experience for it in the long run. I never expected a huge plotpoint in the movie to be anything connected to the multiverse.
Long term comic readers will know the significance and importance of the word to comics in general. It’s something that DC comics has heavily used for years and how we got Crisis on Infinite Earths in the first place. It also is how the designation earth 616 popped up over at Marvel at all. (It even manages to have importance to Ant-man as the microverse ties directly into it)
Basically to not get long winded back in the 80’s, DC decided they had way too many earths with way too many versions of the same heroes and a crazy amount of continuities. So editorial tasked Marv Wolfman and George Perez with shrinking this down to one earth where they’d reboot everything, basically wiping whole worlds off the map. Meanwhile Marvel had other ideas and we were introduced to the Captain Britain corp and the idea of the multiverse in the 80’s during Alan Moore’s fan favorite run on the Captain.
It wouldn’t be until the early 90’s that DC decided to play with the idea of the Multiverse again with books known as elseworlds where Batman got bit by a vampire or Clark Kent became Batman or Superman was raised in Russia instead of American and what it led to. (Superman Red Son is a fantastic book that is constantly in print, highly recommend seeking it out if you’re curious.) Though we also had an evil earth that we’d see Morrison play with that had an evil version of the Justice League on it called the Crime Syndicate.
The multiverse actually led to one of my favorite event books and one of my favorite comics of all time. The event book being Age of Apocolypse which saw Charles Xavier killed years before he formed the X-men which led to an alternate Earth taken over by Apacolypse and his minions. It’s a really cool exploration of a universe readers already loved in new and exciting ways, which also technically helped lead into Exiles. Exiles was a book that starred one of the more fan favorite characters from AoA in Blink and Sabretooth where a team of mostly X-men based characters would jump from earth to earth fixing problems that needed to be fixed.
Geoff Johns really started playing with and introduced the idea of the 52 earths and the multiverse existing again in Infinity Crisis and about 7 years after that Grant Morrison really picked the ball back up and did a series called Multiversity which showed just how different some of those earths really were.
I think one of the major differences between the two concepts of Multiverse has mostly been time/earth and alternate reality based. If DC had a concept they were playing with you’d get an Earth 3 or Earth 48 or something like that but with Marvel you’d get Marvel Zombies (exactly what you think it is) or 1602 (an Earth that gains its super powered characters in a victorian era years before they’re supposed to exist) or 2099 with a future Hulk and Spider-man.
The concept itself really only has loose form and is only ever changed or messed with in a major event book like Marvel just did with it’s Secret Wars.
Now I know I’ve mostly talked the movies but I do have to give a nod to the television side of things as DC and the Flash have already beat everyone to the punch by introducing the multiverse and having at least 4 Earths that we know of appear so far. (Which is so cool to see as a longtime comic reader and something that I know I can’t wait to see them play with more down the line.)
So will we see our heroes jump to different worlds? Is this how we will eventually get the X-men and the Fantastic Four back in the Marvel movieverse umbrella? Will DC ever start playing with it’s multiverse in the movies? I know I’m excited about all the possibilities.
Thanks for reading!