Marvel Comics: The 10 Best Multiversal Variants Of Classic Heroes – Screen Rant

In the pages of Marvel Comics, hundreds of variant universes have been introduced, and many have been revisited multiple times.
The Disney+ series’ Loki and What If? recently introduced the multiverse to the MCU, revealing dozens of variant versions of classic Marvel characters. Long-term fans of the comics, however, are very familiar with the concept of the multiverse.
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In the pages of Marvel Comics, hundreds of variant universes have been introduced, and many have been revisited multiple times, becoming almost as iconic as the “Prime” universe of Earth-616. Each of these alternate worlds is inhabited by its own sets of characters, showcasing some pretty unexpected takes on many classic Marvel heroes.
In the mainstream Marvel Universe, X-Men leader Storm was almost transformed into a vampire by Dracula in Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 #159 by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz. With the help of her teammates, however, she was able to resist the transformation. On Earth-1298, better known as “The Mutant X Universe” these events played out differently, and although Storm was able to defy Dracula and rejoin the X-Men, she was fully transformed into a vampire along the way. Contrary to Storm’s typical stalwart and regal presentation, Bloodstorm was self-serving, vengeful, and impulsive, establishing a darker mirror image of the classic hero.
In the critically acclaimed storyline Days Of Future Past, the world’s mutant population was mostly exterminated, with survivors rounded up into concentration camps and guarded over by the deadly robotic Sentinels. One of the leaders of the surviving mutants was Kate Pryde, whose mainstream counterpart at the time was the youngest of the X-Men.
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Utilizing the powers of teammate Rachel Summers, future Kate was able to send her consciousness back in time, inhabiting her younger self to divert the events that lead to her future. While Kitty Pryde was the youngest and most inexperienced of the X-Men at the time this story was published, future Kate was a war-weary leader, foreshadowing her younger counterpart’s future role in the mutant community.
The death of the original Captain Marvel, from which Carol Danvers adopted her legacy, is one of Marvel’s greatest stories. In another universe, however, Mar-Vell made a deathbed pact with the ancient “Many Angled Ones”, allowing him to corrupt the heroes around him and defeat the living embodiment of Death itself. Effectively eliminating mortality from his universe, this world came to be known as “The Cancerverse”, populated by twisted undying versions of Marvel’s most well-known heroes. Where the original Captain Marvel accepted his mortality and faced death with grace and valor, his twisted Cancerverse counterpart became corrupted by his desire to live, eventually leading a perverted deathless version of the Avengers into the multiverse in a quest to eliminate Death from all worlds.
In a world ravaged by a war against the Super-Skrull Titannus, a variant of Tony Stark watched as one by one his allies perished. This version of Tony became much darker than his 616 counterpart, embittered by the loss of so many loved ones and determined to avenge them by any means necessary. As a result, he went on to pillage the unguarded technologies of his world’s deceased heroes, upgrading his armor along the way. Dubbed “Iron Maniac” due to his aggressive tactics, he eventually came into conflict with the Reed Richards of this world who, unable to kill Tony, instead transported him across dimensions, landing him in the mainstream Marvel Universe. The following “Iron Maniac Saga” is one of the highlights of writer Robert Kirkman’s highly underrated run on the comic Marvel Team-Up vol. 3, a book that itself spawned numerous new branches of Marvel’s multiversal tree.
An alternate version of Deadpool driven mad by his belief that he and everybody he had ever met were entirely fictional beings, Dreadpool set about a campaign to eliminate all reality. Traversing multiple variant universes, he was responsible for the deaths of many alternate versions of Marvel’s heroes and villains, as well as a number of classic literary characters. Amassing an army of multiversal Deadpools along the way, he eventually landed in the 616 where he and his army of evil Deadpools went toe to toe with the Prime Wade Wilson’s Deadpool Corps. Every bit as deranged as the original, but driven by a singular goal, Dreadpool has become a recurring antagonist in the mainstream Deadpool comics and one of the Prime Wade’s greatest enemies.
Rather than being hated and feared as they are on Earth-616, the mutants of the “House Of M” are the ruling class of society, lauded as heroes, celebrities, and monarchs. In order to capitalize upon their societal advantage, the Peter Parker of this universe passed himself off as a mutant, with none questioning his status due to his amazing abilities. In this world, Peter became a celebrity professional wrestler before parlaying his public adoration into a career as a movie star. House Of M Spider-Man lived a life that the mainstream Parker could only have dreamed of, with all of the power and none of the responsibility. Consequently, he slowly came to acknowledge that he was living a lie and was torn between his celebrity status as a “mutant” icon and his desire to help the burgeoning human uprising.
In a desolate future ravaged by nuclear war, The Maestro seized control, regulating resources and ruling with an iron fist. Fans of the mainstream Marvel Universe would immediately recognize Maestro as a future version of the Incredible Hulk, but writer Peter David was determined to craft a Hulk story unlike any before it.
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In the post-apocalyptic world to which readers were introduced, most of humanity had been either annihilated or horrifically mutated, and the last survivors were ruled over by The Maestro, who possessed Banner’s intelligence and Hulk’s strength, but a completely twisted sense of morality. One of the first stories to depict the ramifications of a Hulk unchained, the story of The Maestro remains one of Marvel’s most notable alternate futures.
In an epic storyline taking place between Wolverine Vol. 3 #’s 66-72, readers were introduced to an alternate future in which Wolverine was the last surviving member of the X-Men. Adding to his tragedy, this version of Logan had been previously retired, before a combined collective of Marvel’s villains commandeered his enhanced senses, tricking him into unleashing his infamous berserker rage upon his friends and family. The quest of Old Man Logan was a modern-day Marvel Comics western, and the character has had lasting success, spawning a series of spin-offs and being incorporated into the mainstream Marvel Universe as a member of the present-day X-Men.
The Age Of Apocalypse introduced readers to a world in which Professor Xavier died before ever forming the X-Men. As a result, the ancient mutant Apocalypse conquered America unchallenged, ushering in a dystopian future held to his unwavering Darwinistic views. Without the leadership of Xavier, the X-Men of this world were instead assembled by his best friend Magneto, who, in a timeline where Xavier and Magneto were not rivals, sought to honor the death of his oldest friend. Age Of Apocalypse Magneto set a new precedent for the heroic potential of one of Marvel’s oldest villains, with elements of his character still noticeable in his mainstream interpretation to this day.
Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is the most well-known of their alternate realities. Beginning essentially as an homage, it re-established many well-known stories for new audiences. As it progressed, however, Marvel’s Ultimate Comics diverged significantly, establishing new status quos for their variants of popular characters. One of the most significant was the Ultimate version of Reed Richards, leader of The Fantastic Four. Following a world-altering global event, this version of Reed used his abilities to stretch his own cranium, expanding his mental capacity and reinventing himself as the logical-to-a-fault villain, The Maker. When Marvel’s 2019 Secret Wars event folded the Ultimate universe into the world of classic continuity, The Maker survived, becoming an enemy to the Mighty Avengers while attempting to remake the world in his own image.
NEXT: 10 Best Alternate Members Of The Fantastic Four
Drew Beaty is a third-generation superhero fan who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He began his collection with hand-me-down comic books from a used book store owned by his father and grandfather in the late 1980s. Today, Drew owns and has read over 50,000 individual comics. He was once ranked “Best In The World” in the Marvel Comics category of the mobile trivia game Quiz-Up and still has the screenshots to prove it. When he’s not reading or writing about masks and capes, Drew spends his time with his wife and cats, or rubbing elbows with Portland’s music scene, where he has performed in the hip hop group Bad Habitat since 2008.


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