Marvel Studios’ newest streaming series is off with a bang on Disney+. The show stars Iman Vellani as 16-year-old Kamala Khan, an Avengers superfan living in New Jersey who comes to inherit a mysterious bangle that appears to imbue her with cosmic superpowers. Of course, Vellani is quite a fan of the MCU herself and hasn’t been shy about sharing her theories and hot takes about the franchise.
The MCU has been developing a multi-project story arc centering on parallel universes since 2021. As established in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the main MCU is called Earth-616. This is the universe where all the action has been happening since 2008’s Iron Man. Now, the universe in which the Marvel comic books take place is also known as Earth-616. In supplemental materials, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had the designation of Earth-199999, but the Doctor Strange sequel seemingly retconned this.
It can all be a little confusing for fans who aren’t paying the closest attention. But there is one notable fan who is looking that closely: Iman Vellani herself.
Iman Vellani on the Earth-616 Debate
Ms. Marvel actress Iman Vellani shared her thoughts on why the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s true Multiversal designation is actually Earth-19999:
“I have this argument with Kevin [Feige] every single time I see him in person. It’s not 616. The MCU is definitely 199999. It’s five nines. And all this happened because Kevin Feige made a joke in an interview about how long the MCU would stand for and he said, ‘199999 years.’ But we need a number and you can’t take it from the Marvel comics canon, because that was like the main comics canon where all the main events took place.”
Vellani went on to elaborate on the difference while namedropping Mysterio. Devotees will recall that Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, caused trouble for Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home, all the while claiming to be from an alternate universe and arriving on “Earth-616” as a result of a battle with an elemental being.
Vellani criticized the “Earth-616” line, saying that this designation should not have been something Beck was privy to, since he was “just an actor”.
The actress also noted that the comic book Kamala Khan is off having her own adventures on Earth-616 in print form: “There is in the 616 universe! In the comics, yeah. As of right now, you get what you get.”
Kamala Khan in the Multiverse of Madness
There’s a lot to break down in Iman Vellani’s comments. For starters, in the pages of Marvel Comics, the MCU was indeed categorized as Earth-199999. This information was listed in officially published guidebooks and the like. When Doctor Strange 2 was released, this idea was turned on its head. During Strange and America Chavez’ trip to Earth-838, audiences were informed that the pair’s native universe, the main MCU, is Earth-616, flying in the face of previous information.
It’s worth noting that the title of Earth-616 could possibly be something that was strictly only used by Baxter Foundation scientists in the context of the film and not the actual Multiversal classification.
Moving on, Mysterio did label the universe he claimed to have landed on as Earth-616, but he was far from “just an actor” as Vellani claimed. Quentin Beck was depicted as a highly intelligent scientist and inventor. He also had an entire team of people at his back to help sell the story and illusion of Mysterio in order to dupe “Nick Fury” and Peter Parker into handing over control of the dangerous EDITH protocols. It’s not much of a stretch to say that Beck was working with some top minds who deduced that the MCU actually could be Earth-616.
None of this is to discredit Vellani, who is clearly an enthusiastic and avid fan with the best of intentions and a wealth of Marvel knowledge. It’s quite possible that, from a cosmic point of view, the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be known as both Earth-19999 and Earth-616. And as Marvel Studios continues to delve into the Multiverse, more answers will surely be revealed.