I’ve been looking forward to writing about this topic for years. Due to the tastemaking machine that is Marvel Studios, the time has come. The topic is the Multiverse, a concept that, in Marvel and DC mythology, allows for infinite variations of any character to exist simultaneously in other narrative universes, and sometimes these universes cross over for epic team-ups of said characters.
The Multiverse has its roots in the most ancient religious texts known to humanity, including detailed descriptions from sages & yogis, and I would go as far as to say that if reincarnation is the “X-axis” on a graph, the Multiverse is the “Y-Axis” (an oversimplified and weighted statement, I’m aware). My purpose for writing today is to highlight my belief that the Multiverse becoming part of mainstream thinking is a MAJOR step in cultural evolution that will affect every sector of business and life, and how my team and I at ReelwUrld have been building our business around it for years. In the same way Hip Hop has become the most popular music genre in the world—creating an international, blended mindset, especially amongst the youth (and most notably due to a technology called “rap” (see music icon Steve Stoute’s The Tanning of America)— the Multiverse will cause culture to ideate around variations of the self, clarifying in a tangible way that unity is diversity. Before I continue, for examples of content catalyzing this writing, check out the new Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer released this week, or Marvel’s new What If…? show on Disney+, or even this short video of Neil deGrasse Tyson sharing the science of the Multiverse. Okay, now let’s talk about why the Multiverse will revolutionize the film & TV industry and make the world a better place. Studios and networks are possessive of their intellectual property (IP). In fact, studios and networks are notoriously risk averse, and therefore experimentation with stories can be passed over in favor of reliable formulas. Hence, we get the same types of movies and shows coming out (here’s a playlist I made analyzing that problem). The skin changes, but the structures are most often recycled, and it’s been happening for more than half a century (note iconic filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s autobiography and his breakdowns of the American filmmaking formulae). BUT when you consider what the Multiverse is— a playground for remixed versions of characters and stories— you get something even those married to the Hollywood system can’t deny, possibility. The possibility to have infinite variations of characters and stories (or as Star Trek put it, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) means an IP holder can’t manage all of these variations alone, and that means that the grip on the IP rights has to be reenvisioned to leverage the opportunity. And guess what area of media has innovated on creative rights sharing? Social. I believe the social media model can actualize the potential of the Multiverse, that is, once the studios & networks figure out how to bridge the gap between their IP and the endless creativity of fandom. Enter my team at ReelwUrld. If you follow me in any capacity online, you likely already know what I’ve been up to, building a business that combines a social network with a film & TV studio, focused on making movies and shows with communities of fans as writers, directors, and stars, centralized on an app, like our first show JFH. For us, the Multiverse is a key driver for future revenue, meaning that some of you good people are going to hire me and my team in the next 18 months to bring our technology and services to your studio or network’s IP. That’s because we’ve been building the model for multiversal creativity and collaboration for years. We’ve failed more times than most have thought to try at this point, and in the process have built a system that actually works. In this system, user-generated content is just as important, if not more important, than studio & network IP, and that’s because the fans are flexible with their creativity. A single fan’s character can exist across multiple studio IP. Imagine the boundless expression a fan can have portraying their homemade character in Star Wars, then crossing that character over into Marvel, or Justice For Hire (shameless plug). This future is…inevitable (thanks Thanos). To prep for this future, I make time in my schedule to speak face-to-face (on zoom) with members of our Justice For Hire community in JFH Development Calls. Before going multiversal, a character needs to have core character traits and a foundational story structure. For example, most Batman “variants” (wow, thanks Loki) share the common story of their parents being slain at the hands of criminals. Given that I’m producing a show with and starring a community, helping cast members think through their characters and even reflect on their own lives is an important part of the development process, especially for franchise storytelling, and even more for how we’re physically making Justice For Hire and ReelwUrld. I highly recommend watching the two latest JFH Development Calls with characters Lifeline and Guru Mer Kaba so you can get a sense of the work that people are putting into their creations, and imaging how this will scale in time for the global industry. Before I close this out, I must acknowledge that DC has been doing multiverse storytelling for years with their comics and TV shows, and is prepping a major Flashpoint film event to unite their properties. Both Marvel and DC have been monetizing Multiverse versions of their characters in toy form for decades, but it’s Marvel Studio’s film & TV work that is making the terminology and thinking behind it mainstream, which I would argue definitively started with the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, appropriately accompanied by the most timely soundtrack from a film in years (powered by SoundCloud-style rap just as it was becoming mainstream). I also left out mentions of specific religious texts, other dimensions (which are within one universe, not to be confused with the Multiverse), and countless more in the grand scheme of things. If you’re interested in that, take a note from Steve Jobs and read Autobiography of a Yogi. Thanks everyone as usual for following my journey. I talk about a range of feelings and intentions and processes, and the Multiverse has been at the top of my list because it means that EVERYONE CAN PLAY. Every version of your self has value, can be loved and nurtured. And if all versions of you stem from one source—you as the creator—perhaps we as a collective will translate that awareness to loving each other as parts of the same whole. We’ll get there soon enough. With Love & Gratitude, Jan Lucanus