|Created by||Alan Moore|
|Type||Marvel Comics multiverse|
In the fictional Marvel Comics multiverse, Earth-616 is the primary continuity in which most Marvel Comics titles take place.
The designation "Earth-616" has its origins in Captain Britain comics from the early 1980s and can be attributed to both Dave Thorpe and Alan Moore. The term was first used in "Rough Justice", a story credited to both Alan Moore and Alan Davis published in July 1983 by Marvel UK in the seventh issue of the anthology comic The Daredevils (and was later reprinted in the Captain Britain trade paperback). Due to this, it is often credited to Moore, though Davis said in 2007 that the term had been internally established earlier by Thorpe, who was the previous writer for Captain Britain, as part of the "Captain Britain folklore". He said that it came from a variation on the number of the beast, picked because Thorpe "wasn't a fan of the modern superhero genre" and expressed this in his stories, "such as recording his opinion of the Marvel Universe with the designation 616."
In a 2019 interview with Rich Johnston, Thorpe confirmed that the number was derived from subtracting 50 from 666, but that the reference to the number of the beast was due to the fact that the designation was intended for the "Crooked World" of the Jaspers' Warp storyline. However, when Moore wrote the story for The Daredevils, the Crooked World was designated Earth 238, and Earth 616 was used by Saturnyne to differentiate Brian Braddock, the Captain Britain of the regular Marvel Comics universe, from the other members of the Captain Britain Corps, each of which inhabit different universes.
After its use in The Daredevils, the designation was later used by the American branch of Marvel Comics in the Excalibur title, which frequently referenced Captain Britain's early UK-published adventures. This comic was written by Chris Claremont, who had created Captain Britain, and pencilled by Alan Davis, the artist on the UK-published series. Davis later had a run as both writer and artist on the book.
Any Marvel comic book since Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 that is not explicitly designated an alternate universe or timeline is assumed to take place within the Earth-616 continuity. It is the "status quo" that all other universes diverge from and iterate on. Earth-616 is referenced by name numerous times over the decades, primarily in Marvel UK titles, in Excalibur, or in Marvel reference texts such as the guide to Alternate Universes (2005). In addition, there are a number of other references to Earth-616:
The term has also appeared in Exiles (in, among others, the House of M tie-in issues) and is in regular use by the writers of Marvel's Official Handbooks for the simplicity of the term.
There has been at least one attempt within Marvel canon to change the designation of Earth-616. In the final story arc of X-Man (issues #71–74), writer Steven Grant began to refer to the planet as "Earth-611" due to the destruction of several other Earths (which were all apparently "higher on the list" of the Multiverse than the Marvel Earth) by a godlike entity. This change, an allusion to the events of DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, was not adopted by other writers.
Main article: Earth-616 (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Former Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort have each stated their dislike for the term Earth-616.
I can tell you for sure that those of us actually working on the books virtually never use the term—and I kind of wince inside whenever I hear somebody use it. It just sounds so stupid to my ear, and so counter to the kind of mindset we try to foster in regard to the stories we create and the thinking we try to employ.— Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort
I never use it, I hate the term pure and simple and agree with Tom's assessment of it. I can't remember ever hearing it in the office and only really see it used online for the most part. I think the term really came into vogue when the Ultimate Universe came into prominence, but in my world, the language and distinctions are simple, there is the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. Anything other than that reeks of all that DC Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth Prime stuff which I've never really taken to, but then again, I got into DC when they got rid of all that stuff so it was from and for a different era than my own.— Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, 2007