Earth-616 has all the features of our reality on Planet Earth: same countries, same personalities (politicians, movie stars, etc.), same historical events (World War II, 9/11, etc.), and so on. However, it also contains new ones, such as countries like Wakanda or Genosha, events such as Secret Wars, and organizations like the espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D. and its mortal enemy, HYDRA.
Superheroes and Villains
The tradition of using costumed secret identities to fight (or commit) evil had long existed in this world (for example, with the medieval Black Knight) but it came into prominence during the days of the American 'Wild West' with heroes such as the Phantom Rider.
During the 20th Century, the tradition was reinvigorated, first by Captain America in the 40's (not the first costumed hero of the time, but the most influential) and then by Spider-Man in modern times. Earth-616's major heroes (the ones who get involved in most of the important events) are the Amazing Spider-Man, the Invincible Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, the Mighty Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director Nick Fury, and Captain America. The Avengers and the X-Men are also major players, although the memberships of both groups have often changed. The Avengers have included most of Earth-616's major heroes as members at one time or another. The X-Men consists of various mutants, such as Wolverine, brought together by Professor X.
Major villains include Magnus, the mutant master of magnetism known as Magneto and the mutant overlord Apocalypse, archenemies of the X-Men, corrupt businessman Norman Osborn, the megalomaniacal Green Goblin, Doctor Otto Octavius, a.k.a Doctor Octopus, and Eddie Brock, once the monsterous Venom, and Venom's offspring, Carnage all of whom are the top archenemies of Spider-Man, Victor Creed, Sabretooth, archenemy of Wolverine, Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, archenemy of Daredevil, Samuel Sterns, the Leader, and Emil Blonsky, the gamma-irradiated monster the Abomination, archenemies of the incredible Hulk, the Dreaded Dormammu and Baron Mordo, archenemies of Doctor Strange, the Nazi Fascist Red Skull, archenemy of Captain America, the trickster/mischief god Loki, archenemy of Thor, the Mandarin, archenemy of Iron Man, Kang the Conqueror and Ultron, archenemies of the Avengers, and Mephisto, archenemy of Ghost Rider and the Silver Surfer. And HYDRA, enemy to Shield.
A degree of paranoid fear against mutants exists due to stories of mutants being a race or even a species (Homo superior or Homo sapiens superior) that is evolving and is meant to replace normal humans. This has caused organizations to form to deal with the problem, who can be divided into three camps: those who seek peaceful coexistence between mutants and normal humans (the X-Men and their affiliated groups), those who seek to control or eliminate humans to give mutants safety or dominance (Magneto and his followers, as well as other mutants such as Apocalypse), and those who seek to regulate or eliminate mutants in favor of humans. The latter often use the robots known as Sentinels as weapons.
- The title of "Earth-616" was first coined in 1983’s Daredevils #7.
- It is possible that 4 years of comics in our universe are the equivalent of 1 year in this universe, as it is revealed in 2013's Indestructible Hulk that the 2008's Skrull Secret Invasion happened one year ago. This would mean that from 1961 (the debut of Fantastic Four #1 and the beggining of the "Age of Heroes") to 2013, only 13 years have passed in this universe.
- The numerical designation for realities, and the assignation of 616 to the core reality, occurred during Alan Moore's run on Captain Britain, Vol. 2 in the 1980's. Alan Moore has confirmed that, contrary to popular belief, there is no particular significance to the number (one popular rumor suggests that it has something to do with the date of the release of the first Fantastic Four issue in 1961). There is considerable irony in the fact that the "primary" Marvel reality has been assigned a number quite a way down the scale.