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Top 10 Storylines that Changed the Marvel Universe

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Derick McDuff Change is inevitable. Welcome to, today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 storylines that changed the Marvel universe. For this list, we’re looking at the stories that had the biggest effect on the course of the Marvel Universe. Whether it be re-shuffling teams, killing and/or reviving characters, or entirely rewriting the fabric of the universe, you’ll see it here. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.

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Change is inevitable. Welcome to, today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 storylines that changed the Marvel universe.

For this list, we’re looking at the stories that had the biggest effect on the course of the Marvel Universe. Whether it be re-shuffling teams, killing and/or reviving characters, or entirely rewriting the fabric of the universe, you’ll see it here.

#10: “Galactus Trilogy” (1966)

The first entry on our list is also the oldest. Created by arguably the greatest duo in the history of Marvel comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the story introduces an entirely new kind of villain; a foe who would become a quintessential antagonist in the Marvel Universe: Galactus, Devourer of Worlds. Unlike the mad scientists seeking world domination that were the norm in comics at the time, Galactus was a godlike entity who regularly consumed entire planets. Lee and Kirby have spoken about their biblical inspirations for both Galactus, and his herald, the Silver Surfer, who was also introduced in the story.

#9: “Avengers vs. X-Men” (2012)

While these two teams have metaphorically battled for the spot of “most important Marvel team” for quite some time, it became a literal fight in this epic crossover event. The story centered on the return of the Phoenix force and featured almost every major Marvel hero in some capacity. After a lot of battles and crazy turns, including the death Charles Xavier at the hands of a Phoenix-possessed Cyclops, both teams were disbanded and reformed into a new Avengers team, kicking off the Marvel NOW! Imprint.

#8: “The Death of Captain Marvel” (1982)

It’s shouldn’t be a surprise that this story, which chronicled the death of the character which shared the name of the company, would have a large impact. Notably this was also Marvel’s first graphic novel, something that has become common in recent years. The graphic novel followed the last days of the shapeshifting alien Mar-Vell, originally sent to Earth as a spy, but who had become a defender of humanity. His death was one of the most meaningful in comic book history, in large part because it wasn’t in a battle against a supervillain but from cancer, surrounded by fellow heroes, in an all too real climax.

#7: “Annihilation: Conquest” (2007-08)

While we could have also featured the first “Annihilation” arc, which jumpstarted the return of Marvel’s cosmic characters, it was the sequel “Conquest” that further established their significance to the Marvel Universe. The arc featured a villainous cybernetic species known as the Phalanx and their attempt to lay waste to the galaxy. Now under the leadership of the supervillain Ultron, the Phalanx attack a weakened Kree empire, but a number of heroes from across the galaxy, including Nova, Adam Warlock, Star Lord, Groot, Gammora and many others, team up to defeat the powerful threat. After the defeat of Ultron and Phalanx a number of the heroes involved would go on to form the new Guardians of the Galaxy.

#6: “Dark Phoenix Saga” (1980)

One could pretty much divide the history of the X-Men – and by extension, the Marvel Universe in general - into the time before and after the Dark Phoenix saga, as nothing has been the same for the team since. When Jean Grey becomes possessed by the cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force, it’s overcome by human emotions for the first time and destroys a star killing billions. Hunted by forces around the galaxy, the X-Men are eventually forced to do battle with one of their own. The Phoenix Force has become one of the most important, enduring and complex antagonists in the Marvel Universe.

#5: “The Infinity Gantlet” (1990-91)

It’s no wonder that Marvel has been using this storyline as an inspiration for the overarching plot for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like the films, the plot revolves around the Mad Titan Thanos collecting the infinity gems for the arc’s titular gauntlet, which he used to literally court Death. With a snap of his fingers half of the sentient life in the universe was killed, and he imprisoned many of the most powerful being in the universe including our old pal Galactus. While things were eventually set right, the ripples of this calamity went on to affect the Marvel universe for years, with a number of sequels and spin offs branching off from the story.

#4: “Age of Apocalypse” (1995-96)

When Professor Xavier’s son Legion travels back in time to kill Magneto, but accidently ends up killing his own father, it sets off a chain of events that culminate with the most ancient and powerful of mutants, Apocalypse taking over the world. The dark alternate future under the tyrannical Apocalypse saw a number of prominent X-Men dead, with the survivors in drastically different roles, including an X-men team led by Magneto and a one eyed evil Cyclops. While the time traveling Bishop was eventually able to put things back in order, the Age of Apocalypse remained as an alternate universe, with lasting effects on the main Marvel continuity.

#3: “House of M” (2005)

This arc saw a mentally broken Scarlet Witch change the very fabric of reality itself. The world is remade to reflect the deepest desires of the X-Men, New Avengers, and Magneto, resulting in a world where mutants are considered superior to humans, Peter Parker married his first great love Gwen Stacy and Steve Rodgers is an old retired veteran. Led by Wolverine, the heroes are eventually able to regain their real memories and set things right. At the arc’s end a number of massive changes to the wider marvel universe remained, most notably the depowering of millions of mutants, leaving only roughly two hundred in the world.

#2: “Civil War” (2006-07)

This massive crossover event featured every important Marvel character, pitting them, not against an invader, or common enemy, but each other. After a tragic accident, the world becomes divided on whether or not to require superpowered individuals to register with the government, with Iron Man leading the pro-registration movement and Captain America leading an anti-registration resistance. Eventually the pro-registration side became increasingly unscrupulous and tyrannical even going as far as to actively work closely with numerous supervillains, all of which caused formerly pro-registration and neutral characters, including Spider-Man and the X-Men to join Cap. After the dust had settled, the reverberations would continue to impact the Univese, culminating in the sequel, Civil War II.

#1: “Secret Wars” (2015)

Almost all of the events on this list, and countless others, led to this massive crossover that combined all of the alternate realities across the entire Marvel Universe. Named after, and reminiscent of the 1984 “Secret War” series, the realities were combined into Battleworld, a planet ruled by an omnipotent ruler: God Emperor Doom, and heroes from every reality unite to reform the multiverse. The end of Battleworld saw almost every version of the Marvel universe massively impacted, including the destruction of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Notably a number of characters from the Ultimate universe, including Spider-Man Miles Morales, were saved from their universe’s end and introduced into the main Marvel continuity, which is no longer officially designated as Earth-616, renamed Earth Prime.

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