Marvel Zombies explored a timeline that was destroyed by a zombie plague, though there are a few other dark timelines where nothing went right.
The heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe have at times, either accidentally or with purpose, greatly altered or affected the timeline to change the natural course of events that results in a split timeline/reality that is often similar to the mainstream Marvel timeline in dark and twisted ways that can change everything.
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While some of these alterations result in utopic timelines filled with hope and light, there are more than a few darker timelines where everything that could have gone wrong, did, leaving behind broken and fractured Marvel realities like theMarvel Zombiesreality, which will be seen in the upcoming animatedWhat If...?series on Disney+ in 2021.
Comic fans were first introduced to the darkMarvel Zombies timeline in Mark Millar and Greg Land'sUltimate Fantastic Four#21, as a young Reed Richards was tricked into opening a doorway to the "zombieverse" by an alternate version of himself.
Marvel Zombies by Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillipsthen launched a fan-favorite franchise that further explored the origins of the timeline that fell victim to a zombie plaguewhich turned Marvel's greatest heroes into the multiverse's scariest, and hungriest, villains.
Chris Claremont and John Byrne's "Days of Future Past" storyline inUncanny X-Men #141-142byChris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austinintroduced a possible future that has haunted the X-Men in the comics for decades while also reaching mainstream acclaim thanks to 2014's live-actionX-Men: Days of Future Past.
The bleak future saw mutants hunted and imprisoned in internment camps by advanced Sentinels. The future was potentially avoided due to Kate Pryde's time-travel intervention, though the X-Men live in a constant fear that the Sentinel threat will grow as powerful as it did in that dark timeline.
The Incredible Hulk: Future ImperfectbyPeter David and George Prez sent Bruce Banner/Hulk intoa nuclear war-ravagedfuture by rebellion fighters hoping to use the Jade Giant to take down their world's despotic ruler, The Maestro.
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Hulk soon learned that Maestro was actually an older version of himself, driven insane by the extra power he absorbed through years of nuclear wars. Marvel's heroes and villains had long since been killed by Maestro, who managed to escape his dark future timeline to continue threatening the mainstream Marvel present.
Dave Gibbons and Lee Weeks explored an alternate history inMarvel Knights: Captain America,which took place after Steve Rogers was frozen in ice during WWII and awoken in 1964, though this time he was found by a Nazi boat instead of the Avengers.Captain America soon learned that after he was frozen by Red Skull and the Nazis were able to win the war usinga time machine.
Captain America was able to ally himself with the surviving sixties' versions of classic heroes who had banded together as freedom fighters to oppose the Nazi occupation of America, and they were able to stop the time machineand fix the timeline.
Ruinsby Warren EllisandTerese and Cliff Nielsen was a dark and twisted take on Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross'Marvels that explored an alternate timeline where everyscientific accident and experiment that created Marvel's heroes had very different and horrific results.
As former reporter Phil Sheldon explored the depressing and destroyed world ofRuins,the small differences in their world highlight how dark things could have gone. President Xaviersterilized and imprisoned mutants,Peter Parker became a toxic patient zero, and characters like Hulk and the Fantastic Four died tragic deaths due to their own exposure to radiation.
Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert'sMarvel 1602 took place in the Elizabethan era as the various heroes and the villainsof the Marvel Universe manifested hundreds of years earlier in a world of magic that was threatened bya danger from the future.
Mutants and powered characters were reimagined as witchbreed while agents and traitorsto the crown investigated the prophesied threat that was caused by the arrival of a Steve Rogers from the future. The1602 timeline was forced to create heroesahead oftheir time in order tofix the resulting temporal rift and save all of reality.
The powerful robot Ultron returned in the pages of Age of Ultron by Brian Michael Bendis and a team of superstar artists that included Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, and Joe Quesada. Ultron quickly took over the whole world and killed most of its population, including the majority of Marvel's heroes. The small group of survivors was able to launch a rebellion and send a team back in time to kill Hank Pym before he created Ultron.
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Unfortunately, that led to an even darker timeline where Morgana le Fay had used her dark magic to take over the world, so they were forced to return back in time to save Pym and arm him with a time-released weapon that would allow the timeline to restore itself while also stopping the events that led to theAge of Ultron.
Alex Ross and Jim Krueger'sEarth X took place in a future timeline of the Marvel Universe where Captain Americahas retired and the Avengers have been murdered, the world has been devastated by Reed Richard's failed experiment, andBlack Bolt's release of the Terrigen Mists has transformed the entire population of Earth.
A new rising threat known as the Skull has extended his telepathic control globally while the former heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe had to find common ground and work together with a new generation of heroes to try and saveEarth X.
The Wasteland is another future timeline that first appeared in the pages of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven'sWolverinewith the introduction ofOld Man Logan, a survivor of his world's villain alliance that took out most of the costumed heroes and divided the U.S. into villain-controlled zones.
The post-apocalyptic world featured a few survivors like Old Man Logan who mostly retained their former heroic qualities, though other characters like the Hulk were twisted and broken by the world to become dark villains ruling over their own areas of the country.
After David Haller/Legion accidentally killed his father Professor Xavier in the past, the timeline was dramatically skewed and grew without his influence, leading to the rise of En Sabah Nur as he took over the world inthe Age of Apocalypse.
Mutant superiority was governed by Apocalyse's tenet of "survival of the fittest"whilehumanityfought against his Infinite armies and powerful mutant followers. Magneto assembled his own team of X-Men to launch a final battle against Apocalypse torestore the timeline.
NEXT:10 X-Men Who Screwed Up The Timeline, Ranked By How Much Damage They Did
Next 10 Ways Rebirth Made The DC Universe Better
Entertainment reporter, writer, and all-around geek, Scoot Allan has written for print and online media sources like Geek Magazine, GeekExchange, GrizzlyBomb, WhatCulture, RoguePlanet.tv and the Urban 30 before joining CBR, ScreenRant, GameRant and The Gamer as a staff writer. He enjoys salad but prefers french fries.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero