After the universe had come to contain energy and matter in quantities that made the existence of stable structures possible, a group of beings came into existence whose purpose it would be to guide the young universe along to the desires of the will that had created them. They were similar to other semi-abstract entities, each being defined by their purpose; they would come to be known as the proemial gods. However, while they played a part in the universe for a long time, eventually their importance diminished as the universe became populated by sentient species. Many of them were not content with this and sought to change the universe to improve their station. Cosmic consonance was endangered, and the rebellious gods were either destroyed or imprisoned by Galactus.
Several intelligent races evolved, but most died out, replaced by new ones as time passed by. Some of these extinct races left behind a single, immortal survivor; these formed a loose brotherhood known as the Elders of the Universe. The first known planet to harbor intelligent life became home to the current universe's incarnation of the M'Kraan Crystal, although the natives of that planet would be nearly wiped out by the Shiar before life evolved on most other planets.
One race achieved immortality and great power, but after an attempt to help two other civilizations that ended in their mutual destruction, decided not to interfere anymore, but only to record all events in the universe. They became known as The Watchers. Despite their oath, some have been involved in important events, such as the one appointed as Earth's Watcher, Uatu.
When life started to evolve on Earth (approx. 3 billion years ago) the Elder Gods were born from the planet's natural magical energies. However, most started devouring each other and devolved into demons. One who avoided this fate, Gaea the Earth Goddess, summoned the Demiurge, the planet's sentient biosphere, and mated with it, creating Atum, the Sun God. Atum set about destroying the Elder Gods, but in doing so, he too became corrupted, and was transformed into the Demogorge, eater of Gods. A small number of the Elder Gods, such as Chthon and Set, escaped by banishing themselves to other dimensions, and influenced mankind indirectly later on. Chthon left behind the Darkhold, a set of indestructible parchments (later bound into a book) whose black magic caused much evil through history. Only Gaea remained on Earth, where she would guide the evolution of life. Gaea, under many different guises, later become the mother goddess of Earth's second generation of gods. Demogorge then released the energies he had absorbed, returning to his form as Atum; these energies later led to the birth of the later generation of demons, such as Mephisto.
About one million years ago, the Celestials arrived on Earth and experimented on the ancestors of humanity. This experimentation created two new races, the Eternals and Deviants. They gave some humans the ability to develop super powers (thus providing the potential for the existence of mutants and other superhumans later on) that would manifest themselves around the time that the Celestial was supposed to return to judge if the species were worthy to continue existing at all. Around this same time, Set had created a new race, the Serpent Men, to be his agents on Earth. They approached the Celestials, but were rejected for experimentation. The Serpent Men then became jealous of the humans and vowed themselves enemies of the human race.
The Skrulls discovered the Kree and the vegetal race, the Cotati, who shared the same homeworld, and gave them a test to see which of them were worthy of sharing their technology; whichever race created the better achievement would get it. The Kree created a city in Earth's Moon (in a 'Blue Area' that contained an Earth-like atmosphere and gravity) for this purpose. The Cotati created an ecosystem. The Kree lost the contest, so they killed the Skrull envoys and stole their technology. They abandoned the city, which would later become a base for Uatu. A century later, the Skrulls discovered what the Kree had done, but by that time, they had become a powerful space empire themselves. The two races have hated each other since and have been fighting wars almost constantly.
The Kree discovered the Eternals and decided to try to create their own superhuman race out of Earth's humans. The result of this experiment would become the race known as the Inhumans.
The first powerful human civilization developed in the continent of Atlantis. One of its first notable kings was King Kull, who helped to exterminate the Serpent Men. Later, Atlantis developed a highly technologically advanced civilization. They engaged in a war with the Deviants, who ruled the continent of Lemuria. The Atlanteans used weapons that drew upon their continent's geothermal energies, debilitating its geological foundations. When the Celestials returned to Earth, the Deviants tried to attack them, which resulted in the Celestials retaliating with an explosion so powerful it wrought havoc worldwide, sank Lemuria, and caused the unstable Atlantis to sink as well. Some Atlanteans managed to survive; some apparently adapted themselves to life underwater via unknown means; this process turned their skin blue and made them able to only breathe water, not air. These Atlanteans became the first Homo mermani.
Just prior to the sinking of the two continents, the Darkhold was used to create vampires, the first of which was Varnae. Around the same time, Set's worshippers created the Serpent Crown, a magical artifact of great power that allowed Set to influence its users. The Serpent Crown would be physically changed through the ages, and would manifest soon afterwards as the Cobra Crown.
As a result of the cataclysm caused by the Celestials, technology was lost to the human race for millennia, and they reverted to barbarism. During this period, the Hyborian Age, Conan, a descendant of Kull, became an unintentional champion of humanity, and later became king of the land of Aquilonia. One of the sorcerers of this era, Kulan Gath, eventually manifested in the present, alongside his enemy, Red Sonja. The immortal mutant sorceress Selene was also a contemporary of Kulan Gath. Most of the civilizations of the time eventually became ancestors to actual historical civilizations, like Egypt.
Note: Marvel no longer has the rights to use Kull, Conan or Sonja, but they haven't been officially erased from the continuity; they are just no longer cited by name. Kulan Gath, being a character created by Marvel, can still be used.
The man who would become Kang the Conqueror traveled back in time to ancient Egypt. He took control of Egypt and ruled as "Pharaoh Rama-Tut" until deposed by the time traveling Fantastic Four. The West Coast Avengers and Doctor Strange were also present via time travel, and they influenced the course of the Fantastic Four's battle with Rama-Tut in their fellow heroes' favor. The immortal mutant En Sabah Nur, who would later become known as Apocalypse, was also present; he had been a slave in Rama-Tut's court, but was freed when his powers manifested themselves. At the time, he was unsuccessfully attempting to woo a member of the royal family named Nephra; when she rejected him, he in turn rejected humanity.
At least a thousand years ago, the Celestials returned to Earth and forced the gods to stop intervening in the development of human civilization.
At some point prior to the fall of Camelot, Modred the Mystic (no relation to Mordred) was approached by Merlin (or an impostor) to study magic in Camelot. Modred was instead corrupted by the power of the Darkhold, and would lose his soul and his love, but would gain near-immortality and a mastery of magic. He would battle Chthon and the Darkholders through the modern day, but would bear a deadly vendetta against Merlin and his allies.
Dracula later waged a bloody war against the Gypsies as revenge for Lianda's actions. One of those who he killed was the son of the witch Gretchin, who was, unknown to Dracula, caring for Dracula's exiled daughter Lilith, as Zofia had since killed herself. Gretchin cursed Lilith to become a vampire who would hunt Dracula until he was destroyed forever. Dracula's other child, Vlad Tepulus, had offspring who carried on the Dracula name, although later generations changed the name to Drake. The only known living Drake in the modern era is the vampire hunter Frank Drake.
In 1890, the events that inspired Bram Stoker's novel Dracula occurred, as Dracula bit Mina Harker and was stalked by her friends, including Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. Dracula survived the conclusion of this hunt by transforming into mist when he was stabbed by Jonathan Harker and the dying Quincey Morris. Quincy Harker, the son of Jonathan and Mina Harker, would battle Dracula for years upon reaching adulthood. Around the same time, Nathaniel Essex, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, was transformed by Apocalypse, becoming Mister Sinister. His obsession for genetics led him to create numerous monstrous posthumans via surgery and genetic engineering.
Soon after, Dracula and Apocalypse fought one another in London. Apocalypse returned to suspended animation, where he would remain until the modern era, and Dracula was staked by Apocalypse with the assistance of Abraham van Helsing. Dracula was revived by none other than the Frankenstein monster, who defeated him in combat, although Dracula was eventually revived, and he finally killed van Helsing in 1899. Van Helsing was survived by at least one child, and his granddaughter (or great-granddaughter) Rachel would fight Dracula in the modern era alongside Quincy Harker, Dracula's descendant Frank Drake, and others.
James Howlett, who would later call himself "Logan" and then "Wolverine", was born near the end of the 19th century. James' older brother John Howlett Junior possessed a similar mutation, and one or both may have been the sons of the Howlett family's servant, Thomas Logan, who had a son who was only called "Dog". When John Jr. first unsheathed his mutant claws, he accidentally maimed his mother; his family institutionalized him and pretended that he was dead, going so far as to have a headstone made for him.
The first group of costumed heroes of this century were the Freedom's Five, a group of international heroes who gathered to fight the Germans during World War I. One of their number was the first hero to be called Union Jack; his brother was the German agent called Baron Blood, who had been transformed into a vampire by Dracula. Another member of the Five was the Phantom Eagle, whose ghost would be laid to rest in the modern era with the assistance of Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Jack Fury, father of Nick Fury, fought the Red Baron during the Great War.
In 1926, the vampiric doctor Deacon Frost was summoned to assist with the difficult childbirth of Tara Brooks. Frost bit Tara, granting her still-unborn son Eric immunity to vampire bites and a partial array of vampiric abilities. Eric would became a vampire hunter called Blade, and would spend decades hunting down Frost, who he knew only as "Whitehair". Tara was transformed into a vampire by Frost's bite, but Blade would eventually destroy her.
In 1928, Herbert Edgar Wyndham was one of several geneticists who were approached by Phaeder, an Inhuman scientist, and were given complete maps of the human genome. Wyndham adopted the identity of the High Evolutionary, and constructed a fortress in Mount Wundagore in Transia, where he created a race of New Men: humanoids that were evolved from animals. Wyndham's friend Jonathanm Drew came to stay with him, accompanied by his wife Miriam and daughter Jessica. Miriam was killed by Gregory Russoff, a werewolf who possessed the Darkhold and sought to use it to free Chthon from his prison beneath Wundagore. Jessica was later envenomed with a mutated strain of spider venom; in order to arrest to venom's spread while he could study it, he placed her in suspended animation for years. She would be awakened before the modern era, where she would become the first Spider-Woman, although her memories would remain incomplete for years, to the point that she would erroneously believe herself to be one of the New Men rather than a human being.
The second costumed character to arrive prior to WWII was the android Human Torch. These two heroes came into conflict with each other, but later became steadfast allies in the face of the Axis threat. Other heroes of this time included Red Raven, the original Ka-Zar (David Rand), the Patriot (Jeff Mace), and the Hurricane (actually the Eternal Makkari).
The U.S. Government secretly developed a project to create super soldiers to fight in the war, but it was sabotaged by a Nazi agent and the full formula was lost. Only one soldier, Steve Rogers, was given the full super soldier treatment. Rogers was given the secret identity of Captain America to be a morale-boosting symbol. He would become one of the world's most influential heroes. An early attempt to recreate it was used on a platoon of African American soldiers, all but one of whom (Isaiah Bradley) died. Isaiah was rendered brain-damaged following a near-fatal escape from a Nazi concentration camp after an apparent suicide mission, and Rogers would not learn of his existence for decades.
When America entered the war, Winston Churchill himself arranged for several heroes to form a team called The Invaders, to perform missions against the Axis Powers and their super agents. Several costumed villains had important roles among the Nazis. These include the Red Skull, Baron Zemo, Baron Strucker, Arnim Zola, Agent Axis, Mister Sinister, Master Man, and others. Most of them would survive to plague the heroes of the modern era.
In 1945, shortly before the Allies captured Berlin, the Red Skull was accidentally placed in a state of suspended animation, and in a separate incident, Captain America was frozen in ice and his teenage sidekick Bucky was seemingly killed. Both men were soon secretly replaced by the U.S. government to avoid lowering morale among the Allies. Soon after, the Allies advanced to Berlin, and the Invaders broke into Hitler's bunker. Although history would record it as suicide, Hitler was actually killed in self-defense by the Human Torch. It was later revealed that Arnim Zola had successfully cloned Hitler and has been able to transfer Hitler's consciousness into a clone body that lived on in hiding. The cloned Hitler would re-emerge in the modern era as the villain Hate-Monger and clash with Nick Fury and the Fantastic Four.
Not long after the war ended, the first replacement Captain America was killed in action and was replaced by a post-war Captain America. The original Captain America and the Red Skull would both be revived in the modern era. Bucky barely survived, and was recovered by Soviet agents, who brainwashed him as the assassin called the Winter Soldier.
A young man, possibly called "Magnus", was interned in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp alongside his future wife Magda. The pair escaped, married, and had a daughter, Anya. When Anya was killed in an arson attack on their home, "Magnus" used his mutant powers to kill the attackers, frightening away Magda, who was actually pregnant with twins at the time. The twins, named Wanda and Pietro, were born in 1958 on Mount Wundagore in the care of the High Evolutionary. Magda died in labor, and shortly after the twins were born, the demon Chthon, who was imprisoned beneath Wundagore, tainted Wanda with his chaotic essence. The twins were placed into suspended animation for several decades by the High Evolutionary alongside Jessica Drew. The twins would eventually be given to the Transian gypsy Django Maximoff, who would raise them as his own. Magnus would later adopt the identity of Erik Lehnsherr, a Polish Gypsy, and would eventually become the supervillain called Magneto. Pietro and Wanda would become Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Neither Magneto nor his children would learn of this relationship until the modern era, shortly after the birth of Wanda's twin sons.
After the war, most of the Invaders remained active as a group called the All-Winners Squad, though they eventually disbanded and, with Citizen V and several of their allies in the Liberty Legion, formed the core of the new V-Battalion. In the early 1950s, the Human Torch was rendered inert for decades by an atomic bomb, and the Sub-Mariner was rendered an amnesiac following the destruction of much of Atlantis by the Set-controlled mesmerist Paul Destine ("Destiny").
During the mid-1950s, a new Captain America and Bucky appeared. These men were devoted anti-Communists who took the real names of their namesakes as their own. They fought a new Soviet-sponsored Red Skull and various other threats from beyond the Iron Curtain. The experimental Super-Soldier process that had created them made them mentally unstable, so they were placed in suspended animation until the modern day, where they were revived by the original Captain America. This Captain America would later become the Grand Director of the National Force, while this Bucky would recover and become the superhero Nomad.
Several new heroes were active during the 1950s, including Marvel Boy (Robert "Bob" Grayson), the 3-D Man, Gorilla-Man, M-11 the Human Robot, and the goddess Venus, and Jimmy Woo. In an alternate reality, these heroes formed a short-lived team known as "The Avengers". This reality was wiped out by Immortus before it progressed into the 1960s. That particular grouping existed in the main Marvel Universe (Earth-616), but they were never called "The Avengers", and the group broke up fairly quickly; the group was reformed in the modern day as the Agents of Atlas.
There was also a team of heroes active between the 1950s until 1985, known as the First Line, but their existence was mainly kept secret from the general public. Most of them died battling Skrulls. Another team active during this period was the Monster Hunters, who battled monsters of alien and Deviant origins across the globe. However, their exploits are not well known today because a conspiracy called CONTROL tried to keep the existence of aliens and the supernatural from the general public, and succeeded for many years.
During the Cold War, a joint U.S./Canadian task force that was later codenamed "Team X" was formed. This group of spies and assassins included the men who would become Wolverine, Sabretooth, Maverick, and others. Subsequently, the Weapon Plus Project, which had supported the creation of the Super-Soldier Project that had created Captain America, started a new iteration of its Weapon program. The Tenth Weapon program (Weapon X) resulted in the implantation of adamantium in Wolverine's body and the creation of many false memories in him and the other Team X/Weapon X agents.
About ten years prior to the modern era, six couples were teleported to the lair of the demonic Gibborim, who offered six of the twelve a chance to gain power and immortality should all twelve assist the Gibborim in destroying humanity in the future. All agreed, and became the Pride. When one of the couples discovered that they were pregnant, the other couples decided to follow suit and have one child apiece, with each couple granting their eventual power and immortality to their sole offspring. In the modern era, these children would rebel against their parents and become the Runaways.
The future of the Marvel Universe is not set in stone; not all futures listed below are possible futures. Some are thought to have been prevented, but may have only been delayed. Futures that have been prevented may still exist as parallel worlds (and time-travellers from these futures may still affect the present day).
The dark future of Days of Future Past may have been prevented by the X-Men. In this timeline, mutants are hunted down and either killed or imprisoned by the Sentinels who control the world's governments. Rachel Summers, Nimrod and Ahab have all travelled from here to the present. The future of Bishop, Shard and the XSE may be a later period in the same timeline.
The future timeline of Earth X revolves around the Marvel Universe's cosmology. However, Earth X is not a possible future of the main Marvel Universe, given that revelations about the history of Earth X that are incompatible with the known history of Earth-616.
In one future timeline, Martians conquer the Earth in a redux of The War of the Worlds. Killraven and his Freemen are among the few revolutionaries who are able to resist the alien overlords. In one alternate timeline, Killraven is the leader of his timeline's team of Avengers; another alternate version was seen in Alan Davis' Killraven miniseries.
The year 2020 is home to several heroes and villains, most notably Iron Man 2020. Machine Man and Sunset Bain are known to have future counterparts in this year. The bounty hunter Death's Head visited here at least twice (and died here on the last visit), and his successor Death's Head II (Minion) was created here and returned to this timeline on several occasions. Nikki Doyle, the virtual-reality adventurer called Wild Thing, is also a native of 2020.
The spacefaring superhero Star-Lord hails from a future timeline, but has, through unknown circumstances, come to reside in the present, where he fought alongside Thanos against the Maker in the cosmic prison called the Kyln and, more recently, joined Nova's team of cosmic heroes to battle the Annihilation Wave.
The Marvel 2099 series tell the exploits of the Marvel Universe in the year 2099, including Spider-Man 2099, Doom 2099, and the X-Men 2099. Marvel 2099 has its heroes in a climate of corporate-dominated dystopia. An alternate version of this timeline was seen in the Marvel Knights 2099 series of one-shots; a villain from this time travelled to the past and was defeated by a group of heroes from the present, who remained in this future timeline after preventing their own timeline from occurring.
The Spider-Man of the year 2211 met both the modern Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099, but was later killed by the Hobgoblin from 2211.
The 30th century is the home of the Guardians of the Galaxy and their allies, the Galactic Guardians. The Guardians are the future of the same timeline that Killraven inhabits. The starship Sol III and its crew (from Cyberspace 3000) are also native of the time of the Guardians.
Cable and his clone Stryfe hail from the future world that was ruled by Apocalypse until he was killed by the time-travelling Cyclops and Phoenix. Cable was raised here by the Askani, who were led by this timeline's version of his time-displaced half-sister, Rachel Summers.
Near the end of time, the last member of the timeline-managing Time Variance Authority oversees the birth of three entities named Ast, Vort, and Zanth; these three become either the Time-Keepers or the Time-Twisters in one of the two possible remaining futures. The Time-Keepers are the employers of Immortus, and use him to eliminate timelines that could lead to the creation of the Time-Twisters. During the Destiny War, Kang the Conqueror killed the Time-Keepers and diverged from Immortus, creating a new future for himself in which he does not become Immortus.
Wolverine and Jubilee of the X-Men were once transported to the end of the universe (the "Big Crunch") by the time-dancer Spiral and her employer Mojo. All four returned to their own time after the battle.
In the possible future of "The Last Galactus Story" (serialized in Epic Illustrated), Galactus battles the Watcher who witnessed his "birth". The two of them battle over a millennia and the universe basically dies around them. Stars burn out and, rather than a "big crunch", entropy wins over all. As the universe verges on flickering out of existence, Galactus draws his last shreds of energy, giving him just enough of an edge to battle the rogue Watcher. Galactus and Nova, his herald, are left in an empty void. Galactus comes to the realization of what he's been doing for billions of years. He cracks his armor and the energy he absorbed spews out of him. Galactus becomes the Big Bang of the next universe. Nova survives and becomes the "Galactus" of the next universe, and the cycle continues.