June 19, 2023 -Loved “Everything Everywhere All at Once?” Can’t get enough of “The Flash” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” this month? Then this list is for you. We’ve compiled a non-exhaustive sampler of fiction about alternate universes and multiverses — from movies to TV to comics to books. It’s a great starter kit if your media tastes run to asking: What if?
— “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946): In this Christmas classic, family man George Bailey grows increasingly frustrated as opportunities pass him by, and it takes an angel-in-training — on Christmas Eve — to dump him into a universe where he never existed and show him how important his life is.
— “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (2022): After years of hints and slivers, including an emerging plotline in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021), Marvel goes full-on multiverse in this exploration of how realities can collide and start bleeding into each other.
— “Sliding Doors” (1998): Gwyneth Paltrow misses a train — and doesn’t. The two splinter realities unfold very differently, producing versions of her character that must be reconciled.
— “Yesterday” (2019): Jack Malik, aspiring musician, finds himself stranded in a near-identical universe where no one has ever heard of the Beatles (or Coca-Cola, for that matter). He starts singing the songs as if he wrote them. Hijinks and big feels ensue.
— “The Butterfly Effect” (2004): Ashton Kutcher plays a college student who finds he can revisit his past and change things, and each time he does so a different reality is born.
— “The Family Man” (2000): After an encounter in a convenience store, arrogant Manhattan finance guy Jack Campbell wakes up in a very different — and less affluent — life in the New Jersey suburbs and finds himself married to and parenting with his old girlfriend, whom he had walked away from years ago. As he navigates his new life and the choices he made or didn’t make to get there, a more complex picture emerges.
And for the kids …