Willfully Ignorant: What Do You Think Happened During “The Blip”?

Welcome to my first Willfully Ignorant post of 2024! If you’re new to these, this is where I sort of run my mouth about an idea. It’s rarely fact checked, and I’ll admit I’m often wrong. You’re more than welcome to join the conversation, but just don’t be a jerk about it!

Anyway, I was walking through the grocery store last night, and a thought hit me: “I wonder what happened to folks during ‘The Blip’.” For those unaware, “The Blip” is what citizens in the MCU have come to call the event where Thanos snapped his fingers, and 50% of living organisms simply disappeared for five years. Think about it: they were just going about their lives, washing their hair, doing meal prep, and cheating on their spouses. Then BOOM! Blipped right out of existence. At first it seemed like it was just people, but in Avengers: Endgame they realized their plan had worked due to an increase in nature noises outside their compound?

So, after a period of 5 years, these people return to lives that have drastically changed. New people living in their homes, bank accounts closed, probable life insurance payouts. Think of it this way: Pew Research Center reports that 66% of voting eligible people voted in 2020. Using that stat, the sitting president in the MCU was decided by roughly 30% of the population (which accounts for a 3% margin of error, but I also feel like my math is janky, as I don’t know enough about the other 34%, since Blipped folks were seemingly randomly selected) – which is gonna be a problem when that other 30% blips back. Or, maybe Thanos was right, and politics got a little more controlled when there were fewer people involved and affected by them. I know it would make for a boring Disney+ series, but I’m fascinated by the whole thing. It’s something of a cheap way to brush aside what happened (5 Year Time Jump!), but I think it’s a period that’s rich for storytelling. We never really get to see what happens in that 5-year span, and the only property that even remotely touched on it was Falcon and the Winter Soldier. People had remarried! They had gone through a grieving process. And now everybody was just back? And what of the folks who were blipped in airplanes? Right before Nick Fury fades away, we witness a helicopter crash into a skyscraper. What happens there?!

But as riveting as The Marvel Actuary Report sounds, I’m actually curious about the more spiritual aspect of The Blip. I’m always fascinated by the concept of religion in comics. Over at DC, every hero is basically a God Among Men, so the concept isn’t that special. In fact, I’m flummoxed how Mr. Terrific maintains his atheism, in spite of everything he’s witnessed and experienced. When questioned, he merely answers, “Sure, it was strange, but that doesn’t make it ‘God’.” This is a dude who has teamed up with The Spectre: God’s personal tool for vengeance! Michael Holt is over there, saying “Sure, Jan.” Meanwhile, Marvel heroes are more “grounded”, and don’t really rub elbows with deities too often (outside of Asgardians, who’re treated more like aliens than gods). Yes, there’s Ghost Rider and Son of Satan to confirm the existence of The Bad Place, but for all of the proof of Hell, there’s not a ton of proof of Heaven. I mean, they faces gods (with a lowercase g), but those tend to be tied to Cosmic Marvel, with little overlap. Sure, Galactus might come to town, the Celestials might pop up, or an Avenger might join the Guardians of the Galaxy, but they tend to keep those concepts far from New York City – where everything in the Marvel Universe seems to occur.

So, during The Blip, did those people die? Or did they simply cease to exist? I know it sounds like semantics, as they could be considered the same thing. There are all these stories from 90s cartoons where the writers said the network wouldn’t allow them to say “kill”, so they’d have to resort to something a tad more grandiose, like “Eliminate him!” Thanos was using magic, so it’s not like there are tried and true scientific rules to apply to what happened. They weren’t retconned, as in the timeline wasn’t rewritten to where they never existed. They always existed, but then ceased to exist. So, where did they go? Anywhere? Did they all share the same experience when it happened? Like, did some grifters come back, and start selling books about how they saw God and He sent a message back with them to Earth? Did the citizens of the MCU think that was The Rapture? Was it peaceful, to the point that they didn’t wanna come back, a la Buffy Season 6?

Let’s back up a little here, for some context. You hear a lot of folks say “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” Yeah, that ain’t me. In fact, it’d be more precise to say I’m religious, but not spiritual. I love doctrine, dogma, and ceremony. I like RULES. I don’t do much with “energy” or the concept that there are no accidents. I mean, I’m constantly trying, but I’m not there yet. So, that sort of gives you a glimpse at the baggage I’m bringing with me into this discussion. I mean, it’s more than likely they went nowhere. They just ceased to be. But where’s the sexiness in that?

It should also be noted that Eternals pretty much dispelled the existence of the Judeo-Christian God in the MCU. I know a lot of people disliked that film, or never even saw it to begin with, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of its contributions end up being retconned down the road. That said, the movie went like this (I’ve only seen it the once, and this is all from memory, so feel free to correct me): The Celestials seeded galaxies with planets because those worlds served as incubators for baby Celestials. The job of the Eternals was that they were basically placed here to ensure that the planet survived long enough to “give birth”. So, there’s no “‘Let there be light’, and it was good.” The biggest issue with the existence of the Eternals is basically “Why didn’t they show up all those times the Avengers were getting their asses kicked?” Well, quite simply, they answered to a higher power. Or so they thought. Anyway, the Earth Celestial begins to hatch, but it is stopped, with just the arm getting out. So, now there are a bunch of memes about how there’s a giant arm coming out of the Arctic and nobody seems to care. It’s supposed to figure prominently in Captain America: Brave New World and Thunderbolts*, but I guess we’ll see.

Then, to take things to another level, we’re introduced to the Marvel Pantheon of Deities in Thor: Love & Thunder. We’ve got Zeus, we’ve got Hercules, we’ve got Thor, we’ve got some cute, yet weird, anime god. But there’s no Big “Capital G” God. And that movie shows there’s an afterlife – at least for Jane Foster. So, now everyone doesn’t go to the same place, if they even go anywhere at all? Or is this one of those “Heaven is what you make of it” things, like in American Dad, where everyone gets their own “Heaven” when they die? So, we’re left with something of a polytheistic situation, where there are several possibilities, as opposed to one particular religion being “right”. And, honestly, that’s probably the best situation for everyone.

So, I know the comics aren’t the movies but, thinking back, I still don’t recall any comic reference or hint of a Big Guy Up High. Not even God in the form of a Galactus Swarm. Meanwhile, we’ve got The Spirit of Vengeance, Son of Satan, Mephisto, N’Astirh, and all manner of Hellbeasts. So, there’s a Hell, but no Heaven? That shit is DARK, but Jack Kirby warned us that comics would break our hearts! I know I’m putting a lot of unnecessary thought into this, but that’s just how my mind works. And you don’t even want to get me started on the problems with Hickman’s Secret Wars

Looking back, what are the religions in the Marvel Universe, and how are they represented? For Christianity/Catholicism, you’ve got Matt Murdock (Daredevil), Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), and Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler). On the side of Judaism, you’ve got Erik Lehnsherr/Max Eisenhardt (Magneto, and I’m still not a fan of that retcon), Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat), Marc Spector (Moon Knight), and Ruth Bat-Seraph (Sabra). For Islam, you’ve got Kamala Khan (Ms.  Marvel), G.W. Bridge (no alias), and Monet St. Croix (M). And I can’t think of a single observant Buddhist Marvel character.

Anyway, Marvel seems to have given up on any comics set in the MCU once the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. book petered out, but this seems like something they could throw up on Marvel Unlimited, free for subscribers. It would be The Blip Files, and it could just be short vignettes of different perspectives during that time. We could see how different folks’ lives were affected – both those Blipped and those left behind. It would be The Leftovers with a Marvel twist! I know it’ll never happen, but a boy can dream! So, tell me: What do YOU think happened to those folks who were Blipped away?