Marvel announced today that its comic book universe that has been established since 1961 will all come to an end with the upcoming eight-issue release of Secret Wars, arriving this May. While details are still scant after today's announcement, many fans are wondering how this will affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which hasn't even started its nine-movie Phase Three yet that kicks off with next year's Captain America: Civil War. Since the movie division's slate is locked in for the next four years, today's big news may not have a short-term effect on the MCU, but it very well may shape Phase Four and beyond. Here's what Marvel's Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort had to say in a statement during Marvel's press conference.

"Once we hit Secret Wars No. 1, there is no Marvel Universe, Ultimate Universe, or any other. It's all Battleworld."

Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso added his own statement.

"The Marvel universe will be Battleworld, and every single piece of those worlds will be building blocks for the universe."

Marvel legend Stan Lee also reacted to the news with the following statement.

"It's probably good. Anything they do that's unexpected and different usually captures the attention of the fans. People will want to follow it to see what happens and where it will lead. Marvel cannot keep doing the same stories over and over again. You always have to come up with new angles and new approaches to things. I think it's probably a good idea. It sounds intriguing to me. Of course I have an emotional attachment to the original Marvel Universe, because I was so involved in it. But that doesn't mean I expect it to be that way forever. It might be better under this new approach. I'm eager to see what might happen."

The first issue of Secret Wars will combine both the 616 and Ultimate Marvel Universes, both of which will be destroyed, with a singular entity known as Battleworld remaining. That will spawn the launch of several "side series" and mini-series, with Marvel even creating an interactive map that can be accessed now, which will show where all of your favorite characters will be in Battleworld. When the eight-issue series ends, fans will be left with an all new Marvel universe. It is believed that all of the previous history established in the comic book universe thus far will remain in place.

As far as the implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it may not be affected quite yet, at least not in Phase Three, but it may affect the Marvel properties currently housed at other studios. Marvel has already announced plans to kill off Wolverine in the comics, and there are already plans in the works to bring an end to the Fantastic Four, which could alter 20th Century Fox's plans for those cinematic franchises. It's possible that this Secret Wars comic could do away with the original Spider-Man, possibly replacing him with Miles Morales or any other character that has donned the Spidey suit. What do you think of Marvel's announcement about bringing their comic book universe to an end? Check out the Secret War covers, then chime in with your thoughts below:

Secret Wars Covers 1

Secret Wars Cover 2

Secret Wars 3