With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at the cinema for more than a week, the time has come to analyze one of the most interesting narrative twists of the film: we are talking about the introduction of the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, who appeared in a short but intense splatter sequence in the middle of the film. The minutes dedicated to the group are among the most full of cameos in the history of the MCUwhile citing a number of never-before-seen characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the best body horror scenes in Sam Raimi’s filmography, winking at cult such as The House And The Army of Darkness. Many might therefore ask themselves who the Illuminati are and what future they have in the MCU: so let’s see what we can expect from the superhero group introduced in Doctor Strange 2.
Life, death and rebirth of the Illuminati
We have already told you the story of the Illuminati of Doctor Strange 2 in a short dedicated study, but before proceeding a recap is a must.
In the Marvel comics, the Illuminati are a superhero group founded by Iron Man with the aim of preventing large-scale crises relating to the entire multiverse, addressing them in concert and including mutants and Inhumans in their resolution. For this reason, del team original Illuminati, in addition to founder Iron Man, are part of Namor, Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, Doctor Strange and Black Arrow. To these is added an “external” member, aware of the existence of the very secret group but who decides not to take part in its meetings, namely Black Panther. In the MCU the formation changes substantially: on Terra-838, in fact, the group is founded by Doctor Strange, who is subsequently replaced by Karl Mordo. In the council also sit Professor X, Black Bolt, Captain CarterReed Richards and Captain Marvel.
The fundamental difference is therefore that in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness there is no trace of Iron Man, despite the numerous theories on a Tom Cruise cameo as Superior Iron Man of the last few months.
In fact, to found the Illuminati of Earth-838, it is Strange himself, who is then eliminated from the group, who considers him too serious a danger for the Multiverse. During the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesswith the sole exception of Mordo, all Illuminati are killed by Scarlet Witchmaking their appearance little more than just a few minutes’ long cameo screentime, nowhere near comparable to that of Doctor Strange, Wanda Maximoff or America Chavez. The death of the members of the group, therefore, suggests that the short storyline of the Illuminati has ended already in the film directed by Sam Raimi: however, some fans are convinced that they will have a future in the universe of Earth-616, the one in which (almost) all the MCU productions are set.
An interesting hypothesis is that it will be right Doctor Strange to refound the Illuminati on Earth-616, joining forces with other superheroes to face new supernatural and cosmic threats capable of destroying the Multiverse. Another possibility is instead that the Bite of Earth-838, the only survivor of the Scarlet Witch massacre, join forces with its Earth-616 variant to create a new one team, this time in opposition to Strange, who could risk the same fate as his counterpart on Earth-838. If the Illuminati really were to make a second MCU debut, however, they could take years before seeing them again in the cinema.
On the other hand, neither the Mutants, nor the Inhumans, nor the Fantastic Four have yet been introduced to Earth-616. Also, Iron Man is dead, Carol Danvers is lost in space, and the only version of Captain Carter to date in the MCU, that of What If …? it does not belong to “our” reference universe. However, looking at Marvel’s plans for the future, it appears that the stars may soon line up for the Illuminatiwho could steal the show from the Avengers towards the end of Phase Five of the MCU.
The new founder of the Illuminati
Let’s start with what the Illuminati founder of the MCU, aka Doctor Strange. Although the comic book leader is Iron Man, we feel we can immediately rule out the possibility of a return to the scene of Tony Stark for many reasons, including the heavy legacy of Robert Downey Jr. and the difficulty of bringing Iron Man back to life without create strange paradoxes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Having ascertained that Stephen Strange appears to be the only one capable of refounding the Illuminati, one wonders when we see Doctor Strange again at the cinema or on Disney +: archived the Doctor Strange 2 chapter (by the way, you can always retrieve our review of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), it seems unlikely that the Doctor will reappear, even with only a cameo, in one of the next films of the MCU, since Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther – Wakanda Forever And Ant Man and The Wasp – Quantumania they should take us in directions very far from the “magic” part of the MCU. If anything, Strange might peek into a post-credit scene, but it’s pretty unlikely that a moment as important as the return of the Illuminati could be relegated to a few seconds queue in another movie.
Turning to Captain Marvel, it is urgent here to make a clarification: what we see in Earth-838 is a variant of the superheroine played by Maria Rambeau and not by Carol Danvers, but that doesn’t mean that in Earth-616 it can’t be Carol joining the Illuminati instead. To push Captain Marvel to join the coven founded by Strange could be the cosmic events of The Marvels, due out next year, which could convince Carol of the need for the group. Another possibility is that Captain America, who also seemed the least charismatic of the Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2, could be replaced by another character. In this case, the challenge would be open between the new Black Panther and the King of Atlantis Namorwhich could both debut in Black Panther – Wakanda Forever.
Moving on to Captain Carter, however, it is difficult to understand how the herony could debut on Earth-616 in the future. L’Sharon Carter’s story arc it ended together with that of Steve Rogers at the end of Avengers: Endgame, and the chances for his return seem almost nil. Second, Agent Carter of the MCU is not endowed with the superhuman strength provided by the super soldier serum, which its counterpart on Earth-838 does.
Of course, it is not unlikely that the Captain Carter from What If …? can debut on Earth-616, but it would be interesting to understand what justifications could be used to transplant what appears to be the leader of the Guardians of the Multiverse into one of the worlds she has sworn to protect. Perhaps, the new comic series about Captain Carter could provide original narrative insights to the writers of the MCU. We feel instead to exclude the hypothesis of Sam Wilson’s Captain America in the Illuminatias the group seems to stray too far from the ideals of the character played by Anthony Mackie.
The Illuminati in the Multiverse
The characters whose appearance among the Illuminati has caused the most stir, however, are Professor X, Mr. Fantastic and Black Bolt. Let’s start with the King of the Inhumans, also known as Black Bolt in the Marvel Comics.
For now it is really difficult to say what will become of the Inhumans in the MCU, since the group of superheroes had been the protagonist of the ill-fated TV series Inhumans, canceled in 2018. Rumors about a possible reboot of the Inhumans in the MCU have been going on for now. years, but it does not seem that i Marvel Studios have come to concrete developments on the superhero team led by Black Arrow. Conversely, see Black Bolt staged in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness it was a small shock, which suggests that plans for a return of the Inhumans are in the pipeline, but also that the group’s MCU debut will take a long time to come and could possibly take place in a film or series dedicated to another hero. Another possibility, although definitely not very credible, is that the Inhumans arrive in the MCU through an Agents of Shield retcon along the lines of that of Daredevil in Spider-Man: No-Way Home: in this case, a taking over from Black Bolt could be Quakethe Inhuman protagonist of the ABC series and still much loved by Marvel fans.
Regarding the Professor X of Charles Xavier there is little to say: the character should be a variant of the same Xavier from the cinematic universes of the 20th Century X-Men movies and should have its own variant in the MCU as well, but that does not mean that mutants exist in the Universe. Marvel, at least for the moment.
What is certain is that seeing Professor X in Doctor Strange 2 rekindled the media buzz about the X-Men movie, which should debut in the MCU with the film The Mutants, which Marvel has been working on for four years. In all likelihood the project would still be in the early stages of production and it would be scheduled for 2024 or 2025: confirming the existence of the title, however, was the co-writer of Thor Love and Thunder and Hawkeye Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who would have unintentionally leaked that the production will be written by Michael Waldron. Another possibility is that Xavier is introduced to the MCU with X-Men ’97the reboot of the animated series on the X-Men that should be canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Finally, moving on to Reed Richards, the casting of John Krasinski as Mr Fantastic has delighted the fans, and suggests that he will be the one to playing the resilient superhero in the MCU as wellperhaps together with his wife, as some fans Emily Blunt seem perfect to be the Invisible Woman.
At the moment we know that the Marvel superhero family will make an appearance in the MCU with the third Fantastic Four reboot, arriving in 2024 or even later. The film, however, could also face delays due to the abandonment of director of Fantastic 4 by Jon Watts, which took place just a few days after the launch of Doctor Strange 2. In any case, it is certain that the stories of Reed Richards and Kang will intertwine in the future, if only because of the close ties existing in the comics between the two characters: that it is precisely the war of the Multiverse foreseen by the One Who Remains in Loki, once thwarted by the intervention of Avengers, Mutants, Guardians of the Multiverse and Fantastic Four, to push the leaders of all factions of a Marvel Universe bigger than ever a form a “multiverse” version of the Illuminati at the end of Phase 5?