In the comics, Doctor Strange has been a part of many different groups, including The Avengers, The Defenders and the Midnight Sons -- but certainly one of the most significant is The Illuminati. Inspired by real world conspiracy theories about a secret clan of influential people who run the world, the Illuminati is one of the most powerful groups in the Marvel Universe, and has a roster that also includes Professor Charles Xavier of the X-Men, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Namor The Sub-Mariner, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, and the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards. With Doctor Strange now appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you might wonder if we could eventually see this organization on the big screen... but according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, you may not want to hold your breath.
Feige was specifically asked about the possibility of seeing an MCU version of the Illuminati come together this morning during a press conference for Doctor Strange in Los Angeles. Considering that Marvel Studios doesn't own the film rights to three of the group's members from the comics (including Professor X, Namor and Reed Richards), it was certainly a longshot question, and Feige noted that there are no plans in the works for an adaptation... but he did confirm that we will be seeing a portion of the team come together soon on the big screen. Said Feige,
What's fun about the Illuminati is seeing certain characters interact with certain other characters. I don't know about that particular storyline, but some of those characters we'll be seeing together onscreen in the next Avengers.
This isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff, as that could mean as little as us seeing a scene between Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark and Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange in The Avengers: Infinity War, but we can perhaps hope that Black Bolt, the silent King of the Inhumans, could be included in there too, right? We might not be getting an Inhumans movie just yet, but there's still every possibility he could show up in any of the upcoming Phase Three titles.
In the comics, the Illuminati was a brainchild of Tony Stark, and was formed after the interstellar Kree-Skrull War that unfolded as an Avengers story arc between the summer of 1971 and spring of 1972. Stark believed that it would be safer for the world if all of the various supergroups and leaders were in league together, and eventually it was decided that the key members of each would be brought together as a small organization (Black Panther was invited to join, but decided not to).
Arguably the biggest and most significant decision they ever made was to put The Hulk in a rocket and send him deep into outer space, believing that he was just too dangerous to remain on Earth. This kind of backfired on them, however, as Hulk went on to take over his own world in Planet Hulk, and then returned home for revenge in the 2007/2008 crossover event World War Hulk. It's been suggested that elements of the Planet Hulk story will fit into Taika Waititi's upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, but it's pretty hard to believe that the Illuminati has anything to do with it.
We could perhaps one day see the Illuminati be formed within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for now we'll just have to settle for some live-action meetings between a few of its members. And that road starts when Doctor Strange arrives in theaters on November 4th.