WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. We recommend you take a trip to the theater and learn all the details before reading on.
The Illuminati scene from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness easily had one of the coolest assortments of Marvel character cameos in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. However, out of the all the special appearances from that memorable scene - even including John Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic, Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter, or Sir Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier - the one hardest for me to forget is Black Bolt, played by Anson Mount.
Other than the explosive way he meets his demise in director Sam Raimi’s hit, I am most amazed by the fact that this cameo happened at all, especially since Black Bolt’s last involvement in the MCU was on the Inhumans TV show - where he was also played by Mount. In case that short-lived, but not very well loved, TV series is your only other exposure to the character, or if his appearance in the Doctor Strange sequel marked the first time you had ever heard of him, there is plenty more you should know about him either way. The following is a convenient crash course on all things Black Bolt, starting with where he comes from.
Black Bolt Is The Ruler Of Attilan
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Bolt made his Marvel Comics debut in Fantastic Four Issue #45 in 1965. His superhero alias is, essentially, shorthand for his birth name, Blackagar Boltagon, which was given to him by his father, Agon, and mother, Rynda, who were both the leading genetic researchers of the city of Attilan, as well as its king and queen.
Attilan is also the home of the Inhumans - a genetically engineered race created by the Kree from human DNA. After the death of his parents when Black Bolt was just 20 years old (which I get into later), he was crowned king of Attilan and ruled over the Inhumans alongside his wife, Medusa. While proving to be strong and protective of the Inhumans, he is also a particularly soft-spoken leader, but for good reason.
Black Bolt Was Born With A “Sonic Scream”
While Rynda was still pregnant with Black Bolt, he was exposed to a mutagenic known as the Terrigen Mists, which caused him to be born with abilities greater than any other Inhuman - many of which we will talk about soon. First, we shall focus on the strongest, most famous, and most devastating power: a quasi sonic energy from his voice referred to as the “sonic scream.”
If you thought seeing a de-mouthed Black Bolt blow his own head open with his voice in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was intense, that’s the least he can do. His sonic scream is powerful enough to level entire cities or cause a continent-sized earthquake with just a mere whisper, which quickly caused the people of Attilan to grow concerned over what his voice could do to the city while he was still an infant. Thus, he was kept in a soundproof chamber until he was old enough to learn how to control his abilities and would later undergo strict mental training to have complete control of his volume, even during sleep, and only use his voice if absolutely necessary.
Black Bolt Also Has Energy Manipulation Abilities And Other Powers
As an Inhuman, Black Bolt has all the abilities that people of his kind are naturally gifted with, which includes your basic superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, and agility, as well as a lifespan as least twice as long as the average human. However, in addition to the sonic scream, Black Bolt has been gifted with an extraordinary arsenal of energy manipulation abilities that is unparalleled to his kind.
For instance, Black Bolt is telepathic and immune from outside telepathic manipulation, can rearrange the molecular structure of all kinds of matter, and possesses a cosmic awareness and omnipresent consciousness that grants him important knowledge he needs to know at any given moment. He can also fly - one of the many powers he can achieve through his ability to channel particles and electrons for a variety of purposes. This is actually what he uses that weird fork on his head for - something that did not make it into the Inhumans TV show.
One Of Black Bolt’s Greatest Enemies Is His Own Brother
One major aspect of Black Bolt’s story that was heavily explored on the Inhumans TV show was the character’s relationship with his younger brother, Maximus, who was also exposed to the Terrigen Mists when he was still an embryo. This affected his brain in extraordinary ways - granting him enhanced cognitive abilities like telepathy and clairvoyance - but also in damaging ways.
Case in point, Maximus is prone to irrational thought that has often had diminishing effects on his already unpredictable behavior and even on his own nefarious schemes, such as his - thankfully - unsuccessful attempted to trigger his brother’s sonic scream right after he was released from his sound proof chamber to prove he was still a threat to Attilan. Black Bolt would later have to defend Attilan from Maximus, who was in cahoots with the Kree - a battle that, unfortunately, ended in tragedy when a Kree ship destroyed by the sonic scream crashed into a building and caused the deaths of many, including his parents, making him the new king.
Black Bolt Is A Member Of The Illuminati
Black Bolt’s role in the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was not just some excuse to bring the Inhumans character back for a fun cameo. His membership in the heavily influential secret society is accurate to the comics. In fact, he is one of its founding members, along with Charles Xavier, Reed Richards, Namor the Sub-mariner, Stephen Strange, and Tony Stark.
It was actually Iron Man who came up with the idea to form the Illuminati as a growing conflict between the Skrulls and Kree posed a potential threat to Earth. The society is also heavily involved in Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion storyline, so there is a chance we could see another version of them - maybe along with the Earth-616 version of Black Bolt - by the time Disney+’s series adaptation premieres.
I actually am really curious if there is more to be seen of Anson Mount’s Black Bolt in any other upcoming Marvel movies (or TV shows) now that his appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has reignited interest in the character. I mean, if any of the more recent installments of this saga have taught us anything, it is that, at this point, anything is possible.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.
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