Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are ahead!
After months, if not years, of fan speculation, it was confirmed in late April that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would feature its own version of the Illuminati. In the original Marvel Comics source material, the Illuminati was formed after the Kree-Skrull War, and its members frequently met to exchange information and plan on how to deal grand threats targeting Earth. Multiverse of Madness took a slightly different approach with its version of the Illuminati, not only boasting a largely-different membership, but also existing on Earth-838 and essentially being a blend of a traditional superhero team and a secret society. As a bonus, we also met a longtime player from the Doctor Strange comics in the Multiverse of Madness mid-credits scene.
Unfortunately, all but one member of this Illuminati were wiped out by Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch during Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Still, the group’s appearance, as well as the person who shows up after the main story concludes, were among the biggest aspects of the Doctor Strange sequel, and suggest big things for this franchise’s future. But before we get into those implications, let’s go over who comprised Earth-838’s Illuminati and what happened to them, as well as that mystery individual.
Although the post-credits scene of the first Doctor Strange movie saw Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Karl Mordo in the MCU (which, like the main Marvel Comics continuity, is known as Earth-616) beginning his mission to eliminate sorcerers, he didn’t appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Instead, we met Earth-838’s Mordo, who was close friends with his Earth’s Stephen Strange until the latter used the Darkhold to defeat Thanos, which came at the cost of a separate reality. Following that Strange’s execution for his actions, 838-Mordo became the Sorcerer Supreme and inherited Strange’s spot on the Illuminati. He was the only member to survive Scarlet Witch’s assault on the Baxter Foundation, and was last seen inadvertently helping the 616-Doctor Strange break out of his power-dampening restraints so he could go rescue America Chavez.
Last year in the animated series What If… ?, we met a version of Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter who was injected with the Super Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers, turning her into Captain Carter. The same thing happened on Earth-838 (we actually were already tipped off to her appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), and in addition to wielding her own distinctive vibranium shield, she was also equipped with a jetpack. This Captain Carter put up a valiant fight against Scarlet Witch, but she died when the 616-Wanda Maximoff used her telekinesis to slice this version of Peggy in half with her own shield.
Captain Marvel (Maria Rambeau)
In the 616-universe, Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau was the fellow pilot and best friend of Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers prior to her becoming a superhero in the mid-‘90s. This Maria went on to found S.W.O.R.D., but in 2020, two years after her daughter Monica disappeared as a result of the Snap, she died of cancer. On Earth-838, it was Maria who became Captain Marvel instead of Carol, and she was just as adept with her cosmic abilities, if not more so. In fact, this Maria almost succeeded in defeating Scarlet Witch, but Wanda ultimately managed to remove Maria’s powers and crush her with a statue.
Remember Inhumans? The ABC TV series is one of the MCU’s few misses, having been met with overwhelmingly negative critical reception and being cancelled after just one season. Inhumans starred Anson Mount as Black Bolt, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness brought him back to play Earth-838’s Black Bolt, who’s referred to by his birth name, Blackagar Boltagon, and wore a more comics-accurate costume. As is the norm with Black Bolt, Mount’s new version mostly kept silent given the destructive power of his voice; he’s only heard saying “I’m sorry” in a flashback showing him executing the 838-Stephen Strange with his sonic scream. This version of Black Bolt was the first of the Illuminati to die, as Scarlet Witch removed his mouth, which caused him to panic and implode his own head with his power.
For years, Marvel fans fan-casted John Krasinski to play Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mister Fantastic, and they finally got their wish. Unlike the characters previously mentioned, this was our first glimpse of any version of Mister Fantastic in the MCU franchise, but between his classic elastic ability and wearing his own comics-accurate costume, Krasinski’s version of the character felt like he’d been ripped straight from the printed page. Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic also mentioned having a wife and children, indicating that Sue Storm (a.k.a. The Invisible Woman), Franklin Richards and Valeria Richards exist on Earth-838. Like Black Bolt, Mister Fantastic died an especially unsettling death, as we saw Scarlet Witch pull him into strings before bursting his head.
We wrap up the Illuminati portion of this feature with Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier variant, who was first teased in the second Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer. We could spend hours talking about the Star Trek: Picard actor’s run as the mutant telepath in in the Fox X-Men film series, but interestingly enough, the Earth-838 Professor X more closely resembled the one from X-Men: The Animated Series thanks to his green suit, floating yellow wheelchair and the visual way his powers were represented. This Professor X telepathically entered Scarlet Witch’s mind in an effort to free the 838-version of Wanda trapped there, but her corrupted doppelgänger found him and snapped his neck in this mindspace, which killed him in real life too.
Finally, we come to Clea, who’s played by Charlize Theron and briefly appeared in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness mid-credits scene. Some time after 616-Doctor Strange learned he still had a third eye after using the Darkhold to manipulate Defender Strange’s corpse, he was approached out in the open by Clea (as identified offscreen, she’s nameless in the movie), who told him his actions had trigger an incursion. She then opens a portal to the Dark Dimension, and Strange obliges her in coming through.
What Do These Appearances Mean For The MCU Going Forward?
Right off the bat, don’t get your hopes up about seeing any of the deceased Illuminati members being resurrected in the future. Even with 838-Mordo still alive, I doubt we’ll see him again, because if Marvel greenlights Doctor Strange 3, my money’s on us reuniting with the 616-Mordo. With 616-Doctor Strange having been made aware of an incursion into the Dark Dimension by Clea, it’s not a stretch to see the 616-Mordo capitalizing on that troublesome development in an effort to eliminate his enemy.
Speaking of Clea, she’s been part of the Doctor Strange mythos since being introduced in 1964’s Strange Tales #126, and is the daughter of Dark Dimension resident Umar, a Faltine, which is a higher-dimensional being trapped in human form. Umar also happens to be the sister of Dormammu, ruler of the Dark Dimension, who we met in the first Doctor Strange movie. In Marvel Comics, Clea frequently clashes with her uncle, has periodically ruled the Dark Dimension at times when Dormammu has been banished, and recently, she’s inherited the Sorcerer Supreme mantle following Strange’s death. Many fans have been wanting to see her in the MCU, and now that time has come.
As far as the Illuminati’s appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness goes, it also follow in Spider-Man: No Way Home’s footsteps of showing how versions of characters from other universes can now easily be thrown into an MCU story. So maybe we could see other superhero versions of Peggy Carter and Maria Rambeau again. Most importantly, though, we now finally have our first taste of the Fantastic Four and X-Men in the MCU thanks to the involvement of Mister Fantastic and Professor X. This also marks our first dip into the Inhumans mythology within a Marvel Studios production, as ABC’s Inhumans series was a product of the now-defunct Marvel Television. We’ve known for several years now that the MCU is working on reboots for Fantastic Four and X-Men, but I’m hoping Black Bolt’s inclusion in Multiverse of Madness means the Inhumans can someday get another shot at live-action glory.
Now that we’ve met Earth-838’s versions of Mister Fantastic, Professor X and Black Bolt, does this mean they John Krasinski, Patrick Stewart and Anson Mount could someday return to play these heroes’ 616-counterparts? Possibly, but it’s hardly a guarantee. Remember, we know from Spider-Man: No Way Home and the three varying Peter Parkers that doppelgängers don’t have to all look alike. This allows Marvel Studios to still cast whoever it wants in the 616 universe.
With all the time Stewart has already played Professor X, plus his advanced age, while I wouldn’t rule out him playing another Professor X variant someday, I suspect Marvel will want to recruit someone new as the Charles Xavier who ends up leading the X-Men reboot. Anson Mount is also busy playing Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, so if the Inhumans ever get the spotlight with the MCU proper, unless it happens after Strange New Worlds is over, that role will also likely be recast. As for Krasinski getting to play the “main” Mister Fantastic, although he continues to play Jack Ryan and will likely helm A Quiet Place Part III in the coming years, given that Jon Watts has stepped away from the Fantastic Four reboot, it wouldn’t be surprising if the actor worked out a deal where he’s both in front of the camera and directing the upcoming Marvel movie.
There’ll be a lot more to discuss about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in the coming weeks, so keep visiting CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. The next MCU movie to look forward to is Thor: Love and Thunder on July 8, but if you have a Disney+ subscription, you’ll be able to watch Ms. Marvel starting on June 8.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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