The latest TV spot for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has revealed several members of the Illuminati, and the anticipation for Marvel Studios’ first film of the year couldn’t be higher. Audiences are betting that the movie could make more on opening weekend than Spider-Man: No Way Home, which collected a staggering $260 million, second only to Avengers: Endgame. On May 6th, audiences will see Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, and the X-Men–one of them, at least–assembling for Sam Raimi’s chaotic multiversal thriller.
Doctor Strange 2 will be Marvel Studios’ 28th film, and the franchise has no signs of slowing down. MCU Phase 4 has leaned heavily into the multiverse as a concept. The events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness pick up after the chaos unleashed in No Way Home, where Doctor Strange’s spell accidentally broke open the multiverse. In the MCU’s latest film, Doctor Strange will face the Illuminati’s judgment for his crimes against reality. This secret organization is looking more and more like the movie’s main antagonist and likely has a few more surprises up its sleeve. Their comic book counterpart has six members, and Doctor Strange 2’s trailer revealed six seats on the council’s platform. The trailers have disclosed four of its member so far, and the remaining two surprises are likely being saved for the movie. The first confirmed Doctor Strange 2 Illuminati member was Mordo, who the trailers showed arresting Steven Strange and bringing him to the Illuminati chambers for judgment. However, it is unknown if this is the same Mordo from Doctor Strange or a character variant. The Mordo from the first movie had short hair and noticeable facial scarring, with two across his forehead and one across his right cheek. However, the Mordo from the sequel’s trailers has long braided hair and no scarring. Either way, Mordo is keen on seeing Doctor Strange’s reckoning for his “desecration of reality” and will likely be one of the movie’s many adversaries.
Professor X, the leader of the X-Men, will make his MCU debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as another member of the Illuminati. In Doctor Strange 2’s first official trailer, Patrick Stewart’s voice can be heard saying, “We should tell him the truth,” driving the internet into a frenzy for Professor X’s return. Needless to say, this won’t be the same Charles Xavier from the Fox X-Men franchise considering that one died (twice). However, Doctor Strange 2’s latest TV spot revealed this Charles Xavier variant sporting the same yellow hoverchair and green suit as the character wore in X-Men: The Animated Series. Considering he won’t be the only animated character to make a live-action debut in this movie, it is worth pondering if this is the actual Professor X from X-Men: The Animated Series. An insane proposition, maybe, but this is the Multiverse of Madness after all.
Captain Carter is shown fighting a version of Wanda in the Illuminati base, wielding her iconic British flag shield. It can be assumed that Hayley Atwell will be returning to reprise her role as a live-action version of What If…?’s Captain Carter, who now appears to be a member of the Illuminati, as well. What If…? episode 1 showed a universe where Peggy Carter took the super-solider serum rather than Steve Rogers. Considering the character was selected by The Watcher to be a member of What If…?’s Guardians of the Multiverse, it’s understandable Captain Carter would be chosen to be a member of a multiversal Illuminati.
There are two remaining seats to be filled on the Illuminati council. Since three of the four confirmed members are a deviation from the comic book’s Illuminati already, it stands to reason the remaining two will be original members like Professor X. That way, the council will consist of three originals and three MCU adaptions. If that assertation is correct, that leaves four options – Iron Man, Namor, Black Bolt, or Mister Fantastic. Drawing from hints from the trailers and looking at the Marvel Studios projects currently in development, it will most likely be Iron Man and Mister Fantastic.
If a Tony Stark variant played by Robert Downey Jr. shows up in Doctor Strange 2, it would be mind-blowing and probably one of the best-kept secrets in Marvel Studio’s history. This is why it’s perhaps more likely a different actor will play the Illuminati’s Iron Man, with the most prominent theory being that Tom Cruise is Doctor Strange 2’s Iron Man in a surprise cameo. Other than the character being a pivotal part of the comic’s Illuminati and the MCU at large, another reason to suspect he is involved is that his Ultron bots are used as the Illuminati’s sentries, hinting that there could have been a timeline in which Tony Stark succeeded at creating Ultron. Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mister Fantastic, would also be a safe bet to be a part of the MCU’s Illuminati. As the founding member of the Fantastic Four, who frequently deal with time travel and multiversal threats (such as Kang the Conquerer), it seems like an obvious choice. Also, with the MCU’s Fantastic Four movie currently in development, it would be an ideal way to introduce the character as Marvel Studios has done in the past with other significant characters, such as Spider-Man and Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. Whoever the remaining members end up being, the Illuminati will play a significant role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and clash with both Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch.