When the new trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness dropped, fans were quick to exclaim two things: 1) “Holy shit is that Patrick Stewart’s
earlobe voice” and 2) “Is Marvel about to introduce the Illuminati?”
In the comics, the Illuminati are a fictional secret society and group of superheroes that secretly work behind the scenes. Created by Brian Michael Bendis in 2005, the team originally consisted of six members (Namor, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, Professor X), who each one represented a different group/community in the Marvel Universe. This allowed the group to have six unique viewpoints and perspectives that were not shared by the others.
If Marvel Studios does introduce the Illuminati in the film, it looks like it might be a team comprised of individuals from across the multiverse. With the return of Patrick Stewart as Professor X from the 20th Century Fox X-Men franchise, all bets were off on who might appear as a member of the Multiverse Illuminati. Despite it being an impossible task, Sailor and I decided to take a stab at who might fill out the remaining membership.
Here are Ten Characters Who Should Be Part of the MCU’s Illuminati.
10. Blade (Wesley Snipes)
In addition to being made up of the smartest people in universe, the members of the Illuminati are all experts of their individual field. Scientists like Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Hank Pym are usually involved because they’re the masters of their field but characters like Namor, Captain America and Black Panther, who aren’t necessarily experts in anything per say, are in because they represent a specific group. Namor speaks for Atlantians, Black Panther speaks for Wakanda and Captain America is one of the only living beings who was alive during WW2, which gives him a unique perspective on current events. Blade doesn’t know shit about the quantum realm or gamma radiation nor is he a mouthpiece for a nation. He kills vampires and there ain’t no one else better at doing it. There would be a logical reason to have his expertise on the counsel and while Mahershala Ali was cast as the new Blade, I think it would be better if they save his introduction (Eternals doesn’t count) for later and give Snipes one last run at the character. It wouldn’t be more than just a cameo but that’s enough to get the fans crazy.
09. Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage)
I think you can see where Sailor and I will be going with part of this list. There was a whole stack of Marvel adaptations from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s that were set in standalone universes unaware of each other’s existence. However, with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness further diving into the multiverse, Marvel actually has a chance to bring these past incarnations together for the first time. While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actually introduced its own version of Ghost Rider into the greater MCU, I’ve elected to bring back Nicolas Cage’s version because why the hell wouldn’t you? Though I have to point out that S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ghost Rider did seem to know a touch more about multiverses and traversing the various realms of the MCU. But you cannot pass up an opportunity to have Nic Cage in your movie, especially alongside Wesley Snipes’ Blade and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X.
08. Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell)
Since Raimi is at the helm, I originally guessed Darkman would make an appearance because why the hell not but since aiming for the stars with that ridiculous pick, I might as well shoot for the moon and go with the obvious and bigger get: Ash. Bruce Campbell has been very cagey about who he’s playing and some outlets have even suggested he might be playing an alternate version of Strange, and while that’s cool, everyone wants Ash. Evil Dead is one of the only properties Disney doesn’t own, so it might take some legal wrangling to get him in the movie but the House of Mouse has deep pockets and loves them some easy fan service, so if Raimi really pushed for it, they’d make it happen.
07. Superior Iron Man (Tom Cruise)
This casting has been rumored for so long now that if Cruise doesn’t appear as a Tony Stark variant in Doctor Strange 2 a lot of people will be mad. Cruise was, of course, once famously in consideration to play Iron Man back when the film was stuck in development hell. That never happened, but I’ve always wondered what Cruise’s take on the character would look like. There have been supposed leaked set photos of Cruise in front of some green screens with a goatee glued to his face, but whether those are real or fake is anyone’s best guess. However, I hope it’s real and he does make an appearance because how funny would it be to have the actor known for doing his own stunts play a character that wears a highly advanced suit of armor protecting himself from getting injured. But also because Cruise is one hell of an actor and I think he’d do a great job bringing a different energy to Tony Stark, especially one with villainous intent.
06. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)
With Professor X already confirmed, it’s a safe bet that Wolverine will also be in it. This could be where they introduce the new Wolverine but since the Illuminati operates outside of our universe, there’s no point in not bringing back everyone’s favorite mutant fur one last appearance. It doesn’t make total sense why he’d be a part of it or why he would even care but that’s not the point. The Illuminati are in this for one reason: to milk nostalgia for all its worth. No Way Home made all the money simply by bringing back characters fans love. Fans love Jackman way more than they do Tobey Maguire and Disney loves money. They’d be fools not to bring him back.
05. Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell)
Since we’re not quite sure who the main villain in the Doctor Strange sequel is yet, some fans have theorized that the Illuminati themselves might be the bad guys. The theory explains that since its the main MCU timeline that continues to tamper and break the multiverse open, the Illuminati act as multiverse keepers (similar to how the TVA operated in Loki). It would explain why Doctor Strange is cuffed while standing in front of them at the very least. But if the theory turns out to be true, I expect to see What If…?‘s Captain Carter as part of the Illuminati. She’s already stopped one madman from attempting to conquer the multiverse, so it makes sense that she might be on the roster in order to find and stop anyone else hellbent on tearing the universe apart. It’s clear Marvel loves working with Hayley Atwell (and Peggy Carter) and it’s only a matter of time before Captain Carter makes the jump into live-action, so why not do it in the Multiverse of Madness?
04. Spider-Woman (Emma Stone)
If the internet rumors are true, Sony delayed the release of Mobius just to add in scenes with Garfield’s Spider-Man. They looked at the reaction everyone had to his return and decided to immediately capitalize off of it. They’re trying to milk the brand for everything they can (why the fuck are they making a Madame Web movie? Ain’t nobody want that), so bringing back Garfield and having him be their Spider-Man is a no brainer. An even better idea is to make an Amazing Spider-Man 3 with Emma Stone as Spider-Woman. Marvel could do Sony a solid by introducing her here first for them to then use later. The two split a long time ago but they seem to be friendly with each other, so I don’t think it would be a problem if they worked together again. The fans demand it.
03. Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd)
Marvel Studios hasn’t made any real headway on its own adaptation of Marvel’s first family since announcing Jon Watts as director at the end of 2020. While they could easily introduce the MCU version of Reed Richards in the Doctor Strange sequel ahead of the Fantastic Four film, I don’t think that is what’s going to happen. Instead, I think they’ll bring back Ioan Gruffudd because—despite both films he starred in being… not the best—his casting (along with the rest of the team) was perfect. We haven’t seen this character since 2007. What has he been doing for the last sixteen years? Probably exploring the multiverse and playing chess with Professor X. Fans certainly don’t want to see Miles Teller back as Fant4stic‘s Reed Richards, so let’s stop playing and admit that the Illuminati being entirely comprised of Marvel superheroes from the 2000s would be absolutely banging.
02. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)
Okay, hear me out. I know this makes no sense. I also think merging the two franchises could potentially lead to disaster in the future (I really really don’t want to see a baby Groot and Grogu show) but you can’t tell me this wouldn’t blow the fucking roof off every single theater. The fan reaction would be worth far more than the nitpickers who would complain that it doesn’t make sense. Who gives a shit. It’s the Multiverse. That’s comic’s get out of free card. It’s their chance to literally do anything. Go fucking crazy and throw John McClane fighting a Xenomorph in there. It doesn’t matter. It’s the Multiverse. They only get to go nuts once and I’d rather they go all the way into crazy town than just dip their toes in.
01. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds)
Out of all our picks, I think Deadpool is probably the best (and safest) bet. Deadpool 2 ended with Deadpool time travelling around the X-Men‘s convoluted timeline attempting(?) to fix it. There’s also a chance Deadpool jumped universes since he was able to kill Ryan Reynolds and stop him from making Green Lantern. The Merc with a Mouth is known for breaking the fourth wall which should mean he’s aware there’s life beyond his own universe. Marvel should use that. Have Deadpool acknowledge that he knows more than everyone else. “No one else sees them watching us with their large popcorn and drink?” The rest of the Illuminati will think he’s crazy, but we’ll know he’s just being Deadpool. The film will also be the perfect opportunity to pull Deadpool from the FoX-Verse and into the main MCU. Make it happen, Marvel, we know you have Deadpool 3 on the way.
Who do you think will be part of Marvel’s Illuminati? Tell us your picks down in the comments!