With the secrets of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness now out in the open, many have been left disappointed by the less-than-expected number of cameos and surprises the film delivered. In a tale that naturally kept its focus set on Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange and Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch, Earth-838's Illuminati was the source of the biggest shocks.
The Illuminati - led by Chiwetel Ejiofor's Baron Mordo - featured the surprise return of Marvel legacy mainstay Professor X, played by Patrick Stewart, along with Anson Mount's Black Bolt. Meanwhile, Hayley Atwell brought her What If...? hero Captain Carter into live-action, and Lashana Lynch debuted as an alternate Captain Marvel. And in the most shocking moment, John Krasinski finally fulfilled fan casting by making his first appearance as Mr. Fantastic.
Having switched directors from Scott Derrickson to Sam Raimi, Multiverse of Madness went through many changes. These changes came all the way into production after going through extensive reshoots and deleting many scenes, including appearances from Michael Fassbender's Magneto, Ghost Rider, and more.
Thor's Brother Was Almost in Doctor Strange 2
YouTube channel Heavy Spoilers reported details on deleted scenes from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which would have included Thor's brother, Balder the Brave.
The insider revealed he has "seen certain elements" of the planned cameo, confirming the Asgardian would have served as the seventh member of the Illuminati and filled the spare chair present in the movie, which was assumed to have belonged to Supreme Strange:
"There was also supposed to be an appearance by Balder the Brave, which I've seen certain elements for. In the Illuminati scene, we, of course, saw that there were six chairs and a space for Professor X. Balder was originally supposed to be the 7th member, but this has now been kind of brushed to the side with the empty chair being chalked up to belonging to Supreme Strange. However, Mordo overtook his position and this is because he wasn't in the Illuminati beforehand, which is why he didn't appear on Titan with the rest of the group."
Heavy Spoilers went on to claim "Balder was going to be talked into ending his own life" by Wanda, but the scene was cut to shift the focus to Black Bolt and the other Illuminati members:
"During the fight with Wanda, Balder was going to be talked into ending his own life by the witch, but this was apparently taken out so that the focus of this can be given to Black Bolt. Again, it's probably the better way to do things, and there are already enough Illuminati members as there is, so I can see why they removed things for the final cut."
James Bond actor Daniel Craig was supposedly planned to take on the role but dropped out due to increased COVID-19 cases in the UK, leading to Balder and Craig's replacement:
"Now today there was a report from Deadline which said that Daniel Craig was originally supposed to be playing Reed Richards. However, my sources told me about six months ago that he was actually playing Balder the Brave, and they sent some photos of props across as evidence. I think Craig as Balder, aka Thor's brother, makes way more sense, and recently when stuff was cut my sources said they couldn't understand why this was as he's such a big name. However, apparently, Craig dropping out was due to a spike in pandemic cases, so I think that's why he was removed and also replaced."
The Illuminati That Never Was
Balder the Brave had been rumored to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness long before release, but ultimately the film hit theaters with no signs of Thor's brother. Based on Heavy Spoilers' inside information, Balder came rather close to appearing in the Multiverse blockbuster, with Craig's departure being the game-changing factor.
Each member of the Illuminati represented a different sector of the Marvel universe; Captain Marvel, cosmic; Mordo, mystical; Mr. Fantastic, science; Professor X, Mutants; Black Bolt, Inhumans; Captain Carter, The Avengers. The inclusion of Balder the Brave would have offered some representation for Asgard in the Illuminati, while also serving as a unique replacement for Thor.
The mystery of Earth-838's seventh Illuminati opening remains a curious one. Supreme Strange holding the open seat doesn't make much sense since Baron Mordo replaced him after his death on Titan. So, was there a seventh member? Or was the chair simply left open to honor their fallen corrupted friend? That's a question that will probably never be answered with a return to Earth-838 seeming unlikely after five of the six members died in battle against the Scarlet Witch.
Who knows whether Balder could ever make his way into the main MCU timeline down the line. Chris Hemsworth's Thor has never mentioned having a brother, aside from Loki, and the secret sibling plot has already been somewhat played out with Cate Blanchett's Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is playing now in theaters. But those looking for another dip in the Asgardian side of the MCU can catch Thor: Love and Thunder when its releases on July 8.