After months of speculating which Marvel characters would surface in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Sam Raimi's blockbuster delivered with several iconic heroes appearing during Doctor Strange and America Chavez's trip to Earth-838. As was expected, the two crossed paths with the Illuminati - a council of heroes watching over the universe and the Multiverse.
The Earth-838 roster included many popular heroes, including Baron Mordo, Captain Carter, Professor X, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, and Maria Rambeau's Captain Marvel. Except for Mordo, the entire team was decimated by the Scarlet Witch as a result of their arrogance in her pursuit of America Chavez.
With Strange now firmly resettled in Earth-616, fans have begun speculating whether they will ever meet a new Illuminati - one made up of the MCU's heroes and actors. Now, a new documentary has teased that there may be one in the cards for Marvel Studios.
The Illuminati May Return in MCU's Future
During the Marvel Studios Assembled documentary for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, producer Richie Palmer hinted the MCU may one day introduce its own Earth-616 Illuminati.
Palmed revealed that Marvel Studios has been eager to introduce the Illuminati for years, explaining why it was "a really exciting thing" to use the team in another universe. Although Palmer teased that fans might still "get to see an Illuminati of [the] main MCU one day:"
“The Illuminati’s been a group we’ve wanted to introduce in our movies for years. They’re a secret organization that works off the grid. They do the things that the other groups like the Avengers wouldn’t be too happy about… To do it in an alternate universe in the Multiverse, was a really exciting thing because we get to meet a version of this group in this other universe, and then we still might get to see an Illuminati of our main MCU one day, which is also very exciting.”
Writer Michael Waldron later explained the idea of the Illuminati came from difficulties in writing the second act of the script and deciding to "break the movie and do something really nuts:"
“Yeah that’s definitely a case of me just not knowing what to do with the script and thinking… ‘We’re in the second act. Something’s gotta happen. What should it be?’ It comes at a point where it’s like, ‘Were a little past halfway. Let’s break the movie and do something really nuts.‘”
Director Sam Raimi continued to discuss the many characters on offer for the Illuminati, such as Doctor Doom, Doctor Strange, and more:
“When Marvel first wrote about the Illuminati, they had their characters. Doctor Doom was among them, Doctor Strange, plenty of different characters. But we had to make a selection.”
Waldron revealed the difficulties deciding the line-up, explaining there were "different rights' issues [and] folks shown' up in other movies" to worry about, something which reportedly stopped Namor from joining the Illuminati:
“Who’s the most exciting cast of characters? Do we just pick who we want from the comics? Obviously, there’s different rights’ issues, folks showin’ up in other movies.”
Raimi explained that they "did take into account what fans wanted to see" as opposed to "what they expected." The Direct previously reflected on how it was the fan-casting of John Krasinski as Reed Richards that led to his appearance:
“So, we did take into account what the fans wanted to see. We wanted the fans to go, ‘Oh, how cool!’ I mean, that really was our goal. We wanted to give the fans what they wanted. Just not exactly what they expected.”
When Will the Illuminati Return to the MCU?
Earth-838 may have lost its Illuminati at the hands of Wanda Maximoff in Multiverse of Madness, but Earth-616 has yet to introduce its own iteration of the team. Having now met an Illuminati, Strange may soon seek to replicate the team on Earth-616 to better handle catastrophic events like Thanos' destruction of the galaxy and Scarlet Witch's attack on the Multiverse.
For the MCU to properly fill an Illuminati, it may be best to wait until the X-Men are introduced to allow Professor X or another mutant to join the roster. The essence of the Illuminati is that it has representatives from all corners of the Marvel universe, so it's important that each member of the team comes from a varied background and brings something unique to the table.
Looking at the current state of the MCU and the characters coming soon, some potential Illuminati heroes could include Hulk, Captain Marvel, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, Professor X, Captain America, Namor, Black Panther, and Sersi. This roster would cover the cosmos, science, magic, mutants, Avengers, Atlantis, Wakanda, and the Eternals
Obviously, these heroes would need to meet before the Earth-616 Illuminati could assemble, so perhaps the aftermath of Avengers 5 (reportedly Secret Wars) might be the right time. Who knows whether the Illuminati will see a solo outing or just work in the background of the MCU? The team tends to be more orientated toward thinking up ideas than jumping into action, so the latter may be more likely.