The Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness release is less than two months away, which means we’re soon going to witness the final big marketing push for the movie. The promotion has already started, with multiple interviews covering Multiverse of Madness expected soon. In one of them, producer Richie Palmer addressed the big Doctor Strange 2 Illuminati rumors that have been floating ever since the Super Bowl trailer debuted.
Rumors dating back to 2020 said that Marvel was working on bringing the Illuminati to the MCU. We then saw theories and leaks that claimed Multiverse of Madness would feature one version of the team. Then Marvel confirmed that Patrick Stewart will play Professor X in the movie via the second trailer. This sparked further speculation that the Illuminati will cameo in Doctor Strange 2.
Before we can get to Palmer’s answers, we’ll warn you that big spoilers might follow below.
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Who are Marvel’s Illuminati?
Like the Avengers, the Illuminati is a group of superheroes that appears in Marvel comics. And it’s a group of heroes that Marvel could not have offered MCU fans with ease before the Fox acquisition. That’s because the original Illuminati team is the equivalent of a United Nations forum of superheroes. Each member represents a specific team — and Fox owned the rights of two of those teams.
The original members of the Illuminati include Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Namor, Black Bolt, Professor X, and Doctor Strange.
The Multiverse of Madness Super Bowl trailer showed us that Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) are prisoners of an organization that Professor X (Patrick Stewart) leads. We also saw that Ultron sentries were guarding Strange in some scenes, teasing that an Iron Man variant might be close by. Moreover, we saw a Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch) variant in a fight with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen).
That’s to say that we might be looking at Marvel’s first interpretation of the Illuminati. Only this group isn’t from the main MCU timeline. And the team isn’t the same as the original Illuminati team from the comics.
Separately, there is a big Doctor Strange 2 plot leak out there that included several Illuminati members. Professor X is the leader of the group, the leak says. Then we have Captain Marvel, Captain Carter, and Balder the Brave on the team.
Importantly, Doctor Strange isn’t part of the Illuminati in the movie. Instead, it’s Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who takes his place in this roster.
And let’s not forget the big leak that claimed a Mister Fantastic variant will appear in Multiverse of Madness. He will also be part of the Illuminati, that leak said.
The Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2 aren’t what you think
If you’re excited at the prospect of seeing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in the Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2, you’d better temper your expectations. The same goes if you hope to see Doctor Strange join the group.
If anything, the Illuminati in Multiverse of Madness might have a dire fate, but we won’t get into that now.
Instead, we’ll point you to producer Richie Palmer’s remarks, as the exec drove home the same point in an interview with Empire.
“I’ll quote the first X-Men movie and say, ‘Are you sure you saw what you saw?’,” Palmer teased. “There are infinite versions of these characters, and just because you may have heard something familiar doesn’t mean it’s someone you have seen before.”
That’s already more information than Cumberbatch was ever going to give about the Illuminati. The actor chose to deflect answers a few days ago, joking that it’s his turn to deny rumors after missing out on the lying-to-the-press tour that preceded Spider-Man: No Way Home.
A future after Multiverse of Madness?
More interestingly, Palmer went the extra mile, teasing that the Illuminati we might see in Doctor Strange 2 won’t be the MCU’s main Illuminati. “As you saw in Spider-Man: No Way Home, some rumors ended up being true, some did not,” said Palmer.
He continued, “I would love to see Tony again, but some rumors are just rumors. I will say that I love the Illuminati. But if we ever introduce the Illuminati in the future, it might be more MCU-driven and have some more ties to our characters in the MCU, versus just replicating what’s in the comics.”
That’s not confirmation that the Illuminati will have a permanent home in the MCU going forward. Or that RDJ is coming back to join the team. But it’s an indication that whatever happens in Doctor Strange 2 to the Illuminati might not matter in the grand scheme of things. If some of those Illuminati are to die, for example, they might only be variants from the multiverse.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres on May 6th, at which point we’ll know everything about the first Illuminati appearance in the MCU.