Doctor Strange’s Illuminati Trick Was The Best & Worst Of The MCU

Doctor Strange's Illuminati Trick Was The Best & Worst Of The MCU

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had Strange & Wanda as its main characters, but it’s the Illuminati who are dominating the conversation.

WARNING: This contains SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Illuminati cameos were both a high and a low point for the MCU’s newest movie. Ever since Patrick Stewart’s voice was heard in the first full trailer for Doctor Strange 2, the possibility that the MCU would introduce the Illuminati through the Multiverse gained a lot of traction. Stewart’s return as Professor X was already huge news, but it also served to create expectations as to what other multiverse cameos and reveals Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had in store.

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Following Disney’s acquisition of Fox, Marvel Studios was able to utilize previously off-limits characters and concepts, namely anything connected to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Plus, the MCU’s shift towards the Multiverse meant that even the most unlikely crossovers were now possible. Spider-Man: No Way Home proved that this was indeed the case by bringing previous Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield to star along with Tom Holland.

Related: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Ending Explained (In Detail)

As a movie dedicated entirely to the Multiverse, it was expected that Doctor Strange 2 would deliver on surprise cameos – which the film delivered. However, despite the initial impact of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’s Illuminati showing up on the screen, how the movie used Mordo, Reed Richards, Maria’s Captain Marvel, Black Bolt, Professor X, and Captain Carter, namely how quickly five of them were killed did not live up to the expectations. That’s not to say having John Krasinki playing Mister Fantastic, Stewart playing Xavier with a new spin on it, or different versions of heroes the MCU already knew showing up was not a major moment – only that a lot was left to be desired.

Doctor Strange 2 Gave Fans 4 Incredible Illuminati Moments

For the small amount of screen time that Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati had, the superhero team delivered some memorable moments – four of which stood out. Having Maria Rambeau as Captain Marvel was an interesting “what if” scenario that made the story of the first Captain Marvel come full circle, even if it was in another universe. Reed Richards’ appearance was also a major moment of its own, both because it was the first time that Mr. Fantastic or anything Fantastic Four-related have appeared in the MCU and because it made an old fan wish come true: having John Krasinski play Reed Richards. As if that were not enough, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’s Illuminati scenes also brought back Patrick Stewart as Professor X as a version from the X-Men 97 animated series. Even the visualization of Xavier’s powers was similar to the classic cartoon. Last, Captain Carter, a What If…? concept that made the jump to live-action, got to say Steve Rogers’ iconic “I can do this all day” line.

It did not seem likely that only a few months after No Way Home would the MCU be able to deliver other cameos worthy of audience applause, but Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati scenes proved that wrong. The MCU Illuminati lineup made a perfect combination of ideas that had already been established in the franchise, such as Captain Carter or Maria Rambeau being connected to Captain Marvel, with important parts of the Marvel universe that had not yet appeared in the MCU such as Reed Richard and Professor X, not to mention the “updated” version of Inhumans’ Black Bolt. The actual role the Illuminati had in Doctor Strange 2 may have been disappointing in the end, but the brief moments the cameo characters had in the spotlight were enough to create a memorable experience for Marvel viewers.

Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati Weaponized Fan-Bait

Doctor strange multiverse of madness who are the illuminati

The impact of the Illuminati’s appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was minimal, however, because the film quickly decided to kill off every member of the team. In a scene very reminiscent of Deadpool 2’s X-Force slaughter, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Captain Marvel, Professor X, and Captain Carter were all killed by Scarlet Witch right after their introduction. Throughout Doctor Strange 2’s marketing campaign, hints at major cameos such as Patrick Stewart’s voice in the trailer or Captain Carter’s shield in a poster served to increase the anticipation for the film and created a level of expectation similar to that of No Way Home’s Maguire and Garfield returns.

Related: Doctor Strange 2’s Post-Credits Scenes Explained (They’re Both Important)

While Marvel never promised that the Illuminati or other Multiverse cameos would have a major role in Doctor Strange 2, killing off all those interesting characters so quickly without giving them much to do ended up devaluing their impact on the film. This Illuminati team was supposed to be stronger than the MCU Avengers as they defeated Thanos in Titan – but that was not really translated into the film. Even the most casual members of the audience were aware of how important and powerful names like Captain Carter or Charles Xavier were, which made the Illuminati’s quick death even worse. In the end, the Illuminati appearance in Doctor Strange 2 turned out to be underwhelming compared to the potential those characters had.

Why Doctor Strange 2 Killed Off The Illuminati

Doctor Strange 2 Scarlet Witch Kill Illuminati Theory SR

While it risked downplaying the importance of the cameos, the movie killed off the Illuminati for a reason. Doctor Strange 2 had to establish Scarlet Witch as a major threat not only for Strange and America Chavez but to the entire Multiverse. Prior to that moment, audiences had seen Wanda take on all the sorcerers of Kamar Taj, but that did not have the same impact as killing, in just a few seconds, a group that had defeated Thanos. Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati lineup was incredibly powerful, perhaps even more powerful than the current MCU Avengers lineup, which makes Scarlet Witch being able to kill them so easily an even greater indication of her terrifying power.

Also, introducing characters like Reed Richards and Professor X only to kill them afterward helps reinforce the idea that there are infinite possibilities in the MCU Multiverse. It remains to be seen whether John Krasinski will play the MCU’s Reed Richards or whether Patrick Stewart will play Charles Xavier again, but it is already clear that the Fantastic Four and the X-Men will soon join the franchise. With the concept of the Multiverse properly established, the MCU was able to shockingly kill the Illuminati without interfering in the franchise’s plans for characters like Mr. Fantastic and Professor X. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Illuminati may have been shortlived, but it was enough to tease the possibilities the MCU now has with the Multiverse and with the addition of the mutants and the Fantastic Four.

Next: Do The X-Men Exist In The Avengers Universe After Doctor Strange 2?

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023

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Marcelo Leite
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Marcelo Leite is a senior writer for Screen Rant with years of experience in creative and academic writing. Although his chosen field was structure engineering, there is nothing he likes better than writing about the things he loves.

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