The Illuminati made their MCU debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness before being quickly wiped out by the Scarlet Witch. Here’s why.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduces a version of Marvel’s Illuminati to the MCU, only to kill the characters off immediately and leave viewers to wonder why. The appearance of the infamous team seemed to be a big deal for the franchise, heavily teased in trailers and highly anticipated by moviegoers. Unfortunately, the Scarlet Witch decimates the lot of them just as quickly as they are revealed. But there’s a logical reason Marvel Studios chose to wipe out the superpowered team in a matter of minutes.
While the multiverse has been a theme throughout the MCU’s Phase 4, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness finally shows off some universe-jumping action. Escaping from Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), heroes Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) travel to Earth-838, an alternate universe where they meet the Illuminati, a superhero counsel overseeing that realm. The team consists of Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic (John Krasinski), Maria Rambeau/Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), Peggy Carter/Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). This team is seemingly all-powerful, but Wanda, dream-walking into her variant, kills all but one member of the Illuminati quickly and easily.
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Viewers have been waiting years to see Wanda unleash her full potential in the MCU, and this particular scene in the Doctor Strange sequel certainly delivers. She dispatches the Illuminati members one by one in very quick succession, proving the strength of her abilities, especially under the influence of the Darkhold (a.k.a. the Book of the Damned). The Illuminati are simply there as a device to demonstrate the Scarlet Witch’s true power and her descent into villainy following the tragic events she experienced in Avengers: Infinity War and WandaVision.
Since Avengers: Endgame, many of Earth-616’s heroes have either retired, traveled off-world, or sadly passed away, with the Avengers practically disbanded, at least for the time being. This meant that the roster of potential big-ticket victims for Wanda/Scarlet Witch to take down in the Earth-616 universe was seriously lacking. Placing the Illuminati in Earth-838 in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness allowed the Scarlet Witch to demonstrate her full power while having very little impact on the stories of characters still being developed in the original universe. She was able to kill each member of the Illuminati in gruesome and unique ways while leaving the opportunity for the team to still be formed in the 616 universe, which is still hugely exciting for the prospects of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four in the MCU.
On the other side of this coin, the quick and easy dispatch of the Illuminati by the Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also helped to highlight the introduction of America Chavez and her incredible power, giving her the strongest debut in the MCU possible. She was able to stop the villain who killed almost the entire Illuminati, and that was without full control of her power, leaving viewers to look forward to what else she might achieve as her character grows further.
The Scarlet Witch’s massacre of the Illuminati helped to demonstrate her almost unstoppable power and motivation on the quest for her children while also proving the influence of the Darkhold and the strength of the new MCU addition America Chavez. Following the team’s introduction and fast exit in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and with a new Fantastic Four on the horizon, audiences might not have to wait long to see the 616 Illuminati in the MCU.
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Kai Young is a Features Writer for Screen Rant with a background in film reviews as well as writing and performing in stage productions. He/Him.
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