‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’: Top 7 candidates for The Illuminati

When the trailer for “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” dropped, Marvel fans gleefully freaked out when Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange stood before an imposing row of empty chairs. Strange looks up at the vacant thrones as a bald-headed figure slides into frame and the voice of Patrick Stewart emanates: “We should tell him the truth.” Stewart’s involvement can only mean one thing: The Illuminati are about to be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the comics, The Illuminati are a secret society of some of the brightest Marvel heroes. They work behind the scenes to keep a watchful eye on the safety of Earth. However, given that the title of this film includes the word “multiverse,” it’s safe to say that this version of The Illuminati has broadened its scope to protect the entire multiverse. And therefore, it may feature members from many different universes, including variants of characters we already know.

Let’s take a look at some of the clues from the film’s trailer, as well as some comic book background, to predict who might make the Illuminati lineup. SPOILER WARNING just in case these predictions end up coming true. By my count there are six chairs in the lineup, plus a spot in the center for Stewart’s Professor X to wheel into. That would make for an Illuminati seven members strong. So here are the top seven candidates to fill out the MCU’s Illuminati.

Professor X
This one’s easy. Stewart is heard in the trailer and has finally admitted to his involvement. The only question is, which version of Professor X is he playing? The character died during the events of “Logan,” and it’s doubtful that anyone wants to undo the emotional impact of that moment. Instead, I think this may be the version of Xavier glimpsed at the end of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” The finale of that film sees Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) successfully change history and wake up in a new timeline where Professor X is sporting a nifty hover chair. Of course, with unlimited universes to draw from, this could simply be a brand new Professor X variant.

Maria Rambeau
One brief shot in the trailer depicts Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) battling a flying figure, coursing with bright energy. The figure appears to be a woman and her outfit and powers bear a strong resemblance to Captain Marvel. Given that the movie is pitting the mystery figure against Wanda, it would be a good guess that it’s Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) given the pair’s history in “WandaVision.” However, I’m more inclined to think that this is a variant of Monica’s mother, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), because of the superpowers the figure displays. She could be from a universe where it was Maria, not friend Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), who became Captain Marvel.

Mordo
Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is seen often in the trailer, however he looks quite different from his last appearance in the first “Doctor Strange.” This Mordo sports long hair and flashy green garments. It’s quite possible that the trailer is showing us a Mordo variant instead. Mordo appears to be the person who captures Doctor Strange and escorts him to The Illuminati’s lair, so it’s unclear whether the character is sitting on the council or simply working for them.

Iron Man
Speaking of Strange’s capture, did you notice that he was being escorted into the room by Ultron sentries? This means that there must be a variant Iron Man lurking somewhere, and in his universe he was successful in his quest to design peacekeeping artificial intelligence (you know, instead of the sociopathic murderous robots we got in the MCU). So the only question is, will Robert Downey Jr. come back to cameo as a new version of Tony Stark? If he isn’t interested, this gives Marvel an amazing opportunity to grab another A-List actor for the role.

Captain Carter
The clue for this one comes from the “Multiverse of Madness” movie poster. Doctor Strange stands surrounded by many shards of glass, all of them reflecting a face or object back to the viewer. Eagle-eyed fans were quick to spot a curious design in one of these glass panels: a round vibranium shield emblazoned with the Union Jack. The shield belongs to Captain Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who was introduced in the multiverse-hopping animated series “What…If?” She lives in a universe where Peggy took the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. If Captain Carter appears in this film, it will be the first time Atwell gets to play this version of Peggy in live action.

Mr. Fantastic
After a visual tease at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” fans have eagerly anticipated the arrival of Marvel’s “first family,” the Fantastic Four, in the MCU. The team’s movie is confirmed to be in development, but Marvel is notorious for debuting characters with surprise appearances. Mr. Fantastic is a key member of The Illuminati in comic book storylines, so it’s hard to imagine a lineup that doesn’t include our favorite stretchy super genius. Who will play him? John Krasinksi and Emily Blunt have repeatedly shot down rumors that they are signed on to the Fantastic Four as Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman, but you can’t deny that they would be a perfect fit.

Black Bolt
You might remember that the sonically charged Black Bolt has already made his MCU debut in the “Inhumans” series on ABC. Or, you may not remember that since the show was canceled after one season due to flat-lining viewership. The canonicity of pre-Marvel Studios series like “Inhumans” or “Agents of SHIELD” have been up for debate since the MCU doesn’t address these shows’ plots and at times even contradicts them. However, Netflix characters Daredevil and Kingpin recently made their MCU debut in “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and the “Hawkeye” series, respectively. So there is hope for fans that these early series will be recognized. Black Bolt actor Anson Mount has had a surge in popularity thanks to his take on Captain Pike in “Star Trek: Discovery” (and the upcoming “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”), so it would be perfect timing for Marvel to give him an Illuminati cameo and allow him a second chance at the character.

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