Who Is Black Bolt of the MCU' Illuminati? - Nerdist
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Who Is Black Bolt of the MCU’ Illuminati?

Spoiler Alert

Of all the members of the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, none were more surprising than Black Bolt of the Inhumans. After all, Anson Mount, the current Captain of the Enterprise on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, played him in one of Marvel’s least-loved productions, the 2017 ABC Inhumans series. And yet, he got a second chance in the MCU.

Black Bolt, sitting on the throne of Attilan.
Marvel Comics

But despite not lasting particularly long on screen, this was by far a more comics-accurate version of Black Bolt than ever appeared on TV. At least in terms of how he looked. And although he was taken out by a dreamwalking Scarlet Witch, we did see him use his powers to devastating effect in an important flashback scene. But if you’re wondering just who this Black Bolt guy is, worry not, we have you covered.

Blackagar Boltagon
The cover of Fantastic Four #45, the first appearance of the Inhumans
Marvel Comics

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Black Bolt in 1965, and he first appeared in Fantastic Four #45. A member of the Royal Family of the Inhumans, Black Bolt’s name was actually short for Blackagar Boltagon. (Oh, Stan Lee. You and your silly naming conventions). The Inhumans were a hidden race living in secret; they were an offshoot of humanity. So before we can properly explain just who Black Bolt is, we have to explain his entire race of people.

The History of the Uncanny Inhumans
Black Bolt, in charge of the royal family of the Inhumans.
Marvel Comics

Millions of years ago, the alien Kree conducted experiments on primitive humans. They realized that the Celestials had locked in incredible potential in the human genetic code, something that later led to mutants. So they sought to exploit this twist in humanity’s DNA by turning humans into an army to fight their eternal enemy, the Skrulls. The Kree needed disposable foot soldiers in their centuries-long war with their shapeshifting foes.

They eventually abandoned that project, but there were now thousands of humans with altered and enhanced DNA. They formed their own secluded society apart from the rest of humanity, called Attilan. There, their technology advanced far faster than ordinary humans. Attilan first existed in the Himalayas, and later, in an artificial environment on Earth’s moon. It eventually moved several more times.

King of the Inhumans
Black Bolt, about to unleash his deadly sonic scream.
Marvel Comics

The Inhumans sought to control these genetic gifts through selective breeding. They experimented with a substance known as the Terrigen Mist, which unlocked different powers in different members of their society. They extrapolated this mist from Terrigen crystals. Unfortunately, the level of powers one receives from Terrigenesis determines where that Inhuman lands in their strict caste system. Born into the Inhuman royal family, as the son of King Agon and Queen Rynda, Blackagar was predisposed to have awesome power when entering Terrigenesis while still in the womb. But this early exposure came at a terrible price.

A Voice That Can Level Mountains
Black Bolt's power emerging as an infant.
Marvel Comics

Black Bolt developed the power to manipulate electrons. This created a unique and powerful ability in which his voice combined with ambient electrons to produce a deadly sonic scream. At its highest pitch, it can level cities. A mere whisper can even kill a person. So to protect the Inhuman community, they placed Black Bolt inside a soundproof chamber as a child. There, they taught him how to control his abilities as best he could. Upon reentering society, he took a vow never to speak. Unless they needed his voice in battle, that is. Then it sure came in handy.

Black Bolt in the modern Marvel Comics era.
Marvel Comics

Black Bolt’s costume, which included a tuning fork on his head, actually had practical purposes. The tuning fork allowed him to control and direct his sonic scream. His electron manipulations also allowed him to fly. That’s why his costume features wings. He formed a telepathic bond with other members of the Inhuman royal family; this allowed for Black Bolt to communicate with them. This also allowed his wife, Medusa, to communicate his feelings with others.

A Complicated Family Tree
The cover for New Avengers: Illuminati from 2006. We may see the MCU Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Marvel Comics

Much of Black Bolt’s life has been a constant power struggle with his mad brother Maximus for control of the throne of Attilan. This led him to join forces with the members of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers on more than one occasion. His sister-in-law Crystal married the Avenger known as Quicksilver. So he’s related to Wanda Maximoff by marriage, since that’s her twin brother, making his gruesome death in Multiverse of Madness at her hands even more tragic. In the comics, Black Bolt was a founding member of the Illuminati. So his inclusion in this group on-screen was a direct homage to the source material.

Does Black Bolt Still Have an MCU Future?
Anson Mount as Black Bolt in 2017's Inhumans.
Marvel Television

The Inhumans TV series, to its credit, kept most of this backstory intact, although it was all seemingly done on a very low budget. Black Bolt never wore his iconic comic book costume on the show, an injustice corrected by the folks at Marvel Studios for Multiverse of Madness. Luckily, they gave Anson Mount a chance to redeem himself with a comics-accurate Black Bolt (if only briefly).

So might this lead to an Inhumans reboot? Remember, they announced Inhumans in 2014 as part of the MCU’s Phase Three. But it never happened, and we got the ill-fated TV series. Maybe Kevin Feige will give the Royal Family one more shot. Certainly, a Black Bolt with a less grisly fate must exist in the 616 universe, right? Here’s hoping the third time’s the charm for Black Bolt and his family. We’ll happily take a movie or a Disney+ series starring Marvel’s Royal Family. The Inhumans, and Black Bolt, deserve another shot.

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