Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduced the Illuminati to the MCU. Then the Scarlet Witch immediately murdered most of the group. But their short stay will still have huge ramifications for the franchise. The MCU’s Illuminati featured some major characters among its members. And the Illuminati’s existence on Earth-838 changes the possibilities for Marvel’s primary world of Earth-616. Here’s the full MCU Illuminati lineup and what each member’s inclusion means for Marvel’s universe going forward.
Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor)
In his own universe, Stephen Strange’s former mentor Baron Mordo remains his enemy. In another world, though, the two friends fought side-by-side. Earth-838’s Baron Mordo and Doctor Strange actually formed the Illuminati we meet in Multiverse of Madness and prepared for a future when another Strange would arrive. But that Mordo Variant also hates Earth-616’s Strange after their encounter. The two battled while Wanda killed the other members of the Illuminati and Strange escaped death at Mordo’s hands.
Baron Mordo is the only member of the Illuminati who definitely survived the Scarlet Witch’s attack in Doctor Strange 2. Considering his universe knows a great deal about the multiverse, will Mordo-838 come calling for the Strange who bested him? He might, since he believes Doctor Strange is the biggest threat to the multiverse. And if Mordo-838 comes looking for his multiversal enemy, he will find an eager ally waiting for him there—himself.
Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell)
We first met a version of Captain Carter in the MCU on the animated Disney+ series What If…? In some parallel worlds Peggy Carter ended up getting the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers; in those planes, she became her world’s first Avenger. Considering the World War II hero’s relatively young age on Earth-838, the broad strokes of both Variants’ stories are seemingly very similar. At some point, the live-action Captain Carter missed decades of life in her world. And this Captain Carter became a member of the MCU’s Illuminati.
Wanda sliced this Peggy Carter in half with the Captain’s own shield. The other version still lives in her reality, though. And other brave Captain Carter Variants surely exist. Any of them would be a great partner if Earth-616 needs help from a First Avenger who can still fight. And just as important, that would keep Hayley Atwell a part of the MCU.
Captain Marvel Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch)
Carol Danvers did not become Captain Marvel in the world of the Illuminati. Instead her friend and fellow pilot Maria Rambeau gained abilities from the Tesseract and the Space Stone. Like Carol, Maria’s Captain Marvel had extraordinary powers (which manifested in the same manner and color). Her abilities included flight, energy blasts, and super strength. (That’s why we’re not totally convinced she died under the weight of that stone statue. Captain Marvel in any universe is hard to kill.)
Her presence in the MCU’s Illuminati is more revealing than just showing Captain Marvel can be a different person in every universe, though. On WandaVision back in Earth-616, Maria’s daughter Monica referenced an aerospace engineer friend. We thought—and still do—she might have been talking about Mister Fantastic. Considering worlds in the MCU’s multiverse frequently share many of the same people, events, and connections, Multiverse of Madness‘ Illuminati might have shown the Rambeau family and Reed Richards are a part of each others’ lives in many universes.
Blackagar Boltagon, King Of The Inhumans (Anson Mount)
The most surprising aspect of the Illuminati might have been Anson Mount reprising his role as Blackagar Boltagon. Mount originally played a different version of the character on the short-lived, critically-panned 2017 TV series Inhumans. While technically a part of the MCU, until Blackagar (better known by the less silly moniker Black Bolt) appeared on the powerful group’s dais, most Marvel fans would have wagered the studio wanted everyone to forget about the television show’s eight episodes. His return won’t make the series retroactively important, but it is a big deal for the franchise’s future.
The silent king (sporting a more comics accurate costume) with a deadly voice is a powerful figure who has now brought the Inhumans to the MCU proper. (The pre-Disney+ Marvel shows haven’t exactly been treated as canon by Kevin Feige.) If they exist on Earth-838, they might already exist on Earth-616 and have for thousands of years. If you’re unfamiliar with the Inhumans and why their king’s inclusion could pay huge dividends, our Dan Casey previously delved into the history of the supergroup of genetically altered humans.
Reed Richards (John Krasinski)
It actually happened. After years of both fans casting him in the role and the actor openly talking about his desire to play the part, John Krasinski finally got to bring Fantastic Four‘s Reed Richards to the screen. That world’s smartest man didn’t survive his encounter with the Scarlet Witch, but his brief appearance is still a monumental moment in the MCU. Long before Disney bought Fox Entertainment, Marvel diehards hoped to see the beloved group join the franchise. Now that the Fantastic Four’s leader is an established part of the multiverse, any of the four could show up before their own standalone movie.
Will Krasinski and his comics-inspired costume reprise the role on Earth-616? That’s definitely a possibility, but not a guarantee. Spider-Man: No Way Home established Variants do not need to look exactly the same. This could be a one-and-done appearance from Krasinski. Or he could end up playing every Reed Richards in the multiverse. Either way, the makeup of the Illuminati hints at some version of Mister Fantastic already existing in the MCU’s main universe.
Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart)
We knew he was coming. We even knew he’d be using his X-Men the animated series yellow wheelchair. And yet it was still incredible to see Sir Patrick Stewart once again play a version of Professor Charles Xavier. His presence gave the Illuminati the gravitas it deserved. It also gave one of the best actors in Marvel movie history a chance to formally join the biggest Marvel franchise. But his inclusion is about far more than just this appearance.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness established both Charles Xavier and the presence of mutants in the multiverse. And if they exist on a planet that also has Inhumans and the Fantastic Four, they might already exist on Earth-616. Even if they don’t, though, they will. With open portals between dimensions and America Chavez, the infinite possibilities of all worlds are the infinite possibilities of any one of them.
But for the moment we should all enjoy what the MCU Illuminati gave us in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, even if we only had it for a short time. Because even if the X-Men arrive in the MCU with another actor playing their powerful leader, the multiverse can never take away this amazing cameo.
And besides, there would even be one huge benefit to recasting the role after all these years. We don’t want to see Patrick Stewart’s Professor X die a third time.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.