illumanti is here girl—maybe

What Is the Marvel Secret Society in the ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Trailer?

As new trailers roll out for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we’ve inevitably gotten tiny snippets of new footage just to tease us, but a recent one makes a fairly big reveal: that is, indeed, Marvel’s Illuminati that we saw in the movie’s very first trailer. We all assumed as much, but the confirmation of it means we can start anticipating exactly what that means for storylines even beyond just this movie.

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Here’s the clip in question, in which the Illuminati gets namechecked:

So, there you have it. In case the back of Sir Patrick Stewart’s head and his voice were not enough, this short clip makes it official: the Illuminati is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe next month. Previously, it had been very much reported that we saw (well, heard) Sir Patrick Stewart, a.k.a. Professor Xavier of the X-Men, in the Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness Super Bowl trailer. And while there was much speculation that this meant the X-Men would coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it also signaled the introduction of the Illuminati to fans in the know—well, at least the Marvel Universe’s version of the Illuminati.

Back in 2007, Brian Michael Bendis introduced this fictional incarnation of the infamous alleged secret society. In the canon that was established, the Marvel Illuminati was formed after the Kree–Skrull War, a massive event that took place in the comics back in the ’70s.

The leaders of this organization are: Professor Xavier; Namor, King of Atlantis and anti-hero thot icon; Black Bolt, who is King of the Inhumans (the first major flop of the MCU television era), Tony Stark, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and finally, Stephen Strange. All of these leaders were chosen because of their archetypes of heroism and, I guess, the virtue of being male.

Pulling a Batman, Tony Stark realizes that all of these leaders have information that could have helped in times of major conflict and wants them to come together in order to help prevent future incidents. However, they are all sort of conflicted about starting a huge superhero oversight body.

They remember that arc in Justice League: Unlimited and how much of a hassle it was, I guess. Despite that, the group—sans T’Challa, who was also originally invited to join—decides that they will exchange information with each other.

Black Panther feels like it’ll be all besties and sunshine until the group actually disagrees, so he chooses not to officially involve himself, which—good call, dude. When you team up with a group of “ends justify the means” bros, it’s gonna be a lot of “debate me” memes.

Throughout different comic book storylines, the group meets up, including post-Civil War and during the Secret Invasion storyline where the Skrulls, alien shapeshifters, secretly replaced many superheroes in the Marvel Universe with over many years. Secret invasion is in the works to be adapted for Disney+, and we’ve already been introduced to the Skrulls a few times in the MCU, which is also another reason to introduce the group.

In true comic book fashion, there is an inverse organization called the Cabal, made up originally of Doctor Doom, Norman Osborn, Emma Frost, Loki, The Hood, and of course, Namor. I will say, the Cabal at least has the decency to have a token female member.

Bringing in a multiverse is something both DC and Marvel are taking advantage of at the movies, and it makes a lot of sense from a comics adaptation perspective. It is something comic book fans have slowly become aware of and have shown an appreciation for if done well (like the Arrowverse and Into the Spider-Verse). Plus, actors are not ageless beings. We need to allow them to leave projects, age, and pass on the torch to new people or even alternate versions of themselves. Having a multiverse makes that work.

Everything about Marvel’s Phase 4 is preparing audiences of a lot of new and weird things within the MCU, an expansion of new characters, ideas, and personalities—not to mention, now that they have accrued all the IP with Spider-Man deals and Disney’s acquisition of Fox properties, they need to find some way to meld it together.

Loki, WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the upcoming Doctor Strange and Ant-Man films are all getting us ready to see our beloved Marvel family in a new way, and honestly, it is the most interested I’ve been in years. The Marvel Illuminati being introduced will not only expand the MCU, but it has the potential to really make it feel as big as the Marvel comics world itself. Especially if done right. Bring on the drama and the casting speculation.

(image: Marvel)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.