Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness drew largely positive reviews from critics and is already the third-biggest film of the year at the global box office.
It also had fans cheering and clapping at the sight of its many multi-versal cameos, some of which were flagged in trailers, and others which were well-kept secrets.
Who are these familiar fan faces that have had hardcore Marvel heads in a frenzy, and what does that mean for the ever-expanding and seemingly endless Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)?
Read on to find out more, but beware, here are the spoilers.
What are the Illuminati in the Multiverse?
Most of the cool cameos that have fans spilling their popcorn and spitting out their pop come from a mid-movie appearance by a group known as the Illuminati.
Kind of like with real world conspiracy theorythe Marvel Comics Illuminati are a secret cabal of some of the best and brightest who secretly rule the world.
The group was formed by Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) in the aftermath of an intergalactic battle that threatened Earth, after Stark realized several super-powered individuals had key information about the aliens involved but weren’t sharing it among them.
The first version of the Illuminati comic starred Iron Man, Reed Richards (aka Mr Fantastic), Professor Charles Xavier of the X-Men, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Black Panther of Wakanda, Sorcerer Supreme Dr Stephen Strange, and Namor the Sub. – Sailor of Atlantis.
Over the years, the group has met in secret to discuss how to deal with major threats, including deciding to shoot the Hulk into space as he has proven too dangerous for Earth (which s totally backfired in the excellent World War Hulk comic book series).
They also tackled incursions, which are mentioned in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and occur when two neighboring multiverses threaten to collide and destroy each other unless one can be destroyed.
Members of the Illuminati have changed over the years and the group has disbanded several times, but their mission to save the Earth remains a regular way for comic book writers to explore morality, sacrifice, philosophical ideas and the notion that even the smartest people can do. incredibly stupid things.
But what you really want to know is who is in the MCU version of the Illuminati?
There you go – last chance to bail out before the spoilers.
Patrick Stewart – Professor Charles Xavier
There has been talk of a Marvel reboot or X-Men crossover ever since Disney bought 20th Century Fox in a deal finalized in 2019.
It kind of finally happened here with Professor X appearing as part of the Illuminati on Earth-838 (this is the number assigned to the Illuminati multiverse).
The OG Xavier, played by Stewart for the eighth time, makes an appearance to the tune of the nostalgic ’90s X-Men cartoon theme, looking like he’s not aged since 2017’s Logan.
Stewart’s cameo not only officially crosses the Fox X-Men and MCU movie streams, but suggests that there are other mutants in this universe and that his school for gifted youngsters likely exists.
John Krasinski – Reed Richards (aka Mr Fantastic)
Played by Miles Teller in Fantastic Four in 2015, Ioan Guffudd before that in 2005 and 2007, and Alex Hyde-White in the legendary unreleased version from 1994Krasinski’s iteration of Mr Fantastic drew a lot of screams and cheers in cinemas.
A well-kept secret, Krasinski as Reed Richards has been a dream cast for fans, and the reaction to his looks backs it up.
While we won’t see Richards using his super stretchy limbs long before he meets a painful end, it’s probably safe to say that this isn’t the last time we’ll see Krasinski’s Mr Fantastic in the MCU, given its popular reception. and the fact that a Fantastic Four reboot is in development.
But that begs the question: will we get to see the equally popular fan cast of Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt, as Richards’ wife, Sue Storm (aka the Invisible Woman) in the MCU?
Hayley Atwell – Captain Carter
One of the best episodes of the Disney+ animated series What If introduced us to Captain Carter, the answer to the question: “What if Peggy Carter gets the Super Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers?”
Captain Carter’s big-screen debut gives Atwell the chance to put a new spin on the popular character of Peggy Carter, last seen dancing with Captain America in the final moments of Avengers: Endgame.
The live-action version of Captain Carter gives fans hope that we’ll see her again – as her Earth-838 version meets a grisly end via her own shield, she proves to be just as cool as her animated counterpart, or maybe even cooler because she has a jet pack, and everyone knows jet packs make everything cooler.
Lashana Lynch – Captain Marvel
In the comics there have been a number of Captain Marvels, including one named Monica Rambeau, who adopted the name before giving it back to Carol Danvers and becoming known as Photon, then Pulsar and eventually Spectrum – this sort of thing happens a lot in the comics.
Monica Rambeau has already appeared in the MCU; as a child in 2019’s Captain Marvel and as an adult government agent in the Disney+ series WandaVision.
But it’s her mother, Maria, played by Lashana Lynch in Captain Marvel, who appears here as a hyper-powered space warrior, suggesting an intriguing alternate path where Maria becomes Captain Marvel rather than her best friend and fellow pilot from chase Carol Danvers.
This may be the last we see of Maria, but her daughter Monica is appearing in the upcoming The Marvels movie, fueling speculation that she will become Photon – or is it Pulsar? Or Specter?
Speaking of stoking speculation, a split-second shot of Maria Rambeau in action in the trailer caused a frenzied online buzz that Tom Cruise would appear as an alternate multiverse Iron Man, but that wasn’t not the case.
Take it as you want.
Anson Mount – Black Bolt
It was a cameo that gave Scarlet Witch the best delivery of the movie’s best line – “What mouth?” — and also one of the movie’s most gruesome deaths.
Black Bolt previously appeared on the Inhumans TV series, which ran for one season and received such poor reviews that only the most diehard Marvel fans bothered to watch it.
It’s a shame it’s so sloppy, because Black Bolt is a cool character – not that we’re much lucky to see him in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness before he inadvertently blows his brains out using his super powerful voice.
Considering the poor reception of the Inhumans, this could be Mount’s last appearance as Black Bolt.
Of course, the death of all these characters doesn’t necessarily prevent them from reappearing in the MCU in another movie or their own spin-off TV shows – after all, it’s the multiverse, so there are endless versions of these superheroes. populate an infinite number of universes.
But what about Charlize Theron?
Theron recently took to social media to unveil her mid-credits appearance as Clea, a witch who magically appears on a New York street asking Dr. Strange to follow her to the Dark Dimension to help prevent an incursion.
In the comics, Clea is the niece of Dormammu (the villain of the first Dr Strange movie) and Strange’s lover who joins him in a series of increasingly bizarre adventures.
Given that Dormammu is still around, and Clea’s appearance in the film is over as quickly as it began, it’s safe to say that she’ll play an important role in all future Dr Strange films.
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