Walk into a screening of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness about an hour in if you ever want to recall what it’s like to watch a movie in a theater—the collective chuckles, tears, and applause. Shut your eyes. Wait until the term “Illuminati” appears. Also, pay attention. You’ll hear folks verbalize every feeling you’ve ever experienced, as well as ones you haven’t. Illuminati cameos were both a high and a low point for the MCU’s newest movie.
Despite the initial impact of the Illuminati from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness appearing on screen, the movie’s treatment of Mordo, Reed Richards, Maria’s Captain Marvel, Black Bolt, Professor X, and Captain Carter, particularly how quickly five of them were killed, fell short of expectations. That’s not to suggest that John Krasinki’s Mister Fantastic, Stewart’s Xavier with a new twist, or other versions of characters the MCU already knew made for a significant moment – only that there was a lot to be sought.
Doctor Strange 2 did no justice to the Illuminati
While Marvel never promised that the Illuminati or other Multiverse appearances would play a significant part in Doctor Strange 2, killing off all those intriguing characters so fast and without giving them anything to do devalued their influence on the film. Even the most casual audience members were aware of the importance and power of names like Captain Carter and Charles Xavier, making the Illuminati’s sudden demise even more tragic. In the end, the Illuminati’s presence in Doctor Strange 2 was unimpressive in comparison to the characters’ potential.
Introducing characters like Reed Richards and Professor X only to murder them later reinforces the sense that the MCU Multiverse is full of possibilities. It’s unclear whether John Krasinski will reprise his role as Reed Richards in the MCU or whether Patrick Stewart will reprise his role as Charles Xavier, but the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are set to join the series shortly. The MCU was able to surprise murder the Illuminati without interfering with the franchise’s ambitions for characters like Mr. Fantastic and Professor X since the Multiverse idea was adequately established.