Back Issues: Doctor Strange 2's Illuminati Comic Book Origin

The Illuminati, a collection of Marvel's most iconic heroes, will officially make their debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Heroes representing every corner of the Marvel Universe came together to form a secret organization that worked behind the scenes to monitor and safeguard the world against potential threats. Fans have speculated about the Illuminati's presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they will finally step out of the shadows in an unexpected way. Thanks to the Multiverse, Doctor Strange 2 can now bring the Illuminati into the MCU fold, and their comic book origin story offers clues as to how they will operate.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis' tenure on the Avengers franchise gave birth to the Illuminati, as he and artist Steve McNiven formally introduced the team in 2005's New Avengers #7. The Illuminati roster consisted of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic, Namor, Charles Xavier / Professor X, and Black Bolt. At first glance, it may not be apparent why these heroes were selected, but what the creators were going for was to have each character represent a different segment of the larger Marvel Universe. For example, Iron Man represents the Avengers, Doctor Strange represents the mystical/supernatural, Black Bolt the Inhumans, Namor represents Atlantis, Mister Fantastic has an eye for science, and Professor X represents the mutant community. 

Iron Man wanted the Illuminati to be a fully functioning superhero team, but the others weren't crazy about that idea. Tony Stark brought them all together in the aftermath of the Kree-Skrull War, in which fans got to see a version of the event play out on the big screen in 2019's Captain Marvel. Marvel's superhero community was caught off-guard when the war broke out, but they all individually had separate pieces of intel that could have given them an advantage had they all shared it together. Not wanting something like that to happen a second time, Iron Man came up with the idea of the Illuminati.

Each member made a valid argument against them working together, but they all realized it was probably in their best interest to continue meeting to share information. The only hero who was present that refused to join was Black Panther. The King of Wakanda didn't see the value in their secret meetings and predicted the whole idea would blow up in their faces. In a way, he ended up being proven right.

A separate Illuminati miniseries was later published by Bendis and artist Jim Cheung titled The New Avengers: Illuminati. The miniseries revealed some of their never-before-seen adventures, such as their excursion to threaten the Skrulls. They would eventually be captured and studied, which led to the Skrulls developing the technology that allowed them to successfully impersonate heroes such as Black Bolt in Secret Invasion.

The Illuminati's most infamous act was jettisoning Hulk off of Earth in a spacecraft in order to keep him from threatening the planet with his destructive nature. This sparked the "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk" story arcs, and parts of "Planet Hulk" were adapted in 2017's Thor: Ragnarok. Black Panther was ultimately proven to be right, as Iron Man voted to ship Hulk into space, and the other members of the Illuminati voted against him. The superhero Civil War became the final blow to the Illuminati, as hero-fought-hero and the group splintered as a result.

There have already been rumblings regarding what form the Illuminati will take in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The first Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer teased Patrick Stewart's Professor Charles Xavier, with the actor later confirming his involvement. Also, a Doctor Strange 2 promo has already namedropped the Illuminati, and a leak of the film over the weekend revealed even more possible members


To see who is finally revealed in the MCU's version of the Illuminati, make sure to check out Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness when it arrives in theaters on May 6th.

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