‘Doctor Strange 2’ Illuminati members and origins, explained

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This story contains spoilers for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” For spoiler-free coverage, check out our review and story about the movie’s ties to “WandaVision” instead and come back to this later.

As trailers have teased in the lead up to the arrival of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the film marks the debut of a secret society of superheroes known as the Illuminati.

The follow-up to both 2016’s “Doctor Strange” and last year’s Disney+ series “WandaVision,” “Multiverse of Madness” sees former Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Stephen Strange traversing the multiverse thanks to the newly-introduced teenage superhero, America Chavez, and her powers.

The duo landing in Earth-838 invites the scrutiny of that universe’s covert (and overconfident) brain-trust of superpowered heroes, who deem Doctor Strange a threat to the multiverse.

The comic book origins of the Illuminati date back to 2005’s “New Avengers” No. 7 (by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven), which featured a meeting between Tony Stark (Iron Man), Doctor Strange, Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four), Charles Xavier (Professor X of the X-Men), Blackagar Boltagon (Black Bolt of the Inhumans) and Prince Namor (the Sub-Mariner) discussing the formation of a new version of the Avengers. Subsequent comics revealed that the group has been secretly meeting behind the scenes to share information and shape the direction of superhuman affairs.

Earth-838’s Illuminati is mostly a remix of familiar faces, as well as MCU cameos of fan-favorite superhero teams that were contractually off-limits for Marvel Studios until recent years.

Karl Mordo

While trying to find an alternate version of himself, Doctor Strange learns that Earth-838’s Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is that universe’s Sorcerer Supreme. MCU fans will recall that the original Mordo, also played by Ejiofor, was introduced in “Doctor Strange” as the sorcerer who brought Strange into the world of mystic arts. Although they were initially allies, “Doctor Strange’s” Mordo becomes disillusioned by sorcerers like the Ancient One and Strange breaking the rules and turns into a sorcerer hunter by the end of the film. It turns out Earth-838’s Mordo is not much of a Strange fan either.

Captain Carter

The animated Captain Carter (voiced by Hayley Atwell) in Marvel’s “What If…?” on Disney+.

(Marvel Studios)

A superpowered soldier armed with a signature shield, Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) is another member of the Illuminati. In the main MCU continuity, Peggy Carter (also Atwell) was introduced in 2011’s “Captain America” as a British secret agent who befriends Steve Rogers before eventually becoming one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. — she even had her own TV series, “Agent Carter.” The animated “What If…?” ponders a world where Carter is injected with the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers and become Captain Carter, the First Avenger. “Mutliverse of Madness” marks the live-action debut of that version of the character.

Black Bolt

Part of the original Illuminati’s lineup from the comics, Inhuman monarch Blackagar Boltagon (Anson Mount), also known as Black Bolt, is also a member of the “Multiverse of Madness” incarnation of the team. Black Bolt was first introduced in the short-lived TV series “Inhumans,” which starred Mount as the Attilan king whose voice triggers an extremely destructive force. The Inhumans are basically a group of superpowered, human-ish beings created by aliens, who live in their own hidden society.

Captain Marvel

a woman in a cockpit of a jet

Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau in “Captain Marvel.”

(Marvel Studios )

The Captain Marvel of Earth-838 is played by Lashana Lynch, who portrayed Carol Danvers’ best friend and fellow pilot Maria Rambeau in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” This implies that in this alternate universe, Maria was the one that gained superpowers after being exposed to the Tesseract’s energy in an explosion. In the main MCU continuity, Maria died during the five-year Blip after helping to create S.W.O.R.D. and is the mother of Monica Rambeau. In the comics, Monica is a character that fought under the alias Captain Marvel before Carol Danvers eventually inherited the name.

Reed Richards

John Krasinski makes his MCU debut as Earth-838’s Reed Richards, also known as Mister Fantastic. In the comics, Richards is a genius-caliber scientist and a founding member of the superhero team the Fantastic Four. He also possesses superpowers that allow him to stretch his body into whatever shape he needs. The wife and kids Richards mention are likely Sue Storm (a fellow member of the Fantastic Four) and Valeria and Franklin Richards, respectively.

The film rights to the Fantastic Four were previously owned by Fox, which meant the affiliated heroes were off-limits to Marvel Studios until Disney’s acquisition of Fox in 2019. An MCU “Fantastic Four” film has since been announced. Whether Krasinski will continue to play Richards in future MCU installments remains unknown, but his casting in “Multiverse of Madness” can be seen as a hat tip to the fans who have been vocal about wanting to see him in the role.

Charles Xavier

Patrick Stewart reprises his fan-favorite portrayal of Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, as a member of the Illuminati in “Multiverse of Madness.” Xavier, one of the most powerful telepaths in the world, is the leader of the mutant superhero team the X-Men. He founded a school for “gifted youngsters” to help young mutants learn to control their powers.

Like the Fantastic Four, the film rights to the X-Men were previously owned by Fox. Stewart has previously portrayed Xavier in a number of Fox “X-Men” films, including the original “X-Men” trilogy (2000-2006), a trilogy of “Wolverine” films (2009-2017) and the prequel installment “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014). Technically, Xavier’s appearance in “Multiverse of Madness” marks the first appearance of mutants in the MCU. Stewart’s cameo follows that of fellow Fox “X-Men” franchise actor Evan Peters, who appeared as a sort of Easter egg in “WandaVision.”

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Originally published at www.latimes.com

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