‘Doctor Strange 2’ Fumbles Illuminati Introduction As Cheap Thrill

  • Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
  • “Multiverse of Madness” briefly introduces huge cameos fans have been hoping to see.
  • Unlike “No Way Home,” the intros felt like gimmicky fan service to tease future Marvel projects.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” introduced an all-powerful group of superheroes featuring some massive cameos.

During the film’s second act, fans are introduced to the Illuminati, a group of the world’s most brilliant minds that were brought together by an alternate version of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange to protect the universe from existential threats.

In the film’s largest moment, fans are introduced to the group which consists of: an alternate Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor); an alternate Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), who is Captain Marvel; an alternate Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who becomes a version of Captain America called Captain Carter; Black Bolt (Anson Mount reprising his role from ABC’s axed “Inhumans” show); X-Men leader Professor Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart); and Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards (John Krasinski).

The group’s introduction is a nod to the comic heroes of the same name which has consisted of different characters. In the 2015 “Secret Wars” run, in which characters from different multiverses begin fighting one another, the group included Black Panther, Namor, Captain America, and Tony Stark in addition to Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Reed Richards.

The Illuminati as they appear in 2015's "Secret Wars" comic.

 

The Illuminati as they appear in 2015’s “Secret Wars” comic.

Marvel Comics

This moment has been years in the making and one fans were hoping to see.

The entire premise is pretty cool when you know the work that went into bringing these characters together on screen.

Marvel Studios got the rights to use the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters in its films when Disney acquired Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019. They didn’t appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until now.

fantastic four marvel comics john krasinski

 

 

Fans hoping to see John Krasinski as Reed Richards got their wish, but only briefly before he could really show off his powers.

Marvel Comics; Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Ever since Krasinski told Screen Rant in a 2018 interview that he’d love to play Mr. Fantastic, fans have rallied to see him in the role. Once Marvel announced an upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot film, fan hype only continued to surge to see the actor lead the superhero group.

Additionally, it’s a huge shock to see Stewart reprise his beloved “X-Men” role once more after the actor told SiriusXM in 2017 that he was done playing the role.

In 2017’s “Logan,” the character was killed from the “X-Men” franchise in an emotional moment. In 2020, Stewart told Digital Spy he met with Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige about reprising his role. At the time, he said he passed. Clearly that wasn’t the case.

Unfortunately, that’s why it’s such a letdown that these massive cameos are overblown and, ultimately, wasted.

The film terribly under-utilizes its massive cameos, making them feel like cheap fan service and ads for other Disney vehicles.

 

Anson Mount as Black Bolt in "Inhumans."

 

 

Anson Mount gets a comic accurate costume, but one of the most unsettling deaths in “Multiverse of Madness.”

ABC

Minutes after meeting the Illuminati to raucous theater applause, Wanda Maximoff/the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) shockingly kills each of the members one by one in brutal displays of violence.

Wanda causes Black Bolt to commit suicide. By turning his own hypersonic voice against him, his head explodes. She then tears Reed Richards to shreds before we can even see the Fantastic Four character attempt to show off his powers on screen. Captain Carter gets sliced in half with her own vibranium shield. Professor X horrifyingly has his neck snapped.

Maria Rambeau suffers the least violent death as Wanda crushes her with a massive statue.

While comic fans may understand that this massive killing spree is a loose nod to 2005’s “House of M” run in which Wanda kills a bunch of characters in order to be with her lost children again, general audiences likely won’t understand that.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."

 

 

Wanda demolishes the Illuminati as if they’re a joke in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

Marvel Studios

Instead, they may have a difficult time understanding why a woman who just wants to see her children is being villainized into a Terminator-like killing machine after the events of “WandaVision” where Wanda felt remorse for trapping an entire New Jersey town under a spell for her own personal gain.

Sure, you can blame some of Wanda’s turn to the dark side on the Darkhold book, but her swift turn from woman who wants to find her children to woman who’s going to murder random superheroes and a child (America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez in the film) in order to be with her kids seems a bit tough to believe.

I’m not sure what fan wants to see the neck of Charles Xavier snapped in front of their eyes.  It feels disrespectful to bring back Stewart just to see him killed in mere minutes after he was given a beautiful send-off in Fox’s R-rated “Logan.”

X-Men Professor X

 

 

Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier in the “X-Men” franchise.


20th Century Fox/YouTube

The deaths here don’t feel earned here.

They’re violent, unsettling, and out of character for the Disney brand.

Imagine if Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire’s Spideys popped up in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” only to be killed minutes later by the Green Goblin or Electro. “No Way Home” delivered ten-fold on the expectation of seeing something that had never been done before on screen by bringing together two decades’ worth of Spider-Man characters on screen.

Tobey Maguire, Tom Holland, and Andrew Garfield as Spider-Men in "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

 

 

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” effectively utilized large cameos without making them feel like a large gimmick.

Sony Pictures

One of the reasons “No Way Home” succeeded was because the film respected the fans and their love for these characters. They weren’t injected into the film in a gimmicky way for quick cameos just to get butts in seats.

That’s what made fans want to return and see that movie multiple times in theaters and it’s one reason the movie grossed more than $1.8 billion during the pandemic.

Marvel Studios had a similar opportunity to do that with beloved X-Men characters and the Fantastic Four in “Multiverse of Madness” and fumbled the bag. With something as grand as the multiverse at play, there were rumors of Deadpool, an Iron Man played by Tom Cruise, and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man appearing in the film.

Fans who may have hoped to see Reed Richards, Professor X, Captain Carter, and more join the fight against the Scarlet Witch for the rest of the film didn’t receive anything close. Half of these characters barely got a hit in against the Scarlet Witch.

Instead, it feels like Marvel simply delivered fan service moments as a cheap thrill and an ad for Marvel’s upcoming Disney+ animated “X-Men” series in which Charles Xavier should also have a yellow hoverchair and the future “Fantastic Four” movie, which may or may not even star Krasinski.

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