BY MATT TUCK
FB@ The Comic Blog
Get the hashtags ready because it appears the Super Bowl Doctor Strange trailer may have confirmed the Illuminati.
Marvel came out swinging with its Super Bowl ad. The new footage for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had plenty of action as well as the MCU’s new faces on full display. The trailer showcased Gargantos (who may or may not be a composite of Shuma-Gorath), America Chavez, Rintrah, and what many believe is Strange Supreme from What If…?. All those combined paled in comparison to the massive cameo that is seemingly confirmed.
At the 1:21 mark, Doctor Strange is being escorted in handcuffs to what looks like a futuristic/interdimensional tribunal with six chairs. A mystery voice says, “We should tell him the truth.” While the trailer does not show the character’s face, the closed captions reportedly acknowledge it as coming from none other than Sir Patrick Stewart.
There is still a bit of a mystery as to who he could be portraying, but most fans assume it is Professor X. Alongside Stewart’s role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: the Next Generation, his time as Charles Xavier is his most iconic. Of course, this would mean the X-Men have officially arrived in the MCU.
No doubt, those X-Men keys will hit the nuclear meltdown level, but there could be something else at work within the MCU. Certainly, Professor X is synonymous with the X-Men; after all, the X is named after him. However, there are other clues that Xavier’s introduction could herald the arrival of Marvel’s mystery puppeteers, the Illuminati.
WHO ARE THE ILLUMINATI?
What once seemed a far-fetched fantasy could be a reality. The Multiverse has raised the expectations immensely when it comes to everything within the MCU. At one point, there were theories that the Illuminati was coming together on the big screen. Now, it would seem the pieces are fitting together, but who are they?
Although the membership rotates like all the other superteams, the core group was made up of the most intelligent figures in the Marvel-616. The original lineup consisted of Charles Xavier, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Tony Stark, Namor, and T’Challa. One of their first acts was to launch the Hulk into orbit to protect the Earth. Of course, Hulk would return for World War Hulk, which put the Illuminati in the crosshairs, and that could be on the MCU slate, but I digress.
One of the more interesting aspects of Marvel’s controlling force was that they bordered on being villainous. Before 2015’s Secret Wars, the Illuminati decided the fates of other worlds within the Multiverse in an effort to protect Earth-616. They essentially became morally ambiguous, which could be their role in the MCU.
In later versions of the Illuminati, Reed Richards joined the supergroup. Don’t forget there were rumors of him leading the Fantastic Four into the MCU via MOM. While there’s no mysterious voice that could belong to Mister Fantastic, there is one scene in which an elongated figure shadows quietly stretches onto the landscape. Some theorists are speculating this is Reed Richards, which makes sense since the FF movie is currently in development.
Another factor that has been almost unanimously accepted is an all-new, all-different Iron Man. There has been speculation for months that A-list celebrity Tom Cruise will bring to life an alternate reality Tony Stark. Not only is Iron Man an original member of the Illuminati, but those robots guarding Strange looked an awful lot like Iron Man armors with comics-accurate Ultron heads. Could it be that in his universe, this version of Stark succeeded in putting a suit of armor around the entire world?
As it stands, it is clear that the Illuminati is coming together with a massive introduction. No doubt, these key issues will feel the heat overnight.
NEW AVENGERS #7
The first time the shadowy supergroup came together was in the pages of New Avengers #7. The MOM rumors and speculation has made this an investment darling for much of the past year, but it will soon be launched into the stratosphere. Earlier this month, a graded 9.8 had sold for a year-high $300, and it was still earning $275 prior to the Super Bowl Ad. As of the time of this writing, Sunday evening saw one jump to $350, which is skirting closer to that record $400 from 2020.
Another sign of the looming inflation, a 9.2 had sold for $165 on eBay. Up to that point, it had never sold for more than $85. Raw copies were moving to the tune of $75. Don’t forget there is a Neal Adams Sentinel variant available as well. That one is not heating up as quickly as the standard edition, though a 9.8 did reach a respectable $289 on Sunday.
ROAD TO CIVIL WAR: NEW AVENGERS: THE ILLUMINATI #1
No question, this will be the consolation prize for Illuminati hunters out there. While it won’t compete with New Avengers #7 in fair market value, it is nonetheless a quality pickup. This issue marked the first time the Illuminati appeared on the cover art together, and those first covers can make for great investments. Raw copies were picking up steam Sunday with copies bordering on $20 territory. Earlier this month, a graded 9.8 reached $100, and I expect the $150 record will fall shortly. To think, only last week, some copies were selling for as little as $1.
NEW AVENGERS: THE ILLUMINATI #1
By December of 2006, the Illuminati headlined their first limited series. While there are no major key issue-making moments here, having the entire group on the cover in their own title will attract collectors and investors alike. In this case, raw copies are selling for around $25.
NEW AVENGERS: THE ILLUMINATI #2
Another area of speculation in the MOM trailer involves a flying figure that could be an Iron Man suit. In fact, some fans believe the armor has three Infinity Stones attached to the chest plate. If that is confirmed, it would mean huge implications for the Illuminati’s second issue because on the front cover is Reed Richards holding the Infinity Gauntlet. No doubt, collectors will flock to this issue if, in fact, the Superior Iron Man wields the Infinity Stones in MOM.
At the moment, this overlooked gem was selling for $5 or less for raw copies, and there are no graded sales on record.
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Marvel’s bread and butter are massive CGI effects and major surprises. The MOM Super Bowl trailer ups the ante on both, and the world is reeling from the Patrick Stewart reveal. Last week, superstar artist Rob Liefeld confirmed that many of the theories and leaks for MOM are true, though he declined to say which ones (and thanks to him for not spoiling the fun for us all). As exciting as the new trailer is, it would seem Marvel is taking the theme park experience to a new level with Multiverse of Madness.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.