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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness took Marvel fans on a journey through numerous realities, and not all of them contained the Avengers. In fact, the universe where Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) first look for help is protected by a different group of characters. Doctor Strange 2 introduces the Illuminati, an organization of heroes tasked with protecting their world from the dangers of the multiverse.

Writer Michael Waldron recently opened up about the Illuminati, comparing them to the Avengers. There’s one distinct difference between the two teams, and it explains why the Illuminati are so much more intimidating.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.]

‘Doctor Strange 2’ introduces the Illuminati

With its storyline spanning the multiverse, Doctor Strange 2 introduces fans to a number of variants over its run — but it also brings in new characters through the Illuminati. The film sees Stephen and America running into the group while searching for another Doctor Strange variant. The Illuminati operates in secret and tasks itself with protecting its world from threats like Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen).

Of course, the group isn’t thrilled to see Stephen — especially since his counterpart in their universe got corrupted by the Darkhold. Naturally, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) wants to kill the new Doctor Strange variant. Characters like Reed Richards (John Krasinski), Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), and Black Bolt (Anson Mount) are also unhappy to see him.

Only Professor X (Patrick Stewart) is willing to give this newcomer a chance, and even he has reservations. If Wanda didn’t show up and destroy the Illuminati, one has to wonder if they would have let Stephen and America go. And that highlights how they’re different from the Avengers. As Michael Waldron recently pointed out, their approach to handling threats is a bit more ruthless.

Michael Waldron says the Illuminati differ from the Avengers in 1 major way

'Doctor Strange 2' writer Michael Waldron, who recently discussed the Illuminati. The image shows him at the premiere, wearing a light grey suit and black shirt.
‘Doctor Strange 2’ writer Michael Waldron | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Disney

With team members like Captain Carter, the Illuminati might seem like the Avengers at first glance. However, Doctor Strange 2 writer Michael Waldron told Inverse the Illuminati is willing to make sacrifices the Avengers simply wouldn’t.

“The Avengers have a line they wouldn’t cross,” Waldron explained. “The Illuminati is there to do the things the Avengers can’t. To make the hard decisions. That’s why they operate in the shadows and hope they never have to meet. They’re willing to play in the gray.”

That certainly makes them a more intimidating group, putting the characters who cross their path in quite a predicament. With their mindset, the Illuminati could take out threats the Avengers struggle to defeat. And even though Wanda killed most members of the organization on Earth-838, it’s possible other iterations of the Illuminati exist elsewhere. Perhaps fans will see them again in future Marvel projects.

Could this new group return after ‘Doctor Strange 2’?


‘Doctor Strange 2’: Why Some Fans Aren’t Happy With Wanda’s Storyline

Even if they aren’t as flashy or concerned with morals as the Avengers, the Illuminati contains characters fans have been eager to see join the MCU. Whether they’ll return after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness remains to be seen. However, it seems likely we’ll see some version of the Illuminati as Phase 4 and Phase 5 unfold.

For one, Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four will undoubtedly bring in Reed Richards. Whether John Krasinski will continue playing him remains up in the air. That’s a fan-casting many have hoped for, but it could have been a one-off for Doctor Strange 2.

Other Illuminati members could also be important beyond Doctor Strange 2. Mordo’s survival probably isn’t a coincidence, and Captain Carter is a fan favorite who could make a comeback. Additionally, other realities could see different characters joining the Illuminati. It all depends on which route Marvel decides to take.

If the franchise does bring the Illuminati in again, one thing’s for sure: it would certainly be interesting to see them meet the Avengers. With their differing priorities, that team-up could go awry. Of curse, that just means more action and drama for moviegoers.