Doctor Strange 2 Trailer Teases Marvel’s Illuminati, X-Men, and New Villains

We have a full Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer breakdown and analysis for you!

Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Photo: Marvel

Y’know, I’ll confess, a lot of us here at Den of Geek weren’t entirely sure of what to make of the teaser footage for Doctor Strange 2 that accompanied Spider-Man: No Way Home. It was cool, but something about it felt a little off. Well, that certainly isn’t the case with the first proper Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer, which looks absolutely RIDICULOUS and is packed with all kinds of major developments for the future of the MCU.

Haven’t watched this trailer yet? Well, what are you waiting for?

Now, here’s some of the big stuff we found…

Patrick Stewart as Professor X

The biggest developments in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer might relate to characters and concepts that haven’t even been hinted at in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet. No, your ears do not deceive you, this trailer absolutely features a voice cameo from Patrick Stewart as Professor X. But it’s the context for that tease that makes it even bigger, and it seems like the MCU is about to introduce its very own version of the Illuminati.

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Namor, Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Iron Man are Marvel's Illuminati

Who Are Marvel’s Illuminati?

In the comics, the Illuminati consisted of, at varying times, Iron Man, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt (of Inhumans fame, or infamy if you only know them from the TV show), Doctor Strange, Reed Richards, Black Panther, Captain America, Beast, and Namor. They formed as the crises the Marvel Universe were facing were starting to get bigger and more difficult to deal with, and they’re formed by Tony Stark to act as a kind of superhuman United Nations, in the hope that collectively they could stop future threats before they get out of hand. At one point after the original Infinity Gauntlet, Reed entrusts each member with one of the Infinity Stones, figuring that made them less likely to ever be assembled again.

Now, obviously, an Illuminati roster like this can’t properly exist in the MCU as it currently stands. There’s not enough history there yet (even after 27 movies) and of course, several of these characters are unavailable for various reasons. But what if thanks to the newly-introduced rules of branching timelines and variants, a multiversal Illuminati exists? This would allow Patrick Stewart to return as the Professor X of the Fox X-Men movies, while not infringing on the ability of the MCU to create their own Charles and other mutants when they’re ready to do it.

Tony Stark sure is dead in the “sacred timeline” MCU, but a Tony Stark variant serving in the Illuminati would allow for Robert Downey Jr. to show his face again, while Marvel Studios once again laughs all the way to the bank.

Namor has yet to be introduced in the MCU, but there has been ongoing speculation that he’s due to make his first appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with Atlantis serving as a rival nation to T’Challa’s kingdom. There’s no reason Stephen Strange (or one of his variants) couldn’t serve on this version of the Illuminati, and perhaps Multiverse of Madness will basically be how he is recruited. It’s possible that whatever that high-tech HQ where we hear Xavier address Strange is actually Illuminati HQ, in some corner of the multiverse.

The Illuminati in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer

In fact, at one moment in the trailer, you can see Strange being brought into some kind of throne room. There are six seats, two of which are occupied by indistinguishable figures. A third is entering, but it’s hard to tell who it is. They appear to have longer hair and a sword on their back, so is it possible that Mordo is a member of the Illuminati?

The Fantastic Four?

While some fans seem to think that the flaming figure we briefly see blaze across the screen is the Human Torch, we’re pretty sure that isn’t the case, as the silhouette looks a little more like Captain Marvel when she’s all powered up. That being said, Reed Richards is an essential piece of the Illuminati, and it’s easy to imagine a new Reed being introduced (nobody needs to see Miles Teller’s face Reed ever again) as the head of this organization. It would also neatly explain why we haven’t met the Fantastic Four in the MCU yet…perhaps they originated in the “sacred timeline” but have been off exploring the multiverse for the last 20 years or so.

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Is that The Human Torch in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer?

Tony Stark?

OR. Maybe the flaming figure we see isn’t a Torch or a Captain Marvel at all. 

Maybe it’s Iron Man.

For a very brief period between one very bad event (Axis aka Sixis, thanks to some very unfortunate logo design) and the greatest event Marvel ever did (Secret Wars), Tony Stark wore armor that exposed almost all of his head save for a thin frame around his face. Superior Iron Man, as he was known, was a product of Axis, an event where a group of heroes and villains all had their moralities swapped – so Sabertooth, for example, became a selfless hero, while Stark became a giant asshole. 

Sounds like the perfect guy to be on a multiversal Illuminati, right?

Peggy Carter is Captain Carter in Marvel's What If...?

Captain Carter

As for who else could serve? Well, it would likely have to be someone from yet another alternate timeline. If you check the lower right hand “shard” in that awesome poster, you’ll spot Peggy’s Captain Carter shield. 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness poster

Considering that Peggy was instrumental in the formation of the similarly multiversal team of Avengers that made up the climactic episodes of What If…? she seems like a natural fit for this. Yes, folks, it does look like we’re gonna get Hayley Atwell as a live action Captain Carter, even if it’s just a cameo.

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Look, it’s just a word, but the trailer opens with Strange waking up and saying “…and then the nightmare begins.” When one of his biggest villains is named Nightmare, and the director of the first Doctor Strange movie had expressed interest in using Nightmare in the sequel, well…we just have to mention it. Not only that, but the official synopsis for the film mentions “a mysterious new adversary” so we know we’re getting a new villain who apparently isn’t even visible in this trailer yet.


Nightmare in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

…could that be Nightmare manifesting?

We also have a completely different theory about who the villain could be: is it actually D’Spayre?

America Chavez in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer

America Chavez

The latest of Marvel’s Young Avengers to debut in the MCU, Miss America Chavez can be seen donning her frequently worn denim jacket with a star on the back. Chavez is a natural fit for a movie about the multiverse starring Scarlet Witch: she was born in a dimension that had been stripped of magic by the Demiurge (Wanda’s son Wiccan/Billy Kaplan – see Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers for more). Her mothers sacrificed themselves to close a rift that was threatening their universe, and America used her powers to punch or stomp star-shaped holes in reality to travel the multiverse honoring her moms’ legacy as a hero.

Rintrah in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer


There are a couple of shots of a minotaur looking fellow throughout the trailer, and he’s a great pull. Rintrah is a R’vallian, a race of minotaurs from an extradimensional planet. In the comics, Rintrah took a roundabout path to becoming Strange’s apprentice on Earth. After an accident with a magical talisman, Strange placed Rintrah in a suspended animation dimension, where he stayed for about 30 years our time before reemerging to be a professor at Strange Academy, Marvel’s current school for magical youths.

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Ultron drones in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer


Those are definitely modified Ultron drones that are escorting Strange to see…whoever it is he is seeing in that weird HQ. We’ll get into this sooner rather than later, but there’s a WHOLE LOT in this trailer that resembles the Interdimensional Council of Reeds from Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham’s remarkable Fantastic Four run. And one of those bits is one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes as tamed, menial laborers – in F4 it was lobotomized Dr. Dooms, while here it looks like Ultrons.

Shuma Gorath in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer

Shuma Gorath

The greatest octopus ever to grace a Capcom fighter has finally arrived on screen! Shuma Gorath is a Marvel Universe adaptation of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones – he’s an extradimensional Many Angled One who has battled everyone from Conan to Star Lord, but he is most frequently associated with Strange in the comics. Outside comics, he’s legitimately one of the most interesting regulars in the Capcom fighting games, from Marvel Super Heroes through Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Also: note the advertisement on the telephone booth? “The Magic of Tea.” Surely, the Ancient One approves!

Even more relevant to this movie, Shuma Gorath appeared in What If…? which brings us to all the other ways the Disney+ animated series suddenly seems MUCH more important than it did before.

Zombie Wanda, Strange Supreme, and More What If…? Connections

Hey remember how the Marvel Zombies episode of What If…? didn’t actually end? Spider-Man, one-legged T’Challa, Ant Man’s head, and Strange’s Cloak of Levitation fled Vision’s base ahead of a zombie horde led by a zombified Scarlet Witch, only for us to discover that their destination – Wakanda – was also infested, only with a zombie, Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Thanos, and that’s where the episode ends. The next we see of the zombies is a brief glimpse of them swarming Ultron in the final battle of the season, but we got no closure to their world, nor to Peter, Ant Man’s head, Black Panther, and Cape’s story. 

Welp! Guess it went poorly, as a very angry zombie Scarlet Witch and a broken zombie Doctor Strange are quickly featured in this trailer. Maybe this is where we find out the rest of that story.

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