This weekend, Marvel fans will finally have the chance to fully explore the Marvel Multiverse in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Although much of the film was kept fairly secret, an interesting surprise from the trailers was the reveal that a new organization would be making the jump from the avengers comics to movies – The Illuminati.
Although the conspiracy theory reference suggests that this group has been wandering around since the early days of Marvel comics, the group is a relatively modern creation. From the Brian Michael Bendis era of the early 2000s New Avengers series, the Illuminati is a bit of a throwback to Marvel Universe history that puts them in the middle of many major changes the universe would come to see. Now that the group have made their mark on the MCU, here’s a look at their history and what to read to get the full story.
The New Avengers: Illuminati #0-5
The first series involving the Illuminati includes the formation of the group: Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. This group forms in response to the Kree-Skrull War, to place these intelligent and powerful men in a place of self-imposed authority to deal with massive threats to the world. If that seems like a bad idea, Black Panther, who was invited, accepts and refuses the membership.
Over the course of the miniseries, the Illuminati become embroiled in various events in the Marvel Universe, with these events laying the groundwork for several major events that will unfold over the next few years in the overall comic book lineup, events that have been and will continue. to exploit for MCU projects. They would be revealed to have inadvertently caused the events of Secret Invasion in particular, almost completely handing over Marvel Earth to the Skrulls. The series ends, somewhat inevitably, with the Illuminati failing to trust each other and disbanding. Before long though, they would reform.
Avengers (2010) #7-12
One of the various actions taken by the Illuminati in their previous outing was to collect the Infinity Gems and give one to each member to keep. In this arc of the reformed avengers main series, low-level character The Hood goes looking for them after exploiting a missed thread that the Illuminati forgot to clean up. Medusa inadvertently joins the group (in place of her husband Black Bolt who was dead at the time) when the others realize they’ve messed up and try to put things right behind the other Avengers’ backs, which turns against them.
This arc ends fairly quickly but puts strain on the relationship between the Illuminati and their fellow heroes who have discovered those working behind their backs. Nevertheless, this time the group remains together in the end in order to continue keeping the Infinity Gems and with a new member in tow: Steve Rogers, who has been persuaded to play along for now but remains wary of others. .
Avengers 2012 #1-44 and New Avengers 2013 #1-33
A few years later, writer Jonathan Hickman took over the reins of avengers and would set a full-scale two-series epic in motion. New Avengers is the first race that includes the Illuminati, summoned by Black Panther when he discovers the multiverse is beginning to collide with itself. Meanwhile, the main avengers the book sows other aspects of the great events of the universe. New Avengers can be read by itself, but the two eventually collide and it can be useful to have both.
Be warned though – New Avengers Is dark. The story is about powerful men who experience existential horror and terror and are driven to become something they don’t want to become. Captain America has to leave the Illuminati soon enough because of this while Black Bolt joins after getting better after being dead and x-men The Beast member replaces Xavier who also caught a death case during this.
After the Illuminati
avengers and New Avengers culminate in a modern take on the classic Secret Wars series originating in the 80s and also closes the saga of the Illuminati. This series of events does not name the Illuminati, but pays for the remaining plot threads of all that has come before, especially in bringing something worthwhile out of the gloom of New Avengers.
A post-event series simply called Illuminati would run later in 2015, but was a group of villains led by the aforementioned Hood to try and be sickening for power and only use the name – perhaps eventually separating the name from the heroes. It was the last time the name really appeared in any notable way on the Marvel lineup.
Overall, the history of the Illuminati is a story of heroes overstepping their bounds and trying to force the world into their order. Most of this probably won’t directly impact Multiverse of Madness, but they’re bold characters, just as the movie promises, if you’re curious for more after your trip to the theater.