Once upon a time talking about the possibility of a sequel as certain before the movie in question had even released would've been a risky gamble. Even commercially and critically successful movies rarely managed to keep up the good work the second time round, but that was before Hollywood made big bank with their breakthrough into shared narrative universes.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe still leads the pack, with Fox-Marvel close behind and DC Extended just beginning to gain momentum now. And as each installment in each franchise is designed to link into what came before and what comes afterwards, the sequel question is almost always answered very early on.
Such is the case of Doctor Strange — the MCU's hotly anticipated gateway into the realms of magic and mystery, which lands roughly a month from now. Even as Doctor Strange introduces an exciting new character in the form of Doctor Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, it too will plant more seeds that will grow into further narratives as the MCU progresses.
Doctor Strange 2 Confirmed?
Thus far, the successful individual MCU franchises such as Captain America, Iron Man and Thor have had trilogies made of them, and it seems likely that we'll see the same thing happening with Doctor Strange.
At least, that's what IGN seems to think following a set visit to the upcoming movie, the general impression gleaned from conversations with cast and crew being that we'll see a Doctor Strange 2 before long. We already know that Baron Mordo is going to be developed further in sequels due to how he differs from the comics, and there's that tempting Dormammu tease that could be setting up the Big Bad's appearance in later installments.
The good Doctor will appear next in Avengers: Infinity War, and likely will lead his own solo franchise moving forward. And that's a franchise that would introduce some very exciting and important characters indeed, from Brother Voodoo to Clea. But it sounds like there might be one group in particular who have already been earmarked to join the MCU at some point down the road.
No, not that Illuminati. For the uninitiated, the Illuminati is a Marvel Comics superhero group who functions more like a secret society than an avenging force, hence the name. They originally consisted of Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Professor X, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt and Namor the Sub-Mariner, though currently none of the original members are still kicking around under that banner.
Formed by Tony Stark in response to the events of the Kree-Skrull War, the Illuminati was originally intended to be a government of superheroes — but dissension about the group's methods led to them merely agreeing to meet secretly to exchange information every once in a while. They once held ownership of all six Infinity Gems, each member holding one to hide and keep safe after they were unable to remove them from existence altogether.
But despite the best intentions of the group, they often ended up making things worse. They inadvertently assist the Skrulls with the information the aliens needed to launch a counterattack upon Earth, leading to the events of Secret Invasion. They're also responsible for the events of Planet Hulk (which is getting a minor adaption in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok) and the subsequent World War Hulk, as they secretly made the decision to launch Hulk into space in order to protect the Earth from his violent outbursts.
Could The Illuminati Join The MCU?
The Illuminati group as it was originally conceived disbanded in the run up to Civil War, the different members going their separate ways as they couldn't agree between them whether or not to sign the Superhuman Registration Act. And as we move past the cinematic Captain America: Civil War, it seems there may be a little pinch of the secretive superhero team in the MCU moving forward, as Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch told IGN during their set visit:
"I’m excited to see where the Illuminati and whatever else might happen, how that works, and where it ends up."
There's already been a lot of chatter about the prospect of the Avengers group becoming an endangered species following Infinity War, so could the Illuminati be brought in to prop up what remains of them as the MCU moves into Phase 4?
Sadly, we'd never be able to have the Illuminati proper in the MCU. Both Professor X and Mr. Fantastic are still all tied up rights-wise with 20th Century Fox, however painful that may be for the latter. And neither Namor nor Black Bolt has made an appearance on-screen yet.
However, Black Bolt was earmarked to appear in Marvel's Inhumans, which is still in the works at the studio, despite being removed from the release schedule. And though there are no plans as of yet to introduce Namor to the MCU, he could easily be replaced by Black Panther. Another sometime Illuminati member, Black Panther was originally approached by Iron Man to join the group at its inception, though he initially declined, believing correctly that they could end up doing more harm than good.
Of course, if they do show up, it likely won't happen until we move into Phase 4, as the dust settles from Avengers: Infinity War and the MCU collects its dead. Until then, at least we have Doctor Strange, which releases in the US November 4, 2016.
Do you want to see the Illuminati in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Have your say in the comments below! You can also check out our Ultimate Guide To Doctor Strange for all you need to know about the movie, and watch the new TV spot below!