(Note: the following contains spoilers for Doctor Strange.)
With the introduction of #DoctorStrange to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) many characters and cosmic aspects of the Marvel Comics Universe are ready to be woven into the live-action continuity.
One thing the Doctor Strange film did confirm, among many things, is the existence of the Living Tribunal. This is a massive revelation since his presence greatly expands the cosmic proportions of the #MCU.
The Living Tribunal In Doctor Strange
The Living Tribunal was revealed in Doctor Strange during Mordo and Strange's sparring session early in the movie. As Mordo prepares to spar with Strange, he picks a staff out of an arsenal of mystic relics and refers to it as the Staff of The Living Tribunal. With similar characteristics to Strange's mystical sling of fire, the staff is able to move like elastic, similar to a nunchuck.
While the physical staff is interesting in and of itself, more interesting is its name. The existence of the Living Tribunal means that higher beings may be at play in the MCU -- beings that could include Eternity, Order and Chaos, and even the One Above All.
The fact that the Ancient One has safely kept the staff at Kamar-Taj for many years could be attributed to the power of the Time Stone (the Eye of Agamotto).
It's also a possibility that the Ancient One received the help of the #LivingTribunal to defeat #Dormammu in the past, and the staff became an embodiment of the Tribunal in case such a threat ever faced the Earth again.
Mention of The Living Tribunal in Doctor Strange was a surprise indeed, but how he'll tie into the larger MCU remains to be seen and will hopefully soon be revealed in upcoming films.
The Living Tribunal is considered by many fans to be #Marvel’s second most powerful entity -- the first being the One Above All. The Tribunal’s powers are essentially limitless and he exists outside of the multiverse. He was introduced in Strange Tales issue 157 in 1967 and since then, has acted as the keeper of balance and judge of realities in the Marvel multiverse.
The Living Tribunal In Avengers: Infinity War?
Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel are the final entries in the MCU's "Phase 3" slate of films, and with that finale comes the fall of Thanos.
One theory is that the Living Tribunal, along with Eternity, will make an appearance midway through #AvengersInfinityWar when #Thanos completes gathering the Infinity Stones. The Tribunal, much like he did in the Infinity Gauntlet, could appear when Thanos threatens the existence and universal role of the being Eternity.
The Living Tribunal will not deem Thanos and his gauntlet a threat, allowing the Titan to do as he wishes. By the end of the movie, with Thanos still causing havoc, the Living Tribunal may realize his mistake and join the fight against Thanos. However, he may lose to the Mad Titan and fail to assist our heroes.
Could The Living Tribunal Introduce Phase 4 Of The MCU?
Another theory is that, since Doctor Strange introduced the concept of multiple universes, the Living Tribunal could make an appearance by the end of the currently-untitled Avengers 4, judging Thanos for his crimes against the cosmic balance of the multiverse.
This of course would be, if the Infinity Gauntlet is able to function outside of its intended universe (e.g. Earth-616, or in our case, the MCU), something it fails to do in the comics.
This could be the launching pad for the fourth phase of the MCU and introduce fans to the next major threat in the franchise -- which I think will not just be one villain, but an amalgamation of powerful entities working together, including Dormammu, who we also saw in Doctor Strange. Click here to read the theory.
The existence of the Living Tribunal in the MCU expands the scope of the MCU and introduces new possibilities for the film franchise to explore in the future.
What are your thoughts on the Living Tribunal joining the MCU?
Let me know in the comments below!
Doctor Strange opens in the US on November 4.