In addition to going all in on the infinite realities concept briefly explored in Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange sequel — in the Multiverse of Madness — also began to lay the groundwork for the MCU introduction of two Marvel properties previously owned by 20th Century Fox: the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Both teams were represented on the Illuminati roster of Earth-838 by way of cameos from Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier) and John Krasinski (Reed Richards).
Speaking with Empire for the magazine's October 2022 issue, Multiverse of Madness screenwriter Michael Waldron admitted he "always wanted" Mr. Fantastic in the blockbuster film. Had Kevin Feige vetoed the idea of a full-on appearance (after all, Marvel Studios had already announced its intentions for a cinematic revamp), Waldron came up with a contingency plan: "In my very first draft, I wrote a tag just for the hell of it, of the events of the movie being recorded and reviewed by somebody in the Baxter Building, and a stretchy hand coming into frame to run it back. Reed is probably my favorite Marvel comics character, so I was always gunning to get him in here somewhere."
While taking part in an interview with SYFY WIRE this past spring, Waldron admitted that his desire to feature the Illuminati in this movie was present from the start, although the specific collection of characters would slightly change as production chugged along. "I think the original lineup was close to this final one, only because that felt like the most, "Ok, well, here’s the craziest version. There’s no way we’ll actually get to do this,'" he told us. "But then, lo and behold, by the end, we actually were [doing it]."
Despite their major screen presence, the members of the Illuminati don't last long against the Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) of Earth-616. She starts the slaughter with Black Bolt (Anson Mount returning to play the role after ABC's Inhumans fiasco), erasing his pie-hole and allowing the king's destructive voice to melt his noggin into mush. Per Waldron, the "What mouth?" scene came from the twisted mind of the film's director.
"We were sitting on Zoom, discussing how we kill Black Bolt, and somebody said his power is shooting ultra-powerful energy from his mouth. And I swear to God, without missing a beat, Sam goes, 'What mouth?'" the screenwriter recalled. "And Sam just painted the scene for us, '...and then you just cut to him, Wanda's just ripped his mouth closed, and he screams and his head explores. That's the master of horror Sam Raimi for you."
It is unclear if Krasinski will reprise Reed Richards in Marvel Studios' Fantastic Four reboot movie, which is currently slated for a wide theatrical bow on Nov. 8, 2024. Spider-Man vet Jon Watts was originally slated to direct before bowing out earlier this summer to focus on his Amblin-inspired Star Wars television project at Disney+, Skeleton Crew. As of last week, WandaVision director Matt Shakman had become the favorite to helm the big screen return of Marvel's First Family.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+ and available to purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD.
Looking for more horror films that will make your spine tingle and blood curdle? You can currently catch Firestarter and Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone on Peacock. Jordan Peele's NOPE is currently playing on the big screen or available to rent on VOD.