If the first trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness threw a rock into the hornets’ nest that is the MCU, the most recent one, which aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday, has practically launched a grenade.
Benedict Cumberbatch has already told fans to that “your head’s going to be spun” by the reality-bending and extra-dimensional storyline he stars in. And the offscreen voice of what sounds to be Patrick Stewart in the latest trailer has convinced many fans that, as suspected, the sequel will feature the debut of the Marvel Comics super council, The Iluminati.
The council is composed of Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, Namor of Atlantis, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, and Professor X of the X-Men.
Longtime fans of the MCU can already foresee a number of organizational problems with this lineup. Namor hasn’t even been introduced yet but that’s hardly the largest logistical issue. Tony Stark is very dead in the MCU timeline, and while that is never really all that hard of an obstacle in the comic books, it can be when you’re dealing with movie stars and movie budgets.
Both Reed Richards and Professor Xavier have appeared in their own franchises, but neither was canonically in the MCU — nor did Marvel have the film rights to the characters up until very recently. And lastly … it’s not really certain if the Inhumans even exist in the MCU at present.
The Inhumans were originally slated to get a standalone movie of their own, announced in 2014 on the same date the original Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel movies were announced.
The move made sense at the time. It didn’t appear that the MCU would be getting the rights to the X-Men back at any point, and the comics were already angling the Inhumans, descended from a group of human beings genetically manipulated by the alien Kree to possess superpowers, to be a go-to replacement for Mutants in upcoming storylines. The move had some good fallout — the character of Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, was a successful property derived from it — but didn’t prove to have anywhere near the success of the various X-men franchises that comics fans adore to this day.
For whatever reason, The Inhumans movie was pushed back to 2019 and then shelved in favor of a television treatment. The Inhumans premiered in 2017 when the Marvel Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones were gaining traction, but unlike their fellow Marvel properties, The Inhumans was aired, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on network TV. Despite a capable cast, including Discovery’s Anson Mount as Black Bolt, Ken Leung, and Iwan Rheon, the show tanked with critics and fans alike with many excoriating it for underbudgeted special effects, underdeveloped characters, and melodramatic storylines. The series was canceled after just eight episodes, in a rare black eye for Marvel.
So, whither Black Bolt? Well, if the character is going to appear in the Multiverse of Madness, it seems that the chances have at least gone from big “IF” to little “if” with the context clues the new trailer is giving us. That The Illuminati will appear in the MCU in some way shape or form is practically a given, with MCU guiding light Kevin Feige quoted by, ironically enough, The Illuminerdi, that he was definitely developing the secret society for inclusion to the overarching franchise at some point. Additionally, Spider-Man: No Way Home not only made a lot of money at the box office, it completely threw the rule book out as to which actor can play which character. And a significant portion of the fanbase thinks we might even get a new Tony Stark.
In one scenario, we may not even get a Black Bolt at all, at least for a while. If Strange hasn’t joined the Illuminati, there’s now way to even be sure it’s been fully formed. An alternate Stark and Professor X may be the only members on the board, so to speak.
However, there have been some recent events that make it seem fairly likely that Anson Mount will return to reprise his role as the head of the Inhuman royal family. For one, one of the recently leaked episode titles alleged to belong to season one of the Ms. Marvel TV series is “Lockin’ Jaws.” Considering that the Inhuman hound Lockjaw is a very significant character in the Ms. Marvel comic series, there’s little chance that this isn’t a reference to the character. If the titles are to be believed, than it’s a good bet that the MCU hasn’t shelved The Inhumans permanently.
Secondly, there is some reason to believe that Multiverse of Madness, in particular, will feature an appearance by Black Bolt. In a Fandomwire exclusive, TJ Zwarych claimed that the Inhuman king “should be appearing in the film.” It’s certainly not a hard confirmation, but it may be yet another clue that fans can expect to see at least a Black Bolt appearance.
Thirdly, the Black Bolt appearing in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may very well be played by Anson Mount himself. ScreenGeek has contended that this is the case, though there’s no definitive confirmation from official sources. Fans would seem to welcome the chance for Mount to return to the role, however. And the positive acclaim he’s received for his performance in Discovery probably wouldn’t hurt his chances for consideration either.
However, even should we hear from Mount or Disney, fans may just have to wait until May 6 to see if The Inhumans get back into the MCU fold.