Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness saw its first complete trailer during last weekend’s Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, and there is a lot to unpack.
What caught many Marvel movie fans was hearing the voice of Sir Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier in the trailer. Is this the sign that the X-Men are finally making their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe? An appearance by Professor X would be the first significant X-Men figure to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course it wouldn’t be the same Professor X whose body was blown up and his brain leaped into a brain-dead comatose man in X-Men: Days of Future Past, or the Charles Xavier who was assassinated by X-24 and buried in an unmarked grave in Logan. It’s unlikely to be the Charles Xavier from FX’s Legion, who fought and destroyed Amahl Farouk on the Astral Plane.
A third-season flashback episode of Legion revealed Xavier as a British soldier during World War II. After the war, the young Xavier was sent to a mental health facility, where he met his ex-wife and David Haller’s mother, a Holocaust survivor. In Legion, when David Haller travels back in time, Xavier is informed of Farouk’s threat, and instead of fighting, he works with a future Farouk to persuade David and the past Farouk to make peace and accept a different timeline.
What does this signify for Stewart’s Professor X? Is he a member of the Illuminati from the comics who made their first appearance in New Avengers #7 in 2005? The history of that secretive group was explored in a New Avengers: Illuminati special, written by Brian Michael Bendis (May 2006). The covert group is comprised of some of Marvel Comics’ most intelligent and powerful minds, including Namor the Sub-Mariner, King T’Challa of Wakanda, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, and, of course, Doctor Stephen Strange.
Rumors have long circulated about the introduction of both Namor and Reed Richards into the MCU, and the Illuminati could provide an avenue for just that… though it’s possible that the Stark in question could be a variant version (rumored to be played by Tom Cruise), raising the possibility that the casting we see for the Illuminati members in Multiverse of Madness may not be the same actors who appear in subsequent MCU appearances.