Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Producer Acts Coy About The Illuminati And Professor X

By now, fans should know the drill of denials and misdirection in marketing that precedes the release of a Marvel movie. In a bid to safeguard plot surprises and keep spoilers from leaking, actors like Andrew Garfield have been known to have some fun outright lying to the press about their roles in upcoming Marvel Studios films. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" has come and gone, so now that old, teasing, promotional song-and-dance has begun anew with "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness."

The latest is-he-or-isn't-he commotion concerns the potential involvement of Patrick Stewart's Professor X and the comic book secret society of the Illuminati going forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Stewart's voice was seemingly heard in the Super Bowl trailer for "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness," and he subsequently confirmed that it is indeed him in that trailer. However, Professor X is not the only well-known member of the Illuminati in the comics. There's also Iron Man, and the "Multiverse of Madness" trailer did give a glimpse of what looked like silver Iron Man drones.

This has led to some speculation that a Tony Stark return of some form could maybe be in the cards. In a preview for the new issue of Empire magazine, on newsstands March 17, 2022, "Multiverse of Madness" producer Richie Palmer recently addressed some of the rumors concerning the crossover of Professor X into the MCU and Tony's possible return as Iron Man. He first said:

"I'll quote the first X-Men movie and say, 'Are you sure you saw what you saw?' There are infinite versions of these characters, and just because you may have heard something familiar doesn't mean it's someone you have seen before."

'I would love to see Tony again, but ...'

Palmer continued:

"As you saw in 'Spider-Man: No Way Home,' some rumors ended up being true, some did not. I would love to see Tony again, but some rumors are just rumors. I will say that I love the Illuminati. But if we ever introduce the Illuminati in the future, it might be more MCU-driven and have some more ties to our characters in the MCU, versus just replicating what's in the comics."

Even though Robert Downey Jr. thinks he's done all he could with the character of Tony Stark and seems content to move on, we already saw the role recast in last year's "What If...?" animated series, in which Mick Wingert voiced Tony. You never know: maybe they will find a way to bring back Tony in a different iteration in live-action, per producer Kevin Feige's old promise of recasting the character like James Bond. As we saw with the many Lokis on Disney+, two of whom even fell in love with each other, there is already a precedent in the multiverse for different actors playing alternate versions of the same character. Let's not forget about "Ironheart," either. 

We'll just have to wait until the next installment in the MCU hits theaters to see where exactly they're going with this whole Illuminati thing. "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" opens on May 6, 2022.