Could Marvel’s Illuminati ever work as a team?

In concept, a secret brain trust made up of Marvel’s Earth-616’s smartest superheroes is set to lead to revolutionary change. Unfortunately, for The Illuminati, He does not have. Building on their collective strengths, Tony Stark, Mister Fantastic, Professor X, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, and Namor have come together to share secret knowledge and save Earth from impending doom.

Over time, the Illuminati crumbled under the weight of their lofty ideals as infighting set in and divided the group. With a legacy of failures, the Illuminati deserve a chance to redeem themselves and live up to their potential.

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Before offering the Illuminati their chance to redeem themselves, it is essential to tell how and why they failed as a team. Planet Hulk and Greg Pak’s World War Hulk exposed the Illuminati’s most significant flaw: division. Fighting ensued when the secret group reunited to weigh the pros and cons of shooting the Hulk into space. Despite Namor’s objections, the Illuminati chose to send the Hulk back, eventually landing on the brutal and violent planet of Sakaar.

When Hulk returned to Earth, he sought to punish the Illuminati who sent him away: Iron Man, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, Professor X, and Black Bolt. Hulk spared Namor, the only member of the Illuminati who opposed the plan, from his wrath.

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Since then, the Illuminati deserve another chance to function as a supergroup. To be successful, the Illuminati must function as a collaborative team. The New Avengers Vol. 3 #1-6 by Jonathan Hickman, Simone Bianchi and Rags Morales offered a way forward. Once skeptical of the group’s existence, Black Panther resurrected The Illuminati to help resolve a planetary incursion event. The Illuminati must have devised a plan to divert his path.

Initially, they pledged to use peaceful means to push the planet off course, but as the planet hurtled towards Earth, they had to make a difficult decision. The majority of the Illuminati have agreed to save the world by destroying the oncoming planet.

However, new member Captain America refused to use weapons of mass destruction to save Earth. In the past, the Illuminati ignored disagreements. T’Challa excommunicated Steve Rogers and erased his memory of the secret band in order to facilitate the band’s majority decision.

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Black Panther was able to redeem the Illuminati. He understood that there will be dead-end situations full of hard choices that divide members. However, T’Challa was a leader who stood for unity and believed that all members of the Illuminati should decide and then act as a united front. He removed Captain America from the group because he knew disunity can bring destruction. Unlike his predecessors, T’Challa sacrificed his friendship with Steve Rogers to create the solidarity needed to save Earth. He didn’t reject Captain America because of his ego; instead, he removed Steve to minimize confusion and bolster Illuminati resolve in a perilous time.

Ultimately, the Illuminati’s sins of division led to their downfall. Instead of making unanimous decisions, they let domestic politics and pride prevail. Thankfully, Black Panther’s brief joining of the group revealed a better solution. The Illuminati can gain strength by committing to unity. They can finally see through the consequences of their choices. Then, and only then, will the group be able to move on and know that they are on the right track.

Marvel's Illuminati, consisting of Namor, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Iron Man

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About the Author

Maria D. Ervin