The empty Illuminati chair in 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' is sparking tons of Marv...

This Tiny Detail In Doctor Strange 2 May Tease The MCU's Next Big Hero

Marvel rarely does anything by accident.


Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Doctor Strange 2 has been in theaters for a while, but one detail is still sending superfans into a multiverse of theorizing madness. Before the film was released, there were about a billion rumors about which heroes from across Marvel’s canon would be making their debut. It turned out, most of the prominent fan theories turned out right, but a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it detail could mean there’s another big reveal waiting in the wings. So, let’s break down the best theories about that empty Illuminati chair in Doctor Strange 2.

The scene raising the eyebrows of every Marvel fan takes place during the Illuminati’s introduction. After being captured on Earth-838, Doctor Strange met the team of heroes protecting this parallel universe: Karl Mordo, Professor X, Mr. Fantastic, Captain Carter, Captain Marvel, and Black Bolt. However, eagle-eyed fans think another member of the Illuminati was meant to be there as well. Why? Because there was clearly an empty chair at the end of the table. Could Marvel have cut a planned cameo, or is the empty chair meant to hint at which new addition will enter the MCU next?

There are three main theories about who that chair could belong to.

1. Doctor Strange from Earth-838

Let’s get the most obvious (and least fun) theory out of the way first. The chair very well could have been Doctor Strange’s. His Earth-838 variant was a founder of the Illuminati after all, and it would make sense that it’s empty now, since his fellow Illuminati members murdered him at his own request once he was corrupted by the Darkhold. The only issue with that is Karl Mordo would likely have taken Doctor Strange’s chair, since he inherited his position in the Illuminati, right? Then again, the team may have given Mordo a new chair to keep Strange’s as a ceremonial testament to their fallen friend.

2. Namor the Sub-Mariner

Onto a much juicier theory, which actually has some intel to back it up. That seventh seat could very well have been for Namor the Sub-Mariner, a Marvel hero who’s been teased in past movies but has yet to make his big-screen debut. Namor is one of the core members of the Illuminati in the comics, making him an obvious choice to show up in this movie... except it didn’t happen.

Marvel Comics

Multiverse of Madness writer Michael Waldron revealed to Variety that there were plans to include Namor in the Illuminati scenes. “[We] talked about him, because he's certainly an original member of the Illuminati,” Waldron said. “But I think Marvel has other plans for him in the MCU. And so he didn't make his way in this particular movie.”

It sounds like Marvel scrapped the planned Namor cameo, but perhaps that empty chair is a hint he will be flying into the MCU soon.

3. Superior Iron Man (played by Tom Cruise)

Probably the wildest theory of all is that the empty chair was meant to be Tom Cruise’s introduction into the MCU, where he would take over the Iron Man mantle from Robert Downey Jr. as a variant version of the hero. Specifically, Cruise was rumored to play Superior Iron Man, a prominent Marvel Comics character who became a major supervillain. The variant of Tony Stark that became Superior Iron Man was actually a core part of the Illuminati in the comics, so his inclusion in that scene would make sense.

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Adding to this theory are the Ultron guards that serve as security for the Illuminati in the movie. In any universe, it’s Tony Stark who creates Ultron, so the robot’s existence in Earth-838 must mean there an Iron Man somewhere.

However, while Waldron said he tossed around the idea of trying to get Cruise to play the role, Marvel ultimately never reached out to the action star. “Yeah, that was totally made up,” Waldron told Rolling Stone of the Tom Cruise rumors. “I mean, there’s no cut footage of Tom Cruise! But I love Tom Cruise, and I said to Kevin at one point, I was like, ‘Could we get Tom Cruise’s Iron Man?’ ... I don’t believe [anyone reached out to Cruise]. I just don’t think it was ever an option, because of availability.”

Fans may never know for sure what the true purpose of that empty chair was, but it does tease some fun possibilities for the MCU’s future.