Even though Tom Cruise’s Iron Man was just a rumor, it’s impossible to ignore the effect his participation would’ve had on Doctor Strange 2‘s Illuminati.
Contrary to the rumors, Tom Cruise did not play a different Tony Stark in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which caused the Illuminati revelation in the film to be underwhelming. There have been numerous speculations concerning Tom Cruise’s participation in Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange sequel, many of which seem to have originated from fan theories and fan-made trailers. Apart from their initial offer in 2008, Marvel Studios’ decision to seriously consider Tom Cruise for the role of Iron Man has never been made explicit. Iron Man, who made a heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame three years ago, is still inextricably bonded to Robert Downey Jr. Only a Hollywood icon of Tom Cruise’s stature could have come close to justifying an Iron Man appearance so early following the character’s significant demise.
The speculations claimed that Tom Cruise’s Iron Man would have belonged to the superhero organization known as the Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2, which functions more like a diplomatic council than the Avengers‘ army of superpowered soldiers. When Doctor Strange’s actions to defend America Chavez face the threat of having the same disastrous outcome as their Earth-838 analogue, the Illuminati summons him. While Tom Cruise is absent from Doctor Strange 2‘s Illuminati, John Krasinski plays Reed Richards, as a member of the Fantastic 4 and Patrick Stewart’s legendary Professor X joins the MCU at last. It is dissatisfying that the rest of the Illuminati are all familiar MCU characters with only minor variations.
The remaining members of the Illuminati, save Reed Richards and Professor X, are well-known figures from the larger MCU. Peggy Carter from What If…? is Peggy Carter from Captain Britain, Maria, Carol Danvers’ buddy, takes over as Captain Marvel, and Mordo, a previous adversary of Doctor Strange, becomes the new Sorceror Supreme.
In the meantime, Black Bolt makes his first appearance in the MCU since the Inhumans TV series was discontinued in 2018. It’s an oddball collection of MCU superheroes that hardly resembles the initial Illuminati from comic books. But this wasn’t the only dissatisfying aspect of Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati revelation, which might’ve been improved by Iron Man, played by Tom Cruise.
Why The Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2 Let People Down
The Illuminati from Doctor Strange 2 are part of a larger problem with the multiverse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both Loki from 2021 and Spider-Man: No Way Home demonstrated that many performers might take on the roles of various iterations of the same hero.
In Loki, Tom Hiddleston played many incarnations of the trickster god with DeObia Oparei, Richard E Grant, Jack Veal, and an alligator conjured by CGI. The casting of the several Loki characters made use of the multiverse’s seemingly endless possibility. It would not be a problem for Tom Cruise to portray a different Iron Man if Loki was able to be portrayed by both Richard E. Grant and Tom Hiddleston. When Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland joined forces to battle Spider-Man’s numerous enemies in No Way Home, this was only further highlighted.
Similar to how Maguire and Garfield are back, Patrick Stewart’s Professor X ties the earlier X-Men films into the larger MCU cosmos. The possibility of the multiverse was, however, constrained by the reappearance of a number of well-known performers and characters, including Lashana Lynch and Hayley Atwell. The future Fantastic 4 film’s cast is yet unknown, but given that all other Illuminati members has been in previous Marvel films, it seems inevitable that John Kraskinski’s Mr. Fantastic will be included. Krasinski makes for excellent casting, but if he were to play Reed Richards full-time, it would just highlight how limited Marvel Studios’ conception of the multiverse seems to be. It’s sad that the Illuminati adheres to the MCU canon so rigorously when there was a great chance to play with the idea of the universe by bringing in big-name actors for one-off cameos, like Daniel Craig or Tom Cruise.
Would Iron Man By Tom Cruise Have Improved The Illuminati?
Tom Cruise probably isn’t concerned about missing Doctor Strange 2 because he is the hero of the two sequels of Mission: Impossible as well as the box office blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick. The passionate reaction to the allegations on social media, however, hints that there is a genuine interest in seeing Cruise portray Tony Stark. Given Cruise’s responsibilities and the level of control he is accustomed to in his films, it is highly impossible that he might fit in with the MCU’s rigorous structure. However, a brief appearance as Iron Man would have given the contexts with the Illuminati additional significance.
First of all, it would have increased the scope of the multiverse theory and implied that everything was actually conceivable. If Tom Cruise had agreed with Marvel back in 2008, a one-off cameo by him as Iron Man would have been a wonderful sneak peek into the MCU for viewers. Additionally, it would have raised the stakes of the conflict between the Illuminati and Wanda in Doctor Strange 2. The Scarlet Witch kills every member of the Illuminati brutally right away, making memorable decisions like turning Mr. Fantastic into Play-Doh spaghetti and blowing Black Bolt’s head off. Imagine the impact, though, if Iron Man impersonator Tom Cruise, a Hollywood superstar, had been assassinated by the Scarlet Witch. Given Cruise’s seeming invincibility and love of life-threatening exploits, his passing at Wanda’s hands would have shown how strong and dangerous she had grown to be. The absence of Tom Cruise as Iron Man in Doctor Strange in the Universe of Madness is, consequently, incredibly disappointing because it lessened the influence of the Illuminati and condensed Marvel’s seemingly endless multiverse.