The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to grow. With the completion of the Fox/Disney deal likely coming just before Avengers: Endgame opens up a new chapter in the MCU, characters that were previously owned by 20th Century Fox (most notably those associated with the Fantastic Four and the X-Men) will now be able to appear in the MCU proper.
While that's exciting for plenty of reasons, the one with perhaps the most potential also requires the freedom to explore almost every corner of the Marvel Universe. With the Fox/Disney merger almost complete, the MCU could finally introduce their own version of the Marvel's sneakiest superhero team, the Illuminati.
Who They Are
The Illuminati (Iron Man, Professor Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic and Namor) were first introduced as a single group in the build-up to Planet Hulk. Comprised of some of the most important leaders in the Marvel Universe, the group was ultimately responsible for exiling the Hulk, accidentally sending him to the space gladiator planet of Sakaar.
The group was then revealed to have played a hand in various Marvel Universe events, working behind the scenes to protect the world. They confronted the Beyonder and Marvel Boy, and tried to prepare for potential threats like the Sentry when Civil War and Secret Invasion split the group.
With a member representing each of the main corners of the world, the Illuminati moves in secret. Their existence led to the eventual breakdown of trust between the heroes. Much of the Jonathan Hickman run on New Avengers centered around the group reforming to contend with the Incursions threatening reality, expanding their ranks to include Black Panther (who had refused to join the original group) and Beast, who replaced the then recently deceased Xavier. Captain America even briefly belonged to the group, but his stiff morality proved too inflexible and Doctor Strange erased his memories of the group.
The Illuminati is potentially the most powerful group on Earth, more so than even the Avengers. Led by the most brilliant minds in the world, the group is able to coordinate heroes without them ever realizing. It's a purposefully shady group, and one that has prompted real questions about the morality of their existence for some of the world's biggest superheroes. So, the possibility of the team appearing in the MCU is cause for excitement.
How They Could Appear
The Illuminati isn't something Marvel has ever shied away from. They were even hinted at in a very sneaky Easter egg from Iron Man 2. While some suspected the group would be adapted for a potential Planet Hulk film, that never came to be. On top of Marvel not having the full rights to release a solo Hulk film (thanks to sharing the rights with Universal,) elements from that plot were lifted for Thor: Ragnarok instead.
The fact of the matter is that, by the time Avengers: Infinity War rolled around, there just wasn't enough members to justify the group. Of the original six members, only Doctor Strange and Iron Man had been introduced in the MCU. Namor has been in his own cinematic limbo, Xavier and Mister Fantastic were owned by 20th Century Fox and Black Bolt has only so far appeared in the Inhumans television show. Black Panther arrived in Phase Three, but seems firmly set on working with Captain America over Iron Man.
With Avengers: Endgame promising to restructure the entire cosmos of the MCU, along with the characters owned by Fox coming to Disney, this could be the perfect opportunity to let some of the biggest heroic leaders in the MCU try and prevent anything like the ending of Infinity War from happening again.