Secret superheroes, assemble

Avengers 5 leak could reveal a secret new superhero team

The Avengers may not be the only superhero team in the world for long.

The Avengers have been defending Marvel's Cinematic Universe since 2012. They’ve fought aliens, Ultron, and Thanos. And for the most part, they've done it under the scrutiny of the public eye. Civilians and world governments know who they are and what they do, which has led to some of the team's biggest conflicts like in Captain America: Civil War. However, a new leak reveals that an enigmatic new superhero team might rise in time for Avengers 5.

According to a report from The Illuminerdi, Marvel Studios is developing a project currently titled Marvel’s Illuminati, with Kevin Feige allegedly listed as a producer. That's all we know for now (we don't even know if this is a movie or a Disney+ show), and, as with any leak, this shouldn’t be taken at face value as it hasn’t been confirmed by on official source.

That said, it's worth taking a closer look at who the Illuminati are in Marvel comics and what their introduction to the MCU might mean for Phase Four and Avengers 5 in particular.

Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and more make up this team of heroes.Marvel

In the comics, the Illuminati are a secret superhero team that formed in the immediate aftermath of the Kree-Skrull War. First introduced in 2005’s New Avengers #7, the group assembled after Tony Stark realized each hero had pertinent information about the aliens attacking Earth. Had they combined their forces and information early on, they could have avoided mass destruction.

The Illuminati’s founding members consist of Marvel’s most powerful heroes — Iron Man, Doctor Strange, the X-Men’s Professor Charles Xavier, the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, Namor the king of Atlantis, and Black Bolt the leader of the Inhumans.

Each member had reservations about forming an outright secret society to function behind the scenes. However, it was only Black Panther who, after attending the first meeting, opted to stay out of the Illuminati, unconvinced that their good intentions wouldn't end in disaster.

The Inverse Analysis — Should the leak prove true, it’s possible the Illuminati will formally introduce Professor X and other new characters to the MCU. Xavier’s appearance in particular makes it more likely for the remaining X-Men to eventually show up, something fans have long clamored for.

At one point, Reed Richards had all of the Infinity Stones.Marvel

What's more, the Illuminati have been involved in some of the most important comic book arcs since their inception. We’ve speculated about Avengers 5 adapting the Planet Hulk comic storyline, and the Illuminati are responsible for launching Hulk into space in the first place. It’s possible this superhero team's introduction might set the stage for that story to finally happen onscreen.

The MCU could even retcon continuity a bit to reveal that the Illuminati was formed shortly after Thanos snapped his fingers in Infinity War, laying the groundwork for their involvement in Avengers 5. After all, they’ve been known to have information that the rest of the heroes don’t, and it would help explain what Iron Man was really doing during those five years he spent living in the woods with his family.

Of course, there’s also the issue that Tony Stark is already dead in the MCU. As the superhero who brought the Illuminati together, his absence makes it less likely that this project will pan out if he didn't get the group together already. Or maybe Marvel will change the lineup so some other hero brings this team together instead.

Considering that Avengers 5 may include a whole new lineup of heroes, all of whom will likely work with the intergalactic agency of S.W.O.R.D., the Illuminati may not be needed at all. Either way, only time will tell what Marvel has in store.