The ongoing expansion of its multiverse gives Marvel Studios the chance to introduce and rehabilitate certain comic book characters that might not have previously received the best screen treatment. The studio wisely takes advantage of that opportunity in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a film that’s overflowing with memorable and noteworthy Marvel Cinematic Universe cameos.
However, of all the many secret characters who appear in Multiverse of Madness, there’s one that is particularly shocking solely because Marvel has already tried — and failed — to make them a part of the MCU. Now, thanks to Multiverse of Madness, Marvel has managed to redeem both itself and the character in question.
Major spoilers ahead.
Doctor Strange 2: Who is Black Bolt?
At one point in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is arrested and taken to stand trial in front of an alternate reality version of the Illuminati. The powerful superhuman team counts characters like Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), and Reed Richards (John Krasinski) among its members.
The team’s lineup also includes Blackagar Boltagon a.k.a. Black Bolt, an Inhuman whose powers make it possible for him to murder a person with just his voice. The character is played in the film by Star Trek: Strange New Worlds actor Anson Mount, and that’s notable because Mount has played Black Bolt before. The actor starred as the Marvel Comics hero in Inhumans, the lackluster ABC TV series that Marvel produced in 2017.
Following the show’s release, most comic book fans thought Inhumans had destroyed any chances of Black Bolt or his fellow Inhumans ever showing up in the MCU again. That has turned out not to be true though. Instead, Marvel has now established that alternate versions of Black Bolt, as well as practically every MCU hero, do exist in the multiverse.
Will Marvel bring back the Inhumans?
By introducing a version of Black Bolt that will likely be received more kindly by fans than Mount’s previous iteration, Marvel has opened the door for it to possibly pursue an Inhumans-centric project once again. A project like that would, presumably, have to take place in a reality outside of the MCU’s Earth-616 timeline, but there’s little reason to believe that Marvel isn’t interested in telling those kinds of stories now that its multiverse has been established.
Whether that means Marvel actually intends on ever bringing Mount back as Black Bolt again is impossible to say. If the studio does, then it would presumably have to focus on a version of the character different from the one who meets his end in Multiverse of Madness. However, considering the studio is already expected to introduce a different version of Reed Richards from the one who is also murdered in Multiverse of Madness, it’s hard to believe Marvel wouldn’t be willing to do the same thing for Black Bolt.
It’s also worth noting that it was rumored last year that Marvel is in the midst of developing an Illuminati spin-off project. Coming off the team’s introduction in Multiverse of Madness, the chances of something like that coming to fruition have never been higher.
The Inverse Analysis — It’s always been impossible to predict what Marvel Studios might have planned for its characters, but that’s never been more true than it is now. By exploring the multiverse on the big screen, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness allows Marvel to pursue the kind of multiversal, standalone spin-offs that it was unable to previously.
That said, only time will tell whether Black Bolt’s role in Multiverse of Madness is the beginning of a new future for the character in the MCU or just an opportunity Marvel took to briefly correct one of its biggest mistakes.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters.