With production continuing on Marvel's highly-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War, star Robert Downey Jr. shared a new photo on social media, with the actor grabbing some lunch with a few of his talented co-stars. The photo features Benedict Cumberbatch sporting his new Doctor Strange costume and holding up a bottle of hot sauce, while Robert Downey Jr. is holding a can of La Croix, Mark Ruffalo holding chopsticks and Benedict Wong holding a fork. Aside from the new Doctor Strange costume sneak peek, and the unusual costume Robert Downey Jr. is wearing, this photo could give us our first behind-the-scenes peek at the Illuminati.
The photo from Robert Downey Jr.'s Twitter doesn't specifically mention the Illuminati, but we have had confirmation that this group will be featured in Avengers: Infinity War. Producer Kevin Feige confirmed in a press conference last year that Avengers: Infinity War will in fact introduce the Illuminati, although he wouldn't specify what characters would be a part of that group. In the comics, though, both Iron Man and Doctor Strange were members, and given Strange's connection to Benedict Wong's Wong, and Tony Stark's "science bros" connection to Bruce Banner/Hulk, it's certainly possible they could be brought into the Illuminati fold.
The Illuminati was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Steven McNiven in 2005, with the group making its first appearance in New Avengers #7. The charter members of this secret society included Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Namor, Black Bolt from Inhumans and a few characters Marvel Studios doesn't control the rights to, Professor Charles Xavier from the X-Men franchise and Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. It's certainly possible that Wong and Hulk could fill in for Xavier and Mr. Fantastic, and since Anson Mount is playing Black Bolt in the ABC Inhumans TV show, it's possible he could cross over to the movie universe too, although that would be the first time an MCU TV character has appeared on the big screen.
In the comics, the group was formed after the Kree-Skrull War, when these characters realized that the information they hid from each other could have prevented the war from happening at all, which served as the impetus for this group's formation. They would meet in secret without the other Avengers knowing about what information exchanged. Other characters who would become part of the Illuminati throughout the comic book run are Captain America and Black Panther, along with Amadeus Cho, who was named as the new Hulk in Marvel Comics back in 2015. Of course, Marvel Studios isn't entirely beholden to the comics, and they could certainly bring in even more new members for this Illuminati group.
While Marvel still hasn't released an official synopsis for Avengers: Infinity War, actress Scarlett Joahansson recently teased that there is one specific scene that features 30 Marvel characters at the same time, although she wouldn't divulge any more about that scene, or the story as a whole. Fans looking for any information beyond Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 are likely out of luck for the next few years, since it has been confirmed that the title for Avengers 4 is a spoiler for Avengers: Infinity War, and the first Phase 4 movies will be spoilers for Infinity War and Avengers 4. Take a look at this photo from the Avengers: Infinity War set, which could tease the MCU's first Illuminati lineup.