by Christopher Hodapp
This year Hollywood is going goofy for Illuminati references in two new projects, and just in time for the 246th anniversary of Adam Weishaupt's very real founding of the group on May 1st, 1776 today.
In classic murder mystery stories of the 1920s and 30s, the final, last-chapter solution was generally "the butler did it." Similarly, in classic conspiracy theories of the last two and a half centuries, "the Illuminati did it" is in there somewhere, if you just dig hard enough. And half the time, there's some allusion to the Illuminati being Masons.
Perhaps the Illuminati is actually made up of scheming, murderous butlers. Maybe murderous Masonic butlers.
A couple of new big-money movie projects are dropping this week that seem to be a major shift away from the classical Illuminati-based conspiracism of the past. The new trailer for Marvel's Doctor Strange 2: In the Multiverse of Madness (good name for this particular topic) dropped this week, with the tag line, "In 10 days… nothing will prepare you for the truth." The "truth" apparently, is that whatever it is that the entire Marvel multiverse is fighting, The Illuminati™is probably at the root of it. Or something.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Netflix is debuting a new comedy series with Michael Meyers. The Pentaverate will premiere on Thursday, May 5, posing the poser, “What if a secret society of five men — aka The Pentaverate — has been working to influence world events for the greater good since the Black Plague of 1347?” Or, the Illuminati by another name.
Conspiracists all the way from John Robison and the Abbé Barruel, up to the John Birch Society, Lyndon LaRouche followers, right up through today's QAnon nutters have clasped the Illuminati to their collective, paranoid bosoms and inflated their very real existence between 1776 and about 1785 into a never-ending, "everything is connected" collection of OCD-afflicted New World Order architects, quislings and henchmen. But Hollywood hasn't really done much over the years in the way of using the Illuminati as all-purpose gray eminences. Even the film version of Dan Brown's Angels & Demons only played around with Illuminati references like the novel did, weaseling out in the end by making them nothing but a madman's hoax.
Whenever Hollywood wanted to bring in global bad guy clubs, they'd usually give them imaginary acronyms like SMERSH, SPECTRE, THRUSH, CHAOS, WASP, COBRA to name a few. But these days, Hollywood seems to be rehabilitating the old image of mysterious global puppet masters into a kinder, gentler bunch of altruistic fellows who are only doing secret world-saving deeds for our own good.
For instance, when the Peacock series of Brown's Masonic-filled The Lost Symbol made it to the screen as a miniseries, the writers of the show decided that us 33° Scottish Rite Masons couldn't possibly be important or spooky enough, so they invented a clutch of the sooperest, secretest level of big-degree, big-deal Freemasons, known as the Leviathan Group. And because they're SO very secret, they all wear special rings with a Leviathan cross to secretly identify themselves when they bump into each other in the Kroger checkout lane. The story goes that the Leviathans are entrusted with the safekeeping of The Ancient Mysteries™. But they also exist to help all of Mankind when needed by stepping in here and there at critical moments, guiding human events just at the right time and place, to protect civilization.
I think the first time I encountered this story line was Gene Roddenberry's failed pilot for The Questor Tapes in the 1970s, about a race of self-replicating alien androids who build their own successor when they reach the end of their life cycle, and step in at critical moments to protect mankind from his own self-destruction. Sort of a virtuous robot Illuminati.
But a variation of the notion is much, much older. Hidden 'Secret Masters' who hide hidden secret secrets for the good of Mankind are a pretty common thread. They usually want to hide those secrets from all but TRUE Masters because you can't just let every schmo from Kokomo in on attaining true enlightenment.
Anyhow, to the subject at hand.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gets released on May 6th, and is directed by Sam Raimi. The picture stars stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Xochitl Gomez.
Note the tantalizing line: "The Illuminati... will see you now." Hopefully, the Illuminati characters won't be sporting "secret" square and compass rings.
According to Matt McGloin on the Comic Book News site yesterday,
In the [Marvel] comics, the Illuminati were retconned to basically be responsible for trying to protect humanity and control things which saw various Marvel superheroes a part of the group in control of the Infinity Gems; however, their real-life counterparts, if you believe that sort of stuff, are hardly heroes as the Illuminati are said to be made up of racist Luciferians, pedophiles, high-level Freemasons, Jesuits, the Vatican, politicians, celebrities, sports figures, etc. who are bent on creating a new world order.
In other words, Marvel's GOOD Illuminati made up of heroes from Avengers, Wakanda, Atlantis, and occasional mutants who control the Infinity Gems and do what's best for the world. That was in the comics. As for how the "Illuminati" gets used in the movie version, we'll have to wait for the movie's release to find out just what the truth is that nothing will prepare us for.
Then there's Mike Meyers' variation on the theme - The Pentaverate.
I'm given to understand that many scenes of the movie were, in fact, shot in and around London's magnificent Freemasons' Hall, home of the United Grand Lodge of England.
As you can see in the trailer below, variations of the square and compass and the All Seeing Eye run rampant in the footage.
What seems curious about both of these projects is that, unlike most story lines that use the Illuminati as a stand in for eeevil New World Order/United Nations/Trilateral Commission/Bilderberger groups, both of these projects are apparently trying to rehabilitate the image of world-controlling gray eminences by making us out to be the GOOD guys. Which, I suppose, makes sense if They really do control Hollywood after all...
PLEASE NOTE: I hate posting any story with the word 'Illuminati' in it because I get treated to 300 daily attempts of posting "Join the Illuminati!" spam comments. Please forgive any delay in approving comments - it takes a while to trudge through the sludge. But just to clarify, no you can't join the Illuminati and you're a five-alarm boob if you think giving your Mom's credit card number to an anonymous basement dwelling scammer will somehow get you ahead in life.
But if you really are compelled to give money to total strangers, you'd be much better off dropping twenty smackers on our book, Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies. Here's an Amazon link. Quick! Go get Mom's VISA card.
If you have a serious interest in the actual Illuminati, its founding, its purposes, its methods and rituals, Josef Wages' and Reinhard Markner's book The Secret School of Wisdom: The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati is where you need to start. Their work (and the translation skills of the late Jeva Singh-Anand) is vitally important for anyone wanting to more fully understand the organization that was founded in 1776 in Bavaria and survived for just a decade - important because it is the first time that the actual rituals of the order have all been collected together in one place (in German or English). Anyone wishing to study the Illuminati for any reason needs this volume. Indeed, the 30-page introduction alone provides a concise, footnoted and well summarized history of the foundation and structure - along with the personalities involved - of the real group that has come to represent a true "secret society" to so many people around the world for more than two centuries.