A new TV spot for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness contains a major call back to Loki's first season.
The 30-second long promotional video for the upcoming Marvel movie, which you can see in the tweet below, may not appear to tease anything major upon first viewing. However, in a blink and you'll miss it moment at the 0:10 second mark, it's revealed that The Living Tribunal will make an appearance – albeit as an Easter egg or a very brief cameo – in Doctor Strange 2.
Open the door to a vast Multiverse. Experience Marvel Studios’ #DoctorStrange in the Multiverse of Madness only in theaters May 6. Get Tickets Now: https://t.co/VoGdr7T8HN pic.twitter.com/Iw7QwAg7KXApril 25, 2022
Diehard Marvel fans will know that this isn't the first time we've seen the Living Tribunal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Eagle eyed viewers spotted a Living Tribunal Easter egg in Loki season 1 on Disney Plus, with the head of a Living Tribunal statue seen littering The Void's landscape in episode 5 of the Marvel Phase 4 TV show.
Doctor Strange 2, though, should be the first time that we see a live-action iteration of the Living Tribunal, although there's no guarantee it'll play a major role in the film's plot.
It's unsurprising that the Living Tribunal features in some capacity in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The Sorcerer Supreme's second solo movie has been written by Michael Waldron, who was also chief scribe on Loki's first season. It seems, then, that Waldron has a certain affinity for the judgmental cosmic being.
This isn't the first time that the Living Tribunal has been referenced in the MCU. In 2016's Doctor Strange, Chiwetel Ejiofor's Karl Mordo wields a weapon called the Staff of the Living Tribunal. Meanwhile, the all-seeing multiversal being was initially supposed to appear in Avengers: Endgame, but its appearance was cut from the film's final version.
For more MCU-based content, check out our definitive ranking of every Marvel movie to date. Alternatively, find out when Moon Knight episode 5 will be available to stream on Disney Plus.
Analysis: who is the Living Tribunal?
While the biggest Marvel fans will be well aware of who the Living Tribunal is, more easy-going comic book or MCU fans might not.
So, who – or, rather, what – is the Living Tribunal? In short, the Living Tribunal is a cosmic humanoid entity that oversees every universe in the Marvel comic multiverse. It serves a judge, jury, and executioner for every reality and dimension in order to maintain balance and prevent branching timelines (see Avengers: Endgame and Loki) or the merging of various realities (see Spider-Man: No Way Home).
In the comics, the Living Tribunal has the power to destroy a single planet if it deems that inhabited world to be a threat to that planet's own universe and the wider multiverse. The Living Tribunal tried to enact such a judgement on earth in Marvel comics, but Doctor Strange was able to convince it against doing so.
The Living Tribunal is most notable for its three-sided head, with each of its faces representing a different facet of its personality. The front facing head, which represents Equity, is usually the one that does all the talking. The partially shrouded face on the right represents Necessity, while the completely covered face on the left presents Revenge/Vengeance. All three heads must agree on a case before the Living Tribunal can step in and potentially take action against a planet, star, or a living creature.
If the Living Tribunal makes more than a passing appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it may be the most powerful entity we'll have seen in the MCU so far. According to a 1992 Marvel comic issue involving Adam Warlock, the Living Tribunal's powers are virtually limitless, and it has the power to stop the Infinity Stones from being used simultaneously. You can see why it would've been a useful ally in the battle against Thanos in Infinity War and Endgame.
Speaking about the Living Tribunal's Endgame that was eventually removed (per ComicBook.com (opens in new tab)), Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely revealed how it would've factored into the film's final act.
"[Producer Kevin Feige] wanted to make sure we didn't lose the sort of psychedelic aspect of the 'Starlin-verse,' where people travel inside their eyeballs and things like that. And so we stuck the Living Tribunal in the movie," Markus said at Comic-Con 2019.
"So as Thanos and Doctor Strange came to blows, Doctor Strange blew Thanos' mind and sent him through the mindscape. The idea was that [Thanos is] sort of zipping through the universe, being presented with all of his many, many crimes. So bodies are being thrown at him, he lands and things turn into bodies, hands are grasping at him, and it's just really kind of grim. And at the end he gets dumped in front of the Living Tribunal, who judges him guilty."
Given how Doctor Strange 2 will explore the multiverse (and the ramifications of tampering with it), a proper introduction for the Living Tribunal would make a lot of sense. Still, we don't expect it'll make more than a very brief cameo appearance. Although, with the sheer number of surprise characters who may appear in the superhero flick, we may be pleasantly surprised.