The Illuminati are a group of comic book superhero who joined forces and secretly work behind the scenes in Marvel Comics' main shared universe. The group was formed very shortly after the Kree-Skrull War. That war was depicted in Avengers #89-97 (1971-1972 ), however the Illuminati were not established to exist (via story retcon) until their first (published) appearance in New Avengers #7 (July 2005), written by Brian Michael Bendis. Their history was discussed in the special New Avengers: Illuminati (May 2006).
Creator Bendis says on the group's members:
The group forms at some time in the aftermath of the Kree-Skrull War, and probably after the Avengers/Defenders war. Iron Man realizes that each of the individual members had information about these alien races beforehand, and they could have collectively stopped it. He brings together the Illuminati with the Black Panther in Wakanda, and proposes that they form a government of superhumans. Namor refuses, on the grounds that too many superheroes are violent outsiders (such as Hawkeye and Quicksilver, both former criminals). Xavier refuses on the grounds that mutants are already feared and hated, and if Iron Man thinks he can fight this with iconic superheroes, it'll result in heroes being feared and hated as much as mutants. Dr. Strange refuses on the grounds that too many heroes are anti-establishment and that the group Iron Man has assembled to form a governing body would not be 'anti-establishment', but rather a form of 'counter-establishment'. The group does, however, agree to meet to exchange information regularly. The only individual present who outright refuses to meet or even participate with the others is the Black Panther, who fears the association will end in less than altruistic actions.
The Illuminati first appeared in the Sentry story arc of New Avengers, written by Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis explored their history in the New Avengers: Illuminati one-shot (May 2006), which built up to the Civil War event that summer.
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