All rise for the honorable living tribunal.
“From the dawn of the universe, there was nothing. Then… boom. The Big Bang sent six elemental crystals, hurtling across the virgin universe. These Infinity Stones each control an essential aspect of existence.” In Phases 1-3, the MCU explored multiple individual stories, each of which became part of an interconnected storyline that we know as the Infinity Saga. In the Infinity Saga, the main overarching theme of these phases was the unification of the Infinity Stones from all corners of the universe. Now, with the Infinity Saga complete, we enter a new phase with a brand new storyline that fans will explore beyond the confines of our universe: the Multiverse.
We were already teased about the concept of the Multiverse back in Doctor Strange (2016), and it was made a reference in the last MCU film of Phase 3, Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), when Quentin Beck aka Mysterio, used the idea of the Multiverse to trick Peter Parker, Nick Fury (who was secretly Talos) and others into believing his ruse to become the “next hero”. But as Kevin Feige said back in SDCC last year, “Just because Quentin Beck makes up lies about the Multiverse, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.” We know that the concept of the Multiverse will be explored in Phase 4, with my money being on WandaVision (2020), Spider-Man: Something with Home in the Title (2021) & Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). I went very in-depth with my theory on how the Multiverse might play out in my “Reality Checked” Theory and discussed the possible universes that could be explored if Marvel indeed decided to acknowledge a Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.
Now, if we are going to deep dive into the concept of the Multiverse, then we need to acknowledge the presence of a very important character in Marvel Comics lore that I believe already exists in the MCU and might make his appearance very soon:
The Living Tribunal
Now, the Living Tribunal has been described as a “nigh-omnipotent, nigh-omniscient, omnipresent” individual that “possesses limitless power, is able to erase entire realities from existence.” His only rival is his creator; the One-Above-All. But the Living Tribunal in the comics is essentially regarded as the 2nd most powerful individual in all of Marvel lore. His role has been to safeguard the Multiverse and be its Guardian, and unlike other characters, where there are other versions of the same character across multiple universes, there is only 1 Living Tribunal that exists in all of the universes as he is the center of it all. “The Tribunal manifests itself as a being with three faces, which represent the three sides of the Tribunal’s personality. Its front face, through which it usually speaks, represents equity, the fully hooded face on its right side represents necessity, and the partially hooded face on its left represents just revenge. All three voices must agree in a case before the Tribunal can intervene.”
Why introduce him now?
With the Multiverse now coming into play in Phase Four of the MCU and the idea that the universe might start to collide if Wanda Maximoff decides to go all “House of M” on us, then the Living Tribunal might be forced to play a role in trying to preserve the balance of the Multiverse by passing judgment onto Wanda, something I predict could happen in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel. The first time the Living Tribunal was introduced in Marvel Comics was in Strange Tales #158, where he encountered Doctor Strange and had come to the conclusion that the Earth should be destroyed. Doctor Strange however managed to convince the tribunal to give the Earth a chance so he could fix it and save all life on Earth. The Tribunal agreed. We could see a scenario similar to this in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), where the Living Tribunal decides to pass judgment on Wanda Maximoff for altering the laws of reality and as penance, must die along with the rest of the Earth in order to preserve the balance. Doctor Strange will intervene and vouch for Wanda to keep her and Earth safe and manage to fix reality once again. And now, some of you might tell me that that sounds like an amazing pitch. But why introduce a character like this in the MCU now? How can I be sure that this is even the direction Marvel wants to go? What if I told you we’ve already had our first tease regarding the Living Tribunal?
The Living Tribunal has already been teased in the MCU
Remember this relic? You might remember it in a scene from Doctor Strange (2016) when Baron Mordo was wielding it while training with Doctor Strange in Kamar Taj. Baron Mordo had actually called it the “Staff of the Living Tribunal”. Quite the interesting name no?
Not only that, but Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely actually revealed at SDCC last year that The Living Tribunal was set to appear during Avengers: Infinity War (2018), to judge Thanos for his crimes against the universe. Clearly, that idea was opted out later on and we never saw that scene but if he was set to appear in this film, chances are that Marvel Studios has plans for the cosmic entity to make his way to the MCU very soon.
Only time will tell us if and when we are ready to face the judgment of the Living Tribunal in the MCU.