The following post contains SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Generally that’s what you get in articles about post-credits scenes. They’re almost spoilers by definition. Basically the whole thing is one giant spoiler. Do you want to still read it? Great, let’s keep going.
We seem to be entering a new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and not just in the “Phase One,” “Phase Two,” “Phase Three” sense. The studio is suddenly introducing big new characters — and, more importantly, huge A-list actors — with zero fanfare, out of nowhere in post-credits scenes. First Eternals debuted Harry Styles as Eros (along with Patton Oswalt as Pip the Troll), and now in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange bumps into Charlize Theron, who is legitimately one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.
In this scene, Theron’s character pops out of a portal while Strange is walking down the street in Manhattan. She asks him to join her on an adventure, and the portal behind her appears to lead to the Dark Dimension, the home of Dormammu from the first Doctor Strange. Strange opens the creepy third eye he got from reading the Darkhold and says he’s ready.
The Dark Dimension’s appearance is no coincidence; Theron is playing Clea, whose comic book origin makes her the niece of Dormammu. Her mother, Umar, is Dormammu’s sister.
Obviously, Clea got her looks from her mom’s side of the family.
Clea was first introduced in the pages of 1964’s Strange Tales #126 by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. Despite her familial relationship to one of Strange’s arch-nemeses, she has been his most frequent love interest in Marvel Comics through the years. (That’s comics for you.) The couple had many ups and down — that’s also comics for you — but the basic gist is that they met when Strange first came to the Dark Dimension and she soon became his only ally there. They battled Dormammu on numerous occasions, and eventually fell in love.
Clea is the Sorcerer Supreme of the Dark Dimension, in the same way that Strange is traditionally the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. (In the MCU, Wong became the Sorcerer Supreme when Strange died during Avengers: Infinity War and so far he’s yet to return the title.) Because Clea was born in the Dark Dimension, she’s also stronger and tougher than the average human. (It also apparently means she loves purple, as evidenced by her appearance in the comics and in Multiverse of Madness, where Theron wears a slightly less ridiculous version of Clea’s traditional costume.)
As for what Clea’s introduction means for an eventual Doctor Strange 3: The story could go in a lot of places but Strange and Clea spent a lot of time in the Doctor Strange comics fighting for control of the Dark Dimension with Dormammu, Clea’s mother Umar, and others. It may also be worth noting that just a few months ago, Marvel published a miniseries called The Death of Doctor Strange and in the wake of Strange’s death, they published a new series simply titled Strange. Here’s the cover the first issue:
Yep, Clea is now the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. So if Benedict Cumberbatch ever wants to retire from Doctor Strange movies, Marvel just introduced his potential replacement. In Marvel, actors might quit or age out of their roles, but the stories continue forever. That’s comics for you.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing exclusively in theaters.
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