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The Mystery Character at the End of ‘Doctor Strange 2’ Is Related to a Past MCU Villain—What to Know

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There is so much more behind this A-list actor’s cameo.

Warning: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness spoilers: If you stuck around for the post-credit scenes, you may be wondering: Who is Clea in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and what does Charlize Theron’s character mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the second movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Doctor Strange franchise after 2016’s Doctor Strange. The film—which is the 29th movie in the MCU overall—stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon (also known as Doctor Strange) who, after a career-ending car crash, discovers magic and becomes a Master of the Mystic Arts to protect the earth. The character was first introduced in the Marvel Comics issue, “Strange Tales #110,” in 1963.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set after the events of 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, which sees Doctor Strange break open the Multiverse to help his fellow Marvel superhero, Peter Parker / Spider-Man, become anonymous again. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees Doctor Strange deal with the multiverse again as he learns of the repercussions that come with messing with time and space. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2022, director Sam Raimi explained how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is different than any other Marvel movie. “It’s a really complex movie,” he said. “It’s probably the most complex movie I’ve ever had anything to do with. Not just dealing with one character, or even five characters, but multiversal versions of those characters — and each one has a storyline.”

He also told the magazine about how the movie follows the storyline of Disney Plus’ 2021 miniseries, WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch / Wanda Maximoff. “I’m not really sure what the WandaVision schedule was or how it changed. I just know that halfway, or maybe three-quarters of the way into our writing process, I’d first heard of this show they were doing and that we would have to follow it,” he said. “Therefore, we had to really study what WandaVision was doing, so we could have a proper through line and character-growth dynamic. I never even saw all of WandaVision; I’ve just seen key moments of some episodes that I was told directly impact our storyline.”

While Raimi had to follow some of the story already told in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he also revealed to Rolling Stone that the studio gave him “complete creative freedom” to tell his own story in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. “Well, let me say — and this may sound like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth — that Marvel allowed me complete creative freedom,” he said. “However, it had to follow so many things in Marvel lore, [so] even though I had complete freedom, the previous movies and where Marvel wants to go in the future really directed the path in an incredibly specific way. Within those parameters I have freedom, but I’ve got to tell the story of those characters in a way that ties in with all of the properties simultaneously. We had to make sure, for instance, that Doctor Strange didn’t know more than he had learned about the multiverse from No Way Home. And yet we had to make sure he wasn’t ignorant of things that he had already learned. So everything was dictated by what had become before.”

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But back to the post-credit scenes. So…who is Clea in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and what could Charlize Theron’s character’s storyline look like in future Doctor Strange and Marvel Cinematic Universe movies? Read on for what we know about Clea from Marvel and how she could affect the MCU.

Who is Clea in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?

Charlize Theron

Image: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP.

Who is Clea in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Clea (played by Charlize Theron) makes a cameo in the first Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness post-credit scene, which sees her approach Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) on a street in New York City and recruit him to fix the Multiverse. “You caused an incursion, and you’re going to fix it,” Clea tells Doctor Strange as she opens portal to another universe. “Unless you’re afraid.” Doctor Strange responds by telling Clea, “Not in the least,” as he activates his third-eye, the all-seeing eye of Agamatto, which he received at the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness after using the Darkhold. Doctor Strange then follows Clea into the portal as they head into what looks like the Dark Dimension, a strange and hostile extradimensional realm in the Multiverse ruled by Dormammu, who was the villain of the 2016 Doctor Strange movie.

So…who is Clea in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Clea is a sorceress who was first introduced in the Marvel Comics issue, “Strange Tales #126,” in November 1964. She’s a member of the Faltine race, a race of human-appearing, higher-dimensional energy beings from the Dark Realm. She’s the daughter of Umar and the niece of Dormammu. In the Marvel Comics, Clea is a disciple of Doctor Strange and eventually marries him and succeeds him as Sorcerer Supreme. Her powers include superhuman strength and resistance to injury, mastery of magic, energy bolts, teleportation, telekinesis, mind control and illusion generation. Clea also has access to the Flames of Regency, which allow her powers to reach their highest peak.

Clea and Doctor Strange meet in the Marvel Comics after the Ancient One sends Doctor Strange to the Dark Dimension to defeat Dormammu. Clea, who is impressed by Doctor Strange’s courage after observing him in the Dark Dimension, warns him against Dormammu, who punishes Clea for her betrayal. Clea, who becomes Doctor Strange’s only ally in the Dark Dimension, is held captive by Dormammu and is almost killed by Umar. To save Clea from Umar, the Ancient One sends her to a pocket dimension. Clea is later found and freed by Doctor Strange, who takes her back to Earth to live with him. While on Earth, Doctor Strange and Clea form a romantic relationship, and Clea later marries Doctor Strange and changes her name to Clea strange. Clea also trains under Doctor Strange in the Mastery of Magic and later returns to the Dark Dimension to become its Sorcerer Supreme.

In an interview with Variety in 2020, Theron revealed that she had never been asked to audition for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, despite past action films like The Old Guard, Atomic Blonde, F9 and Mad Max. “I swear to God. I’ve never gotten anything. No, I’m not lying to you. But that’s OK. You know what? I am paving my own way. I’m creating my own opportunities. So it’s all right,” she said at the time. In 2021, Giant Freaking Robot reported that Theron had been cast in a “major Marvel role,” though her role wasn’t known at the time. Giant Freaking Robot speculated at the time that Theron had been cast as Invisible Woman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s upcoming Fantastic Four movie, which was confirmed by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige in 2020.

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Who’s in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast?

The Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast sees the return of Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, Benedict Wong as Wong, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, and Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West from the first Doctor Strange movie in 2016. The Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast also includes Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (who starred with Cumberbatch in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame), as well as introduces Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. Patrick Stewart, who played role as Charles Xavier / Professor X in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movies, also made a cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

See below for the full Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast.

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2022, director Sam Raimi explained how Cumberbatch differentiated his variations of Doctor Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. “Noticing the little nuances that Benedict would come up with to differentiate his alter-self. Subtleties, waves of movement, distinct style of speech,” he said. He really is an actor’s actor, and he uses all the tools at his disposal quite elegantly. You can call ‘Action’ and then just lose yourself in his performance over the next two and a half minutes. You just have to remember to call ‘Cut,’ because he’s so spellbinding.”

Raimi also told Rolling Stone about how Olsen played a part in how Scarlet Witch’s story was told in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. “She had just come from that Emmy Award-winning show all about her character and the character’s growth. So it would be foolhardy to try and tell her who her character is or what her character was feeling at that moment. I can craft the the story going forward with her, but she’s got to be an integral part of the storytelling or it wouldn’t make any sense,” he said.

As for the cast member he was most surprised by, Raimi named Wong. “I think Benedict Wong. I didn’t know how funny he was in person, or how lively of a presence he was on set. He’s really super creative, and a great joy to work with. He really brings an energy and a sense of fun to his work that the movie really needs,” he said.

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In an interview with Moviefone, Cumberbatch also agreed with a past statement Raimi made about how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will change how fans think about the character. “I like to think so. I mean, there’s an awful lot going on in this film. I hope that isn’t lost on people. There is some character development, which I think is pretty crucial to him. I think we’ve seen him in his first introduction to the Marvel cinematic universe, as he was an arrogant neurosurgeon and a man trapped in a gilded cage of his own making,” he said. “His ego was driving what he was doing, it was not out of a duty of caring. Then to have a duty of caring, the idea of doing things for others, being selfless and sacrificing, that came with his transition into a superhero.”

He continued, “I think since the last few films he’s been pretty omnipotent and unquestionable, and then a human relationship with Peter Parker has destabilized all that and creates the need for him to help someone he both admired as a fellow soldier on the battlefield, so to speak, but also as a human being who’d lost his mentor and someone he cared about by the end of the film. It opened up the problem that he still faces in his own character, which is this level of arrogance believing that his way is the only way and only he can actually solve the problem. I think what he learns in this is it’s better to act together than to act alone. That’s the big shift I’d say, without pointing too much in the direction of how that happens.”

Will there be a Doctor Strange 3?

Will there be a Doctor Strange 3? SPOILER: A third Doctor Strange movie was confirmed at the end of the Strange in the Multiverse of Madness credits, which read: “Doctor Strange will return.” However, it could be a while until Doctor Strange 3 comes out. In an interview with IGN in 2022, Cumberbatch was asked how he balances between acting and fatherhood. “It gets very multiversal in real life as well,” he said. (Cumberbatch shares sons Finn, 3, Hal, 5, and Christopher, 6, with wife Sophie Hatcher.) When asked if there’s a variant he’s like to be, Cumberbatch responded, “I guess one that’s less busy, maybe… I might be that variant very soon, which is nice – taking a bit of a break.” See below for the confirmed Marvel Cinematic Universe movies set to premiere after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be available to stream on Disney Plus between June 20 and July 14, 2022. Here’s how to watch it for free.

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