Now that Marvel Studios has lifted the veil of secrecy around the movie, Charlize Theron has finally revealed her character in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
“Meet Clea,” Theron posted on Twitter.
While “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” doesn’t specifically set up who Charlize Theron is playing and why she makes her debut minutes into the closing credits of the movie, it does establish that anybody could show up. And as it turns out, anybody happens to be Charlize Theron.
Theron appears, wielding a big magical sword (one that can tear a hole through universes) and wearing a pretty witchy get-up. She is definitely not of this earth. She tells Strange that his multiverse shenanigans have caused an “incursion.” Earlier in the movie we’ve learned that an incursion can happen with multiverse travel; it could lead to one or more universes completely collapsing in on themselves. Another universe’s Strange caused an incursion and their ruling group of superheroes, known as the Illuminati, straight-up murdered Strange for the offense.
If Theron is just asking for Strange’s help, that’s a big plus! We couldn’t see our version of the beloved hero taken out for his crimes against the multiverse.
Clea was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and the character first appeared in “Strange Tales” issue #126, published in November 1964 (groovy). And she has been on film before, actually, and was played by Anne-Marie Martin in the 1978 television movie/backdoor pilot “Dr. Strange” (yes it was actually spelled like that).
In the comics, she is from the Dark Dimension and is the niece of Dormammu, the big scary monster that Doctor Strange faced down in the first film. (Remember when Strange does that time travel thing and basically annoys the big monster to death?) While she appears human she is very much not. Also: she eventually marries Doctor Strange and, following last year’s “Death of Doctor Strange” comic book event, she actually became the mainline Marvel continuity’s Sorcerer Supreme. She even got her own comic book, simply titled “Strange.”
Clea’s arrival in the MCU means a few things.
One: it complicates the Doctor Strange character, who until now has had a long and somewhat tortured relationship with Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). Christine gets married in this movie, which sends Strange along an existential quest that runs alongside his adventures hopping between (and through) universes with his new teenage sidekick. Does he somehow know that Clea is his one true love of him? Does she know? Has she been traveling through time as well as parallel universes?
It also, hopefully, means that McAdams will be relieved of the largely thankless task of trying to do something interesting with Christine. While she is marginally more important in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” including working alongside the Illuminati in one of the parallel dimensions, the two “Strange” movies haven’t properly utilized everything that McAdams could bring to the role. And it seems like the MCU has no intention of turning Christine into the Night Nurse, a moniker assumed by several different characters (including Christine).
Clea’s appearance also means that there is some kind of threat that requires both her and Strange to combat and, we’re guessing, will once again threaten the survival of the entire multiverse. (Somebody tell Loki and the gang at the TVA!) This might be a case of setting the stakes unnecessarily high, but this could also establish impending doom like the way that Thanos first made a cameo at the end of “The Avengers” back in 2012. Clearly, the multiverse is going to factor into whatever the next big MCU “event” will be (remember that “Loki” has already pointed towards an all-out multiverse war). And this is one small piece of a much larger puzzle.
Also of note, at the very end of the credits, four words appear: “Doctor Strange will return.” He’d better. He’s got a big mess to clean up.