Warning: There are major spoilers in this article detailing the plot and credits scenes of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
By the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, our hero (Benedict Cumberbatch) has managed to save the multiverse from the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff, who was under the influence of the evil magic book known as the Darkhold.
That victory didn’t come without its losses, as Wanda killed an astonishing number of people across multiple universes, all to find a world where she could be with her twin boys. Doctor Strange not only watched his fellow Avenger plunge into inescapable darkness, but also witnessed said murders, and realized that no matter the universe, he could never be with the love of his life, Christine (Rachel McAdams).
But his job isn’t done.
The mid-credits scene is set sometime after the events of the movie. Doctor Strange is accosted on what appears to be a street in New York City (where the sorcerer lives). Who could it be?
The one and only Charlize Theron, in superhero garb.
She knows who he is, which isn’t surprising, given that he’s famous for traveling across the multiverse. He doesn’t seem to know her, but he hears her out. Theron tells him there’s a universe that’s experiencing an incursion, the Marvel term for when an unstable universe collapses in on itself (mainly because of multiverse shenanigans). She asks him for help, and he says he’s ready to go. The two jump through a portal to save the aforementioned universe and the scene ends.
Similarly, Theron’s introduction is both a casting announcement — Theron’s name has been attached to numerous rumors and fancasts about Marvel, but she hasn’t officially been announced as having signed a Marvel contract — and a setup for Doctor Strange’s next adventures.
A big question, though, is who is Theron playing? She’s wearing big, futuristic violet shoulder pads, sporting killer eyeliner, and has hair so slick and straight it signals that wherever she’s from has technology beyond even flat irons and blow dryers. It’s a costume we haven’t seen before. Based on the uniforms that sorcerers-in-training wear at the Kamar-Taj magic school — similar from film to film — it does not appear that she’s one of Strange’s disciples. She also has powers, mainly a purple laser light blade projecting from her hands, that are unique to the character.
According to the credits, Theron is playing a character named “Clea.”
The name could be a red herring, a misdirection, or a kind of composite character that is a very loose interpretation of a character that exists in the comic books (see: the Sylvie character in Loki who was based on a few characters significant to Thor’s publication history). But the name “Clea” has, in the books, important implications in the world of Doctor Strange. In the comics, Clea is an extra-dimensional being and powerful magic-wielder who becomes one of Doctor Strange’s most trusted allies. She is also one of Strange’s primary love interests.
In their comic book adventures, Clea and Strange often clash with the villain of the first Doctor Strange movie, Dormammu (voiced in that film partially by Cumberbatch). In the source material, Dormammu is also Clea’s uncle. And in that first movie, Dormammu wasn’t vanquished or killed, but rather came to an agreement with Strange that he wouldn’t interfere with Earth. Dormammu still being alive in the MCU and a possible threat is another avenue for Marvel to connect Strange and Clea.
Of course, there’s a whole slate of Marvel projects between now and the next Doctor Strange movie. It might be a while before we see Theron get to play around in the MCU, but her casting is, no doubt, huge news for the future of Marvel.
In addition to the Theron blockbuster, the movie has a second credits scene at the very end. It’s a jokey one, not unlike the Captain America quips that were featured at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming. It features Bruce Campbell, who has a cameo in the movie as an alternate-world pizza ball merchant. (In his world, pizza comes in the form of balls.)
Campbell and Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi are old friends, having started out together on the Evil Dead franchise. Campbell also appeared briefly in all three of the director’s Spider-Man films. This time, Campbell gets to tell the audience it’s all over and to go home — until the next Marvel movie, of course.