Who does Charlize Theron play in Doctor Strange 2? Marvel character Clea explained

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness features a whole bunch of thrilling cameos, from alternate versions of characters we’ve seen before to new faces making their MCU introductions. One of its most exciting, however, arrives a little while after the film has ended – in its surprisingly starry mid-credits scene.

It’s so unexpected that you might have even missed a lot of the action or dialogue, as your mind tried to process the Hollywood A-lister you’d just seen on screen. If you’ve found yourself in that predicament, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Equally, if you haven’t seen Doctor Strange 2, get a ticket and some popcorn, and then come back to this spoiler-stuffed explainer. Right, now that the warning has been well-and-truly issued, let’s get to it…

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

*Warning: spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness*

Who could have guessed that Charlize Theron would be in Doctor Strange 2, bringing the character of Clea to life on the big screen? It’s a huge bit of casting news that Marvel Studios elected to keep a secret prior to release, which makes for a fun surprise while watching. In the Doctor Strange 2 post-credits scene, she appears behind Stephen as he’s walking down a New York City street. She calls out, “Doctor Strange?”

“Can I help you?” he replies, wearing a rather confused look on his face.

“You caused an incursion and we’re gonna fix it,” Clea claps back, as she slices a hole through Earth-616’s reality, which opens up onto a colorful space-like dimension. “Unless you’re afraid?”

To that, Strange whips off his scarf just as it turns into his cape, and he strides up to Clea confidently. “Not in the least,” he says, as his new third eye suddenly appears in the middle of his forehead, and the pair jump through the portal together. 

Who does Charlize Theron play in Doctor Strange 2?

Charlize Theron as Cipher in Fast 8

(Image credit: Universal)

Created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Clea made her first appearance in the comics back in November 1964, in an issue titled Strange Tales #126. In the source material, she’s known to be a powerful sorceress from the Dark Dimension – you know, the place in which Strange faced off against Dormammu in the first movie? Well, turns out, she’s actually Dormammu’s niece. 

Clea’s abilities include superhuman strength, transmutation, throwing magical bolts of concussive energy, teleporting, telekinesis, levitation, mesmerism, thought-casting, controlling others’ minds, and casting spells and illusions. She can also channel extra-dimensional energy by invoking entities or objects of power existing in dimensions tangential to Earth’s through the recitation of spells.

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As she is half-Faltine, it is also believed that she can generate her own mystical energy, like her mother Umar and Dormammu, and draw upon it to fuel her own magics. You can read more about Clea’s comic book history through that link.

Less than a week after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was released, Theron made reference to her cameo on Instagram, posting a red carpet shot of herself in a purple dress alongside the caption: “Cat’s out of the bag.”

A few days later, she shared an up-close selfie that showcased her Clea makeup, and a still of herself and Cumberbatch as Clea and Doctor Strange. You can see the post above. Theron wasn’t done there, either. She also uploaded a behind-the-scenes video (opens in new tab) that saw her being tested on camera, and in hair and costume trials.

Will Clea be in Doctor Strange 3?

While her introduction at the end of Doctor Strange 2 is brief, Clea will no doubt pop up in an upcoming MCU movie – or television series, perhaps? – later down the line. The sequence itself seems to suggest Strange and Clea will be seen teaming up to try and patch up the multiverse in the future, and it’s highly unlikely that Marvel would cast someone like Theron for less than a minute of overall screen time.

In the comics, Strange and Clea – who started off as Strange’s mentee, after she witnessed his confrontation with Dormammu in the Dark Dimension – go from allies and rebels, then from lovers to spouses, and Clea actually succeeds her husband as Sorcerer Supreme at one point. While Strange isn’t Sorcerer Supreme in the MCU – Benedict Wong’s Wong is – it seems safe to assume that there’s much more story to mine when it comes to this pair of magic-wielders.

“We knew that we wanted to introduce Clea,” Doctor Strange 2 writer Michael Waldron recently told Gizmodo (opens in new tab). “She’s Strange’s great love in the comics and it was felt to me like Strange wasn’t at the point at the start of our movie where he was ready to meet the love of his life. It felt like we had to close the loop with he and Christine Palmer. And so after she gives him her wisdom to not be afraid of loving someone, then it felt like we were right to tease what could be eventually with he and Clea.”

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