Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Charlize Theron.
Six days after the debut of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Theron posted to Instagram the official first look of her as Clea, her character introduced in the mid-credits scene of the Marvel Studios film.
Theron’s casting as Clea had been rumored for the last few weeks as word of the many surprises in “Multiverse of Madness” began to trickle through the internet. But Theron’s post marks the first time the Oscar-winning actor has acknowledged she’s playing the character. (Warning: The rest of this story contains some light spoilers for “Multiverse of Madness.”)
In the film, Theron appears in full sorcerer regalia while Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is walking down the street. She tells him that his multiverse hopping actions from the film have caused an “incursion” between universes, which is, as it sounds, not a good thing. After ripping the fabric of reality to reveal a portal to the Dark Dimension — i.e. Clea’s home — she asks Strange to join her to repair the damage, and he does.
In the Marvel comics, Clea is a fellow sorcerer with a lineage that traces directly to Dormammu, the overlord of the Dark Dimension who faced off with Strange in the climax of 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” (In that film, Dormammu is represented by a semi-corporeal giant floating head also voiced by Cumberbatch, whereas Clea is, to recap, played by the flesh-and-blood Theron sporting smokey magenta eye shadow.) Eventually, Clea and Strange get married, but Clea must commute between the Dark Dimension and Strange’s reality, which, naturally, puts something of a strain on their relationship.
At this point, it is unclear where Theron’s version of Clea will go within the MCU, but the post-credit scene strongly suggests that she and Cumberbatch will headline the next “Doctor Strange” movie. Given that Theron is one of the biggest established stars ever to join the Marvel Studios fold, it also seems likely that Clea could have a long and healthy future within the MCU.
Theron is next set to appear in the Netflix film “The School for Good and Evil,” directed by Paul Feig and costarring Kerry Washington, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Rachel Bloom and Laurence Fishburne. She’s also set to reprise her role as the villain Cipher in “Fast X,” which recently paused production after director Justin Lin unexpectedly dropped out a week into filming; days later, Universal hired Louis Leterrier as a replacement.