This post contains Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here.
Sometimes, Marvel’s mid- and post-credits sequences are fun jokes, but more often than not, they set up future plots. As its title suggests, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness offers plenty of plot points for later Marvel entries to explore.
The film introduces Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, a fan favorite from the comic universe who has carried her own series. Based on the brief look we get in this movie, Chavez seems primed to star in a universe-hopping Disney+ series.
But the real potential for future stories occurred during the Illuminati sequence. There, we not only saw the return of Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, making this the first official appearance of an X-Men character in the MCU, but also John Krasinski as Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Marvel’s first superhero team. Add in Hayley Atwell as a live-action Captain Carter (first seen in animated form in What If…) and Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau claiming the Captain Marvel title over Carol Danvers, and you have plenty of movies and series for Kevin Feige and crew to plan during their retreat (yes, Anson Mount’s Black Bolt is also there, but is anyone clamoring for more Inhumans?).
For many fans, the bigger question involves the movie’s villain, Wanda Maximoff. Last year’s MCU series WandaVision left Wanda with some hope of redemption after entrancing the entire town of Westview to deal with her trauma. But she makes a full-on heel-turn in Multiverse of Madness, with Elizabeth Olsen vamping it up as one of the franchise’s best villains. While it appears that Wanda met her end at the climax of the film, many fans sat through the credits waiting for a sign that the Scarlet Witch may yet redeem herself (or, at the very least, whisper “No, more mutants!” and bring the rest of the X-Men into the MCU).
Did the post-credits of Multiverse of Madness live up to these great expectations? Or did fans shuffle out with a frown on their face, frustrated that they sat through several minutes of credits just to see an ant play the drums?
Bruce Campbell as Pizza Poppa
In the second of the two additional scenes, the owner of a pizza cart finally stops punching himself in the face. On a narrative level, this scene pays off a joke from earlier in the movie, in which Strange curses a man who hassles him and Chavez . As the two heroes walk away, the pizza guy starts slapping and punching his own face, a condition that, Strange informs America, will continue for a while!
While the curse might seem particularly cruel, it has its roots in friendship. The pizza proprietor is played by none other than Bruce Campbell, boyhood friend and frequent collaborator of Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi. The handsome and charming Campbell proved to be a perfect leading man for Raimi’s earliest films, including his debut feature, The Evil Dead.
But it’s in the breakthrough sequel Evil Dead 2 where Raimi unlocked Campbell’s ability to put in an unhinged physical performance, all based around the director torturing his old pal. After his character Ash Williams has his hand possessed by the demonic Deadites, Campbell smashes plates on his head and flips himself over. If you listen closely, you can almost hear Raimi giggling like he’s Johnny Knoxville, happy to making his buddy undergo such ridiculous feats.
Charlize Theron as Clea
Before the Bruce Campbell moment, the mid-credit sequence of Multiverse of Madness more closely follows the Marvel model. Just minutes after Doctor Strange screamed and his third eye peered into the distance, the mid-credit sequence opens with Strange walking down a different New York street some time later, seemingly come to terms with the third eye he’s manifested. He’s greeted by a striking woman with long white hair, dressed in a purple uniform. Opening a portal, she entreats him to join her on a mission, a challenge Strange gladly accepts.
Movie-goers will recognize the purple lady’s actress as the great Charlize Theron, star of Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde, and F9. But unless they’re fans of Doctor Strange comics, they may not recognize the character she plays as Clea. Created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee for 1964’s Strange Tales #126, Clea first appeared as a figure in the Dark Dimension ruled by the dread Dormammu. When Baron Karl Mordo sought power from Dormammu to destroy the Ancient One and Doctor Strange, Clea came to the sorcerer’s rescue, risking punishment from the lord of her realm.
Over the years, Clea became a constant ally in Strange’s battles against Dormammu, to the point that she had to escape to Earth for her own safety. As she studied in the Sanctum Santorum and joined Strange on his adventures, the two became increasingly close. But even as her love for Strange grew, she eventually needed to return to the Dark Dimension to overthrow its new ruler Umar, Dormammu’s sister and Clea’s mother. In the ensuing battle, Clea banished both her mother and her father Orini, and became the Dark Dimension’s new ruler.
Despite their distance, Clea and Strange remained in love and eventually married. But it all ended when Strange entered into a deal with the demonic Mephisto to save the universe, agreeing to accept the satanic figure’s bargain and remove Clea’s memory of him. The two eventually reunited, but never in full, as Strange later died. In his absence, Clea took on not only the last name Strange but also the title of Sorcerer Supreme, a role she currently serves in the Marvel Universe.
What Does that Mean for the Future of the MCU?
Right now, it’s unclear. In the comics, Clea has interacted with other Marvel characters, but she largely stays within Doctor Strange’s orbit. The most logical assumption would be that she won’t return until Doctor Strange 3, should that movie happen. If it follows the comic book arcs, the third movie would involve Clea and Strange teaming up against Dormammu (last seen in the first Doctor Strange), possibly needing to battle Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo.
However, it wouldn’t be impossible that Clea would appear in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, as the Quantum Realm shares more than a little resemblance to her homeworld in the Dark Dimension. Plus, her magical powers would make her a fine ally against Kang the Conqueror, the expected baddie in Ant-Man’s next adventure.
An even more intriguing possibility would be that Clea eventually takes over for Doctor Strange, much like Sam Wilson has picked up the Captain America mantle from Steve Rogers. Marvel tends to sign its actors to six-picture deals, which Cumberbatch has fulfilled with Multiverse of Madness. He can certainly sign on for more movies, as Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow did after their contract completed. But with Clea in the mix, Marvel can ensure that the Sanctum Santorum remains protected, even if Cumberbatch’s Strange has gone the way of the Ancient One.