After two hours of gory body-horror hallucinogenics, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness follows the conventional Marvel credits scene playbook, using the final moments to introduce a major character in the Doctor Strange universe—which, we guess, now includes every universe.
That character, Clea Strange, played by movie multiverse badass Charlize Theron, materializes to chide Doctor Strange, telling him he must answer for an “incursion” he caused, and then ushering him through a portal into some kind of colorful dimension. (Maybe the Dark Dimension?)
An “incursion” occurs when portals or travel between universes cause one or both to be obliterated. The Doctor Strange of Earth-838, who we learn dies after fighting Thanos, caused an incursion to wipe out an entire universe, an act for which his death served as punishment. While we see Earth-616 Doctor Strange (the MCU’s long-standing Doctor Strange) move through universes both with American Chavez and by dream walking, we’re unsure what incursion he caused. (For further background on all this incursion talk, you can check out writer Jonathan Hickman's 2016 Secret Wars comic arc, and his Avengers run that came before it.)
Perhaps this is the plot for the next Doctor Strange film, which we’re told at the end (of the end of the credits and credit scenes), will take place.
“You caused an incursion and we're gonna fix it—unless you’re afraid?” the artist formerly known as Furiosa says, as she opens the portal.
Doctor Strange, now with a third eye: “Not in the least.”
Who Is Clea Strange in the Marvel Comics?
Clear first appeared in Strange Tales #126, released in 1964. She is the daughter of the Dark Dimension’s prince and niece of its later ruler, Dormammu.
The Dark Dimension is another space contained in the Earth-616 universe. In Marvel, “dimensions” seem to function as largely inaccessible realms from which both heroes and villains emerge. (Asgard is technically a “dimension,” as are the quantum dimension and Ta Lo from Shang Chi.)
The Dark Dimension is ruled by Dormammu, who wants to conquer other dimensions and add them to his own hellish domain.
In the comics, Clea first meets Doctor Strange after the Ancient One sends Strange to the Dark Dimension to defeat Dormammu. Clea and Strange become allies and eventually develop a romantic relationship with Clea even moving to New York. (She also marries Strange, which is why her name appears often as Clea Strange.) She trains under Strange and eventually returns to the Dark Dimension to become its Sorcerer Supreme.
She also played a key role in one of the most recent Strange comic arcs, titled Death of Doctor Strange; after Doctor Strange dies (to the extent that anyone is ever really dead in comics), at the end of the five-issue arc, Clea becomes the Sorcerer Supreme in the main 616 dimension. She even led her own series, simply titled Strange.
How Will Clea Fit Into the MCU?
Her introduction tells us Clea is already aware of Doctor Strange—and already possesses magical abilities, which already makes her relationship with Strange quite different from the comics (and different from the other romantic relationship that Strange just had to let go of—with Rachel McAdams' Christine Palmer).
Perhaps there's another tragic romantic subplot for Steven, but we really hope not.
We'd expect the two to form an alliance and battle Dormammu in the next film.