Sam Raimi’s horror movies tend to end abruptly with a final stinger that indicates that the hero, despite having survived the movie this far, is still screwed in a malicious, almost funny way. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is no exception, as it ends with a killer twist seeming at Strange’s expense. But, because it’s a Marvel movie, there are also post-credit scenes — one of which has huge implications for the future of the MCU. Let’s dive into what it all means, explain who that cameo was, and check-in with Bruce Campbell.
Warning: This story contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
As the movie wraps up, everything seems like it’s going great for Doctor Strange. Wanda sacrificed herself, America Chavez is training at Kamar-Taj, Strange and Wong are buddies, and the good doctor seems to have found some semblance of happiness and inner peace after all that madness. However, we’re reminded that he did use forbidden spells from the Darkhold to possess his own corpse, and it’s previously been established that using the Darkhold takes a terrible toll on the poor soul who reads from its pages. Nevertheless, Strange seems to be in great spirits, and he’s taking a stroll down the street when he suddenly collapses in pain as a third eye opens on his forehead! Just like the evil Strange he defeated in one of the alternate universes!
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness post-credits explained
There’s a hard cut to the credits, and it’s not hard to read this as a final twisted joke akin to Ash getting attacked at the end of Evil Dead or stranded back in time in Evil Dead 2. It’s a darker ending than the MCU is used to, although it’s perfectly in line with Multiverse of Madness’ tone.
Luckily, the first post-credit scene suggests that things aren’t actually all that bad for Doctor Strange. Once more, we see him walking down the streets of Manhattan when he’s approached by an unfamiliar woman. The woman, played by Charlize Theron, has white hair and a purple-heavy costume. She tells Strange that she needs his help to stop an incursion, which as the ill-fated Illuminati explained earlier in the movie, is a disastrous event that can occur when two universes interact. She uses some sort of magic dagger to slice open a gash in reality, and we can see what looks like the Dark Dimension from the first Doctor Strange inside. She beckons Strange, who whips out his cloak and busts out his third eye — which he seems totally chill with now — and gets ready for action.
Who is Charlize Theron playing?
Theron is playing Clea, a character from Doctor Strange comics whose inclusion in Multiverse of Madness had been rumored prior to the film’s release. Clea made her debut in Strange Tales #126, only about a year after Doctor Strange himself first appeared in Issue #110. She’s the Sorcerer Supreme of the Dark Dimension, meaning she’s Strange’s counterpart. (Assuming that’s still her title in the MCU, she would be Wong’s counterpart, as he currently bears that mantle.) She is also Dormmamu’s niece — that’s right, the big bad from the first Doctor Strange movie who Strange managed to bargain with after trapping them in a time loop. In the comics, Clea studied under Doctor Strange and eventually marries him, which perhaps means the MCU’s Strange will finally get over Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).
Doctor Strange post-credits might not set up a sequel
What this means for Doctor Strange’s next adventure, whether it’s a third theatrical film, another supporting role like in Spider-Man: No Way Home, or something in a Disney+ TV show, isn’t exactly clear, but it does introduce an exciting new character and probably love interest for Strange, as well as an opportunity to revisit the Dark Dimension.
The final post-credits scene has no such implications for the future of the MCU. It’s just a fun callback to an earlier cameo. Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell, who is a longtime friend and frequent collaborator of Raimi’s (he made cameos in Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, too), appeared earlier in the movie when Doctor Strange and America Chavez first arrive in the 838 Universe. America steals pizza balls from a street vendor named Pizza Poppa (Campbell), and he threatens her. Strange then casts a spell on Pizza Poppa, causing his own hand to attack him — a clear homage to Evil Dead 2, which boasts an iconic bit of physical comedy when Ash fights (and then cuts off) his own evil hand. The spell, Strange says, will last three weeks.
After all the credits have rolled, we cut back to a weary Pizza Poppa, who looks terrible, as he’s still punching himself in the face. Then, suddenly, it stops. He laughs and hams it up in a way that truly only Bruce Campbell can and then turns to the camera (which does a sudden zoom in, a Raimi signature) and shouts “It’s over!”
And, with that, the movie is truly over. Interestingly, Doctor Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch has recently said he’s taking a break from Marvel after this film. So, if Clea (Theron) is coming to the MCU, it might not be in a Doctor Strange movie? Basically, the set-up of Multiverse of Madness may lead to various non-Strange MCU movies. Or, who knows, even more Disney+ shows.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out in theaters now.