Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is filled with surprises. Seriously. Chock full of ‘em. In fact, the film itself probably has more surprises in it than the ones waiting for you in the end credits. We’re going to dive into all of those early next week but, for now, let’s specifically talk about the end credit scenes, of which there are two. One in the middle of the credits, and one at the very end.
This, of course, will require discussions of some major spoilers so only move on if you aren’t worried about that.
Of the two scenes, the mid-credit one is by far the more surprising and intriguing, carrying with it huge implications for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After saving America Chavez and, thereby, the entire multiverse, Stephen Strange is strolling down the street in New York City. Just then, a mysterious woman dressed in purple shows up. She tells Strange that his actions traveling the multiverse are about to start another incursion (which is when two universes collide, completely destroying one another) and that he needs to go with her and help. She cuts a hole in reality with a blade, opening a portal on the sidewalk, and Strange says he’s ready to go, as his brand new forehead eye (acquired due to his meddling with the Darkhold) opens wide.
First thing’s first. Yes, that actress is none other than Oscar-winner Charlize Theron, making her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. But who is she playing? You just need to watch a few minutes of credits to see she’s Clea, a Marvel character who has been around since 1964. She’s a multi-dimensional traveler, obviously, who has a complex, cosmic backstory involving Dormammu, the big bad of the first Doctor Strange film. Eventually, though, she settled on Earth and became Strange’s apprentice in the mystic arts. Later, the two marry, and when Stephen dies, she takes over the title of Sorcerer Supreme.
The implication here, especially in the casting of Charlize Freaking Theron, is that Clea and Strange are about to go on another epic adventure. Is this the plot to Doctor Strange 3? Is it a new Avengers movie? Loki season 2? We aren’t sure. But what we are sure of is Clea will almost certainly exist beyond that next story because you simply don’t cast an actress like Charlize Theron for one scene. In fact, her casting in that role means we’ve just met one of the next, big, characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and gotten a tease of an upcoming, major, storyline.
That’s scene one. Scene two, which follows the all-important declaration that “Doctor Strange Will Return,” needs much less explanation. While my prediction watching was that we’d see WandaVision’s Agatha Harkness freed since the Darkhold was now gone, Sam Raimi decided to turn the camera back onto his good friend, Bruce Campbell. Campbell, who starred in Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy and cameos in most of his other films, appears earlier in the movie. He’s the Pizza Poppa, a street vendor on Earth 838, whom Strange casts a spell on to smack himself for three straight weeks.
At the end of the credits, we see that the Pizza Poppa is still hitting and smacking himself until... he stops, declaring that it’s over, in a funny wink not just to the spell being over, but the movie itself. What some fans might not realize though is that the entire idea of Campbell playing a character who keeps hitting himself is a riff on his character, Ash, in the Evil Dead 2. In that film, Ash’s hand becomes possessed and basically does the exact same thing to him. Until he cuts it off and replaces it with a chainsaw. So that’s just another level the brief, funny scene works on for fans of Raimi’s previous films. (You can watch it in the embedded clip above.)
But what about the Illuminati, Scarlet Witch, Mordo, and more? Check back early next week. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now in theaters.
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