Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hit theaters a few weeks ago now, and there has certainly been a lot to think about for the past, present, and future of the MCU. In a brief but memorable mid-credit scene for the movie, a very important character in the story of Doctor Strange is introduced – Clea (played by Charlize Theron). There is a long history between these two Sorcerers Supreme, so let’s take a look at how Clea came to be, and get to know this Strange Mistress of the Dark Dimension a bit better.
In The Beginning
In Strange Tales issue #126, Doctor Strange took a trip to the Dark Dimension to face the Dread Dormammu. As he traveled through this other dimension a mysterious, silver-haired woman watched him. She followed Doctor Strange, and the ‘human creature’ impressed her. Eventually, she tried to stop him from facing Dormammu.
Throughout the story arc of ‘The Domain of the Dread Dormammu’, the silver-haired woman went through a lot. Dormammu imprisoned her for her betrayal and would deal with her after he defeated Strange. However, after he is forced to team up with Stephen Strange to contain the Mindless ones, Dormammu was in Doctor Strange’s debt. Strange forced him to free the young woman and promise he would not invade earth.
It wasn’t until almost two years later that we learned her name was Clea. In this time, she was once again imprisoned by Dormammu, forced to watch as Doctor Strange battled Baron Mordo and then Dormammu, and then banished to another dimension. She was eventually rescued by Eternity, but her safety didn’t last very long.
When Eternity helped Clea, he also defeated Dormammu. This left the Dark Dimension without a ruler, and Umar, the sister of Dormammu, seized her moment. She sent Clea to another dimension once more to trick Doctor Strange and defeat him. While Strange was able to save Clea again, the Ancient One convinced him it was not safe for Clea to stay on Earth, and he sent her to yet another dimension.
Throughout the early issues of Doctor Strange Volume 1, she was trapped by Dormammu again in an unknown dimension, and Doctor Strange was able to save her one more time. He finally realized that maybe sending her to other dimensions was not the best idea, and she came to live on earth.
While on Earth, she lost her power and began to miss her home. She took to spending time in the Sanctum Santorum library in the hope of regaining her power. When Doctor Strange became the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, he asked Clea to become his disciple in the mystic arts. She went on many adventures with Doctor Strange and began to fall in love with him.
In Doctor Strange Volume 2, Clea decided to return to the Dark Dimension. Her people wanted her to become their ruler, and she joined a rebellion to overthrow Umar. During the rebellion, Clea learned that Umar was her mother in issue #72. After winning the fight, she banished Umar and Orini (her father) to another dimension. Clea then became the ruler of the Dark Dimension but had to leave Strange after he turned down her offer to be her aid and consort.
A Strange Love Story
Although hurt by his leaving, Clea once again met with Strange. At that time, Strange finally confessed his love for Clea, and Clea married Strange according to the laws of the Dark Dimension. In issue #3 of Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, they began wearing rings that bound them together by magic.
This would come to help later as they faced Umar once more, and any spell she cast to hurt Strange also hurt Clea. Umar did not want to hurt her daughter and eventually helped defeat Dormammu. But his threat to the Dark Dimension was ever-present, and they needed Clea more often.
All of this time spent away from Earth proved to be too much for the couple. She was heartbroken after Strange started to stray, and didn’t return to Earth for a long time. After Strange was weakened by the Empirikul, she went to him once more to break their magic bond in the hopes of helping him. The two were able to reconcile and remained friends rather than lovers.
A New Sorcerer Supreme
In 2019, something new threatened not only the Earth but reality itself. In Doctor Strange volume 5, our old foe Dormammu was back to his old tricks. Only he wasn’t working alone.
In the story arc ‘Herald Supreme’, Mephisto agreed to help Dormammu orchestrate a plan. The plan was to make Galactus consume a magical planet that gave him new forms of magic. Dormammu hoped to become the new Herald to an all-powerful ‘eater of worlds and magic’, but Galactus ate him.
In order to save the universe, Strange visited Mephisto and found he had taken Clea hostage. Strange asked for help to save the universe and Clea. Mephisto agreed- but all magic comes at a cost, and Strange’s payment was to be his true love. In issue #17, all of Clea’s memories of Strange were erased after the universe was saved.
Clea would regain her memories once Stephen Strange died in The Death of Doctor Strange. She returned to help Earth defeat the Peregrine Child and the Three Mothers, along with a time-displaced version of Strange. Clea had to lose Strange for the third time in this story, and her heartbreak continues into her current comic book run.
In the current series Strange, Clea takes on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme of Earth and the Dark Dimension. Her story in this role is just beginning, but something evil is coming. While she tries her best to bring Stephen Strange back from the dead, she also has a lot going on in the magical world.
Clea – The Mistress of the Dark Dimension
Clea Strange has had a long and tragic history. Despite many trips to unknown dimensions, family reunions that are just the worst, and a less than ideal love life, she has come out strong on all occasions. Clea has finally joined the MCU, portrayed by Charlize Theron, and her part in the comics is growing bigger. While the multiverse is ever-expanding, and her powers are growing, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ll definitely be seeing more of this character. We can only hope she’ll become as important in the films as she is in the comics.
Are you excited to see Charlize Theron playing Clea in the MCU? Let us know in the comments or on social media @mycosmiccircus!
Would you like to explore more about the characters and elements from the comics in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Check out Vin’s helpful comic book reading guides for the movie below!