Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness featured several high-profile cameos, but the surprise appearance of the ivory-haired sorceress Clea (played by Charlize Theron) in the first of the film’s two post-credits scenes may be the most important of them all. Not only does her short exchange with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange seem to be a direct set-up to the next Doctor Strange film, but it also serves as the MCU’s first introduction to one of Marvel’s most powerful magic users.
With Clea all but guaranteed to play a pivotal role in the cinematic universe going forward, many fans will no doubt be eager to learn more about the Sorceress Supreme of the Dark Dimension. This guide will serve as a comprehensive explanation of who this powerful character is, what she’s capable of, and which stories are essential reading for anyone who wants to follow her incredible journey from helpless damsel in distress to experienced heroine.
Who is Clea?
When Dormammu and his sister Umar conquered the Dark Dimension, they choose to spare the realm’s infant heir, Prince Orini. Shortly after Orini reached adulthood and became Dormammu’s chief disciple, Umar developed an interest in humanity and engaged in a short-lived romance with Orini that resulted in the birth of Clea. After Umar was banished to another dimension following a failed attempt to seize Dormammu’s throne, Orini raised his daughter on his own and taught her the ways of sorcery, keeping both her parentage and her lineage as a half-Faltine a secret to protect her from his master.
While Strange was making his first journey into the Dark Dimension, Clea encountered him by chance, and a mutual attraction immediately formed between them. Despite knowing the potential consequences of her actions, she assisted Strange throughout many of his early battles with Dormammu, acting as the Sorcerer Supreme’s only ally within the Dark Dimension. For her defiance, Clea was eventually captured and imprisoned by Dormammu, but she would eventually be released after Dormammu was seemingly defeated for good.
Shortly afterwards, Umar returned to claim the vacant throne of the Dark Dimension and forced Clea to flee to Earth, where she took up residence at the Sanctum Sanctorum and became Strange’s lover and disciple. Throughout their adventures together, Clea grew into a powerful sorceress in her own right, with her mystical prowess quickly becoming equal to Strange’s. Returning to the Dark Dimension to challenge Umar, Clea defeated her mother and became ruler of the Dark Dimension before marrying Strange. While their marriage would eventually come to an end, the two found a way to remain on good terms and work together to protect both of their worlds.
As the Sorceress Supreme of the Dark Dimension and the daughter of a Faltine, Clea is one of the most powerful magical beings in the multiverse. Capable of casting spells on par with the ones Strange commands, Clea has protected both Earth and the Dark Dimension from monsters and rival sorcerers alike. While her duties to her constantly warring realm have kept her from joining as many superhero teams as her ex-husband, she has remained a steadfast ally to the superhero community, ready to rush to the aid of Earth, and her beloved, whenever they face a mystical threat that requires the power of two Sorcerer Supremes.
Essential Clea Reading
Over the years, Clea has played a role in many of the most pivotal conflicts in the Marvel universe, and her character has undergone many changes as a result. From her early days as Strange’s naive apprentice to her time as the competent ruler of the Dark Dimension, here are some of the most important steps in Clea’s journey
First Appearance: Strange Tales (1964) # 126-127
In her first appearance in Strange Tales # 126 (by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Artie Simek), Clea was an unnamed observer who watched Strange as he took his first tentative steps into the Dark to prevent Dormammu from claiming dominion over the Earth. Initially dismissing “the human creature” as a dead man, Clea’s curiosity turned to admiration as she watched the Master of the Mystic Arts bravely confront and defeat the many mystical obstacles that he encountered in the Dark Dimension. Fearing that Strange was no match for Dormammu Clea appeared before him and begged him to turn back before it was too late.
Unfortunately, Clea’s “betrayal” was witnessed by Dormammu, who retaliated by putting her in chains and forcing her to watch as he and Strange dueled for the fate of the Earth. However, when the Mindless Ones escaped from their prison in the middle of the battle, Strange selflessly lent his power to Dormammu, allowing the Dread One to reimpress the Mindless Ones. Now indebted to Strange, Dormammu swore to never again directly threaten the Earth and released Clea, who showed the first indication of developing feelings for Strange.
Battles with Silver Dagger: Doctor Strange (1974) # 1-5
Almost immediately after she left the Dark Dimension and settled into the Sanctum Sanctorum, Clea was targeted by Silver Dagger, a fanatical former priest who believed it was his divine duty to exterminate all magic users. After trapping Strange’s soul within the Orb of Agamotto, Silver Dagger took Clea captive and imprisoned her in the dungeon beneath his lair, subjecting her to various forms of torture in an effort to force her to give up witchcraft.
Despite her pain and exhaustion, Clea managed to use what she’d learned from her training to communicate with Strange’s soul and trade energy with him, giving her the strength to break free of her shackles and escape back to the Sanctum Sanctorum. She then successfully extracted Strange soul from the Orb of Agamotto and returned it to his body. While Strange was ultimately the one to defeat Silver Dagger, Clea’s time in captivity showed how strong her will had become and how much her skills as a sorceress had improved in the brief time she spent as Strange’s apprentice.
War for the Throne of the Dark Dimension: Doctor Strange (1974) # 53, 58, 72-74
After having gained extensive knowledge and skill as a sorceress during her time in the Sanctum Sanctorum, Clea decided that it was finally time to return to the Dark Dimension and free her home from Umar’s tyranny. Taking a leading role in a rebellion that had already formed against her mother, Clea proved herself to be a viable threat to the Faltine’s empire thanks to her newfound mystical power.
After reconciling with Strange (who traveled to the Dark Dimension to fight by her side), Clea confronted her father Orini and learned that Umar was her mother. Despite this, Clea stayed true to her cause and challenged Umar to a duel for the throne. During the battle that followed, Clea held her own against her mother and tricked her into publicly admitting that the lives of the Dark Dimension’s inhabitants meant nothing to her. The citizens of the Dark Dimension then gave their collective mystical energy to Clea, who used it to defeat Umar. After she officially took the throne, Clea and Strange were wed.
Becoming Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme in Death of Doctor Strange # 1-5 (2021)
While Clea and Strange’s love for one another remained strong, their conflicting duties to their respective realms put a strain on their relationship, eventually driving them to dissolve their marriage on amicable terms. However, when Strange was brutally murdered by his long-time foe Kaecilius, Clea stepped in to help a magically-created “remnant” of Strange’s younger self solve the mystery of his murder and rein in the many mystical threats that the Sorcerer Supreme’s death had unleashed upon the world. During their time together, Clea confessed to the young Strange that, despite her claims to the contrary, she could never let go of her feelings for his future self.
Eventually, Clea and Young Strange were able to discover Kaecilius’ role in Strange’s death and thwart his attempt to claim the title of Sorcerer Supreme for himself by tricking him into resurrecting Strange. Sadly, Strange’s resurrection was only temporary, and the Sorcerer Supreme used his final moments to renew his vows with Clea and bestow his title onto her.
Honoring Strange’s Legacy: Strange (2021)
After assuming her late husband’s title as the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, Clea recently took up residence in the Sanctum once again, dedicating herself to protecting the mystical world in the stead of her beloved. However, Clea has proven herself to be a much more aggressive and militant version of the Sorcerer Supreme.
While she has proven willing to fight to protect the title from would-be usurpers like Doctor Doom, her main priority is finding a way to permanently bring Strange back to life, putting her at odds with the Harvestmen, a powerful agent of death determined to prevent the resurrection.
CBR’s Best Clea Features
May the Mists of Hoggoth protect you on your journey, friend. If this guide has left you wanting to know more about Clea, CBR’s talented team of writers and editors are here to help with a series of in-depth analyzes and breakdowns of Clea’s latest adventures.
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