Let's face it: Marvel may not have announced it, but we all know there's going to be a Doctor Strange sequel. Those end-credits teased a fascinating future arc for Chiwetel Ejiofor's Mordo, setting him up to transition from an ally to the Sorcerer Supreme's arch-nemesis. With fans eager for news about the future of the Masters of the Mystic Arts, director Scott Derrickson has taken to Twitter to hint at what may yet happen. And when asked about other characters who could crop up, he singled out one intriguing lady...
Marvel fans will be grinning from ear-to-ear right now, but the rest of the world is no doubt wondering: Who is Clea?
Who Is Clea?
In the climax of Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch's mystical superhero enters the Dark Dimension and confronts the cosmic evil of the Dread Dormammu. It may surprise you to learn, though, that Dormammu is a bit of a "family man" — well, a "family monster," if you will. This evil being has a sister — and, in fact, has a niece. Clea is that niece.
In the comics, when Doctor Strange first entered the Dark Dimension he caught a glimpse of a silver-haired woman who warned him against confronting Dormammu. As the years went on, we learned that her father was Dormammu's greatest disciple, and two years after her first appearance we finally learned her name.
Doctor Strange and the Ancient One finally rescued Clea from the Dark Dimension, and she took to living with the Sorcerer Supreme in the Sanctum Sanctorum. There, she became both Doctor Strange's apprentice — and his lover. To give an idea of how powerful she ultimately became, Clea finally took control of the Dark Dimension, banishing both her mother Umar and Dormammu himself. While in that position, she finally married Doctor Strange.
When we last saw Clea, Dormammu had wrested control of the Dark Dimension away from her, and she was leading a rebellion. Things don't seem to have gone well — in the last Defenders series we saw her in Asgard, hiding out from the threat of Dormammu.
Could Clea Enter the MCU?
As you can see, Clea is a powerful and important figure in Doctor Strange lore. The mentor/apprentice dynamic is a fascinating mirror-image of the one that Doctor Strange himself enjoyed with the Ancient One, but with the added element of growing love. What's more, with Dormammu sure to return she'd bring some very intriguing elements to the future of the #MCU.
In Doctor Strange, #Marvel chose to cast Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer. Although Christine played a love-interest, the truth is that she played a narrative role rather than anything else; she gave us a normal human reaction to cosmic events, helping to earth the story. But the romance between Christine Palmer and Doctor Strange wasn't exactly crackling with sexual tension, and her narrative role is largely fulfilled. In truth, she isn't required for future stories; the distance between Doctor Strange and Christine Palmer is now so great that they may as well inhabit separate worlds.
That leaves the titular hero potentially romance-free for the inevitable Doctor Strange 2. But could Clea be used? Screenwriter Jon Spaihts is apparently undecided:
“She’s a tricky character to interpret because her uncle is a kind of fire-headed omnipotent god and she’s kind of a hot babe who studies magic. That’s a tricky relationship to bring out of a comic book and on to a movie screen. But she’s a really compelling character as a foil, a love interest, a colleague of Doctor Strange’s, and she always carries with her that width of mystery as to whether she is human, and how human, and what that means for his relationship to her. So we might find a way to introduce her to the story.”
Now, it's worth noting that Spaihts hasn't been hired to write Doctor Strange 2 yet (at least, as far as we know). But this clearly gives us an informed perspective; bringing Clea to the MCU would be a difficult proposition, but he views her as a compelling character who could be really interesting to write. Combine that with Derrickson's tweet, and it seems very likely that the character will turn up sooner or later - whether in Doctor Strange 2 or an even later film.
Personally, I can see real potential for Clea as a long-term element in the MCU. Imagine, for example, if she was introduced as an apprentice in the Masters of the Mystic Arts, just as another sorcerer — albeit one with immense potential. Doctor Strange takes her under his wing — and, little by little, as the series of films goes on we learn more of her heritage and power. Rather than have the superhero's girlfriend just be a narrative tool, or worse still have her just be the woman in need of rescue, this kind of approach would give Marvel an increasingly important — and increasingly powerful — female figure.
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I hope that Clea does indeed make her MCU debut in Doctor Strange 2. I consider her far too compelling and intriguing a character to leave out of the films; she could easily play a major role in developing the themes and imagery of the multi-dimensional universe Doctor Strange has introduced us to.