This isn’t a Christine Palmer appreciation post, so spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will naturally follow.
Even though every version of the title hero we encountered was pining for the one that got away, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness still managed to fall into the same trap as its predecessor by not giving audiences much of a reason to invest in the relationship between Benedict Cumberbatch’s former surgeon and Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer.
In Scott Derrickson’s opener, she was given the thankless and standard love interest role, with the animated “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” doing the best job we’ve seen from the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far in deepening the dynamic between the pair.
However, the first credits scene of Sam Raimi’s sequel hinted that Christine might be out of the picture for good, with Charlize Theron’s Clea making her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Hiring an A-list superstar for such a role would indicate a loose plan is already in place, with writer Michael Waldron referencing their comic book history during his appearance on Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast.
“We always knew we wanted to introduce Clea, who in the comics is you could say the great love of Doctor Strange, but really in a lot of ways his formidable equal as a sorcerer herself. Her backstory is fascinating, she’s the niece of Dormammu, the giant floating head from the first movie.
They have a lot of great adventures in the comics, and we knew we wanted to introduce her, but it felt like we had to close the book to some extent on his love story with Christine Palmer, Rachel McAdams’ character.”
That could be the first hint as to where the inevitable Doctor Strange 3 is heading, with Theron set to become Cumberbatch’s sparring partner when he next takes center stage in his own standalone movie.