The best Doctor Strange 2 cameo had me audibly shocked. I, like my colleague Tom Pritchard, was almost quoting Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park. Those crazy son of a's actually did it.
That said, not every surprise appearance in Doctor Strange 2 actually landed with the same splash. One reaction, I'll argue, started with a "who?" and ended with a "why?"
But in between those two, we had a fistful of other appearances that either left my theater laughing or left us going "ooooh!" So, let's rank the Doctor Strange 2 cameos from worst to best.
Of course, consider this your spoiler warning for Doctor Strange 2! We can't talk about the Doctor Strange 2 cameos without ruining the surprises!
7. Clea (Charlize Theron)
Marvel loves to introduce new characters in post-credits scenes (a tradition that dates back to the first MCU film, where Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury made his debut). That scene sets the bar pretty high, and the Doctor Strange 2 post-credits scenes didn't quite deliver something on that level.
Here we met a woman, played by Charlize Theron, who is clad in purple and tells Strange that she needs his help to save the universe. She's likely Clea, a sorcerer in the comics who has been a love interest and wife of Strange himself. She's also the niece of Dormammu, an interdimensional entity previously seen in 2016’s Doctor Strange.
This cameo is nice because it's cool to see Theron enter the MCU, but the lack of any explanation or detail about who she is makes Clea feel more like a win for Wikipedia than anyone else. And Charlize Theron just shared first stills of her MCU character online.
6. Black Bolt (Anson Mount)
Honestly, Black Bolt — previously seen in Inhumans — is arguably my least favorite cameo based on the character. I'd never seen Inhumans, nor did the movie do a good job of introducing the character, as his many names were mumbled out instead of enunciated. Seriously, folks, Blackagar Boltagon sounds like the lead cast member of The Rural Juror.
That said, Black Bolt's death by his own destructive voice was actually pretty cool. It was also a good twist on the "you have no mouth" trope I first remember seeing happen to Neo in the first Matrix movie.
5. Bruce Campbell (playing Pizza Poppa)
When is a surprise MCU cameo not a traditional cameo? When the appearance is more about the actor playing the role, such as Stan Lee's recurring appearances (though we later learned he might be working with The Watchers, keeping them abreast of the happenings on Earth).
Such is the case with the Pizza Poppa in Earth 838, the alternative universe protected by the Illuminati. Nobody cares about the guy slinging what appear to be giant spheres of pizza, but we cared about the fact that it was Bruce Campbell — frequent collaborator of director Sam Raimi. On top of that, Strange cursed him with a fate that felt straight out of Raimi and Campbell's Evil Dead movies: one of his hands kept punching his own face for 3 weeks.
4. Maria Rambeau as Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch)
We absolutely loved seeing Maria Rambeau as a Captain Marvel variant. It goes to show that in the infinite worlds of the multiverse, the smallest things can cause big changes in what happens. Such as Maria taking the place of Carol Danvers as the pilot exposed to the explosive energies of the Tesseract.
Plus superheroics seem to run in the Rambeau family, with 616 Maria's daughter Monica receiving powers during the events of WandaVision. We're set to see her again fairly soon, once The Marvels (aka Captain Marvel 2) arrives in theaters.
Lynch didn't get a whole lot to do as this Captain Marvel, though. And it was frustrating how quickly she departed, as it felt like The Scarlet Witch handled her much more easily than we would have expected.
3. Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell)
Slightly more thrilling was the re-emergence of Hayley Atwell in the MCU. While we heard her voice Captain Carter in What If...?, we haven't seen Ms. Atwell in the flesh since 2019's Avengers: Endgame. Thus, her return was more than welcome, especially as she finally got to be the ass-kicking Captain America variant known as Captain Carter.
Her quick death-by-shield, though, was a bit frustrating.
2. Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart)
Professor Charles Xavier — the X-Man himself, you could say — could have been number one on our list. Not only did Patrick Stewart reprise the role as the headmaster of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters', but he did so with the signature warmth and love that we've grown to expect from the character.
Also, his scene in Wanda's mind, trying to save the possessed Ms. Maximoff from a gutter that seemed ripped out of IT (who else expected Pennywise in that gutter?) felt like the best of the Illuminati scenes. The biggest flaw of Stewart's cameo? Teasing him in the Super Bowl trailer for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness spoiled the surprise of it all.
1. Reed Richards (John Krasinski)
Maybe you knew Reed Richards would likely be in Doctor Strange ever since you heard the word "illuminati" in one of the mosdt recent Doctor Strange trailers. But the biggest "oh, my, god: they did it!" moment — at least for us and those around us came when we saw a very bearded John Krasinski show up as Mr Fantastic.
It's a role that fans have been asking for him to play for years, even before the Marvel Fantastic Four movie was officially announced.
While Mr. Fantastic's stretchy super powers weren't shown off a whole lot in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, we did see enough for fans to giggle. But the mere casting of Krasinski as Richards — a secret that was kept shockingly well — was a moment that truly impressed and shocked me.
Sadly, as with all members of the Illuminati, I have to admit that this cameo would have been even better had it been permanent and Richards not been killed off by The Scarlet Witch.
In other news, check out our guide to tomorrow's Better Call Saul with our guide for how to watch Better Call Saul season 6 episode 5 online.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.