Post-credit scenes aren’t anything new when it comes to films. They’ve been used as far back as The Great Train Robbery where the leader of the band of outlaws shoots directly into the audience. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) has put end credit and post-credit stingers to great use in an attempt to move their long-term story threads forward. Some have completely changed the way we perceive the universe, others are just fun for the fans. Either way, the MCU is responsible for some of the more iconic credit stingers. With the release of a semi-controversial post-credit scene at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy (a movie you should all go watch immediately) what better time to look back and definitely rank the post-credit scenes? Note: Some movies have two entries thanks to a recent trend of two stingers.
SPOILER ALERT for every entry in the MCU thus far:
The Incredible Hulk: N/A
We’ve all seen post-credit scenes but what about pre-credit scenes? Apparently, that’s called “The Movie” and you should really try to end a movie with some sort of plot resolution rather than just teasing what’s to come ahead. The cast and crew behind The Incredible Hulk didn’t really get that memo. It was in that awkward phase after the first Iron Man where a few movies were more interested in setting up the universe than telling a compelling story. TIH is last mostly because there is no post-credit scene. We get a cameo by Tony Stark at the end of it just reiterating something we’ve already learned, The Avengers is definitely coming.
Captain America: The First Avenger: The First Trailer
All things considered, I remember watching this trailer and cheering. The Avengers was really happening. It was tangible. There was no post-credit scene but come on, it’s a trailer for the biggest superhero movie we’re ever seen! I’ve mentioned before how the final few minutes work better as a post-credit bit than the actual finale of the movie. Still have to dock points for not being a true post-credit scene.
Thor: The Dark World: Thor Comes Back. Again.
A movie that has two entries in the list, Thor: The Dark World is a little goofy and a fun little adventure movie. The first post-credit scene hints at what to expect with Guardians of the Galaxy. The following scene shows… Thor returning to Earth to live with Jane Foster and probably catch up on several years of *ahem* physical activities (SEX). It’s worth noting that the Frost Giant creature trampling through that abandoned warehouse did get me chuckling, and it’s a cute scene on its own. *MINOR SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON) If the rumors of Thor and Jane’s separation are true then this scene is rendered null and void.
Thor: And Your Avengers Villain Is…
The character moments in Thor work much better than the rest of the movie. Loki’s descent into madness could come across as stilted or forced, but not with Tom Hiddleston in the mix. When Loki falls into space, I wondered how soon it would be before we got to see the God of Mischief again. Lo and behold, I only had to wait until the credits were over. Some people were aware that Loki was going to be the Avengers punching bag. As for the rest of us? We were losing our minds at the reveal.
Iron Man 2: Coulson Finds Mjolnir
How do you top the first post-credit scene in the MCU? You don’t. You just go for something different. Revealing that we were actually going to see Asgard, a mystical realm where gods ride rainbow bridges and fight Frost Giants. It’s where Marvel committed to not playing it safe. If you told me a decade ago that I’d be more excited for a new Thor movie than for another Spider-Man sequel, I would have laughed until I died. RIP.
Iron Man 3: I Drifted
Before the release of IM3, there were rumors that Tony Stark would fly up into space to meet the Guardians of the Galaxy. Not only does this not add up to the thematic core of the movie we ended up watching, it wouldn’t have made sense for Marvel’s plan leading into Age of Ultron. We didn’t know this at the time, but Iron Man 3 is the most essential piece of the puzzle leading into AoU (Tony’s army of Iron Legion drones are basically the prototype for all things Ultron). Instead we were treated to a fun little bicker session between the Science Bros. More fun than game-changing but it showed that Marvel new that fans loved the Science Bros. Expect much more of this in The Avengers sequel.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Who the Hell is Bucky? Oh. I’m Bucky.
If you know me personally or follow me on social media sites, you know how much I love The Winter Soldier. I’m almost tempted to call it The Winter Soldier: Part 1. The movie stands on its own thematically speaking but for the characters it feels like a part of something bigger. Bucky looking at himself in the Captain America museum could have been a goofy moment if Sebastian Stan had uttered “Oh my god” or some generic line of dialogue. Stan was able to convey rivers of emotion with precise execution. His final glance in the film is left up for grabs now. Is Bucky scared? Angry? We’ll have to wait until 2016.
Thor: The Dark World: First Down
Our first glimpse at Guardians of the Galaxy was… odd. It had more in common with older Doctor Who episodes than it did a production of Marvel Studios. The scene was put together and shot in a single afternoon so it’s understandable. But it was also odd in a wonderful way. Benicio Del Toro’s eccentric performance as Taneleer Tivan, The Collector, was only a hint at the creative choices for James Gunn’s space opera (It would get weirder in the best type of way soon). The revelation that the Aether was also an Infinity Stone has led to much speculation about who The Collector is collecting for. Is he secretly serving Thanos? Or does he just want to collect them for his own satisfaction?
Guardians of the Galaxy: Dancing Groot
In the pantheon of things that make me happy, Baby Groot dancing to Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” is so close to the top of the list, you can practically smell the tree bark. There’s really not much else to say. Just pure, unfiltered, glee onscreen.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Duck Season
As much as I enjoy Baby Groot dancing to Jackson 5, I laughed my way out of the theater thanks to a reveal of Howard the Duck having a drink with The Collector. Howard the fucking Duck. Marvel isn’t letting this Duck’s bad reputation tarnish their golden empire of a franchise. What made it so hilarious for me, personally, go look at the bottom of my Top 50 Space Adventures list. I had no idea that Howard was going to show up during the post-credits. We don’t need a giant game-changer for a stinger. We just need something that makes an impression and merits discussion. The tag is meant just for kicks but it has the possibility to spin-off into something much larger depending on fan reaction.
The Avengers: Shawarma
A moment that will encapsulate the approach that Marvel takes with its movies. There are some emotional beats, some heavy action, and even a few retconned character deaths, but it’s all about the fun theater experience. What better way to show our heroes put aside their differences than by sitting down to a hearty meal for true warriors: several dozen plates of Shawarma.
Iron Man: The Initiative
I have a confession to make. I left before the credits were over during this first go-round in the MCU. In my defense the MCU was just a small little idea at the time. Little did I know that Samul L. Jackson would show up as Nick Fury to announce Marvel’s game plan of a shared universe of superheroes. My friends and family were kind enough not to spoil anything for me until I returned to the theater. I still get chills when I watch it. It’s the one that started it all. Some might consider it the best – and I certainly understand why – but I never would have thought this universe would go to even bigger places…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Nothing More Frightening Than A Miracle
The Winter Soldier changed the way Earth-bound movies in the MCU. SHIELD was revealed to have been founded with Hydra attached like a virus that cannot be cured. Now that SHIELD is gone (For now) it looks like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will be hunting down Hydra cells across the globe. But where will they be getting this information? From one central Hydra cell of course! And who better to deliver this exposition than Baron Von Strucker played by professional Nazi impersonator, Thomas Kretschmann. It’s revealed that Hydra has Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers team-up (And possibly more alien materials *hinthintnudgenudge*). But the biggest reveal is the twins, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff. They’re two volunteer test subjects who have gained some sort of special powers (super-speed and magic abilities). While this may not seem like such a big deal, remember that none of the superheroes on The Avengers were ever granted genetic superpowers. Iron Man has his suits. Thor gets his power from his hammer. Cap was given a super serum. Hulk had a radioactive accident. Black Widow and Hawkeye are just normal people who can kick serious ass. They all have something that makes them special. How Wanda and Pietro were made to be special is unknown for now, but the fact that muta- I mean miracles, are now present in the MCU opens another door that was previously thought of as taboo.
The Avengers: Courting Death
Iron Man introduced us to the idea of The Avengers Initiative. The Winter Soldier revealed a few miracles. The Avengers told us that the man who at one point wiped out half the galaxy was going to play a crucial part in the future of the MCU. Thanos is pretty much the biggest Marvel Comics villain. Whenever there’s a galactic threat, chances are Thanos had something to do with it. It only makes sense that Marvel would make him their Emperor Palpatine. They didn’t take Earth and the humans seriously, so they let Loki lead an army of X number of Chitauri to take over our planet. The Chitauri were squishy and easily stomped but their numbers were their winning angle. If that’s what Thanos sends when he doesn’t take a threat seriously, what the hell does that mean now that he wants to challenge Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?
The Other: To challenge them is to court death