When Iron Man first arrived in theaters on 2007, no one could have predicted how much the Marvel Cinematic Universe would change the landscape of the film world. Serialized storytelling has become commonplace, as studios attempt to create their own shared universe to compete with Marvel. Furthermore, the use of post-credits scenes is now super trendy, a concept made iconic starting with Iron Man and continuing up until Ant-Man and the Wasp and beyond.
Marvel’s credits scenes are usually a mixed bag, and often tease the future events of the shared universe. The secrecy and popularity of the MCU keeps moviegoers glued to their seats, eager to get a glimmer of what’s next. But Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has his own reason for loving these bonus scenes: the recognition it gives the crew. As he tells it,
Movies bring people together, but they also bring people together behind the scenes. At Marvel Studios, we’ve been putting a scene after the end credits in all of our films since the very beginning. The fans love it, it’s a tease of something to come. But the real bonus is that the audience is going to sit there and look at all the names of the hundreds of thousands of people who work so hard to bring these movies to life. That really inspired me as a kid, to see all those names and I hope it inspires people today.
Well, isn’t that classy? While Kevin Feige could easily look at the post-credits scenes as simply a chance to continue the hype around the Marvel Cinematic Universe, those quick scenes actually have a special place in his heart. During his acceptance speech at the Britannia Awards, Feige maintained those final moments encourage moviegoers to actually stay and pay attention to the credits. Considering how impatient and fast-paced the world of social media and smart phones has become, it’s probably the only way to get audiences to take their time and stick around.
Due to the easy accessibility of film content, it’s easy for moviegoers to forget just how many people work to make each project happen. Sure, the director, writer, and cast play a big role, but there are countless jobs attached to each movie’s release. Take into account how massive Marvel blockbusters are, and there’s even more crew members than normal. Putting a scene or two into the credits gives these crew members the chance to be recognized, as names continue scrolling down the big screen.
In the spirit of camaraderie, Marvel’s post-credits scenes also encourage collaboration between the various directors and franchises of the cinematic universe. Just look at the Ant-Man franchise. The first movie’s post-credits scene actually included a scene from Captain America: Civil War, teasing Scott Lang’s inclusion in the larger cinematic universe. Ant-Man and The Wasp‘s scene was another highlight, as it connected to the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and teased how Ant-Man maybe involved in Avengers 4.
While Kevin Feige appreciates Marvel’s credits scenes for what it they for the countless employees who work on each blockbuster, the fandom has a different relationship with these extra sequences. Moviegoers have become used to being glued to their seat after each new installment concludes; no one want to miss a chance to peek into the MCU’s future, as details are revealed so methodically for each new release.
This type of tradition and interest in the credits has seeped into just about every new release, with moviegoers now accustomed to getting extra content after a new movie concludes. As such, more cinephiles are wont to stay seated, and watch as the credits roll. Some may be disappointed when no post-credits scene comes, but people are certainly sitting through the credits more than they did a decade ago.
Marvel’s credits scenes started in a big way with Iron Man, featuring the first appearance of Samuel L. Jackson’s cycloptic hero Nick Fury. Following Tony Stark’s first foray into superheroics, Fury told him there were many more superpowered folks out there, and teased the concept of bringing them together, eventually forming The Avengers.
And when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes did eventually unite for 2012’s The Avengers, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Neither did its own set of post-credits scenes, one of which teased the impending arrival of Thanos. It was set up that finally paid off with Avengers: Infinity War, showing how far ahead Marvel likes to plan their massive movie events.
The use of post-credits scenes was also adopted by the DC live-action universe, which has been attempting to keep up and compete with the MCU. Justice League featured the first of DC’s bonus scenes, revealing that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor had escaped the prison he was last seen in for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke was also briefly introduced, although it’s currently unclear when either of those characters might pop up again in the DC Extended Universe.
Sony is also following suit with its still developing Spider-Man universe. Ruben Fleischer’s Venom might not have been a critical success, but it made a ton of money at the box office, and is breaking records. The movie set up a clear sequel with its post-credits scene, showing Woody Harrelson’s character that will eventually turn into the symbiote Carnage.
Of course, adding a post-credits scene can sometimes be embarrassing, especially if it sets up a sequel that will never come. Just look at the recent Power Rangers movie. The coda teased the introduction of fan favorite Green Ranger Tommy Oliver, but it’s unclear if Power Rangers 2 is ever going to happen. In this way, it seems like the studio jumped the gun, setting up a plot point that will likely never come to fruition.
All eyes are on what the Marvel Cinematic Universe will do with its final two movies, and that includes their inevitable post-credits scene. Avengers 4 will end the MCU as we know it, and the bonus scenes are likely going to set up the new world. The pressure is definitely on.
Avengers 4 will arrive in theaters on May 3rd. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.