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The real reason Avengers: Endgame doesn't have a post-credits scene

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll be well aware that Avengers: Endgame is finally upon us. The year-long wait between this sequel and the previous installment, Avengers: Infinity War, seemed to drag on forever, but (judging by the reaction both online and in the press) fans got everything they were hoping for. Well, almost everything. To the surprise of many, Marvel decided to do away with a time-honored tradition and not include any mid or post-credits scenes in Endgame.

Back before the model of a cinematic universe was well established, Marvel used these post-credit stingers to reinforce the idea that all of these superhero movies were interconnected. "Marvel movies specifically have them because it's a long-form narrative, and it's serialized narrative," Endgame co-director Joe Russo explained to Radio Times"And I think that it's a way to tie in what you just saw into the larger mosaic and point an arrow towards where it's going from here. I think that's what's exciting about them." But if he loves them so much, then why did he and his brother Anthony Russo choose to do things differently this time out? This is the real reason Avengers: Endgame doesn't have a post-credits scene.

Phase 4 release dates are still up in the air

There's been plenty of news regarding the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe post-Phase 3, with Marvel president Kevin Feige having discussed a number of projects that the studio currently has in the pipeline. Feige has indicated that the Eternals will play a big part in overarching plot going forward (he told TheWrap in 2018 that "creative discussions" were taking place). He's also revealed that Ms. Marvel, a.k.a. Pakistani American teen Kamala Khan, is a distinct possibility in the near future (the character is "definitely sort of in the works," he told the BBC).

The super producer has been purposefully vague, however. People have been guessing at which movies will fill the slots earmarked for movie releases over the next few years, but the fact of the matter is Phase 4 is still very much up in the air. With this in mind, creating a post-credits scene that actually leads somewhere proves a little tricky. "While we have some idea of the films that are coming after the Homecoming sequel — in Phase 4 and possibly beyond — Marvel is yet to make any official announcements about them or when we will see them," Digital Spy pointed out.

They're leaving us hanging until Spider-Man: Far From Home

The only thing we know for sure about the future of Marvel movies is that a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel is right around the corner. Kevin Feige has confirmed that Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and producer Amy Pascal went one further, revealing that the Marvel/Sony-produced Spidey sequel will kick off just minutes after the fourth Avengers flick. Seeing as Spider-Man: Far From Home is officially the end of Phase 3, could Marvel be saving a big Phase 4 post-credit reveal for that movie? Looking at some comments that Kevin Feige made prior to Endgame's release, that does seem like a distinct possibility.

"As we've been doing for years, we aren't going to announce anything post Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man [Far From Home] until post Endgame and Spider-Man," Feige told industry website ComicBook.com. "As you know as a fan, there's a tremendous amount of potential and a tremendous amount of additional characters and storylines and groups of characters that we're going to keep playing with." If we're lucky, we'll get our first proper glimpse at these additional characters and groups after (or in the middle of) the Spider-Man: Far From Home credits, a far more appropriate place to start teasing Phase 4.

The MCU is going full-on cosmic

Over the course of the last decade, Marvel has been slowly building towards a franchise of intergalactic proportions. We got our first real taste of the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Guardians of the Galaxy, and that was expanded upon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., as well as in Thor: Ragnarok and Captain Marvel. With a movie (or movies, more likely) based on the Eternals now on the horizon, the overarching plot of the MCU is headed for even deeper space, and that requires a lot of tricky visual effects.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel is expected to start shooting The Eternals in 2019. If this is indeed accurate, then it would have made sense for the Endgame post-credits scene to feature an Eternal, or at least some nod to their imminent arrival. This may have been the case had the movie in question been something that required a little less VFX work. Perhaps Marvel learned its lesson after it introduced Thanos in the mid-credits scene of 2012's The Avengers — by the time Infinity War came around, the effects were upgraded and the character looked completely different.

They put the post-credit part in the movie

If Endgame had been any ordinary MCU movie, there's a good chance the moment Steve Rogers returns to his comrades as an old man would have been earmarked for the post-credits. In the scene (which has become one of the few parts of Endgame to be criticized, with TheWrap just one of the many outlets picking holes in the logic), Rogers disappears into the Professor Hulk-operated time machine, only to reappear moments later all grey and wrinkled. He's chosen to live out his best days with his lost love Peggy Carter, but left enough time to pass the famous Captain America shield over to friend and colleague, Sam Wilson.

It seems as though Falcon will graduate to Captain America just like he did in the comics, but this scene was about more than simple fan service. Post-credit stingers started out as a way of advertising future movies based in the same world. What makes the Old Man Cap scene seem more like a stinger and less like a natural part of the movie is the fact that it's clearly foreshadowing the upcoming Falcon and Winter Soldier TV series. Endgame managed to sneakily set up all the other planned Disney+ shows, but this was by far the most poignant moment. Will the show focus on Sam getting into his stride as the new Cap? How does Bucky feel about that? Like a good post-credits scene should, it left us with plenty of questions.

It would have distracted from the finality of the movie

In 2018, The Verge's Chaim Gartenberg wrote a compelling piece that argued the case for Avengers: Endgame dropping the much-loved post-credit stinger. Turns out he got his wish, but why did he want Marvel to break with tradition like this? In short, Endgame was shaping up to be the end of an era and needed to be appreciated for what it was. At the time, we didn't know how the movie would pan out, but the deaths of more than one original Avenger did indeed make Endgame the heaviest Marvel movie to date.

The studio clearly wants viewers to really take that in before they start looking forward to what's next, as Gartenberg predicted. "Even when they're visual gags or Easter eggs, these stingers are still almost always meant to move viewers' focus on to whatever comes next in the series, not to comment on what they just saw," he wrote. "Marvel can only pass the narrative buck forward for so long, and with Endgame, it's time to pay the check and end the story instead of endlessly escalating and teasing the next thing."

There kind of was one

The Marvel post-credits scenes we know and love usually tease a future character or story arc in some way, which is what made them so popular with eager fans to begin with. Doing away with this trope might have upset a number of die-hards, but it's not like Marvel just went with the plain old white text on a black background rolling style credits. In place of the traditional stinger, Avengers: Endgame features a special credits sequence that pays tribute to the actors who started this epic MCU journey over a decade ago.

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner are quite rightly celebrated by the filmmakers, who took this as an opportunity to remind viewers that this movie really is the end of an era. "Although some of these actors are expected to return in future Marvel Studios projects — either in films or Disney+ TV shows — Avengers: Endgame marks likely the last time they'll appear on screen together," ScreenRant pointed out. "As such, the movie honors these six actors with a very special credits sequence."

The post-credits clank

While there was no post-credits scene to speak of, Marvel didn't leave us totally hanging. Those fans who were willing to sit through the lengthy credits (unsurprisingly, it took a lot of people to make Endgame happen) were rewarded with a little surprise — a huge Marvel logo and the sound of clanking. This likely left numerous viewers scratching their heads, but those who have been with the MCU from the very beginning quickly figured out what that noise was. As if to reinforce the idea that everything we'd seen previously was building up to this point, Marvel decided to make the final moment in the credits a nod to the film that started it all, 2008's Iron Man.

"Many fans have already deciphered what it may be: the sound of Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark hammering together his original Iron Man armor way back in the very first Marvel movie, kicking off this age of superheroes and the MCU with a bit of DIY," Radio Times reported. "For the first time, then, a Marvel movie's post-credits tease is a nod to the past, instead of the future. Pretty appropriate for a film that has 'end' in its title." While Endgame was clearly something of a swansong for the six original Avengers, the man of the hour was Tony Stark. He started it all in that cave, and he ended it when he took the Infinity Stones from Thanos and snapped him (and his invading army) out of existence.

It was already the longest MCU movie to date

With a runtime of three hours and two minutes, Avengers: Endgame is the longest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie by some distance (Avengers: Infinity War is the nearest rival, clocking in at two hours and 40 minutes). Lots of kids go to see Marvel movies, and not many kids can avoid going to the bathroom for three hours straight. In fact, most adults will struggle to hold it for that long, as Endgame proved. At one stage there was even a rumor that Marvel was considering adding an intermission to the movie, to allow a mass emptying of bladders.

Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo later confirmed that there would be no intermission, though they did admit that they joked about adding one during the making of the movie. The mammoth runtime became such a concern for soda-slurping movie-goers that many websites chose to publish guides on when to take a tactical pee break. This studio must surely have known that expecting fans to sit through a three-hour movie and then wait around while the caterers are credited for a wee bit more was a little too much to ask.

The fans know what's coming anyway

At this point, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets so much media coverage that even casual fans of the franchise have a pretty good idea about what lies ahead. Those who take more than a casual interest are only ever a few clicks away from all the latest news and speculation, of which there is never a shortage. It has never been easier for fans to get the lowdown on the future of Marvel, and the studio is obviously well aware of that fact — so much so that it sometimes uses it to its advantage.

"Since Avengers: Endgame is the end of the Infinity Saga, it makes sense for Marvel Studios to refrain from including a post-credits scene," ScreenRant argued. "Plus, considering how dedicated fans are to the MCU, they likely already know what's coming... With Avengers: Endgame now finally in theaters, Marvel will no doubt announce their upcoming plans soon enough." Patience isn't a word that goes hand-in-hand with dedicated fandoms, but Marvel knows full well that it has built up enough goodwill over the course of the last 11 years to refrain from oversharing if it thinks that's the right move.