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Why The Post-Credit Scenes Are The Best Part Of The MCU

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is made up of a smorgasbord of high-quality ingredients that come together to deliver one of the best experiences in the history of filmmaking. Heroes and villains regularly duke it out across cities, nations, the world, and the galaxy in a raucous free-for-all that incorporates a plethora of feel-good emotions. You never know if a scene is going to get you onto your feet wildly cheering, have you rolling out of your chair in unbridled laughter, or leave you weeping uncontrollably.

While most MCU films are a treat from beginning to end, there's one aspect of each movie that can consistently be counted on to deliver — the post-credit scenes. It's these last flourishes, these final encores, so to speak, that whet the appetite and keep fans coming back for more. These tiny, often disconnected codas are, in many ways, the heart and soul of Marvel's grand on-screen experiment, knitting the films together into an ensemble of interconnected glory. There are so many reasons that these little post-credit scenes provide uniquely unparalleled value that we decided to sit down and flesh them out in full. So, without further ado, we present to you the case for why the post-credit scenes are the best part of the MCU.

The MCU factor

One of the most basic yet profound reasons that these post-credit sequences are so incredible is the simple fact that, well, they're part of the MCU. After all, from popularizing B-level comic characters and resurrecting out-of-favor actors to breathing new life into the end-credit scene concept, Kevin Feige's masterful universe has a reputation of turning everything that it touches to gold.

Now, while being part of the MCU is already an automatic bonus, the truth is, the end-credit scenes themselves have also directly contributed to the Marvel magic that they benefit from. It's precisely due to the role of a post-credit scene that they manage to stand out so well in the MCU in the first place. End-credit sequences are meant to tease, humor, and shock audiences. But they also serve a much bigger function.

With your typical post-credit scenes in your typical movie, they can only look back to the story that preceded them or forward to a possible sequel. However, with Marvel, the post-credit scenes end up taking on a whole new sense of purpose. It doesn't matter if you're watching a massive crossover like Infinity War or a stand-alone flick like Ant-Man and the Wasp, the post-credit scenes serve as the glue that helps to assemble an entire universe of otherwise disconnected individuals.

MCU post-credit scenes are just plain hilarious

Marvel uses their end-credit scenes for a variety of different purposes. Some of these are serious and somber, but one of the best functions for a good end-credit clip is to use it as a humor-laced palette cleanser. Superhero flicks typically gain a high level of gravitas and seriousness in the third act. Villains make bold moves, heroes overcome their personal shortcomings, and the action gets cranked up to 11. After all of the excitement ends and the emotions settle down, a post-credit scene is an ideal way to keep things light as the story wraps up.

A quick trip to the Shawarma Palace was the perfect way to ease the tension-filled final act of The Avengers. Bruce Banner's role as a sleepy therapist leaves audiences chuckling after Tony Stark's weighty self-revelations in Iron Man 3. Even in a laugh-happy installment like Guardians of the Galaxy, sapling Groot's sneaky jive to "I Want You Back" just keeps the good times rolling.

There are a lot of very serious, impressive, and exciting reasons that the MCU's arsenal of post-credit scenes are the best part of these films. And yet, even if there was literally no narrative substance here, their comedic nature alone would still make them in invaluable addition to the MCU canon.

They present an air of uncertainty

The end of a movie is typically meant to bring a sense of clarity and closure. Storylines are wrapped up, mysteries are solved, and a sense of normalcy is restored. However, when it comes to a serial universe like the MCU, everyone already knows that the tranquility is only temporary and, often, circumstantial. This is where post-credit scenes once again pack a punch by relentlessly stirring up a constant sense of uncertainty for the future.

As much as viewers might want to rest in the fact that Peter Parker put Adrian Toomes behind bars, the villain's post-credit run-in with Mac Gargan shows that Spidey's duel with Big Bird is anything but over. Stephen Strange's morbid time loop with Dormammu may end with sunshine and roses for the Master of the Mystic Arts. Nevertheless, Mordo's subsequent appearance as a villain-in-the-making ensures that Mr. Doctor's work in his titular franchise is far from complete.

Heck, even in a film like Infinity War, which ends with a ridiculous lack of closure, the post-credit scene of Nick Fury's pager still manages to add to the ongoing uncertainty. And don't forget post-credit scenes like J. Jonah Jameson jumping universes — with nary an explanation, no less — in order to berate Spider-Man and expose the web-head's identity from out of left field. One of the best ways that post-credit scenes bring the heat is by regularly disrupting the "happy ending" Hollywood concept with a hefty helping of discombobulation.

The MCU post-credit scenes introduce new characters

For being the detached, tail-end of a movie, post-credit scenes manage to get a lot of stuff done in a matter of seconds. For example, they introduce a lot of new characters. When you look back over the years, there are a ton of MCU favorites who interrupted a wall of credits to make their first appearances.

Nick Fury kicked the introductions off way back at the MCU's genesis by popping up in the fading moments of Iron Man. We meet Wanda and Pietro Maximoff at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Howard the Duck even makes his first appearance in the midst of the Collector's trashed museum at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sometimes the "introduction" comes in more of a hint. Thor is preceded by Mjolnir at the end of Iron Man 2, the long-awaited Adam Warlock is strongly hinted at in the concluding moments of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and of course, Captain Marvel is headed off by her famous symbol glowing on Nick Fury's pager at the end of Infinity War. Whether it's the character themselves or a blatant hint at their impending arrival, Marvel uses their post-credit scenes to introduce characters early and often throughout the MCU.

It's all about the big reveals

There's no doubt that each and every MCU film has to juggle a lot of content. Character development, storylines, and crossovers must all be addressed within the timespan of a couple of hours. This inevitably leaves countless loose ends and unaddressed questions as each story marches towards its conclusion.

With the larger interconnectedness of the MCU to fall back on, questions and hints often aren't addressed until later films. However, at times, the writers and directors take advantage of the humble post-credit scene to fill in some gaps, answer questions, and occasionally even provide a big reveal or two that never made it into the movie itself.

Take, for instance, Erik Selvig's scene at the end of Thor. With Odin back on the throne and peace apparently restored to the Nine Realms, everything seems hunky-dory in the son of Odin's narrative — except for the little detail that, you know, Loki is using mind control on Jane Foster's close friend, Doctor Selvig. The big reveal sets up the first Avengers film, which follows two short installments later. 

Similar big reveals take place when Nick Fury first brings up the Avengers Initiative, Cap and Falcon detain Bucky at the end of Ant-Man, and Wakanda first gets some screen time in the final moments of Captain America: Civil War. Of course, some of the big reveals don't ever go anywhere, like the Collector mumbling his intentions to collect the Infinity Stones at the end of Thor: The Dark World, but they remain big reveals, nonetheless.

The MCU post-credit scenes provide a dramatic flourish

While many post-credit scenes are fairly forward-thinking in their mindset, occasionally, they serve as little more than a dramatic flourish for the job-well-done-of-a-movie that preceded them. The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is particularly good at these quirky embellishments. They consistently tap into a variety of entertaining credit scenes that feel like nothing so much as a humorous bow at the end of a successful third act.

Baby Groot secretly dancing when Drax isn't looking, Kraglin stabbing Drax with the Yaka Arrow, and Peter Quill checking in on Adolescent Groot to criticize the state of his bedroom are all perfect codas to tremendously satisfying movie-watching experiences. They don't make grand gestures or reveal massive new pieces of information. Instead, they bring a warm smile to viewers' faces as they revel in the afterglow of the story that preceded them.

These kinds of scenes show up in other MCU films, too. Captain America pops in for a quick public service announcement at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thor pays Jane Foster a visit at the end of Thor: The Dark World. The team nabs a quick bite to eat at the end of The Avengers. In all of these cases, the post-credit scenes don't necessarily communicate much new information, but that doesn't change the fact that they definitely serves as an entertaining encore all the same.

They whet everyone's appetite

One of the best ways that post-credit scenes shine is simply by keeping the MCU freight train rolling along. This is true whether a movie has an open-ended resolution, think Infinity War, or wraps up in a neat and tidy manner, like Ant-Man. In both cases — Captain Marvel's pager and a detained Bucky Barnes, respectively — the post-credit scenes take the audience by the shoulders, turn them in a specific direction, and say, "There. That's where we're going next."

Even though they keep the MCU oriented and moving in a cohesive direction, the limited length of most post-credit scenes restricts their effectiveness and, in effect, makes them serve as teasers or mini-trailers for upcoming content. Little hints of information, like Bucky checking out his past at the end of Captain America: Civil War or Hope van Dyne being shown the Wasp suit in Ant-Man's credit scene, are loaded with possibility, but they don't actually tell the viewer much. This typically sets the internet forums ablaze and gives podcasters everywhere hours of juicy content as they rehash the scenes and discuss the relevant comic source material that could inspire whatever comes next. This whets everyone's appetites and keeps them coming back for more time and time again.

Thanos ... just Thanos

The Mad Titan is such a big post-credit deal that he gets an entire section here all to himself. After all, the villain practically lives on the murky edges of the post-credit world for nearly the entire first three quarters of the Infinity Saga.

His impending yet reticent off-screen approach was dimly felt for years as the Infinity Stones were slowly revealed one by one and the storylines for Infinity War and Endgame were teed up. He plays a minor role in Guardians of the Galaxy, but apart from that, he only appears twice before his full unveiling in Infinity War. Where does he make these appearances, you ask? Why, in two post-credit sequences, of course.

The Mad Titan first appeared at the end of The Avengers, where he smiles at the thought that challenging the superheroes would be courting death — a shoutout to his morbidly romantic comic book past. Then he appears once more in the middle of the credits for Avengers: Age of Ultron, at which point he dons an Infinity Gauntlet and smilingly declares that he'll do it himself — referencing his quest for the Infinity Stones. While plenty of characters get their introductions in post-credit sequences, Thanos alone can claim that he was literally developed by them for years before he finally was unleashed to wreak havoc on the main narrative itself.

The Infinity Stone journey

The Infinity Stones are a central part of the MCU. This is especially true for the first three phases that make up the Infinity Saga, which is literally named after them. The Tesseract shapes the paths of Captain Marvel and Captain America. The Power Stone is a central focal point for the first Guardians film. The Mind Stone impacts the first two Avengers movies and gives us Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Vision. The Aether also tampers with Thor's storyline, and Doctor Strange would never have achieved his greatness without the help of the Eye of Agamotto.

While most of the Infinity Stone storylines take place in the main movies, though, the post-credit scenes do help to fill in some pretty important points in their collective story, as well. The Tesseract's narrative thread goes right through both Goose's upchucking credit scene in Captain Marvel to Erik Selvig's post-credit scene in Thor. The Aether finds its way into the hands of the Collector in a scene from Thor: The Dark World, and Wolfgang von Strucker's experiments with the Mind Stone are initially shown at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. No matter which way you slice it, post-credit scenes play a pivotal role in relaying the Stones' journeys throughout the Infinity Saga.

They bring a sense of closure

Most post-credit scenes play important roles like setting up the future and providing big reveals. However, they're occasionally used in the opposite sense to provide a sense of closure that may have been missing during the movie. For example, a good portion of Thor: Ragnarok takes place on Sakaar, where we meet the hilariously villainous Grandmaster and his cronies. Eventually, the Revengers high-tail it off the garbage planet, leaving a fledgling rebellion in their wake. However, we're given a quick glimpse regarding how the situation ends when a post-credit scene shows the Grandmaster surrounded by an angry mob and clearly defeated — no matter how much he wants to call it a draw.

Black Panther also ties up loose ends during the credits when a scene shows T'Challa informing the United Nations that Wakanda will be opening up its borders — a theme that was brought up more than once throughout the film. Sometimes the sense of closure is so subtle that it's easy to miss. For instance, Avengers: Endgame famously lacked any post-credit scene, opting instead to play a few seconds of audio that sounded an awful lot like a final homage to the recently deceased Tony Stark hammering away on his Iron Man armor.

MCU post-credit scenes provide a spark of hope

For many MCU movies, post-credit scenes are called in to save the day by restoring a sense of hope for the fans. Sometimes this is a direct counterstroke to a devastating development, such as Nick Fury paging Captain Marvel in the wake of the Snappening or Bucky being sent back into cryostasis in Wakanda in order to finally find some rest and healing. His further post-credit scene in Black Panther also sowed the seeds of hope that the wounded character would eventually find his way back into the hero lineup at some point in the future.

At other times, the sense of hope is more focused on the potential of what could be. Hints at the Avengers Initiative in Iron Man, Captain Marvel responding to Fury's pager in Captain Marvel, and even deep cuts like Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy and the Watchers in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 all provide gobs of exciting fodder as fans look forward to the potential of recurring characters, deeper themes, and hidden connections yet to be revealed.

Gotta give the production team some respect

We've all been there. "The End" flashes up on the movie screen, and everyone takes it as their cue to gather up their coat, throw away their leftover popcorn, and head out to the car. It's a common activity for most moviegoers ... but not for fans of the MCU. Marvelites know well that "The End" is simply a reminder that they must stay rooted in their seat as the credits begin to roll, as it's their best bet at uncovering one more morsel of entertainment in the mysterious form of a post-credit scene.

This is great news for the fans themselves, as nearly every MCU film has one, two, or even three scenes scattered through the cascading sea of names. But there's another, quietly positive benefit to the whole post-credit schtick. It helps shed a little bit more light on the sea of names themselves. It's easy to forget the myriad of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes in order to bring the MCU to life time and time again. However, the habit of tucking credit scenes into the nooks and crannies of each and every film has the pleasant bonus of ensuring that a larger-than-usual degree of attention is going to be give to the names of the men and women who brought each story to life.