The MCU’s post-credits scenes are crucial, but as seen in Phase 4 films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals, they may also be detrimental.
End-credits scenes have been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its inception in 2008 with Iron Man.
Marvel wasn’t the first to utilize an after-credits stinger, and it definitely won’t be the last, but the sheer number of them and the way they built the groundwork-
For the future transformed them into a significant selling point for each picture, extending the interconnectedness from film to film and phase to phase.
What began with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) emerging from the shadows to speak with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has grown more sophisticated over time, ranging from post-credits scenes that set up the following film to those that helped define the entire Infinity Saga.
So far, Avengers: Endgame is the only MCU film without a post-credits scene, indicating that it marks the “end” of that journey and story, although succeeding films have taken up the mantle.
Five different credits scenes have been delivered so far in MCU Phase 4’s three movies. Unfortunately, some of them are posing new issues for the MCU, either because what they’re setting up isn’t as apparent or because Marvel’s end-credits scenes are overshadowing the films themselves in many cases.
That’s not to say Marvel should stop employing after-credits teases – which is unlikely to happen anyway
– but they may be hurting rather than helping to keep the MCU interesting and wonderful.
They WERE great
Marvel’s post-credits scenes have always been an important element of what Kevin Feige and his team were creating, and they were especially well-suited to Phase 1 of the MCU and the build-up to The Avengers.
Each film introduced a new piece to the puzzle, whether it was Nick Fury’s recruitment campaign or a clever tease of what was to come in the following film, such as Mjolnir in the desert.
Of course, part of what made them work was that they were fresh and at least somewhat unique, and it also helped that the setups-
While rudimentary by MCU after-credits scene standards, worked as good, compelling sequences in their own right, laying out a clear route for the future.
Whether Marvel’s end-credits scenes were set up, a gag, or both, they succeeded in all they set out to do throughout Phases 2 and 3.
That is, the post-credits scenes teased what was to come, most were satisfying enough, both in terms of pleasurable moments and intriguing hints, that it felt worthwhile to stick around for-
And most importantly, there was always a sense of momentum to them.
That was crucial in setting up The Avengers, where one MCU post-credits scene neatly led to the next, but it also worked on a micro-level (for example, the Maximoff twins in Captain America: Civil War were a great tease for Avengers: Age of Ultron), as well as on a macro level, with Thanos as the overarching villain.
There was a sense of expansion and escalation throughout, which was important to keep the shared world evolving, but the sequences usually (with a few exceptions)
felt like wonderful complements to the movie they were tied to;
if they weren’t there, the movie was still a large, gratifying event film.
It just becomes harder for the future
Avengers: Endgame, including its post-credits scenes, marked the most significant shift to the MCU’s status quo.
For the first time in a long time, the MCU’s future is a little hazy; while a schedule of films has been released that will go through 2023 and beyond, there isn’t the same type of singularity that defined the Infinity Saga.
Instead, there’s evidence that Marvel is concentrating on its multiverse saga while simultaneously growing its cosmic arm, introducing new legacy and replacement heroes-
And building up to numerous superteams, including a potential new Avengers lineup, the Thunderbolts, the Young Avengers, and others.
In addition, moving forward into Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Endgame, both as a great film that encompassed practically everything great about the MCU and as an era-defining (and ending) exclamation point on what the MCU has done thus far, is difficult.
Endgame continues to shape the MCU’s future, with practically all of Phase 4’s films and programming being influenced by it in some fashion.
With the past weighing so heavily on it, and Phase 4 struggling to get going on the cinematic side –
there have been delays, of course, but mixed reviews for Eternals and a relatively muted response to Black Widow suggest the MCU isn’t fully back to what it was –
Marvel needs to do more to build excitement for what’s here now, rather than what’s coming next, as the MCU’s end-credits scenes suggest.
The end scenes are a bit too much…
The biggest problem with Marvel’s post-credits scenes in Phase 4 is that many of them feel larger than the films they’re in.
The MCU’s credits stingers have always been intended to build anticipation, but it previously felt much more balanced; remove them, and the films remain fantastic-
interesting, and full of moments worth talking about and anticipating. That appears to be absent in Phase 4.
The deleted ending for Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) would have seen her back in Ohio, recognized by a little girl, and sharing a nice moment with them, which testifies to her value as a hero and enduring legacy.
Instead, a clearer link to the end of Captain America: Civil War and later Avengers: Infinity War was made.
The post-credits scene in Black Widow follows a similar pattern:
it finally provides Natasha with the memorial for her death that Endgame lacked, but it immediately undercuts the emotional impact by setting up the future of Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), putting the future tease ahead of paying off the actual movie (and Nat’s MCU arc) itself.
In both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals, this problem is arguably greater.
The former is a wonderful film in its own right, with connections to the MCU’s history via Iron Man and Iron Man 3, but primarily standing on its own as something that stands out from the MCU throng and explores previously unknown and underrepresented corners of the cosmos.
But, with the presence of two Avengers (including the very noticeable change to Banner), Shang-mid-credits Chi’s scene brings in Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)-
Setting up at least two different projects, and that has proven to be the biggest talking point of the entire movie, overshadowing all the great work done.
Eternals featured something similar; in fact, due to spoilers, the conversation of Eternals was dominated by Harry Styles’ appearance in the end-credits scenes even before it was published.
The scene itself feels a little rushed (and includes some shoddy CGI for Patton Oswalt’s Pip), but the quality of the action pales in comparison to Styles’ overwhelming presence in the MCU.
Similarly, Blade (Mahershala Ali) is introduced in the second Eternals‘ credits scene, a character, and casting that was first reported in the summer of 2019.
After more than two years, his presence is reduced to a vocal cameo (and one that isn’t immediately apparent); this disappoints on two counts:
Blade as a character is deserving of more, and yet his presence still overshadows much of what the Eternals accomplished (although it has its own struggles as a more middling Marvel movie).
With Marvel’s never-ending quest to conquer the cinematic landscape, the MCU’s post-credits scenes have evolved from a fun addition to the event to becoming the event itself,
And if a movie ticket is being purchased based on a 30-second tease for what’s next (or what might be coming in 2-3 years, even),
Then that’s an issue Marvel’s post-credits scenes didn’t have in previous phases, and future films need to learn how to ad creatively