The DC Extended Universe appears to be avoiding that most dependable of superhero tropes, the post-credits scene, but is it really the best route to be taking? Many people over Wonder Woman‘s blockbusting opening weekend are going to find themselves sticking around in the cinema after the film ends and wind up roundly disappointed (unless they’re fans of Sia and made-for-movie pop hits); there’s nothing but the usual studio logos and the requisite animal welfare disclaimer (without even a funny play on the movie a la Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2).
Of course, we did know this going in; producer Charles Roven said weeks ago that the film wouldn’t have a post-credit scene. And neither of the other two Justice League films – Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – had such a tease wither. The only precedent in the franchise is Suicide Squad‘s Amanda Waller-Bruce Wayne showdown, and that was a film so confusingly edited it felt like an obligatory choice. All evidence considered, it seems that Warner Bros. are shunning stingers. But why?
Why Aren’t The DCEU Using Post-Credits Scenes?
Literally the only logical reason for the fact one out of four films have done this is a move to distinguish the DCEU from Marvel. While post-credits scenes have been around since the 1980s and a blockbuster go-to since the turn of the millennium, it was Nick Fury walking out of the shadows of Tony Stark’s Malibu pad to tease the Avenger initiative, and the behemoth that subsequently begat, which clued Hollywood into their narrative and franchise-building potential. Nine years on, it’s undeniably an MCU trait, so to not include them is a subtle but essential form of differentiation.
Ever since it became clear the mostly isolated Man of Steel was being used as a jumping board to a bigger universe – Batman v Superman was announced just over a year after The Avengers changed the game – negative comparisons have dogged DC. After all, while they’ve been planning to have heroes share the screen for decades (and the whole idea of a crossover event is more prominent with the publisher in print), the notion of realizing it with a sprawling shared universe is undeniably influenced by what Marvel achieved with Phase 1 and specifically that first team-up. As a result of the accusations of copying, they’ve made several key changes to the formula – the tone is moodier and we’re getting Justice League team-ups before spinning off into the conventional standalones – but these have only created more criticism; when the DCEU finds itself on the wrong side of fresh, the problem is then being needlessly different. It’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation, but based on complaints the latter is much more fiery. As post-credits scenes aren’t as ingrained as multi-film narrative structure, though, the hope with avoiding them seems to be they’ll eschew those criticisms and help create a unique franchise language.
But that’s just an explanation, not necessarily a good or even reasonable one. You can argue that stings are superficial to a great movie and to overly lean on them tries to add a trailer-esque thrill to an incomplete experience (and you’d be to some degree right) but even that feels more like an excuse; being cynical, if we want movies to truly stand on their own yet still have that forward thinking angle so prevalent nowadays (and something definitely driving DC, which has a multitude of projects in development), then post-credits scenes (rather than the main narrative stealth-selling a series’ next five entries) are a good way to balance a filmmaker’s singular vision and studio long-term planning.