Thor: The Dark World is now in theaters (read our review and listen to our podcast episode), which means that the film’s big reveals are now out there for dedicated fans to sift through and decipher as story threads from the Thunder God’s sequel begin to weave their way through the larger Marvel Movie Universe.
We already dropped some pretty juicy news about the road through Marvel’s Phase Two and Phase Three story arcs, leading to an Avengers 3 featuring Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet – but we couldn’t get too deep into our analysis because, at the time, no one else had yet seen Thor 2 and we didn’t want to spoil the fun! Now that the movie is out, we can reveal more of what we’ve learned while peering behind the scenes of Marvel Studios in the last few months – starting with the big implications of the mid-credits and post-credits scenes included with Thor: The Dark World.
Mid-Credits Scene: Meet The Collector
As was rumored weeks ago, the mid-credits scene at the end of The Dark World features Asgardian warriors Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and mighty Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) visiting the lair of the eccentric immortal known as The Collector (Benicio Del Toro). In the aftermath of the great battle with the Dark Elves, Sif and Volstagg bring “The Aether” – the power source Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) attempted to destroy the universe with – to The Collector for safe keeping. When questioned by The Collector why they are giving HIM the Aether, the Asgardians reveal that with the Tesseract locked in Odin’s vault, it would be unwise to keep two “Infinity Stones” in one place. Upon the Asgardians’ departure, The Collector states that he has “one down, five to go” – referring to the remaining Infinity Stones yet to be collected.
WHY IT MATTERS: This mid-credits sequence is quite possibly the biggest “button scene” we’ve seen yet, in that it reveals no less than the overarching storyline for Marvel’s entire movie universe – from the end of Phase One presumably up through the end of Phase Three and an Avengers 3 culmination.
By directly dubbing both the Tesseract and The Aether “Infinity Stones” we are getting a variation on the Infinity Gems – space, time, mind, power, soul, reality – that unite to form the godly Infinity Gauntlet. Clearly Thanos (the enemy glimpsed in the Avengers mid-credits sequence) is up to something, and as comic book fans know (and movie fans are now finding out) THIS is that plan: collect the stones, rule the universe.
Post-Credits Scene: Thor of Midguard
The post-credits scene in The Dark World picks up right after the events of the film’s conclusion, in which Thor declared to Loki (who is posing as Odin) that he is leaving Asgard to be with Jane (Natalie Portman) and defend Earth. In the post-credits scene, we watch a lonely Jane going through another round of post-Thor depression, until the Thunder God appears on her doorstep, thereby fulfilling his promise with a passionate kiss. Meanwhile, one of the Frost Giant beasts that was inadvertently teleported to Earth during the climatic Thor vs. Malekith battle chases a flock of birds (which were also victims of some extreme teleportation) across an empty lot. Laughter ensues.
WHY IT MATTERS: Obviously this post-credits sequence is of lesser importance than the mid-credits one, but it does carry some significance – namely in that Thor is now truly at home on Earth and with Jane, even while bigger and bigger trouble is amassing in the cosmos (and in his own back yard).
Thor 2 Button Scenes: The Connections to Future Marvel Movies
During the Thor 2 junket in London, we took the developments of these two aforementioned “Button scenes” straight to the only person who could confirm their significance – i.e., Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige. We already published some of our talk with Feige – but now, having seen the film yourself (or not caring about spoilers) you can read (in full) what he had to say about the revelation of the Infinity Stones, and how they will define future Marvel movies currently in the pipeline – starting with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Check out what the Marvel Studios prez had to say when I asked him, point blank, if the Thor 2 mid-credits sequence – and the color-coding of the powerful objects featured in The Avengers, Thor 2 AND Guardians – was clear indication of a lead up to an Infinity Gauntlet War:
Kevin Feige: I don’t know that I would spell it out that clearly, necessarily, but certainly fans of the comics could surmise that all of this is leading somewhere. That Joss’ decision to have Thanos turn around and smile to the audience at the end of ‘Avengers’ – it was always the plan to show that the tesseract was indeed an infinity stone, as was the Aether. A lot of that will tie first into ‘Guardians of The Galaxy’ which comes out next year and then where it goes from there we’ll see… I would not necessarily attribute them based on colors, because you’re close but you’re not 100% right on what each one is. …[but] yes, the MacGuffin of ‘Guardians’ certainly plays into MacGuffins from the past.
“MacGuffins” are objects in a story that the characters are all chasing after or trying to obtain, and usually those objects are incidental in and of themselves – but not so much in the Marvel Movie Universe. The Tesseract, The Aether, that upcoming Guardians device – these objects all have importance, and will likely turn up again when Thanos finally steps out of the shadows.
The ramifications of this reveal are even further reaching: Feige confirmed that having Infinity Stones (they’re referred to as “stones” in the film, not “gems,” folks) as a so-called breadcrumb trail along the road makes it far easier to justify the introduction of more fantastical film properties like Doctor Strange and The Inhumans, as the mystical powers of each stone could be used to empower such heroes (Doc Strange powered by a soul stone, for example). But is that direction Marvel is going in? We may find out soon:
Kevin Feige: Well we’ll see it won’t be until probably sometime next year before we announce the 2016 movies and the 2017 movies and a lot of that will depend on the reception to the next batch of movies. What we’re actively working on is Thor’s next appearance in ‘Age of Ultron’ – where he goes beyond that we have a lot of ideas. You’re right that where we leave the characters in this movie sort of hints what could happen in the future but we’ll see where that goes after ‘Avengers 2.’
While the exact details of the cosmic storyline are still in flux, however, the Dark World post-credits scene with Thor on Earth has deftly set up the character’s re-introduction in Avengers: Age of Ultron. With a pledge to protect Earth, Jane under his arm, and Loki ruling Asgard (with no help coming from on high), we won’t have to suffer another vague explanation of how Thor comes to earth, and why he does so alone.
Thor: The Dark World will be in US theaters on November 8, 2013; Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014; Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014; The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015; Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.