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.

[NEXT PAGE: Major Thor 2 End-Credits SPOILERS!!!]

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).

NEXT: The Connections to Future Marvel Movies

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