The upcoming Avengers: Infinity War is set to be the cinematic event of the decade, with its first teaser trailer breaking the record for single-day views. Since Iron Man first hit screens in 2008, Marvel has introduced dozens of heroes, villains, and events, all of which will finally culminate when Thanos finally sets foot on Earth. People aren't just fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: they feel like they're a part of it.
One of the biggest tools that Marvel has used to build its brand has been the use of post-credit scenes, stingers, and teases. Ever Marvel Studios movie to date has had a post-credit scene, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's five scenes currently holding the record. The content contained within these scenes has varied tremendously. Sometimes it's a tease for a future movie, sometimes a full sequence, and sometimes just a joke. Whatever it is, any true Marvel fan knows to wait until the credits stop rolling before they leave their seats.
As we prepare for the arrival of the superhero movie to end all superhero movies, it's a perfect time to look back on all of the post-credit scenes that Marvel is famous for.
Here is Every Marvel Post-Credit Scene, Ranked Worst To Best.
Though the recent release of the highly acclaimed Thor: Ragnarok has turned the Norse God into the biggest superhero of the moment, the same adoration wasn't given to his second movie. Thor: The Dark World is generally regarded as being the weakest Marvel Studios movie to date, and it also has the least successful post-credits scene so far.
While it's cool to see Benicio Del Toro's Collector interacting with Sif and Volstagg, the content of the scene is bizarre. Why would the Asgardians ever trust an Infinity Stone with a shady figure like the Collector? While Volstagg does make the point that keeping two of these all-powerful stones in one place probably isn't a good idea, there are probably a thousand better places they could have hid the Aether, instead of giving it to this clearly untrustworthy guy. It just doesn't make a lot of sense.
The sheer fact that Guardians of the Galaxy was even made was a testament to Marvel's success. Nobody would've ever thought that a gang of superheroes including a talking tree and a macho raccoon would ever succeed, but the movie blew open the gates for all of Marvel's cosmic characters to come rushing in. Then, in this post-credit scene, one of Marvel's most bizarre figures of all time entered the stage: Howard the Duck.
In this scene, Howard both looked and sounded exactly like his comic counterpart. The issue with this scene? Nothing came of it. Though he came back for a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we're still anxiously waiting for this drinking, wisecracking fowl to really strut his stuff on the big screen. Marvel isn't making any moves in that direction, though, which makes this something of a wasted post-credits scene.
In this post-credit scene for Thor: The Dark World, the God of Thunder returns to Earth in a flurry of electricity, to reunite with his beloved Jane Foster. The scene works, but given the importance of the Jane/Thor romance in the first two Thor movies, it's hard not to feel like this scene should have been in the movie itself, instead of after the credits. Further complicating the matter is that the movies stopped using Jane after this point, meaning this was probably Natalie Portman's last appearance in the MCU.
Of course, right after the two of them passionately embrace, we then see that the rampaging Jotunheim Beast from earlier in the film is still stomping on rooftops and terrorizing birds. We can only hope Thor took care of this problem shortly afterward.
In all fairness, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had so many post-credit scenes that not all of them could knock it out of the park. In one of these scenes, the character of Kraglin practices his whistling technique to control Yondu's famous arrow. It doesn't quite work, and he ends up hitting Drax with it. Oops. Ticking off a guy who calls himself the "Destroyer" usually isn't a great idea, so Kraglin backs away slowly.
This scene isn't bad, and it definitely fits the tone of the movie. However, it doesn't serve a huge narrative purpose, unless Kraglin using Yondu's arrow ends up being a plot point later on. However, that's okay, because this movie had five separate post-credit scenes, so James Gunn could afford to have fun with a few of them.
Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster ended up being one of the highlights of Thor: Ragnarok. The actor's eccentric mannerisms were combined with backdrops loaded with Kirby imagery, making for a truly memorable foe. Though we would've welcomed more scenes with the character, his reign of neon terror had to end if Thor, Valkyrie, Loki, and Hulk were ever going to escape from Sakaar. However, once the heroes escape, little is seen of how the Grandmaster's empire crumbles...
...until this post-credits scene, where the character emerges seemingly unscathed, only to have to face to citizens he held captive. Seeing that he's at a disadvantage, Grandmaster commends his former citizens for their efforts, and declares the revolution a tie. Needless to say, we wouldn't expect to see him again anytime soon, if ever.
The after-credit stinger placed at the end of Ant-Man is simply a scene from Captain America: Civil War, but it was nonetheless a pivotal tease of what was to come in the MCU's future. Here, we see that Cap and Falcon have managed to track down Bucky, and are holding him for questioning. Why? How? Those answers would have to wait until Civil War. What mattered here was the Falcon's assertion that he knew "a guy" who could lend them a helping hand.
Of course, that guy ends up being Scott Lang, the super-shrinking hero who Falcon had a weird and unexpected altercation with in Ant-Man. Given the amusing history between these two very-different superheroes, it will be fun to see if they get to interact again at any point during Infinity War.
Though Thanos is the MCU's big bad, and he's predicted to be the "main character" of Infinity War, his background and motivations have largely been mysterious up until this point. Other than a scene in Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos has mostly stayed in the shadows, making others do his work for him. That's what makes this scene at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron so important.
When Thanos seizes the Infinity Gauntlet, he's also launching Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will come to a close when he invades Earth.
The only reason that this scene doesn't rank higher is that it probably should have showed a little more. At this point, we'd already seen the Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos' face, so fans were eager to get a whiff of the Mad Titan's motivations — or perhaps another reference to his beloved lady, "Death."
This scene is one of the ultimate examples of just how much Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn loves both the comics and the fans. From an outsider perspective, the scene isn't particularly noteworthy: it simply shows the Ravagers gathering together, at Stakar's call, to go "steal some s---." Fun, but not so important.
However, die-hard comic fans know that what makes this scene special is that it shows the original Guardians of the Galaxy team from the comics gathered together - a sight that no one ever could have predicted even a mere decade ago. In the comics, these guys actually came from the year 3000. We wouldn't expect to see that back story in the movies, but getting to see the old team rally, if only for a moment, was an unexpected gift.
Though the tragic fate of Janet van Dyne— AKA the Wasp— was shown in the flashback sequences of Ant-Man, the character's absence was definitely felt throughout the film. The Wasp is one of the major Avengers in the comics, at one point even leading the team, but the character has been missing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We still haven't seen her yet, but this post-credit scene made it clear that a new Wasp was on the way: Hope van Dyne, daughter of the original shrinking heroes. While Ant-Man & The Wasp won't be coming out until 2018, this scene set the stage for what was to come, and current reports are indicating that this upcoming movie might have a way bigger impact on the MCU than previously foreseen.
By the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the entire landscape of the Marvel Universe has changed forever. The movie's shocking revelations about HYDRA have spurred Cap, Black Widow, and Falcon to take down S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, and Bucky has disappeared. From there, it was hard to imagine where Marvel could be going next, but they gave a lot of clues in this post-credit sequence which introduces three major Marvel characters: Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker and those mutated twins, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Though Strucker's role in the MCU ended up being cut short far sooner than fans would've hoped, he at least got to appear in this dark, moody sequence, saying a memorable line that still pops up today: "This is the Age of Miracles, doctor. There is nothing more horrifying... than a miracle."
Back in the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the post-credit scenes were simpler, but no less effective. At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers' life has transformed a second time, when he wakes up in the future world and walks into Times Square. The film swiftly cuts to black, but in this post-credit sequence — which is actually just a scene taken straight from The Avengers — we get a brief glimpse at the frustration that Rogers certainly must feel at having his life ripped away from him, and trying to move on in a strange new world.
The scene shows Cap beats the living hell out of a punching bag, but the tension and anger inside him is clear. Then Nick Fury appears to relay a message, setting Cap up for the big show that would soon occur.
This is a scene that perfectly demonstrates the excellence of Marvel's recipe: in a few minutes, it both ties up loose ends from the movie we just saw, and sets up multiple threads for what it is to come. In the scene, we see that T'Challa has granted asylum to the now-outlawed Cap and Bucky, and that the monarch has agreed to help keep Bucky safe until a cure is found for his mental programming. It's a great character moment for T'Challa, and it perfectly sets up both Cap and Bucky for Infinity War.
However, the best thing about this scene is the ending. In response to worries about people invading Wakanda to get to Bucky, T'Challa simply replies, "Let them try." And when we see a brief glimpse at Wakanda itself, complete with a giant panther statue, we understand T'Challa's confidence. The sneak peek is small, but unforgettable, and it gets the audience's heart pounding in anticipation for Black Panther, which will finally hit theaters in 2018.
Thor: Ragnarok is one of the last MCU movies before Infinity War rolls around, so in this mid-credits scene, it leave us with a foreboding glimpse of the darkness still to come. At this point in the film, Thor and the Asgardians are piloting their ship to Earth. Loki visits Thor in his quarters to ask him if going to Earth is necessarily a great idea. Before they can discuss it further, a huge shadow falls over them... from a giant ship that has moved to block their path.
This could be anything, but what makes the scene so ominous is that we know what it probably is: Thanos, the Mad Titan, who has come to retrieve the Tesseract from Loki. While we won't know the full details until Infinity War, a run-in with Thanos probably has tragic implications for the future of Asgard.
Towards the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, after Cap makes the horrifying discovery that the government's prized assassin is his brainwashed, presumed-dead best friend, he goes to great lengths to try to bring Bucky from the dark side. He doesn't seem to get through to him, but there are enough moments of lingering doubt to give Steve hope.
In this final scene, we get the biggest sign of all that Bucky might be remembering his past, when he goes to visit the Captain America memorial seen earlier in the film. The scene is both creepy and touching — the idea that Bucky is looking at himself, but can't remember himself, is pretty scary — but it sets up the next stage in Bucky's journey quite effectively.
Throughout Iron Man 3, we hear Tony Stark doing a voice over, recounting his battle against the "Mandarin" and the frequent panic attacks he suffered as a result of The Avengers. As an audience, we never consider that this voice over might actually be Stark talking to someone, such as a therapist. However, in the post-credits scene, it's revealed that Stark has been venting to his best buddy, Bruce Banner, who has evidently slept through the entire story.
Of course, it's not without irony that the guy Stark is venting to is someone whose anger management problems are so bad that he transforms into a giant green monster. Banner tries to explain that he isn't the best person to vent to about these sorts of things, but Stark continues doing so anyway.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does so many little references to the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe that a book could be written about them. Perhaps the biggest Easter egg of them all, which could have major implications for future movies, is this post-credits, which foreshadows the character of Adam Warlock.
Sure, Adam himself doesn't actually appear - just his little cocoon, but Ayesha's new breed of warrior seems destined to face off against the Guardians of the Galaxy at some point soon... or join them, or and maybe feature in his own movie. Regardless, Adam Warlock is coming, and he's sure to make a splash. We'll have to wait and see what the future holds. Either way, it's sure to be exciting.
Michael Keaton's Vulture ended up being one of the fan-favorite Marvel villains so far. This mid-credits tag let viewers see a glimpse of what happens to him after going to prison, and gives us an inkling of what might still be in store. In the scene, the imprisoned Toomes is approached by Mac Gargan.
Gargan suggests that he and a few of his friends are thinking about banding together to take down Spider-Man, and Gargan's heard that Toomes might know who he is. Toomes replies that if he did, the wall crawler would already be dead... and then walks away smiling.
This scene is great for two reasons: one, it's a great character moment for Toomes. Two, comic fans know that Gargan will someday become the Scorpion, and his mention of ganging together with others is a clear setup for the Sinister Six. Who else will join the ranks? We'll have to wait for the next Spider-Man movie to find out.
One of the central relationships of the Doctor Strange movie is between Strange and Mordo, the former disciple of the Ancient One who finds himself disagreeing with Strange's methods. Though the two work together throughout the movie, Mordo leaves in a huff, proclaiming that what Strange is doing is wrong.
In this after-credits tag, we get a forewarning of what Mordo will be up to in the future, when he visits Jonathan Pangborn, rips away the magic that cured his paraplegia, and proclaims that the problem with the world is that there are "too many sorcerers." When Doctor Strange 2 finally rolls around at some point, it's almost a sure bet that Strange and Mordo will cross paths once again... but this time, probably not as friends.
The Incredible Hulk was only the second movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Looking back, it's hard to remember how fragile the whole thing was, or how surreal it all seemed. That's the reason that this scene — though it's often forgotten today — was so important. In the sequence, we see General Ross drowning his sorrows in a bar, when he's approached by Tony Stark, who wants to discuss some Avengers business with him. Nothing of any particular importance is said, the scene is short, and it doesn't necessarily line up with what actually happened in The Avengers.
But back at the time, this was one of the biggest signs that the MCU was really happening. Nick Fury's Iron Man cameo was one thing, but this scene showed a major superhero from one movie crossing over into another hero's movie in an unprecedented fashion. It was a big deal, and it deserves to be remembered.
While the Mordo scene effectively set up Stephen Strange's next adversary, Doctor Strange also featured this coda, wherein Strange interacts with Thor. The scene is full of clever, amusing touches, such as Strange continually refilling Thor's glass, and it shows a Strange who has grown more comfortable in his magical abilities.
Perhaps the coolest thing, though, was that the scene made it clear that Strange would be appearing in Thor: Ragnarok, as the scene itself is actually just a lift from that movie. This exciting development heralded Strange's arrival into the proper Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he's sure to play a key role when Infinity War rolls around. It's a fun scene, but also an important one, as it shows just how integrated the MCU has become.
If there was one character that people were most excited about after Captain America: Civil War, it was the new Spider-Man played by Tom Holland. Luckily, fans who stayed until the end of the credits got a little glimpse of what awaited them in Spider-Man: Homecoming. In the scene, Peter returns home to his low-income apartment, where he's clearly beat up and has to explain his injuries to Aunt May; basically, he just blames his condition on a guy he calls "Steve from Brooklyn," which isn't really a lie.
After May leaves the room, Peter plays around with his new webshooter, and discovers that Tony Stark left him a little message: the spider-signal, a Stan Lee-era bit of gear that no one ever expected to see in the movies.
Once again, it's funny to look back on the early Marvel post-credit tags to see how simple they were in comparison to the ones now. Since the MCU was still in its earliest stages, very little groundwork was needed.
In Iron Man 2, there are repeated references to some insane stuff going on in New Mexico, which S.H.I.E.L.D. is somehow involved in. The movie doesn't elaborate too much, but after the credits, we see Agent Coulson embarking to what looks like a UFO crash site... where Thor's mighty hammer has fallen to the earth, and is immovable.
Sure, it seems like a little thing, these days. But back then, this was the first sign that the grounded world of the MCU was about to get a lot more cosmic.
Meanwhile, by the time the actual Thor movie came out, Marvel had all of its gears in place, and it was moving full steam ahead to The Avengers. This scene shows the character of Dr. Erik Selvig, a major figure in Thor, being led to an underground S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. There, he meets Nick Fury. The man with the eye-patch enlists Selvig to research the weird cosmic cube called the Tesseract, and Selvig agrees. However, at the end, we see that Selvig's mind has been taken over by Loki, so sabotage is afoot.
This scene acts as a bridge between Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, setting up The Avengers, and explaining how Loki was going to get involved. It is less than two minutes long, but it accomplishes a lot in that time frame.
Before his death, Groot was the warm, beating heart at the center of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He was kind, compassionate, and sacrificed himself so that his friends could live. Baby Groot, as seen in the second movie, is a bit different: he's childish, young, and a bit rebellious, like any walking, talking baby tree would be.
However, at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we get a hilarious glimpse at the next stage of Groot: Teen (or "tween") Groot, an adolescent version of the hero who keeps his room messy, plays games all day, and says his "I am Groot" with a lot more attitude. It's one of the funniest scenes in the MCU to date, and it'll be great to see Teen Groot again soon.
Speaking of hilarious, this scene knocks it out of the park. Throughout Spider-Man: Homecoming, we see that Peter's high school often shows the students cheesy PSA videos with Captain America giving them advice on how to be upstanding citizens. It's a great touch that adds texture to the MCU.
Then, at the end of the credits, Marvel goes meta. Marvel has trained audiences to stay until after the credits, so it knows the fans are watching, waiting, ready for a tease of Infinity War... and instead, the movie ends with Captain America giving another corny PSA, lecturing the audience on the value of patience, and on how to deal with "why you waited so long, for something so disappointing." It's a fantastic conclusion to a fantastic movie.
By the time the credits had finished rolling for The Avengers, we knew Marvel had already blown the doors off of the superhero movie genre. The whole team was assembled, had taken out an alien invasion, and New York was safe. Shortly after saving the day, Tony mentions wanting to try eating shawarma at the Shawarma Palace, but this seem like it's just a throwaway joke.
Then, at the end of the credits, we see the entire team gathered to eat shawarma together. Everyone is silent, clearly exhausted from the big battle, and the restaurant itself is damaged. But the scene is very real, very human, and it feels like something that would genuinely would take place, and that's what makes it so great.
Okay, so for context, Stan Lee has appeared in just about every Marvel movie to date. And why wouldn't he? He was the co-creator of the Marvel Universe, so it makes sense. For years, fans always looked out for every Stan Lee cameo.
By the time the MCU became an established thing, a major fan theory emerged that Stan Lee could be one of the Watchers, a race of aliens who monitor everything that happens in the universe. This theory explained why Stan Lee could pop up everywhere from New York City to distant worlds.
Finally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 answered the prayers of fans, and made this theory into a legitimate part of the MCU. However, it was with a twist: Stan Lee wasn't quite a Watcher himself, but rather, an Informant for the Watchers. This revelation happens during the movie itself, but in the post-credits scene, we get to spend a little extra time with the "real" Informant, before he goes back to popping up in the other Marvel movies.
Let's face it, you knew this little guy was going to be near the top. The original Groot's sacrifice at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy was a big surprise, and left a major hole in the group dynamic. But then, at the end of the credits, we got a sign of hope: Groot's spawn, "Baby Groot," was alive, and loved to dance.
Baby Groot's debut is unbelievably adorable, and the fact that it works so well goes to show what a great job James Gunn did in establishing the humorous tone of the movie. By the time we got to actually meet Baby Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we already loved him just as much as the original guy.
This was it. Right here. The introduction of Thanos, the Mad Titan, who will finally make his way to Earth to "court Death" in Avengers: Infinity War. One of the biggest, most important moments in MCU history, snuck into the end credits of The Avengers.
We remember this scene so well that it's easy to forget what a major effect it first had, but consider: at the time, The Avengers was the biggest event in superhero movie history. It was a movie so massive in scale that it would seem impossible to ever top it. So, what did Marvel do? They made it clear, by showing a tiny glimmer of Thanos in the credits, that things were about to get a lot, lot bigger. It won't be until Infinity War where the mysteries surrounding Thanos are finally fleshed out, but let's face it, nothing might ever top the impact of his first scene.
Back when Iron Man came out in 2008, there was no such thing as the "MCU." Iron Man was just another superhero origin movie, albeit a special one. That all changed after the credits rolled, when a man wearing an eye-patch emerged from the shadows and assured Tony Stark that he wasn't the only superhero in the world.
When it comes to picking the #1 spot, it's hard to choose between this and the Thanos scene in The Avengers. Overall, though, the Nick Fury scene is impossible to top. When Samuel Jackson uttered the words "Avengers Initiative," it forever changed the cinematic landscape as we know it. Though Marvel will probably have many more post-credits scenes in the future, nothing will ever be able to top this one.
What's your favorite Marvel post-credits scene? Let us know in the comments!