The Marvel Cinematic Universe has turned the post-credits scene into something of an art form. Never before have audiences have waited so patiently throughout the credits sequence of films in order to see what awaits. Whether it is a humorous capper to the patient fan or something a little more substantial depends on the movie.
While the use of a post-credits scene has been around for decades, especially in '80s comedy films, it’s safe to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe really ramped it up for most. It’s even a bit of a running joke even for the most casual MCU fan about how you need to stay until after the credits. They're often worth the wait. Some have changed change the game for the MCU at large. Fans learn pretty big things through these scenes, from the first appearance of Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) to the Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) signal.
Others, however, aren’t so much relevant to the plot threads in the multi-connected, multimedia universe. That’s not a bad thing, of course. We can say that these scenes add flavor to the MCU at large. They’re little humorous anecdotes; something for those who waited to laugh about and to discuss without overanalyzing it. It’s just fun, even if these kinds of scenes are unimportant to the grand scheme of things. Now it’s time to think about which scenes really changed the game-- and which didn’t.
Here are 13 MCU Post-Credits Scenes That Changed Everything (And 12 That Were Pointless).
25 CHANGED EVERYTHING: “I’ll Do It Myself” (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
Thanos (Josh Brolin) has had two post-credits scenes in the MCU at large. One of them was a lot more impactful than the other, though both were game-changers for the MCU at large. This one came after so many jokes from fans about Thanos just sitting around and not doing any of the work.
This showed that Thanos was finally going to get down to business. At this point, however, audiences just wanted this guy to do something, but we had no idea how much he would change everything until Infinity War came and he broke our hearts.
24 POINTLESS: Tony Uses Bruce For Therapy (Iron Man 3)
Iron Man 3 was much improved film over the bloated Iron Man 2. A major framing device of the movie was Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) telling the story of the film to someone. The person remains a mystery in the film proper, until the post-credits scene.
As it turns out, Tony was telling the story to his science bro, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Bruce, however, had fallen asleep during his tale. As he reminds Tony, he’s “not that kind of doctor." It was definitely a post-credits scene in the more traditional sense: a nice funny capper to the film overall, but it wasn’t changing the direction of the MCU.
23 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Adam Warlock’s Cocoon (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
This one is still more of a potential game-changer. Given that the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is very up in the air right, we don’t know if Adam Warlock will appear at all. If he does, though, then yes, this will change everything in a big way.
There was something so exciting about seeing Adam’s golden cocoon amidst the Sovereign. Adam Warlock is easily one of the most powerful beings in the MCU, full stop. If he does hatch in any of the cosmic movies, then it’s definitely going to lead to big changes.
22 POINTLESS: The Spidey Signal (Captain America: Civil War)
One of the best additions to the latter MCU is the inclusion of Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Not only is Holland perfectly cast, but the writers seem to have figured out that balance between snark and earnestness that makes Spidey so good. While it was awesome to see Peter rock his new Stark Tech suit in Civil War, the post-credits scene was a bit confusing.
If we’re teasing Spider-Man: Homecoming, then this Spidey Signal does not come into play at all for that film. It would have been interesting for Peter to use it to talk with Karen or even hang out with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
21 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Hope Gets The Wasp Costume (Ant-Man)
By the time Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) hit the screens in 2015’s Ant-Man, audiences were desperate for a female hero other than Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) or Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). Marvel has so many amazing female heroes, it just seemed like a crime not to use them.
We were already upset not to have Janet in the first Ant-Man movie. The post-credits scene of Hank (Michael Douglas) showing Hope her own Wasp suit was finally confirmation that we would see more female heroes in the MCU. And yes, we still want more.
20 POINTLESS: Jane and Thor Reunite (Thor: The Dark World)
This post-credits scene is more pointless in hindsight than it was at the time. At the end of Thor: The Dark World, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gives up his status as Prince of Asgard to go live on Earth with Jane (Natalie Portman). The two were finally reunited and looked like it was going to be a happy ending.
It wasn’t, of course. Instead, Jane was mentioned in passing in Age of Ultron and broke up with Thor before Thor: Ragnarok. The scene of them getting their happily ever after doesn’t go anywhere except to a break-up.
19 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Thor’s Hammer (Iron Man 2)
A lot of the MCU films tended to use the post-credits scenes as a link to the next movie in the franchise. In Iron Man 2, the scene features Coulson (Clark Gregg) at a giant hole in the desert calling Fury. In the center of it was Thor’s Hammer. Even if many people didn’t know about Marvel’s Thor, the scene is pretty striking.
The crater is absolutely huge, hinting that the hammer came from elsewhere. It opens up the MCU to the possibility of alien life, which was huge. It’s the first real hint that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was going to be a universe.
18 POINTLESS: Teen Groot’s Messy Room (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is notable for having the most post-credits scenes in the entire MCU. While Adam Warlock’s cocoon was important, a scene about Groot’s (Vin Diesel) messy room probably wasn’t. It definitely was funny, though, especially since we got to see Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) act all parental toward him. Plus, Vin Diesel having to crack his voice like a kid going through puberty is hilarious.
In the grand scheme of things, we didn’t really need it. Five-post credit scenes is just a bit much.
17 CHANGED EVERYTHING: The Collector’s First Appearance (Thor: The Dark World)
Back in 2013, no one really knew what the Guardians of the Galaxy was going to be like. Still, this scene where Sif (Jamie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stephenson) deliver Reality Gem to the Collector (Benecio del Toro) was pretty perfect. It showed the strangeness of the character and his magnificent collection without giving too much away.
It even set up the slightly grittier feel that Guardians would have. It wasn’t going to be in the polished halls of Asgard; it would be in the less savory corners of the Marvel universe.
16 POINTLESS: Howard The Duck (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Fans of Howard the Duck have been waiting for a do-over for the character in live-action ever since that mess of a movie from the '80s. If you’re a connoisseur of bad movies, then this 1986 George Lucas-produced movie is definitely one you know very, very well. Since then, it’s been a property that Marvel has pretty much ignored.
How do you ever really recover from such a spectacular flop? Apparently, you have Seth Green voice him and put him in the post-credits scene for Guardians of the Galaxy. If this was a list of Marvel Easter eggs, then this was perfectly done. Since Howard hasn’t really made a splash in the MCU, it was cool but superfluous.
15 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Who knows what the future of the X-Men films will be now that Disney and Fox are joining together. Back in 2014, the studios were separate though they did share some characters. Character rights, especially for teams, are apparently super tricky. Since Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff were both X-Men and Avengers, they were available to Marvel.
This didn’t mean that mutants would be joining the universe, but seeing these long-standing comic members with their powers and working for HYDRA was a twist that promised big things for Age of Ultron.
14 POINTLESS: Captain America On Patience (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
One of the running gags in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming was the little PSAs of Captain America talking to the youth of today. It was amazingly weird and a nice call-back to Peter meeting Cap in Captain America: Civil War.
From detention to fitness, he pretty much covered it all. There was one more, on patience, for those fans who waited until the very end of the credits. It was pretty amazing to have our expectations of an important post-credits scene trolled by Cap himself, but it didn't add anything to the universe.
13 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Bucky’s Awake! (Black Panther)
At the end of Captain America: Civil War, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) was in a bad place, mentally and emotionally. His entire mind was a mess of triggers and PTSD from his years under HYDRA’s thumb. When he willingly went into cryostasis while the Wakandan doctors worked on him, no one knew when he was coming out of it.
Seeing Shuri (Letitia Wright) visit Bucky in the post-credits scene of Black Panther was definitely a relief. He looked healthy and at peace, showing that the newly dubbed “White Wolf” was more than ready for action in Infinity War.
12 POINTLESS: Tony Stark Meets Thaddeus Ross (The Incredible Hulk)
Anyone who was annoyed with Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) was more than happy to see him get his comeuppance in the post-credits scene of The Incredible Hulk. What better way to drive a military man up than wall then sending Tony Stark to annoy him? It was definitely great catharsis for fans.
Like Thor and Jane’s reunion, this is a scene that hasn’t really held up well. In fact, it raises more questions than not. Tony clearly knew the type of man Ross was, so why did he later take his side with the Accords?
11 CHANGED EVERYTHING: T’Challa Tells The Truth Of Wakanda (Black Panther)
Wakanda is an Afrofuturistic paradise which disguises itself as a simple nation of farmers. This is to keep people from all over from trying to claim their vast vibrainium supply. After the takeover of Erik “Killmonger” Steves/N’Jadaka in the film, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) decides that it’s time for Wakanda to be honest with the world. He wants to use Wakanda’s resources to help others and give hope.
This post-credits scene shows T’Challa about to reveal the truth to the U.N. Why we don’t see the aftermath, the smile he gives when someone asks what a nation of farmers can offers is the sweetest tease.
10 POINTLESS: Groot Dances (Guardians Of The Galaxy)
Newborn Groot dancing is easily the cutest thing that the MCU has ever committed to film. While it was an adorable moment, it wasn’t exactly a gamechanger. We knew that Groot was going to live at the end of the film proper, so this didn't give us much new information.
Honestly, though, it’s a fun moment. It show just what makes Guardians of the Galaxy work so well: it’s a little weird, off the wall, but really sweet and fun.
9 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Scott In The Quantum Realm (Ant-Man And The Wasp)
Many fans wondered how Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) would show up in Avengers 4. It is a valid question as he was under house arrest. By the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scott was taken off of house arrest, dating Hope, and reunited with his family. In the post-credits scene, he goes to the Quantum Realm-- right before Thanos does his snap.
With Hank, Hope, and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) snapped out of existence, Scott is pretty much stuck in the Quantum Realm for the time being. This is likely how he will come into the upcoming Avengers 4 film.
8 POINTLESS: Grandmaster survives? (Thor: Ragnarok)
Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) is a pretty bad guy in Thor: Ragnarok. Seeing Thor, Bruce, and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) overthrow him was insanely fun and just flat-out hilarious. His post-credits scene was definitely a cherry on top of everything else that happened. Surrounded by residents of the garbage pits of Sakaar, he congratulates everyone a good revolution and declares it a draw.
We’re left to assume what happens to him next. While we would love to see Grandmaster pop up in another film, it just looks like Sakaar won’t figure into the MCU in a big way.
7 CHANGED EVERYTHING: First Look At Wakanda (Captain America: Civil War)
Ever since Black Panther was announced for Captain America: Civil War, comic fans around the world waited with bated breath. Not only would we still T’Challa on screen in live-action, we would also get to see Wakanda for the first time. While Civil War only hinted at the nation in the film proper, in the post-credits scene that we actually got to see it.
Even though it was shrouded in mist, the moment that Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) joins T’Challa and we saw the Black Panther statue only got us more excited to see the nation in the solo film.
6 POINTLESS: Shawarma Scene (The Avengers)
This little post-credits scene came together at the last possible moment. The scene, which features the post-battle Avengers chowing down on some shawarma, has no dialogue, was perfectly in character, and is hilarious. It was honestly one of the best comedic cappers to an MCU film for a very long time.
Even so, it doesn’t really contribute to the MCU as a whole. It's just a little moment that pays off of a joke made by Tony Stark when he’s brought back to life. It’s good, but not game-changing.
5 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Thanos' First Appearance (Avengers)
This is one of the big game-changers for the MCU at large. While Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was the main villain in the 2012 film, it was made clear that he was playing lackey for someone else. Who was the person, though?
In one of the two post-credits scenes, we finally got the answer: Thanos! The Biggest Bad of the MCU would be Thanos, the Mad Titan. Fans pretty much lost their collective mind, especially over that sly smirk. It was clear that the MCU would build to an epic showdown.
4 POINTLESS: Giant Ant Plays The Drums (Ant-Man And The Wasp)
This one was a little more disconcerting than anything else. With the Emergency Broadcast signal playing in the background, we see the ant used to mimic Scott’s schedule play a drum solo. After the ending of Infinity War, it's just a little off-putting and uncomfortable.
Not long ago did we see the entire Pym-Van Dyne family turn to dust. Now we have what is arguably a funny scene amidst the devastation of having half of the universe’s population wiped out of existence? It just didn’t work at all.
3 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Captain Marvel Signal (Avengers: Infinity War)
The lone post-credits scene in Avengers: Infinity War shows Fury and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) in the process of being snapped out of existence. With his final moments, Fury summons the one hero he knows he can help turn the tide.
While he doesn’t say the name out loud, the blue-red-yellow color scheme on the signal makes it pretty clear that Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is joining the fray. The fact that Marvel is clearly ramping up interest for the 2019 film shows how awesome she will be when officially in the canon of the franchise.
2 POINTLESS: The Cut-Down Scenes From Future Movies
It doesn't even make sense to address all the post-credits scenes that were cut down from future movies separately. While the scenes do provide a teaser of what’s to come, the use of them feels boring. A good Marvel post-credits scenes gets us pumped for the next film without revealing the next film or has us rolling in our seats.
Showing an actual scene for the next film in the universe just feels dull. They also don’t hold up on the rewatch because, by then, we know the context of the scene. Why even have post-credits scenes you're not going to do something a little more interesting with them?
1 CHANGED EVERYTHING: Nick Fury (Iron Man)
Only the O.G. MCU post-credits scene will secure the number one spot on this list. Without this little wink and nod, we wouldn’t know that the MCU was actually a thing that was happening.
Back in 2008, after the first Iron Man film, seeing Nick Fury stride on screen and bringing up the Avengers was the ultimate game-changer. It not only launched the interconnected franchise, but introduced the golden age of superhero films. We have to give credit where credit is due, after all. This scene deserves all of the credit for changing the entire game for everyone.
What's your favorite post-credits scene in the MCU? Let us know in the comments.