Avengers: Age of Ultron is already playing to packed theaters in many parts of the world and with Avengers 2 and this summer's Ant-Man movie, Marvel will be wrapping up its Phase 2 that began two years ago with Iron Man 3 back in May of 2013. But things really began with that first Iron Man movie in May of 2008, and one of the coolest surprises that movie had in store was an end-credits scene, most commonly referred to as a stinger these days, that announced the grand ambitious plan of Marvel's Cinematic Universe - to keep everything connected and lead up to an Avengers movie.
After Avengers: Age of Ultron it will be 11 movies that have brought us to the verge of Phase 3 - perhaps the most ambitious Phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet with four all new characters set to be introduced in Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and the Inhumans. But lets take a look at those end-credits (or mid-credits as the case may be) scenes that have become a hallmark of the Marvel movie and see what has gotten us to this point.
The first one may still be the best. It introduces Samuel L. Jackson's now-iconic Nick Fury and announces the plan to assemble the Avengers. Simple and powerful, it raises the stakes of the Phase One movies and is pretty much Marvel laying down the gauntlet saying, we're going to be doing something that's never been done before.
The Incredible Hulk
Not only was the movie a bit of a letdown after Iron-Man, the stinger was pretty much a luke warm retread of the Nick Fury scene, with Tony Stark doing the recruiting this time around. But, as we've come to know, this wasn't all in Marvel's hands. Hulk is still co-owned by Universal and the issues around The Incredible Hulk are probably still why Marvel hasn't gone to bat with another solo Hulk movie. This was pretty much that last time Marvel co-produced a movie in their MCU - that is, of course, until a certain web-slinger comes into the picture.
Iron-Man 2 may not be anyones favorite from the 10 Marvel movies that have lead up to Avengers: Age of Ultron - but the stinger at the end of the movie was another classic. It re-introduces Agent Coulson as one of the most important figures to tie this first Phase together and gives us a huge tease on what will come next (something many of these end-credits scenes will do) - THOR!
Nick Fury returns! And we finally get some big build up to the Avengers. The Tesseract is revealed - as is the fate of Erik Selvig in being a pawn in Loki's game. This end scene was actually directed by Joss Whedon and it shows that these stingers don't have to be completely superfluous - they can add information just as much as they tease.
Captain America: The First Avenger
This end credits scene for the first Captain America movie wasn't one of the best. The last scene of the movie already established that Cap ended up in the hands of SHIELD and this stinger only reinforced that Steve Rogers is a bit unhappy to have woken up in a strange world - but he's ready for duty. The Avengers trailer that was tacked on to the end of Captain America does a better job of getting the audience excited for what's ahead.
Here we go. Two stingers! Avengers features the introduction of the mid-credits scene and this one is a doozy. Thanos is introduced and Marvel makes a bold proclamation that it will be going to Kree town - to Infinity and beyond! This Thanos thread isn't fully picked back up until two years later with Guardians of the Galaxy, but this scene is great in that it hinted at the future plans and reasserted the ambition Marvel has with these movies going into Phase 2. And yeah, the final end-credits stinger at the shawarma restaurant is priceless.
Iron Man 3
This one is more difficult to find a good copy of - and it could be for good reason. The stinger at the end of Iron Man 3 is simply and excuse to get in a Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner cameo and have Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark get in a few more jokes. That is. No wonder that someone made a rather hilarious Downfall meme video about how bad this stinger is.
Thor: The Dark World
Now this is a bit more like it. Well, the first post-credits stinger anyway. At the end of Thor 2 we get our introduction to The Collector - the nutty dude played by Benicio del Toro that agrees to take the Aether off the hands of the Asgardians. Asgard already has some Infinity items in storage and doesn't want to keep too many of these things in one place. So to The Collector goes the spoils. We'll see that this might not be the best idea - but the stinger does a great job of giving a hint of things to come, expanding the world a bit and filling in some details about the ongoing Infinity Stone storyline. I can understand why Thor: The Dark World's director didn't appreciate having this scene added - it doesn't flow with the movie's tone and is visually jarring but as end credit scenes go - it ain't bad. It's certainly better than this one...
I have absolutely nothing to say about this. Nothing at all.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Another double dip in the stinger department - Captain America 2 has a couple of pretty good end credits scenes with the first one being one of my favorites in this list. We get Baron von Strucker, an introduction to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, an update on the whereabouts of Loki's scepter and all sorts of hints of things to come. It not only is an improvement of the Thor 2 stinger as it looks like it belongs to the movie and has the same tone and look - it feels big and is probably the most money spent on a stinger in any Marvel movie.
The second tag, the Bucky scene, is an okay coda for the movie. It establishes that Bucky is still evolving and maybe he's coming to terms with his past and that Cap might be right - there's hope for him yet. Short, sweet, but not completely superfluous.
Guardians of the Galaxy
The "Dancing Groot" scene pretty much sums up what a crowd pleasing movie Guardians of the Galaxy is. I'm including it here even though I'm not exactly sure if this scene falls in the same category as the others. It does reveal that Groot is indeed alive and well though in case any one had any doubts. But the real post-credits scene was this curveball...
Yes, for what it lacks in any kind of storytelling or clues for future Marvel movies, it makes up for with Howard the Duck. After the Collector's collection got destroyed in the movie we catch up with him liking his wounds - or rather getting licked by Cosmo the dog. While it was nice to see a tip of the hat to Cosmo in the movie, the more shocking reveal was Howard the Duck. The guy that once upon a time tried to launch his own movie but instead just helped George Lucas part ways with some of his money.
Maybe there are some hints here about future plans for Marvel - at least as far as Guardians of the Galaxy goes. Maybe Cosmo will return and play a part in future GotG movies... And maybe Howard the Duck will make another stab at this movie game, who knows?
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Which leads us to the newest Marvel movie - the penultimate entry in Marvel's Phase 2. Joss Whedon has been adamant about there not being a post-credits scene and will only include a scene early on in the final credits. It looked like this was leaked yesterday - and that rouge Instagram video eventually got taken down. And no, this wasn't that clever Spider-Man tease that made its way on youtube - this was another Thanos-centric Avengers stinger that was further paving the way towards the Infinity Wars.
Instead - have Marvel treat you to a look back at Phase 1 and Phase 2. How far we've come!
So how do these post-credits scenes stack up? If I were to rank them, it would look something like this:
- Iron Man
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Iron Man 2
- The Avengers
- Thor: The Dark World
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Captain America
- Iron Man 3
- The Incredible Hulk
What do you think? How would you rank the Marvel end-credit scenes? Take to the comments and put together your own list!