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Over the years, we’ve seen Pixar use their post credits to show blooper reels, whilst the Matrix Reloaded even put the trailer for Matrix Revolutions in there.
When it comes to the MCU, they’ve utilised the credit scenes to great effect since the release of Iron Man back in 2008, combining comedy in some doses all the while building suspense for what was soon to come in the series.
In the early days, its particular strength was giving the viewers an idea what character we were set to see soon, before shifting more to a plot-style narrative as the series evolved and fans knew what films we’d be getting years in advance.
With that in mind, The Watchers has listed eight of the most important post or mid credits scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to-date (up until Eternals).
The Avengers Initiative – Iron Man
You can’t do a list of these scenes without including the original.
Having announced to the world that he was Iron Man in the climax of the film, Tony Stark is met by a then-unfamiliar face in his home.
Nick Fury, played for the first time on screen by Samuel L Jackson, is there to tell Stark that he is not the only superhero in the world, and tells him on an initiative he is working on: The Avengers Initiative.
Not only does this scene introduce the fans to the post-credit theme that would become a signature of the MCU, but also tells us that Iron Man was not designed to be a stand alone superhero series that we’d seen with the likes of Batman in the past.
The arrival of Mjolnir – Iron Man 2
The latter point becomes more prominent in the conclusion of the Iron Man sequel.
The scene takes place in a desert in New Mexico, where SHIELD agent Phil Coulson is reporting on a crater in the area.
In said crater; a large hammer. Not just any hammer though! Eagle-eyed fans at the time quickly identified it as Mjolnir: the legendary weapon of Thor.
Aside from Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, this scene gave the fans the first indication of which characters from the Marvel comics the film series would tap into to build up the Avengers group.
Thanos – The Avengers
Sorry folks, the scene from the first Avengers film we’re referring to isn’t that group meal in the Shawarma restaurant.
No, it is in fact the mid-credits scene that plays a big role in the future of the MCU here.
Having failed in their attempt to take over Earth with the help of Loki, the Other feeds back to his master of the defeat in New York.
Whilst it may have appeared to be a minor moment at the time, it gives us our first glimpse of the Infinity Saga’s ultimate bad guy, as the Other’s master was none other than Thanos.
Whilst we see a more substantial debut appearance of Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy, learning here that he was behind the Chitauri attack on Earth gives us a taste of his intentions and what was truly in store for the Avengers.
‘I’ll do it myself’ – Avengers: Age of Ultron
The moment fans truly knew things were about to kick up a gear in the MCU.
Compared to the other three stand-alone Avengers films, Age of Ultron falls a bit flat as an overall product. That being said, its mid-credit scene is definitely one of the most significant in the series.
Having witnessed several of his pawns fail over the course of the films so far, Thanos had clearly grown dissatisfied.
Here, we see him don a gauntlet and proclaim ‘i’ll do it myself’. Of course, we now know that what he put on was the Infamous Infinity Gauntlet, and what he was going to do himself was claim all six of the Infinity Stones.
From this point on, fans of the MCU waited with baited breath for the eventual moment that the galactic monster would come face-to-face in battle with our favourite group of heroes.
War is looming – Thor: Ragnarok
In comparison to the first two films in its series, Thor: Ragnarok is highly regarded as one of the best films in the whole of the MCU.
Indeed, its largely light-hearted and funny nature was a massive change of pace and it ends with a rather feel-good moment in Thor finally embracing his role as King of the Asgardians as they escape the now-destroyed planet enroute to Earth.
Or so we thought!
In this mid-credits scene, we see Thor and Loki in conversion aboard their spaceship when they see a large spacecraft in the distance about to intercept them.
We’d soon learn in Infinity War that this was Thanos’ ship, so this scene, which looked to have initially just been another brotherly moment, was in fact the final hint to the viewers that the big battle we’d been waiting for years for was indeed imminent.
Paging Captain Marvel – Avengers: Infinity War
All seemed lost towards the end of Infinity War.
Thanos has succeeded in his quest to execute the Blip, wiping out half of the world’s population. With this, we slowly started to witness many of our favourite Avengers disappear to nothing but dust.
Entering the mid-credits, the wider effects of Thanos’ actions were seen through the eyes of Nick Fury and Maria Hill.
Whilst the two former SHIELD agents fade away themselves, Fury has just enough time to send an emergency pager signal to Captain Marvel, who at that time had yet to appear within the MCU.
A movie around Carol Danvers superhero persona had already been announced by that point, so not only did this moment give hope to the fans that the remaining Avengers would find a way to defeat Thanos, but it also showed that Captain Marvel wouldn’t be a standalone movie. In fact she’d work her way into the main series of films despite joining pretty late to the party.
Stuck in the quantum realm – Ant Man and the Wasp
Following hot on the heels of the emotional rollercoaster that was Infinity War, the sequel to Ant Man took on a less serious tone.
We learn that Scott Lang missed out on the Thanos action as he’d been serving house arrest following his involvement in the battle during Captain America: Civil War.
Instead, he helps Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne rescue Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother Janet from the Quantum Realm.
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In the mid-credits here, the quartet begin plans to harvest quantum energy, sending Scott in at this point to do so. Whilst in the realm, he receives no response in his request to be brought back. We then see that the others have in fact, been turned to dust by Thanos’ blip.
This is arguably one of the most underrated mid or post credit scenes in the full series. Not only does it draw Ant-Man back into the Avengers world and further show the devastating effect of the Blip, but also highlights the strength and importance of the Quantum Realm, something which is used to great effect in Endgame.
Peter Parker is Spider-Man – Spider-Man: Far From Home
It appeared to be another successful day at the office for our friendly neighbourhood crime fighter in Far From Home.
Not only did he manage to vanquish Mysterio, but he finally got himself the girl in MJ.
Things were looking bright for Spider-Man as he swung through the streets of New York with MJ on a date in the mid-credits scene.
That was until we heard and saw a familiar face on a big screen in the form of The Daily Bugle’s J. Jonah Jameson. Here, Jameson breaks the big news that Mysterio doctored footage that frames Spider-Man for his death, as well as revealing his true identity as Peter Parker.
Not only does this scene work well for setting up future Spider-Man appearances with that reveal, but the appearance of Jameson is particularly interesting. This is because he is played by J.K. Simmons, who portrayed the journalist famously in the original Raimi series of films.
This was another sure-fire pointer to multiverse being truly in play within the MCU, a theme which has only continued into the trailers we’ve seen to-date for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
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