You’d have to be legally insane to tackle the MCU for a Geekade Top Ten, but my sanity took its leave long ago so what the hell, right? It was really hard to choose what aspect to rank, but with all roads leading to Avengers: Infinity War, now just days away, I decided to take a look at the threads that hold together the fabric of the MCU, often found in the scenes that follow some or all of the credits. Sometimes they contribute to the overall mythology, sometimes they set up the next film in the franchise, sometimes they set up for a sequel in their own storyline, sometimes they’re literally a preview of a clip from a future movie (which is awesome in theaters but, for the purposes of this list, is CHEATING), and some are just plain fan service. I tried to distribute my choices evenly among the movies of each character, but, well, just read and you’ll see.
10 – “I feel like everything’s gonna work out fine.” (Thor: Ragnarok 2:02:41-2:03:28) – It was a tough call choosing one post-credits scene from this movie and it was hard not to choose the Grandmaster tumbling out of his ship and trying to spin his role in the revolution (“You’re welcome and…it’s a tie?”). But this scene very efficiently places the events of this movie in the larger MCU canon. It showcases the newfound honesty of the brotherhood between Thor & Loki while foreshadowing what their roles could be in the upcoming Avengers movie. It also uses an excellent bit of irony to juxtapose Thor’s optimism with how very *not* fine everything is about to be. It doesn’t carry the weight of the threats imposed in other post-credit scenes, but it’s certainly an effective reminder that shit is about to get real.
9- Shawarma Palace (The Avengers, 2:22:14-2:22:46) – I know a lot of people will say this should be the number one for being so memorable. While I definitely agree that it deserves a spot on the list, the MCU has much better rewards for fans’ patience in other movies. This amusing little scene pays off a throwaway bit of dialog from earlier in the movie and really captures the essence of the idea “hey the Avengers just hanging out and grabbing a bite, now THAT I’d like to see.” The devastation of the shawarma restaurant and the damage done to the original 6 Avengers effectively reflects the cost of the battle of New York and shows us a really relatable moment of post-battle exhaustion. All in all though, it’s just 30 seconds of people eating together in silence.
8 – “I want you back.” (Guardians of the Galaxy, 1:53:27-1:54:10) – This is a bit of a cheat, as this scene doesn’t come after any credits have rolled, but it does happen after the movie proper has ended, so I say it still counts. The newfound knowledge that Groot survived the showdown with Ronan (in a manner of speaking, anyway) made this happy scene so much happier. The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” is the perfect jam to cap off the movie’s excellent soundtrack, has the right joyful mood for the scene, and subtly underscores that not only is Groot back, but also that “The Guardians of the Galaxy will return.” It was the perfect way to end the MCU’s most carefree offering up to that point.
7 – “How many more of these?” (Spiderman: Homecoming, 1:12:30-2:13:00) – I have never laughed harder at a post-credits gag than I did at this thirty-second bit of meta that takes the piss out of all of us who hang around in the theater, preventing the cleaning crew from finishing up. Chris Evans’s delivery is perfection. It’s a classic example of how, sometimes, when there’s nothing left to say, all you can do is make a joke about how there’s nothing left to say.
6 – “You don’t know him, he’s from Brooklyn.” (Captain America: Civil War, 2:26:29-2:27:25) – Spidey’s return to the Marvel banner was a big deal and this scene served as on-screen confirmation of his solo film. Controversial casting of Aunt May aside, Tomei and Holland had fantastic chemistry, so a seeing a little bit more of it was a treat. The callback to Spidey and Cap’s banter in the airport showdown was rewarding and highlighting their particular fight honors the roles both characters had in this story in the comics. Peter got a chance to brag about his heroics without revealing his secret and to check out his fancy new Stark tech, low key setting up the ongoing Stark Internship of Spiderman: Homecoming. And when it comes down to it, more Tom Holland is never a bad thing, the kid is a treasure. (I will never miss an opportunity to share that clip while discusing Tom Holland.
5 – “Well, I guess that’s worth a look.” (Thor, 1:53:07-1:54:37) – Here is the place on the list where things start to get real. This isn’t the first we’ve heard of what will become The Avengers, but it’s a major clue to the plot. While Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets pretty much overlooked by the MCU, these scenes, including this one, help reinforce S.H.I.E.L.D.’s role in the overall story. People pretty much lost their minds when Loki appeared by Selvig’s side, with good reason. Hiddleston’s Loki is the villian you love to hate and hate to love and everyone was thrilled to find out we’d be treated to a lot more of him in the future.
4 – “Sir, we found it.” (Iron Man 2, 1:58:33-1:59:18) – For the first time, the MCU sets up the next installment in the franchise and gets it done in under a minute. Phil Coulson is sometimes overlooked by movie-only fans as one of the strongest connective fibers in the MCU. Sure, his “death” will later unite the Avengers and he’ll go on to do great things weekly on ABC. But even in the beginning, as Fury’s man on the ground, he is the main cog that keeps the wheel of this franchise moving. So, it’s only fitting that he should be the one to arrive at the edge of that desert crater and announce to us all the next in a long line of heroes.
3 – “Fine. I’ll do it myself.” (Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2:13:10-2:13:31) – In this simple scene, the shortest on our list, not much happens, but not much has to. Though short, it starts out in semi-darkness and out of focus, allowing enough time for a realization to slowly dawn on fans: OH SHIT IT’S THANOS AND THE INFINITY GAUNTLET. (A small number of less-informed, but still enthusiastic, fans were thinking “Wait, I’ve seen that guy, right? Who is he again?”) With this pants-shittingly awesome scene, the MCU announced that it was not even kind of fucking around, setting up the next Avengers movie before this one was even over. With so many movies yet to come in Phase 3, knowing he’s out there and he’s coming to fuck up every last one of our heroes added tension and excitement to the three-year lead-up to Avengers: Infinity War, .
2 – “Sooner or later, they will meet the twins.” (Captain America: the Winter Soldier, 2:08:18-2:09:46) – Widely regarded as one of the best movies in the MCU, this movie was all about introducing new Avengers who would someday take over from the old guard. Most of the original six had each had more than one of his own movies in which to shine (still waiting on a Black Widow solo flick, Marvel), so it was high time to bring new blood into the franchise. We met Sam and T’Challa and were introduced to the new and improved Bucky Barnes, but before we move on to Peter Quill and Co., the Russo brothers had a little treat for us: the Maximov twins, Wanda and Pietro. However you feel about them as characters, absolutely no one knew it was coming and it was as exciting a reveal as they come. We also got to meet Strucker and hear all about his nefarious plans, but the introduction of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to the franchise was the big win.
1 – “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.” (Iron Man, 2:05:13-2:05:45) – The original and still the best. Without this, there is no MCU. Hardcore fans knew Nick Fury’s face before he ever said his name and godDAMN there has never been better casting. Simply put, there is no other choice for number one than the post-credits scene that launched the franchise that’s now 18 movies strong.
So there you have it. Just so you know, I agonized over writing this. I love the MCU as much as the next guy, though I would never claim to be as much of an expert as, say, you are, Dude Who Is No Doubt Right Now Thinking This Chick Doesn’t Know What the Hell She’s Talking About, and to you I say, get your own list! Just kidding. No, but seriously, I’d love to hear your own list. Hit me up on Twitter and tell me all about your favorite MCU post-credits scenes and how they rank. We have to do SOMETHING to keep ourselves from worrying about who’s going to die in Avengers: Infinity War (if it’s Steve, you’re going to have to carry me out of the theater on a stretcher).