You have to hand it to the Marvel Studios team. They know how to keep an audience in the seats right through the credits.
What started as a bonus scene in “Iron Man” has now become the norm for Marvel movies, with each film in the series offering up a brief, extra scene long after the main narrative ends and the credits begin rolling. And what’s more, the extra scenes haven’t simply been outtakes or scenes recovered from the cutting room floor — in nearly every case, they’ve provided the connecting line from one Marvel movie to another, and advanced the over-arching narrative of Marvel’s cinematic universe.
So, just in case you might’ve missed one of these along the way — or simply want a refresher on what each of them entailed — I’ve put together a brief guide to Marvel’s post-credits scenes in each of the six Marvel movies.
Marvel used its very first post-credits scene to introduce the world to Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, who Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) finds waiting for him in his home after he tells the world, “I am Iron Man.” In a wonderful bit of foreshadowing, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. tells the billionaire superhero, “Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” The scene closes with Fury dropping the tease heard ’round the world: “I’m here to talk to you about The Avengers Initiative.”
The Incredible Hulk
The final scene in this film tied the activities of the famous green behemoth into the greater Marvel cinematic universe, with Tony Stark approaching a drunk, defeated General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) after his efforts to take down Bruce Banner’s rampaging alter ego end in failure. “I hate to say I told you so, but that super-soldier program was put on ice for a reason,” Stark tells Ross, a statement that also connects Stark and Ross to the program that originally gave the world Captain America. “What if I told you we were putting a team together?” Stark asks Ross, offering up yet another hint of the crossover to come.
Iron Man 2
This time around, it’s S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who serves as ambassador of the post-credits crossover, with the agent arriving at the site of a massive crater in New Mexico. “Sir, we found it,” he announces into his phone — most likely to Nick Fury. The camera then pans out to reveal Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir resting in the center of the crater.
Nick Fury returns to the post-credit Marvel movie-verse at the end of “Thor,” introducing scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) to what we’ll later learn is the Tesseract, a mysterious cube of immense power that features prominently in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Loki’s appearance at the end of the scene foreshadows his return in “The Avengers” and the role the Tesseract will play in that film as well. This scene also serves as the most direct link to the narrative of “The Avengers,” which picks up during Selvig’s subsequent study of the Tesseract.
Captain America: The First Avenger
In addition to the final scene in the main arc of “Captain America” that features Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) waking up in the modern era, the film’s post-credits scene teased the character’s introduction to The Avengers. “Trying to get me back in the world?” Rogers asks Fury when the S.H.I.E.L.D. director approaches him after a particularly intense workout. “Trying to save it,” responds Fury.
Marvel didn’t cut the post-credits party short after “The Avengers,” though, and dropped not one but two scenes into the credits of the blockbuster team-up film. In the first scene, it’s revealed that Loki’s return and his alliance with the Chitauri invaders was actually orchestrated by a far greater villain: Thanos. As the powerful titan is told that threatening Earth is to “court death,” he smiles — confirming that Marvel’s plans for the superhero team could very well bring them into conflict with one of the universe’s most dangerous beings.
The second post-credits scene in “The Avengers” was significantly lighter, and played on Tony Stark’s earlier line about wanting to try some shawarma. The scene is silent, save for the sounds of the entire team chowing down on shawarama around a large table.