When the credits start rolling at the end of comic book movies, it’s best to stay put because there are usually pivotal scenes that continue the film’s narrative or hint at big things to come. “Iron Man” not only reignited the superhero genre for modern times, it also kickstarted this after-film trend of teasing future heroes, villains and events.
With James Gunn hinting at five post-credit scenes for the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2,” it’s apparent that this won’t be a dying trend anytime soon. Heck, even the “Fast and Furious” franchise adopted them into their movies. As such, CBR decided to break down 15 of the best post-credit scenes in comic book movie history that will keep you on the edge of your seats!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for several comic book movies
15. THE AVENGERS (2012)
Joss Whedon united Earth’s mightiest heroes against Loki, who was a criminal back on Asgard after a failed coup. If he couldn’t rule there, then Earth was to be his domain, and he was lent the Mind Stone and a Chitauri army to do so by a mysterious cosmic figure. Loki’s machinations came to naught, however, and he ended up on the receiving end of a massive Hulk beatdown.
After the credits, we saw that the cosmic being was a lackey for someone on a throne, who we couldn’t see. The person on the throne was being told that Earth was possibly unconquerable and to attempt such a feat would be “to court death.” Lo and behold, when the mysterious figure turned its head, it was none other than Thanos! The Mad Titan had announced his arrival to the MCU with a sinister smirk, kickstarting his bigger narrative of not just ruling Earth, but the entire galaxy.
14. GREEN LANTERN (2011)
Throughout Martin Campbell’s film, you saw how iron-fisted Sinestro (played by Mark Strong) was. He was one of the movie’s redeeming factors, and asserted himself as a senior in the Green Lantern Corps. Strong made it clear to Hal Jordan (played by Ryan Reynolds) that the rough training he dished out was to ensure he had only the strongest soldiers available so that his army could properly safeguard the galaxy.
Sinestro tried to get Oa’s Guardians to harness the power of fear to fight Parallax, and in his goading, he also deemed that Earth may have to end up being a sacrificial lamb in the greater fight. Hal would have none of this, though, and he stopped the monster by slinging it into the sun. Hal nearly died but was rescued by Sinestro and the other members, who were now ready to offer full respect. That didn’t deter Sinestro when the credits rolled from following up on the potential of the yellow end of the emotional spectrum, using one of its rings to turn into a Yellow Lantern.
13. ANT-MAN (2015)
Peyton Reed crafted a comedy-fest with Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, working for Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (played by Evangeline Lilly). It was similar to “Iron Man” in terms of having to topple a tech-mogul gone mad, but what helped push it along was how it came off like an Avengers audition. While the mid-credits scene showed a suit for Hope to become the Wasp, there was another one at the end that would hint at a grander destiny for Lang.
In the film, he needed to steal from the Avengers base and in doing so, Lang took down the Falcon. In the post-credits, we saw a shift in tone as the Russos offered up a tease at “Captain America: Civil War.” Bucky was restrained and we focused on Steve and Sam interrogating him, to which he replied positively. Steve was relieved that he got his friend back, memory now seemingly intact, but it was clear that he and Sam broke the law (hinted as the Sokovia Accords) and that Bucky was a wanted criminal. Sam mentioned he knew someone who could help, hinting at Lang.
12. IRON MAN 2 (2010)
Jon Favreau was directing his second movie about Tony Stark’s life as a superhero and he was pretty much ramping things up towards a full-blown Avengers team. Black Widow showed up, alongside Fury, to convince Stark to join them, while helping him fight off Whiplash and Justin Hammer. However, it seemed that Stark was not really that interested in the heroic path, seeing as he would have to play nicely with others.
After he eventually overcame Whiplash, Stark warmed up to Widow and the concept of working with a squad for the greater good. It definitely delighted Fury, who wanted Iron Man to be his golden boy, and after the credits, we got a huge tease of the next hero in the MCU, and a possible teammate. This was none other than Thor, but it wasn’t the Asgardian god in person. Instead, we were worthy of seeing S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Phil Coulson, reporting a large hammer at the bottom of a crater in a desert in New Mexico. Mjolnir was now in play and Fury would have more soldiers at his disposal!
11. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)
Bryan Singer took yet another crack at an X-Men movie, this time with the villain Apocalypse! He told the story of En Sabah Nur, the world’s first mutant, using his Four Horsemen to battle Professor Xavier, Mystique, Cyclops, Jean Grey and a couple other young warriors, all for the fate of mankind. This movie hinged on grand spectacle and in the end, Xavier’s unit prevailed thanks to Jean harnessing what appeared to be the Phoenix Force.
As part of the youngsters’ mission prior, they ended up at a Weapon X facility and freed Wolverine to go on a berserker rampage, inadvertently helping them escape. This was addressed again after the credits as all that slicing and dicing resulted in some of Logan’s blood being spilled. We saw some men in suits taking vials of this blood from the facility into a briefcase labeled Essex Corp., teasing that the mad scientist who loved experimenting with mutant DNA, Mister Sinister (a.k.a. Nathaniel Essex), was making his presence felt.
10. THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)
Alan Taylor took over from Kenneth Branagh with the “Thor” franchise and shaped a story traversing some of the Nine Realms, as Thor had to stop Malekith and his Dark Elves from wreaking total havoc. The Odinson quelled the destruction and emerged victorious, but it was clear that Malekith’s weapon, the Aether, was something monumental. It turned out to be another Infinity Stone (the Reality Stone), which even Thor’s grandfather, Bor, tried to hide away due to its sheer power.
The mid-credits showed Volstagg and Sif visiting the Collector (a debuting Benicio del Toro) to entrust the Aether to his care. They warned that with the Tesseract (the Space Stone Thor recovered in “The Avengers”) already in Asgard, having two Infinity Stones close together would be unwise. As they left, the Collector remarked, “One down, five to go!” This hinted that Thanos wasn’t the only one trying to gather all the Stones, but in the Collector’s case, he appeared to be about safekeeping and protection.
9. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)
Matthew Vaughn continued to show his skill as a director by adapting yet another comic book movie. He followed up “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class” with this reimagining of the book from Mark Millar and Watchmen legend, Dave Gibbons. It told the story of Eggsy, a troubled young Brit, who was being groomed to be a super-spy by his uncle Harry (played by Colin Firth).
Taron Egerton broke out in his role as Eggsy as he saved the planet from the maniacal Richmond Valentine (played by Samuel L. Jackson). It was a slick tale that felt like James Bond entered the world of comics. Eggsy struggled through a lot of indiscipline but eventually, after his uncle’s murder, became a true hero. In the post-credits, he returned home to offer his mother and half-sister an exit away from an abusive boyfriend, Dean. Eggsy then dispatched him when he objected, in the same manner that Harry did with Dean’s henchmen earlier in the movie. It was karma and poetic justice at its finest, adding one final bit of action and humor.
8. CIVIL WAR (2016)
The Russos changed the complexion of the MCU, fracturing the Avengers based on who wanted to register for the Accords. These laws were to regulate reckless superheroes but Captain America saw it as an attack on freedom. Adding fuel to the fire was the revelation that Bucky killed Iron Man’s parents, and we saw Team Cap fight Team Stark based on these philosophies and misunderstandings, all engineered by Helmut Zemo.
Steve gave up the shield and later rescued his supporters from incarceration while Stark remained under General Ross’ direction for the government. A critical element was Black Panther, who also wanted Bucky dead after thinking he killed the Wakandan king. Panther eventually found peace at the film’s end, exposing Zemo, helping Bucky and Steve in the after-credits. T’challa placed the Winter Soldier in stasis, promising Steve he would try to fix the mental triggers that turned him into an assassin. We got a glimpse of a Wakandan science lab, but also, a giant Panther statue foreshadowing Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” next year.
7. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)
Bryan Singer marked his return to the X-Men franchise after “Superman Returns,” taking over from Vaughn, as he spun the tale of X-Men teams in the present and the future trying to stave off Sentinels and anti-mutant sentiment. Magneto, Xavier and a united front in the future used Wolverine and the X-Men decades before to help stop Bolivar Trask’s mutant-hunting robots (which would eventually evolve with murderous intent). Their mission was also to prevent Mystique and Magneto from committing genocide.
The movie itself had ups and downs, but Singer toyed with the audience in the post-credits with a scene depicting arguably the biggest and baddest X-Men villain in history. He showed a young En Sabah Nur, before he fully became Apocalypse, in ancient Egypt displaying his powers. He was building pyramids and whatnot, while the people worshipped him like a god. On the horizon, we also glimpsed the Four Horsemen he used for global domination. It was an ominous setup and cleverly executed.
6. THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)
When the Russos were picked for this movie, it was odd because they were known for comedy. However, this was one of the MCU’s best action-flicks to date as a relentless spy-thriller that broke the principle and symbol of S.H.I.E.L.D. It also sent Fury underground as dirty laundry was aired from both sides of the coin in the fight against HYDRA.
Cap also had to save his brother-in-arms, Bucky, from HYDRA’s brainwashing as the Winter Soldier, while they kicked their own terrorist plans into gear using S.H.I.E.L.D. weaponry. Cap eventually had to use Falcon and Black Widow to help fight the good fight. When the movie wrapped, we got an epic scene that foreshadowed “Avengers: Age of Ultron” as we saw the Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda (who were experimented on and mutated using the Mind Stone). We saw their powers, revealing them as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch respectively, which made Baron von Strucker’s evil plans all the more intimidating, as he referenced an evil “age of miracles.”
5. SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)
When David Ayer’s movie wrapped, we got a very tense scene with Bruce Wayne offering to help Amanda Waller after her team, Task Force X, wrecked Midway City in defeating the Enchantress. It was a supernatural-action flick that saw Waller deploy her crew, which included Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Killer Croc, to take down the sorceress, which was actually part of the mess Waller created initially.
As the Joker got involved, all eyes were on her now and how mucked up the mission got. But Bruce promised to take the heat off and protect her. This came at a price of course, which was Waller providing him integral info on his own recruitment for the “Justice League.” She gave him details on Aquaman and Flash, only for Bruce to warn her to decommission her hit squad. She retorted that he should end his nightly activities, alluding that she knew he was Batman. It showed potential conflict to come, similar to the recent comics feud with both teams due to Max Lord’s tricks.
4. THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)
In his first outing, Cap fought Red Skull and HYDRA, as per the comics. They wanted to rule the world and he was having none of it. He lost Bucky as part of the war but eventually, the kid from Brooklyn who took the super-soldier serum rose up and overcame. At the end of the film, he ended up on ice, only to be revived by S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap then got a harsh introduction back into the real world, with Fury revealing to a shocked Steve that he was asleep for 70 years.
In the post-credits, this was expanded upon as we saw Cap training and beating the heck out of punching bags. Fury then arrived to ask him to help save the world as part of the Avengers. This quickly cut into a montage of clips from Whedon’s “The Avengers,” showing the team fully assembled, with Hulk in tow, and ready to tackle Loki, who was wielding the Mind Stone in a scepter. It was more of a teaser trailer but it hyped us all for the ride to come.
3. DEADPOOL (2016)
Fox hit the big time as they unleashed Wade Wilson as Deadpool in an R-rated action-packed blockbuster. He overcame Ajax and the people who tricked him and turned him into a living weapon. This brutal and most profane gore-fest was all done in the name of love. Ryan Reynolds delivered gold as the merc with a mouth, even taking the post-credits game to new heights, not once but twice.
Draped in a Ferris Bueller-like bathrobe, one version had him poking fun and urging the audience to go home. “Oh, you’re expecting a teaser for Deadpool 2? Well, we don’t have that kind of money,” he quipped as he walked away while saying, “What are you expecting Sam Jackson to to show up in a eye patch?” It was a classic jab at the MCU, only to be upstaged by the second version. He confirmed Cable (recently taken up by Josh Brolin) and joked that Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren and Keira Knightley were in contention. He also joked about leaking the post-credits, proving Wade cared not for the fourth wall.
2. AGE OF ULTRON (2015)
In Whedon’s final hurrah in the MCU, he pitted the Avengers against Ultron, who was created by Iron Man with some help from Bruce Banner as a global police net. However, Ultron decided the best way to save the world was to raze humanity, so he tricked the Maximoffs into helping him reset things. Cap and his team eventually stemmed the tide, stopping the despotic artificial intelligence, while redeeming Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as heroes. However, the latter died saving Hawkeye from a hail of bullets.
This led to Steve accepting that a new age of heroes was needed at movie’s end and deciding to train a revamped Avengers squad. Thor headed off to learn more about the impending threat of Thanos after a vision elaborated on the Infinity Stones, which proceeded to inform a mid-credits scene featuring the Mad Titan (last seen in “Guardians of the Galaxy”). Thanos opened up his vault and stuck his hand in an Infinity Gauntlet, vowing to retrieve the Stones himself after his minions continued to fail. This was a clear statement of intent for “Avengers: Infinity War.”
1. IRON MAN (2008): NICK FURY DEBUTS
Favreau started the rebirth of the mainstream superhero flick when he took Iron Man to the big screen. Robert Downey Jr. was impeccable as the arrogant visionary in a story that shaped him as a weapons manufacturer turned hero. Iron Man then took down Obadiah Stane in a flick that was all about terrorism, lords of war, arms dealing on home soil and the repercussions thereof. At the end of the movie, fans were blown away when Fury emerged and told Stark he was being eyed for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avenger initiative.
Fury’s depiction was similar to the Ultimate universe (where Sam Jackson’s appearance was a major influence to Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch), and this line of comics would ironically go on to help shape the direction Marvel Studios wanted to go in. It was a short but sweet cameo that saw the recruitment of an Avenger who at that point was just as iconic as Cap in the books. Fury meant business and not hearing Stark’s response further whet our geeky appetites because no one really knew if Stark was cut out for the task at hand.
Let us know your favorite post-credit scenes from comic book movies in the comments!