The MCU didn't invent the post-credits scene, but it definitely perfected it. Ever since the release of Iron Man, Marvel has been slipping these scenes in to tease audiences with their next films and to let them know that the universe was going to be getting even bigger than they thought. Now, the expectation of at least two post-credits scenes comes with every MCU film. Sometimes, they are fun, while other times, they hint at bigger things that are going to be happening in the future. Either way, every film always finds a way to connect to the ones that are coming in the future and it has helped Marvel to not just build their cinematic universe, but also their brand. There are times, though, when the post-credits scenes in these films don't really deliver anything of importance.
Sometimes, they promise something that never pays off or they are simply just a joke for the hardcore Marvel fans. People still stick around to see them, but it is disappointing when a post-credits scene doesn't deliver a huge tease or make a new revelation that will be a part of the next film. No movie studio gets things 100% right all the time, and Marvel Studios is no exception. While their films are generally all high quality, their post-credits scenes can sometimes leave an audience disappointed. They even played on those expectations in the final post-credits scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming, when Captain America talked directly to the audience about how patience sometimes doesn't pay off. These are 10 MCU Post-Credits Scenes That Changed Everything (And 10 That We Didn't Really Need).
20 CHANGED EVERYTHING: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Back when Thanos was just the villain at the back of everyone's minds, Avengers: Age of Ultron made it clear that he was going to be the next big threat for Earth's mightiest heroes. The scene plays out simply, with the infinity gauntlet being elevated from some unseen vault, and Thanos steps forward to say: “Fine,” donning the gauntlet, “I'll do it myself.”
This scene may be brief, but it was really important at the time. Ever since his non-speaking appearance at the end of The Avengers, fans have known that Thanos was going to be coming for the infinity stones. This post-credits sequence was the last time we would see The Mad Titan until his full debut in Avengers: Infinity War.
19 DIDN'T NEED: THOR
Thor was the first of the Marvel films to really blend a director's style with the content. Kenneth Branagh imbued every scene that took place in Asgard with his Shakespearian sensibilities, playing on the family drama as much as possible and introducing conflict that resonated on an emotional level.
So, it's really disappointing that the post-credits scene is nothing more than the revelation that Loki is in control of Selvig when he is brought in to inspect the tesseract at S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters. It's only a small reveal and doesn't really tease much besides the fact that Loki is up to something, which we probably would have figured out anyway.
18 CHANGED EVERYTHING: ANT-MAN
Ant-Man was a fun change of pace from the average MCU film. It leaned heavily into its comedic potential and utilized Paul Rudd's propensity for joking around to make a superhero film that felt more like a fun heist movie than anything else. However, it was the post-credits scene that really made a big promise.
In the post-credits scene, Hank Pym talks to Hope van Dyne about how you can't terminate power, but you can make sure that it is “in the right hands.” He then reveals a prototype of the Wasp suit, with Hope stating that it's about time. It was a great tease for a classic superhero pair and hinted at the MCU's next woman superhero.
17 DIDN'T NEED: IRON MAN 2
Iron Man 2 had a hard job, being the first direct sequel in the MCU and needing to live up to the standards set by the first film. It didn't quite reach those heights again, but it did make the best of what it was required to do, namely introducing a new actor and setting up the very next film in the MCU: Thor.
However, the way it did that was somewhat of a disappointment. While the brief glimpse of Mjolnir in the New Mexico desert was a decent tease, it didn't really give the audience that much to expect in the next film. Yes, it's Thor's hammer, but so what? What does it mean? Why should we care? Clearly, everything worked out, but this was a weak post-credits scene.
16 CHANGED EVERYTHING: THOR: RAGNAROK
Thor: Ragnarok did the impossible and changed the Thor films from dour situations into a brightly lit, comedic ode to the space operas of the 70s and 80s. Rather than relying on the operatic nature of Asgard and the drama of a royal family, it put the focus on Thor himself, with his tendency to make jokes and actually be a comedic character.
However, the tone of the film was greatly offset in its post-credits scene. This wasn't a bad thing, it was just required to set up the biggest film yet in the MCU. As Thor and Loki watch the shadow of Thanos's giant ship overtake them, there is the sense that something big is coming, and it's not going to be good.
15 DIDN'T NEED: THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Thor: The Dark World is probably the one film that MCU fans could just skip entirely and not be lost when watching any of the other ones. It was dark, slow, and didn't bring anything new to the table. It still featured a post-credits scene, though, but it was one that set up a much more fun movie by introducing the Collector, next seen in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Lady Sif and Volstagg bring the Aether to the Collector, asking him to keep it safe. He looks at it and says to himself, “one down, five to go,” which hinted at the Collector trying to get all the infinity stones for himself, something that never became that much of a threat in the later films. The tease turned out to be wholly unimportant, as the power stone basically eliminated his hideout anyway.
14 CHANGED EVERYTHING: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Captain America: The Winter Soldier did a lot of heavy lifting to change almost everything about the MCU in one film. Not only did Bucky make his return, but S.H.I.E.L.D itself was revealed to have been infiltrated by HYDRA decades ago. This was a huge twist in the MCU and one that had lasting consequences going forward.
However, it was the film's post-credits sequence that did something even more daring by introducing two important new characters before the next Avengers film: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. While Quicksilver wouldn't be sticking around in the MCU, Scarlet Witch has been an important member of the Avengers ever since.
13 DIDN'T NEED: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
The first Guardians of the Galaxy film did something that many thought would be impossible: it introduced a little-known team of heroes to the screen and somehow made them huge stars. Who even knew what a Groot was before this film? It also deftly introduced the cosmic section of the MCU in preparation for bigger stories (see Avengers: Infinity War).
While there was only one real post-credits scene in the film, it didn't really do anything to tease a bigger story coming in the future. While it was kind of fun to see Howard the Duck as part of the MCU, it really didn't add anything substantial to the overall story. Other than a fun surprise, it wasn't really necessary.
12 CHANGED EVERYTHING: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Spider-Man: Homecoming reintroduced the webhead to the world of film and brought him into the wider world of the MCU. It also introduced one of his most classic villains to the screen: the Vulture. Like all of the other MCU films, Spider-Man: Homecoming featured a post-credits scene that hinted at future possibilities.
In it, Adrian Toomes has been sent to jail. There, he runs into one of his old associates, Mac Gargan. Spider-Man fans already know that Mac Gargan eventually becomes the scorpion, but it's the statement he makes about knowing people who want to take down Spider-Man that suggests the effect that Spidey's crime-fighting is having on the criminal world.
11 DIDN'T NEED: DOCTOR STRANGE
Doctor Strange stands as the Marvel film that finally created a link between Earth and the cosmic realms. Stephen Strange experiences these worlds first-hand when he is astral projected by the Ancient One, and again when he travels to the Dark Dimension. The post-credits scene hints at this connection, but doesn't quite deliver on it.
In addition, the scene, which featured Thor in a fun cameo right before Thor: Ragnarok. was not something that was wholly new. It was just a scene that would appear in the latter film. It didn't do much to add to the overall story and was really just a small preview of Ragnarok. We would have thought Marvel would stop doing this after Captain America: The First Avenger.
10 CHANGED EVERYTHING: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
Captain America: Civil War was considered to be less of a Captain America movie and more The Avengers 2.5. It featured all of the familiar heroes that audiences already knew, but also introduced the world to the new Spider-Man and Black Panther. It also hinted at something bigger to come in the future with its post-credits scene.
In it, Bucky has been taken somewhere to recover after the fight with Tony Stark cost him his metal arm. He and Steve appear to be in a lab where Bucky has been put into stasis. As the camera pulls away from the lab we see the giant stone carving of a panther, and we know that this is our introduction to Wakanda, which would be fleshed out even further in Black Panther.
9 DIDN'T NEED: BLACK PANTHER
Black Panther was a massive hit for the MCU and introduced an entirely new section of the world by bringing audiences to the hidden country of Wakanda. While the film was shot beautifully and featured a lot of commentary on race, international relations, and what wealthy countries owe to the world, the post-credits scene left much to be desired.
T'Challa steps in front of the United Nations in Vienna and announces that Wakanda will begin to share its resources with the world. He also states that it will open its borders to those who need refuge. It's a nice moment, but in terms of how it affects the larger universe, it doesn't really do much.
8 CHANGED EVERYTHING: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
Ant-Man and the Wasp was the perfect palate cleanser after the huge, world-changing events of Avengers: Infinity War. Even before it was released, fans wondered how it would tackle the aftermath of “the snap.” Well, for most of the movie, no one was worried about that, since it was technically happening before the events of Infinity War.
However, in a surprising post-credits scene, the effects of the snap rear their ugly head. As Scott Lang is collecting particles in the quantum realm, Hank Pym, Janet van Dyne, and Hope van Dyne all disappear, leaving him trapped with his fate unknown. That is until the reveal that he somehow makes it out in time for Avengers: Endgame.
7 DIDN'T NEED: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did something that no other MCU film had ever done before: it included five post-credits scenes. some of them were obviously just for fun, but at least one seemed like it was setting up something big for the next Guardians movie: the reveal that the Sovereign were engineering Adam Warlock.
However, with the controversial firing of James Gunn from Marvel, there's no telling what will happen with future Guardians of the Galaxy films. While the studio has promised to use Gunn's script, a new director could make whatever changes they want, leaving the fate of Adam Warlock in flux.
6 CHANGED EVERYTHING: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
The ending of Avengers: Infinity War left audiences surprised and unsure of what to expect going forward as they just watched a majority of their favorite heroes turn to dust and blow away. How could any post-credits scene rectify that? Well, luckily, it seemed that Nick Fury had an ace up his sleeve the whole time.
He and Maria Hill watch the panic unfolding, and she begins to fade away, unsure of what is happening. That's when Fury pulls out an old-school pager, something that no one would possibly have any use for now. As he nearly utters one last curse word, Fury fades away. He drops the pager and it reveals Captain Marvel's insignia, hinting at her participation in the next phase of the story.
5 DIDN'T NEED: IRON MAN 3
Iron Man 3 seemed to split audiences down the middle. Some people enjoyed the change of tone and the refusal to fall back on superhero standards by having Tony separated from his suits for the majority of the film. On the other hand, some thought it was too different and didn't buy into Shane Black's writing style (particularly his version of the Mandarin).
However you felt about the movie, we can all pretty much agree that the post-credits scene was just there for fun. It was another post-credit scene made to remind audiences that all of these heroes do live in the same universe, and it featured Tony boring Bruce Banner into sleep with his life stories and difficult family memories. It was cute, but pointless.
4 CHANGED EVERYTHING: IRON MAN
There's no telling how many people walked out of the theater without sticking around to see the post-credits scene of Iron Man back in 2008. After all, the MCU wasn't even a thing yet, and audiences had no knowledge of the fact that Marvel would utilize these post-credits sequences to tie all of their films together.
It was pretty huge when word started getting around, and we're willing to bet that some people went and saw the movie again just to sit through the credits to see what happened. Not only did the scene introduce Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., but it also dropped the phrase “Avenger initiative,” something that wouldn't be delivered for another four years.
3 DIDN'T NEED: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Captain America: The First Avenger was the penultimate film in the first phase of the MCU. By the end of it, Steve Rogers had been awakened in the modern era and the final scene of the film was a beautiful, but heartbreaking, moment; with Steve immediately thinking back to what he told Peggy, knowing that he might never be able to see her again.
It's kind of a bummer, then, that the perfect final scene is followed up by a tease of The Avengers. The scene of Steve Rogers hitting a punching bag so hard it flies across the room was lifted right from the next film, and it was then followed up by a teaser that just seemed like Marvel was shoving an advertisement into the end of their movie.
2 CHANGED EVERYTHING: THE AVENGERS
We're all used to seeing the heroes of the MCU show up in films together now, but back in 2012 when The Avengers was released, it was a huge, incredible achievement. The film was non-stop action and superhero relationship-building, but it was the post-credits scene that really changed everything and made clear that things were only going to get bigger.
The Other is discussing how humans are not the “cowering wretches” they were promised, and to challenge them is to court something greater, something that Thanos has been known to be obsessed with. When he turned and gave a wry smile, audiences suddenly knew that this universe was bigger than they ever thought.
1 DIDN'T NEED: THE INCREDIBLE HULK
The Incredible Hulk is sort of like the forgotten cousin in the MCU. The events of the film barely make a dent on the rest of the movies, and it really just serves to introduce both the Hulk and General Ross to the MCU as continuing characters. The post-credits scene is almost as inconsequential as the rest of the film.
General Ross is in a bar after failing to bring down The Hulk and in walks none other than Tony Stark. This was the only important part of this scene: finally tying two separate superhero films together. Other than that, the two of them have a conversation about a team being put together and that's it. Of course, Ross also gets a quip in about Tony's “suits.”