In 2008, fans who stuck around through the credits of Iron Man found themselves treated to a tease of greater things to come. At the time, given the nebulous state of the future of Marvel Studios, the tease came without a promise that we’d ever see the Avengers Initiative come to fruition on the big screen. 4 years later, it paid off in The Avengers, rolled out its own post-credit scene that set the stage for the larger narrative that would develop over the next 15 MCU projects. That run, which became known as the Infinity Saga, ended with 2019’s Avengers: Endgame which, ironically, was the first Marvel Studios film to run without a post-credit scene. Now, with the future of Marvel Studios more secure than it has ever been, it’s time for the post-credit scene to die.
After skipping out on the tradition in Endgame, Marvel Studios brought back the post-credit scene in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the final Phase 3 film. In hindsight, it’s a tradition they should have left behind as they moved into Phase 4. Once a fun source of “water cooler” conversation, the idea has grown beyond itself and evolved into something that’s become part of a parasitic online conversation where the scenes that come AFTER the movie generate more interest and conversation than the movie itself. It’s not a phenomenon limited just to Marvel Studios-Sony used the post-credit scene to Venom: Let There Be Carnage to market the movie-but Marvel Studios started it and now they need to end it.
The conversation around the post-credit scenes poses a multi-faceted problem for Marvel Studios. While they still provide a fun tease of upcoming events, in recent years, more than one post-credit tease hasn’t paid off. For example, after the credits rolled in 2016’s Doctor Strange, audiences learned that Mordo was on a mission to eliminate magic users, especially those who violated natural law. Surely that would mean he’d cross paths with Wanda Maximoff, right? 616-Mordo was nowhere to be seen in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, his role rumored to have been snipped from the film’s final cut. And what about the great Adrian Toomes/Mac Gargan scene at the end of 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming? With Doctor Strange’s spell erasing the memory of Peter Parker from everyone’s mind, it seems like the Vulture/Scorpion team-up will never come to pass. Will the tease of Venom in the MCU, set up in the post-credit scene to Spider-Man: No Way Home, have the same fate?
The fervor around the content of the post-credit scenes has grown to a point where fans are often more concerned with it than the film itself. Driven by leak culture, the knowledge of the contents of the latest Marvel Studios’ post-credit scene is often a more valuable commodity (more talked about) than the film itself. In fact, after recently attending the premiere of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, almost everyone who asked me about the movie started off by asking, “How many post-credit scenes are there?” and “What’s in them?” It’s concerning that a post-credit scene that may have been shot over a few hours is of more interest than the billion-dollar films the studio is rolling out. And in this case, Marvel Studios delivered one of its worst post-credits scenes to date, though it featured a huge casting spoiler for a big star entering the MCU. But will she? Or will her cameo and the promise it carries be as empty as Mordo’s sorcerer hunt?
As mentioned above, Multiverse of Madness’ post-credit scene, despite featuring 3-time Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron as one of Strange’s most important supporting characters, Clea, doesn’t quite carry the same weight as Fury’s post-Iron Man appearance. Despite Theron looking fantastic as Clea, it seemed hastily put together and didn’t really seem to line up with the film’s own ending, making it one of the worst efforts for the studio. What’s more, the drop in quality seems to be a trend in Phase 4 with none of the offerings so far coming near the thrills of introducing the Maximoff twins after The Winter Soldier.
Truly, the post-credit scenes have lost their novelty and have become an unnecessary distraction. Jake Lockley could have easily been put in the body of the final episode of Moon Knight. Sharon Carter’s phone conversation after the credits of the final episode of The Falcon and The Winter Solider may have done more harm than good, causing fans to speculate and theorize wildly about who was on the other end; as has been demonstrated over and over again, this will lead to faux outrage down the road when the speculation turns out wrong and fans will feel slighted. Will Starfox, or any of the Eternals ever be heard from again? No idea, but Harry Styles caused more of a buzz than the actual film. What was once a wink-wink-nudge-nudge to the comic book fans in the audience has become something general audiences are hungrier for than the films to which they are attached. Marvel Studios would serve themselves well by ditching the post-credit scenes. And if fans are still hungry for more, perhaps the studio could bring back One-Shots as a streaming alternative.
Given they distract from the movies, aren’t always followed through on and the disturbing trend in their quality, it really is time for the Marvel post-credit scene to be retired. We’ll always have that kiss between Jane and Thor…before Jane disappeared for a decade.