Every Marvel Cinematic Universe End Credits Scene Explained
Modern Marvel films are known for their phenomenal effects, mind-blowing action, quippy dialogue, and Easter eggs. And while those eggs are sprinkled throughout the course of each film, you can always count on one place you’ll find them: in the end credits scene(s).
Yes, the MCU does a great job at getting viewers to stay in their seats until the theater lights come up. These post- (and mid-) credit scenes are sometimes merely humorous, but often give clues as to what we’ll see in the coming films. Whether you’re new to the MCU and just want to catch up, or you’re about to see the latest flick and need a refresher, here is every bonus scene from all of the franchises’ offerings up until this point, and what we learned from them.
Iron Man (2008)
Robert Downey Jr. revived his career and kick-started the MCU with this movie. The single post-credits scene is about as self-explanatory as it gets: Nick Fury has come to invite Tony Stark to join the Avengers Initiative, and get the team off the ground. And it began with a little meta humor: Fury says “You’ve become part of a bigger universe” — referring, of course, to the MCU.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Looking back, the second entry in Phase 1 seems a little out of place, due to the recasting of Bruce Banner. But the end credits scene matches the previous one nicely.
After the events of the film, during which Banner was allowed by the government to escape, General Ross sits in a bar smoking and drinking, lamenting his defeat. In walks Stark, who repeats Fury’s message to him from Iron Man regarding the Avengers Initiative.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The second installment in the Iron Man trilogy ended with another nod to a new character. Agent Phil Coulson drives through the New Mexican desert, where he sees a giant crater. He speaks to someone (presumably, Fury) on the phone, simply saying, “We found it.” The camera then zooms in, showing Thor’s hammer, and prefacing the next film in the franchise.
Here’s where things start to get more interesting. After a title card revealing that Thor will return in The Avengers, we see Dr. Selvig walking through the SHIELD facility, where he meets Fury. The director explains to Selvig that the crazy things he’s just seen (gods, another dimension) are connected to history, and opens up a titanium case, revealing what we later learn is the Tesseract.
Selvig curiously asks Fury what it is, and Fury states that it is possibly “unlimited power.” We then see the reflection of Loki, who we had just seen fall into a black hole, say “Well, I guess that’s worth a look,” and Selvig repeat those words.
The takeaway here? Loki is using his mind control powers on Selvig, and now has a way into the behind-the-scenes workings of SHIELD. This sets Loki up as the villain for The Avengers, and is also our first introduction to the Infinity Stones.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
After five solo films, the MCU has now officially prepared its audience for a team-up adventure. Director Joe Johnston did something different with his post-credit sequence — rather than hinting at anything, he just showed a teaser trailer.
The scene starts with Steve Rogers working out, pounding away at a punching bag. He hits it so hard it breaks off of its chain, and flies across the room, destroyed. Fury enters the room just then, asking Steve if he’s having trouble sleeping. Rogers knows that he’s there for — a mission. Their brief dialogue leads right into a 30-second teaser depicting scenes from The Avengers.
The Avengers mid-credits (2012)
The final film in Phase 1, this movie is the first to feature a mid-credits scene. After the major, flashy credits roll, we’re taken away from Earth, somewhere off in the galaxy.
A hooded creature, known as The Other, is telling his master that Loki has lost, calling humans “unruly.” We then see another being, this one very large and decked out in armor, turn, showing us his rough purple face. This is Thanos, and he smiles knowingly, breaking the fourth wall.
The scene is important for a number of reasons. The appearance of Thanos was a signal that Guardians of the Galaxy was on its way. But what’s most important is that this was the setup for the entirety of this giant arc — Thanos is clearly going to be a villain, but his coyness and patience show that he’s in it for the long haul, indicating that he and his quest for the Infinity Stones were to be the eventual battle to end all battles.
The Avengers end credits (2012)
While there was a lot more to talk about regarding Thanos’ introduction, the first “throwaway” post-credits scene garnered quite a bit of attention. A moment toward the end of the film’s final battle saw Tony ask his cohorts if they wanted to try a shawarma place he had seen while they were fighting.
This comes back around when the credits finish rolling, in a scene depicting our six major heroes sitting at a table in a restaurant that has been a casualty of the fight. The clip is almost completely silent, with only the sounds of chewing heard. Fans noted that it was quintessential Joss Whedon (the film’s writer and director) humor.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Kicking off Phase 2, Iron Man 3 was the original hero’s final solo tale. And the accompanying post-credits scene takes a decidedly more light-hearted approach than many before it.
Beginning with a voiceover as the final credits roll, we hear Stark rehashing the battle we just saw on screen. Then, we cut to him with his eyes closed, thanking a just-awoken Bruce Banner for listening to his story. When he realizes his pal had been snoozing, he thinks nothing of it, and continues to tell a childhood memory, even after Banner explains that he’s not “that kind of doctor.”
Thor: The Dark World mid-credits (2013)
The Asgardian hero’s second flick centers around the Aether, when it takes over the body of Jane Foster. After securing it, warriors Sif and Volstagg take the Aether to the Collector, in order to keep it safe, yet separate from the Tesseract.
This is the first time we hear mention of the two items as Infinity Stones, with the collector referring to both the Aether (the Reality Stone) and the Tesseract (the Space Stone) as such. The Collector, whose appearance is a tease for Guardians of the Galaxy, then says forebodingly to his assistant, Carina, “One down, five to go,” revealing his own quest to acquire the Stones.
Thor: The Dark World end credits (2013)
In keeping with the new tradition, the post-credits scene serves not to inform, but simply to entertain. Jane Foster is sitting in her apartment when she looks out the window and sees the opening of a portal. She rushes outside, running into the arms of her beloved Thor for a kiss.
Then, the camera fades out, and fades back in on a flock of birds flying away. Suddenly, a Jotunheim Beast, like the one Thor killed in the first film, runs through the shot, wreaking havoc in its wake.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier mid-credits (2014)
Following the events of the Captain’s second solo film, we get a mid-credits scene jam-packed with juicy information. Let’s break it down.
Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker, a major player in the HYDRA game, tells his colleague that it’s no longer about taking down SHIELD — there’s a bigger goal in mind. Indeed, this is the film where the good vs. evil concept begins to get a lot less cut and dry, so it’s fitting that Von Strucker hammered that point home.
He quickly points to Loki’s scepter, which is on display in a protective casing. The Chitauri Scepter, which contains the blue Mind Stone, plays a role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, when the stone finds a new home.
Von Strucker explains that while other HYDRA facilities cause issues for the Avengers, he’s going to keep working on his new project: the twins. The camera shifts to show the audience two glass chambers, one containing a distressed Quicksilver zipping around, and the other Scarlet Witch, sitting on the ground making blocks float with her powers. This was also a major reveal as far as Age of Ultron was concerned.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier end credits (2014)
The film’s very brief post-credits scene is, unlike those of previous installments, a hint at the future. Though we won’t see him again for a few films, we catch a glimpse at Bucky Barnes, as he walks through a museum, looking at an exhibit about himself.
Guardians of the Galaxy mid-credits (2014)
For its first foray into space, the MCU did the credits a bit differently. The mid-credits scene was purely for entertainment’s sake, though it did set up a cute repeated interaction for the second installment.
Drax is sitting on the ship, seriously sharpening his signature knives. Next to him is the tiny sapling that is Baby Groot, in his new pot. Baby Groot slowly starts dancing to a song from from Peter Quill’s Awesome Mixtape Vol. 1, but freezes when Drax looks at him, before resuming when he looks away. Apparently, it was the audience’s overwhelming positive reaction to this scene that encouraged James Gunn to keep Groot in this state for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Guardians of the Galaxy end credits (2014)
Another end credits scene featuring the Collector, this one ties back to the events of the film, as well as bringing back the character full circle from his initial introduction.
The Collector is sitting on the floor of his museum, in the wreckage of the explosion caused by Carina and the Power Stone. He’s sipping a drink, and Cosmo the Spacedog (a nod to a member of the Guardians from the comics) is literally licking his wounds.
From off camera, we hear a deep, Brooklyn-accented voice say, “What do you let it lick you like that for?” The camera moves to show that Howard the Duck is speaking, who then finishes with the declaration, “gross,” before knocking back his own cocktail. It’s implied that the Marvel character is himself a member of the Collector’s impressive haul.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Allegedly, Whedon didn’t include a post-credits scene in Age of Ultron because he felt that he couldn’t top the now-infamous Shawarma scene. But we did get a quick mid-credits scene that once again teased Thanos’ inevitable role as the ultimate Big Bad.
From the perspective of inside a vault, we see the various layers open up, revealing more and more light until we can see what appears to be a mechanical glove. Thanos appears, and places the glove (also known as the Infinity Gauntlet) on his hand, saying “Fine, I guess I’ll do it myself.”
The interpretation of the scene is pretty clear: Thanos is tired of having others do his bidding — he’s going to go after the Infinity Stones himself. What we don’t know is where he’s getting the item from. Last we saw the Gauntlet, it was in Odin’s vault in Thor. But Kevin Feige later explained that there are two such gloves, and Thanos recovered this one elsewhere.
Ant-Man mid-credits (2015)
Ending Phase 2 is Ant-Man, the Paul Rudd-starring hit that surprised and delighted comic fans who didn’t think the character had it in him to lead a solo flick. In the mid-credits scene, we get a glimpse at what’s to come for Hope van Dyne, new romantic interest of Scott Lang.
Some, including Hope herself, were disappointed that the daughter of the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, and his wife, the Wasp, wasn’t her father’s first choice to don the costume. But it seems Pym changed his mind.
In the scene, Pym leads his daughter into a secret vault in his basement, explaining, “I realized you can’t destroy power. All you can do is make sure it’s in the right hands.” The door opens to reveal a prototype Wasp costume, which Pym tells his daughter he and his wife had been working on, but he was now gifting to her. The scene is a perfect setup for the sequel, titled Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Ant-Man end credits (2015)
The focus of the post-credits scene is the next MCU film on the docket, Captain America: Civil War. We open on Steve Rogers himself, in a dark facility, looking at a tied-up Bucky Barnes. He’s speaking with Falcon, and asking if he should contact Stark regarding their present dilemma.
Falcon responds with a comment about the Accords, and tells Rogers he “knows a guy.” The scene was actually taken from raw footage of Civil War, where we learn what Rogers is talking about. And the “guy” in question? The tiny hero who bested Falcon earlier in the film: Ant-Man, of course.
Captain America: Civil War mid-credits (2016)
Phase 3 began with the sort-of solo flick Civil War. Though it bore his name, the Captain shared the screen with many other heroes from the MCU, including fellow Avengers who fought against him, such as Iron Man. Though the disagreement about the Sokovia Accords was mostly null by the end of the film, there was a reverberating impact on the universe as a whole.
In a facility in Wakanda, Barnes speaks to Rogers, telling him that his decision to return to his cryogenically frozen state is what’s best for all. Rogers then speaks to T’Challa, who explains that he’s allowed Barnes to stay in his country despite the danger of his presence as a way of honoring his father, another victim he tried to help. The scene is a perfect setup for Black Panther.
Captain America: Civil War end credits (2016)
The introduction of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in Civil War was a great tease for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and we even got a little extra after the credits finished rolling. Peter sits on his bed, speaking to Aunt May in the other room, telling her about an injury he sustained during the film’s main battle, though not revealing to her who is responsible (Steve, from Brooklyn — aka Cap).
May walks in, bringing him an ice pack, and he quickly covers up his wrist, which he’d been inspecting, revealing a watch-like gadget. After May leaves, Peter shines a red light up at the ceiling, as the camera pans to reveal it forms the shape of the Spider-Man logo. The device, likely a gift from Mr. Technology himself, Tony, also teases Stark’s appearance in the upcoming flick.
Doctor Strange mid-credits (2016)
Benedict Cumberbatch’s first appearance in the MCU doesn’t feature any other familiar characters — that is, until midway through the credits. Stephen Strange, donning his new signature cloak, sits at a desk across from everyone’s favorite blonde demi-god.
The doctor offers Thor some tea, though he turns him down, opting for a large, magically refilling glass full of beer instead. Strange explains to the Asgardian hero that Loki is on his list of possible threats to Earth. Thor tells him that he and Loki are in search of Odin, but that they will happily leave should they find him. A seemingly annoyed Strange enthusiastically agrees to assist on this quest.
This scene eventually makes its way into Thor: Ragnarok.
Doctor Strange end credits (2016)
For the post-credits scene, Doctor Strange teased a future film that has yet to be announced. A hooded figure walks through a workshop, coming up behind Jonathan Pangborn, who is busy using his tools.
After Pangborn asks how he can assist the man, his face is revealed, showing that he is Mordo. Having just seen sorcerer leave his former friend Strange, unhappy with the actions he took to stop Dormammu, we’re now shown a darker side of the character.
Mordo tells Pangborn that he doesn’t approve of what is being done with these mystic powers, and Pangborn grabs a tire iron, swinging at Mordor to keep him away. But Mordor reaches forward, touching the man and taking away this power, concluding that there are “too many sorcerers.” This scene sets Mordo up as a bad guy in the future, an exciting development for actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — No. 1
Get ready, because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had not one, not two, but five separate scenes during the credits, more than twice that of any other MCU installment. Though not all were informative, all had a distinctly fun Guardians-esque air to them.
The first saw Kraglin playing with Yondu’s fin and arrows. The Ravager didn’t take quite as easily to the gadget as his predecessor, accidentally hitting Drax in the neck with one of the arrows he was working to control, before walking away from the scene of the crime.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — No. 2
Next, we see a ship hurtling through space, then focus in on Sylvester Stallone’s Starhawk speaking to his own group of Ravagers, telling them he’s happy to have them all back together again. The camera zooms in on each of the four old friends in turn: Charlie-27, Martinex, Mainframe (voiced by Miley Cyrus), Aleta, and Krugarr.
Fun fact: This is the original team that called themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy, and James Gunn has hinted that they may all return in Vol. 3.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — No. 3
The third scene is arguably the most interesting, as well as the most important for the future of the franchise. Ayesha, who was at odds with Guardians for the majority of the film, has been bested. But she speaks with her colleague about her new project: Adam.
Though we don’t actually see him, fans and critics alike have come to the conclusion that this is Adam Warlock, a character who was cut from the first film and originally rumored to be Star-Lord’s dad, before we met Ego. It’s been confirmed that we’ll be meeting the character in Vol. 3, though whether it’s on the side of good or evil is unknown.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — No. 4
Baby Groot was a delight on screen in Vol. 2, even more than in his original form. Following the natural progression, the fourth mid-credits scene depicts him in yet another stage of life — his teenage years.
Teen Groot is exactly what you’d expect. Star-Lord, who now understands him apparently, walks into his pal’s room, complaining about the mess. Groot never looks up from a video game he’s playing, merely retorting snarkily back at Quill and calling him “boring.”
It’s classically Marvel humor, and a likely indication that Teen Groot will make life harder on his friends in Vol. 3.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — No. 5
Finally, the post-credits scenes end with none other than Stan Lee. The Marvel mastermind made his requisite cameo earlier in the film, in a scene where he is talking to the Watchers, a big-headed alien species with superior technology.
The last scene returns there, as Lee’s character, decked out in an orange spacesuit, watches the Watchers walk away, pleading with them not to leave him there. His repeated cries of “Ahh, guys. Oh, geez” are a little sad, but all MCU fans know there’s no way they’ll leave him stuck up there forever.
Spider-Man: Homecoming mid-credits (2017)
In the mid-credits scene, we see Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, in prison, where he runs into one of his cohorts from earlier in the film. The character, MacDonald “Mac” Gargan, is one from the comics and eventually becomes Venom.
Mac vows revenge against Spider-Man for his injuries and imprisonment and questions Toomes about his true identity. Toomes keeps Parker’s name a secret, as he’s clearly grateful to the web-slinger for saving his and his daughters’ lives.
Spider-Man: Homecoming end credits (2017)
Time for another goofy MCU send-off! Those who have seen the film will remember the video Parker sees in detention, where Captain America gives an encouraging PSA.
As it turns out, Cap has more to say: He gives a very meta speech about patience, basically telling the audience that they waited around for nothing. But it fits right in with the spirit of the movie.
Thor: Ragnarok mid-credits (2017)
The final film in the Thor trilogy is hilarious and received rave reviews. But it also had to end with some set up for Infinity War.
As Thor and Loki pilot the refugee Asgardians through space, the new king tells his brother that starting over on Earth is the right choice. But the major moment comes when we see a giant ship, belonging to Thanos, headed toward our freshly shorn hero.
Thor: Ragnarok end credits (2017)
Though there were several characters that made us chuckle in Ragnarok, one of the standout comedians was Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum. After his constituents rebel against him, he goes into hiding, but it doesn’t last long.
The final scene shows Grandmaster trying to reason with the rebellion, telling them, “It’s a tie!” Hopefully, the fan-favorite character will make another appearance in the MCU in the future.
Black Panther mid-credits (2018)
The first bonus scene in Black Panther was actually supposed to be the end of the film. Given the ceremonial tone of it, this makes sense.
In the scene, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), General Okoye (Danai Gurira) and War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) speak to the U.N. T’Challa is ready to reveal the secrets of Wakanda that have been hidden for so many years, and share their technology with the world.
Black Panther end-credits (2018)
If you didn’t stick around for the final scene, it’s hard to blame you — often, this is simply a throwaway gag. But Black Panther‘s post-credit scene was so layered that we had to write an entire separate article about it.
Here’s the short version: Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) is out of his cryostasis chamber, and living among the people of Wakanda. He’s become pals with Shuri, and, most interestingly, is being referred to as White Wolf by the local children.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The mood was a bit on the dark side as the credits rolled after Avengers: Infinity War. So instead of the usual excitement, the white text on a black screen echoed the audience’s subdued nature. The scene that followed at the very end lifted our spirits just a little, but probably confused some.
Nick Fury and Maria Hill are driving when they learn about what’s been going on in Wakanda and beyond during the film. As Hill tries to catch her boss up, a car swings in front of them out of nowhere, and Hill gets out to see who was driving … but the vehicle is empty. She then begins to disappear, and Fury calls out to her at others around them panic and watch their own loved ones vanish.
But then comes the most important moment of all: Fury whips out what appears to be a pager, and begins to contact someone. Just as he hits send, he also disintegrates, and the pager falls to the ground, revealing the symbol for none other than Captain Marvel.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!