In the grand scheme of Marvel Cinematic Universe post-credits scenes, the two sequences that close out Taika Waititi’s “Thor: Ragnarok” are relatively slim and mostly expected. (Remember when “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” had five of them? Those days are apparently already over.) But they still manage to pack in Waititi’s signature humor — one element that, according to early reviews, is among the best parts of the new MCU feature — and a tantalizing hint as to what we can expect in from the rest of the so-called MCU Phase Three, set to play out in five more films over the next two years.
(Spoilers ahead for both “Thor: Ragnarok” and its post-credits scenes.)
Waititi’s film doesn’t shy away from the implications of its title: in Norse mythology — from which the Thor comics derive much of their inspiration — “Ragnarök” is an end times level disaster, one punctuated by huge deaths of beloved gods, natural disasters, and the world itself being totally submerged in water, a total end that eventually spawns a rebirth of both the land and its people. The latest MCU offering layers on similar elements: some characters die and Thor’s home realm of Asgard is forever changed, but it also concludes with a positive message of hope, as Thor, Loki, and the rest of the population of Asgard leave their planet on a spaceship bound for, well, where exactly?
1. Floating in Space
The first post-credits scene picks up immediately after the end of “Thor: Ragnarok,” with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) standing on the bridge of their expansive new (temporary?) spaceship home, looking out over the galaxy. Interestingly enough, the pair have both shed their usual Asgard duds and are now wearing black versions of their classic outfits, capes and all. Despite the implication of such dark clothing, they seem to be in fine spirits, lightly debating where to go next.
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Earth, of course, seems like the most logical pick, and a much safer one to boot. “Everything’s going to work out fine,” Thor assures his brother, but in a wild case of “oops, spoke too soon,” that’s the precise moment that a foreign ship appears on screen. From its size, color, and general zibe (read: not so friendly), it seems safe to assume that one of space’s more angry inhabitants is inside. Our bet? Thanos, who has presumably gotten off his space rock in time to join the mayhem of “Avengers: Infinity War.”
The last time we saw the big guy, it was in a mid-credits scene in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” one that saw the epic villain finally taking matters into his own hands (literally), donning the Infinity Gauntlet and vowing to “do it” himself. Part of getting the job done (the job being, of course, collecting all the Infinity Stones and using them for his nefarious aims) would presumably involve getting in a ship and going somewhere. If he found Thor along the way (plus Loki, who has already betrayed him), all the better.
Although Marvel has not released its first trailer for “Infinity War” yet, it did screen at Comic-Con, where reports held that it opens with a grievously wounded Thor getting picked up — floating, totally alone, in the middle of outer space — by the Guardians of the Galaxy. If Thanos attacked the spaceship holding Thor, Loki, and the rest of the Asgardians, potentially making off with it (and them), and leaving Thor to die in space, that certainly sounds like a hell of a jumping off point for “Infinity War.” While “Thor: Ragnarok” ends on an upbeat enough note, it’s clear that danger is around the corner, and there’s no greater danger than Thanos.
2. The Grandmaster’s Last Stand
As dark a future as that first post-credits scene hints at, Waititi still manages to close out “Thor: Ragnarok” with one last big laugh. During the course of his film, we’re treated to the wild stylings of Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, one of the so-called Elders of the Universe who is currently preoccupied with ruling the trash planet of Sakaar. No, really, the planet is basically made of intergalactic trash and refuse, thanks to its location just at the edge of known civilization, which makes it a prime spot for all sorts of random things to end up (including, at one point, Thor and Loki).
During the film’s last act, Thor and Loki (along with a slew of other friends we won’t name here) stage a daring escape from the planet, one that involves stealing one of Grandmaster’s party spaceships (like a party bus, but a ship, complete with way too many strobe effects). Grandmaster and his cronies are left in the dust, but Waititi gives them one last chance to shine in the final scene, as Goldblum’s wondrously over-the-top wacko emerges from his fallen ship, back on the trash heap and surrounded by some very angry citizens.
“The revolution has a been a huge success!,” Grandmaster claims, which is, of course, hilarious because any revolution being staged was done in an attempt to overthrow him. As far as all that — and whatever ill will stirred up by Thor’s wild escape — the always-nutty Grandmaster still manages to get one last word in: “It’s a tie.” Political humor at its most timely.
“Thor: Ragnarok,” starring Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, and Cate Blanchett, opens in theaters nationwide November 3.