[Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead for “Avengers: Endgame.”]
Let’s get this over with right out of the gate: there are no post-credits scenes in “Avengers: Endgame.” While the Marvel Cinematic Universe film does end with an extended — and extensive — run of credits, including something of a tribute to the original six Avengers stars, and an audio callback to Tony Stark forging his early armor in the first “Iron Man,” the twenty-second film in the “Infinity Saga” has eschewed a classic Marvel tradition. When it’s over, it’s really over, with nary a goofy Easter egg or even a flashforward tease to the next MCU feature to round out an already three-hour-long film.
Despite most moviegoers believing that “Avengers: Endgame,” long touted as the conclusion of the first three phases of the MCU — one oft-used marketing tagline consistently bills it as “the end” — Marvel head Kevin Feige recently announced that the true conclusion of Phase Three will come with “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which opens in July. And yet “Endgame,” which concludes with both the long-anticipated reversal of Thanos’ horrific “snap” and a number of far less happy conclusions for some beloved characters, sure seems like the end of something big. And what better way to really sell that idea than to conclude the film with all the finality its 21 predecessors never had?
Over the franchise’s decade-long history, the MCU has both pioneered and perfected the art of the post-credits tag, loading up each of its earlier films with up to five (five!!) extra scenes. The series certainly didn’t invent the gimmick, but it’s done the most visible job of turning the use of “stingers” into an expected event within its own films and beyond. For MCU fans, sticking around through the credits is just part of the experience, and the information contained within such scenes is just as essential as the action contained within the film itself.
In fact, some of the biggest twists in MCU lore happened during post-credits scenes, like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appearing at the conclusion of “Iron Man” to tell Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) about the Avengers Initiative, or Thanos arriving at the end of “The Avengers” and revealing himself to be the next big bad for the team to fight. It’s difficult to imagine another franchise so willing to introduce such key events after an entire film has played out, including the first appearance of the central villain or the revelation that there’s a bigger force guiding the action.
Other key characters — actual Avengers, no less — have gotten their first introduction during post-credits tags, including Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who was teased at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War,” or Thor, who was similarly introduced to the series via a scene at the conclusion of “Iron Man 2.” The scenes have foreshadowed entire films, from “Guardians of the Galaxy” (first teased at the end of “Thor: The Dark World”) to both “Black Panther” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which got winks at the end of “Captain America: Civil War.”
The series has also further embraced its more light-hearted elements in comedic post-credits tags, from the near-silent shawarma-eating scene that ended the battle-heavy drama of “The Avengers” with a smile to the Groot-centric snark of a tag from “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.” If you like what the MCU has to offer, you love those scenes.
At their best, the MCU’s post-credits scenes have functioned as microcosmic version of what the series succeeds at: introducing big characters, big stories, and big twists (with a laugh, on occasion) and making its audience care in an instant. At their worst, well, they’ve kept audience members in their seats for far too long and hinted at storylines that never panned out into much (remember how key The Collector seemed after appearing in two post-credits tags? what happened to that plotline?).
No, there are no post-credits scenes in “Avengers: Endgame” and the film — and its willingness to at least act as if some things really are ending after a decade of build-up — is all the better for it. You don’t need to stick around to see if there’s more, there’s already been enough. (And not to worry, there’s going to be plenty more, even without all that teasing.)
“Avengers: Endgame” is in theaters now.