Stinger scenes (that’s what them Hollywood types call those little scenes after the credits for which you hold your pee in) have been around for quite some time. The Muppet Movie in 1979, which is considered the first movie with a ‘true stinger,’—in that it wasn’t just a title card announcing a sequel—began what seemed to be a comedic trend in the films of the ’80s.
In today’s context, stingers have become closely associated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and has since been adopted by other studios with comic book movies. Some of these scenes have served somewhat significant purposes while others have been frivolous yet fun.
In light of the MCU’s most recent release and to celebrate the tenth entry of the most ambitious in-continuity movie series yet, we bring you a rundown of all the stingers to date listed according to my personal preference.
10. Iron Man 2 (2010) – Mjolnr in New Mexico
There’s no denying that Iron Man 2 had its fair share of problems. Many have pointed out that the movie seemed to play as an extended trailer for the MCU’s potential as opposed to a proper Iron Man flick. Add in an unceremoniously rushed third act (something that even pissed off Whiplash actor Mickey Rourke) and Iron Man 2 was a somewhat disappointing third entry to the MCU.
Nevertheless, it was undeniably fun and I wasn’t too bothered about the excessive references to other aspects of the shared universe. After all, as a comic fan I’m more than used to seeing characters and objects randomly pop up to assist in battles or have a chat over coffee, making this yet another example of comic book storytelling come to life… which, at worst, is fan service.
However, it did ruin one thing for me: the novelty of seeing frakking Mjolnr! See, at this point, the idea of a massive live-action crossover movie coming to fruition still seemed to be somewhat surreal. Sure, we’d already seen Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk, but it still felt like it was all just a too-good-to-be-true dream. So while I wanted to be really jazzed about seeing Mjolnr at the end of this movie, the fact that we had already seen Cap’s shield, treated to a very prominent role from Black Widow and met frikkin’ WAR MACHINE kinda dulled what was supposed to be the actual easter egg.
09. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Extremely Rare Collectible
Honestly, at the point of first drafting this article, this was going to come in last. I hadn’t yet watched the movie (but was already aware of the scene) and honestly didn’t see any significance to this outside of it being a product of James Gunn’s lovable quirkiness. But after having watched the movie (seriously, it was awesome!) and taking some time to consider the implications of its stinger, I felt compelled to swap it with the above entry.
For those unfamiliar with the more obscure of comic-related movies, this isn’t Howard’s first big screen appearance. He starred in his own feature film back in ’86 with George Lucas in the director’s seat proving to be a quack. (Really, you couldn’t have expected me to miss that puntastic opportunity.) The movie was critically panned and performed abysmally in the box office, barely scraping enough to break even and is largely preferred to be left forgotten.
Despite this farce, Howard himself continued being a fun, if not interesting, character and a popular fan favourite candidate. He was even seen in the modern event comic Fear Itself as one of the Fearsome Four. And with his debut in the Marvel Cinematic universe, I’m left wondering “how long before we see Man-Thing?”
After all, Howard was first created as a supporting character to Man-Thing and we saw Man-Thing’s treacherous ex-wife Ellen Brandt in Iron Man 3. Also, as my fellow Just Saying writer best put it (Bruce), Howard looks like the John Constantineof ducks.
Pretty portent for canard.
08. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – It’s a Miracle!/Remembering Bucky
What could be better than one stinger? That’s right, TWO stingers!
Following in the vein of The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World, this sequel to 2011’s Captain America carried a mid-credits scene along with the traditional post-credits scene. Also similar to its double-stinger predecessors, the mid-credits scene had little association with the film itself.
Meet Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch! Not only does this scene take the opportunity to introduce these two future Avengers, it also establishes that the term ‘mutant’ (which is within the rights of Fox’s X-Men license) will be replaced with ‘miracle.’
The introduction of these characters had more than just a story purpose as X-Men: Days of Future Past had just featured their own interpretation of the silver speedster and even had the added advantage of hinting to his familial connection with Magneto. But the MCU may have an ace in Elizabeth Olsen’s creepy Scarlet Witch. Also, we were given our first glimpse of the infamous Nazi and Hydra agent Baron Wolfgang von Strucker.
The actual post-credits scene was somewhat less outstanding but more significant to the movie to which it was attached. When last seen, Bucky—still struggling with his identity and memories—somewhat overcame his Winter Soldier instincts and saved Steve.
We later see him visiting the Howling Commandoes exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution indicating that he was beginning to recall his past. This is especially suggestive to fans familiar with the comics in which Bucky later became the successor to Steve Rogers as the new Captain America.
07. Thor (2011) – The Tesseract
First let me get this out of my system: JOSS WHEDON DIRECTED THIS SCENE! Okay, so maybe I might have a bit of a Joss Whedon obsession—but hey, who can blame me?
Similar to the stingers seen in the rest of the Phase 1 movies leading up to The Avengers, this was yet another tease as to what awaited True Believers in the upcoming team-up epic. With the Tesseract seeing its first formal appearance, audience were also clued in to the nature of Loki’s bigger plans and the eventual involvement of good Doctor Selvig in them.
While not the most mind-blowing of the MCU’s stingers, this one turned out to be a double tease with the Tesseract being a point of contention in the penultimate installment of Phase 1, Captain America.
06. Iron Man 3 (2013) – Hulk Therapy
It’s a crime that while we have had three Iron Man, two Thor and two Captain America movies since the launch of the MCU in ’08, we’ve only seen one Hulk movie.
While this is largely attributed to the less than remarkable success of 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, it is more likely due to Marvel’s soured relationship with former Hulk actor Ed Norton. There has since been a disappointing lack of presence of Bruce and his “enormous, green rage monster” counterpart.
With The Avengers however, the audience’s reception to a possible Hulk movie has significantly warmed. It also helps that stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Mark Ruffalo have pretty great chemistry. In fact, according to Ruffalo, his cameo in this stinger was on the suggestion of Downey himself and, apparently, a replacement for a different, initially planned scene.
05. Captain America (2011) – Assembling the Avengers!
Not so much a stinger as it was a trailer, this last standalone entry of the MCU’s Phase 1 was the first glimpse into the culmination of what was Marvel Studios’ six year-long experiment.
While carrying no story significant or progressive details, the reason why this stinger clinches a spot in my personal top five is purely because of the sheer, palpable awesomeness of those sixty-seven seconds. When things began in 2008 the vision of an Avengers movie seemed little more than an ambitious fanboy’s pipe dream. Even with the critical and financial success of Iron Man and the eager anticipation of each following entry, fans were half expecting things to somehow collapse.
And while things did seem pretty much solid with the announcement of Joss Whedon helming the movie, it was this that made the dream finally seem real.
04. The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Tony Stark meets Thunderbolt Ross
Because Marvel just knew that we needed more Robert Downey, Jr. in our lives, they indulged us with a cameo of the smug superhero antagonising Thunderbolt Ross shortly after his failure to capture the Hulk.
While this scene is yet another example of Marvel’s early promise of a shared universe, its true brilliance was only revealed when Thor came out on Blu-Ray. Carrying a short film entitled ‘The Consultant,’ this home media exclusive sequence features S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell discussing a conundrum faced by Nick Fury. The supposed solution? Send in ‘The Consultant’. The short then reveals the consultant to be Tony Stark and explains the true intentions behind the dispatching of the one guy Thunderbolt Ross might detest more than the Hulk.
Also, this scene confirms that the bulk of The Incredible Hulk takes place after the events of Iron Man 2.
03. Thor: The Dark World (2013) – The Collector/The Reunion
Better known as the ‘Collector,’ Taneleer Tivan is an Elder in the Marvel Universe who, well, collects artefacts considered rare. In the comics, Tivan was one of the few who had foreseen the arrival of Thanos and the reign of destruction that would ensue. While his allegiance seems to be unclear, it’s obvious that he has a personal interest in the fate of the Infinity Stones.
In a less interesting (but still significant) scene, we see that Thor is now situated on Midgard for good, beside his beloved Jane Foster. This would mean that neither the Bifrost Bridge nor dark energy would be required for the involvement of Thor in the next Avengers flick.
Also, there’s a huge-ass frost monster prancing around London.
While of absolutely no significance in any imaginable way, this stinger might be the single most definitive scene of the MCU. Born of an ad lib by Downey at the end of the movie’s climax and the spontaneity of the cast and crew, this scene was shot so late into the official production timeline that it didn’t even make the cut for most international releases.
01. Iron Man (2008) – Meet Nick Fury
The year is 2007 and the Iron Man panel at Hall H of the San Diego Comic-Con is easily the most anticipated highlight of the event. Amidst the excitement of Robert Downey, Jr.’s casting as Tony Stark and eager anticipation of news regarding a long-term plan by Marvel Studios leading up to a crossover movie, fans are hoping to hear that the rumours of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury are true.
But it just isn’t going to happen, says director Jon Favreau who also admits that the rumours were true as there were indeed plans to bring the actor on board. After all, the talents behind the Ultimate Marvel Universe had explicitly drawn the character in the image of Jackson. But scheduling conflicts had killed the dream prematurely and, while the crossover franchise was still the intent, there would be no promises just yet.
A year later, all of those “I’m too lazy to get up now” and obsessive-compulsive types who sat through the credits freeze as Downey once again appears on screen. What more could the movie possibly offer after having blown our minds with Tony abruptly declaring himself as the gold-titanium alloy clad armored avenger? And then we hear it:
“’I am Iron Man.’ Think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe… you just don’t know it yet.”
Got your own order of preference? Sound off in the comments below, True Believers!