Think back to 2008's The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Studios' second-ever film. Notice anything unusual about the beginning of it compared to most other MCU projects?
Indeed, Incredible Hulk was the first MCU film to have an opening credits sequence, and not many installments after followed suit. Taking the form of a montage, it got audiences up to speed on the past events that transformed Dr. Bruce Banner into the Green Goliath himself.
Since then, the MCU has used opening credits sequences sparingly, usually choosing to present the credits sequence after the end of the film and before any mid or post-credits scenes.
However, the very next MCU movie Iron Man 2 used an opening credits sequence showing the villainous Ivan Vanko constructing his energy whips using stolen Arc Reactor technology.
And famously, director James Gunn has included imaginative credits scenes at the start of both of his Guardians of the Galaxy films, which showcase Peter Quill's and Groot's dance moves, respectively. The first Guardians film's intro sequence was even revisited via time travel in Avengers: Endgame as James Rhodes and Nebula watched Quill bust a move on the planet Morag.
The recent MCU Disney+ streaming series WandaVision also used opening title sequences for some of its episodes; however, they were utilized to add emphasis to the whole sitcom pastiche that the show had going.
MARVEL STUDIOS' BLACK WIDOW JOINS AN EXCLUSIVE CLUB
In the opening minutes of Black Widow, we see a flashback to the title character's childhood, undercover in Ohio. Events ensue and then audiences are treated to an opening credits montage detailing parts of Natasha's training in the KGB's Red Room as a part of the Black Widow program.
The sequence is set to a haunting cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by artist Malia J.
NOT EVERYONE CHOOSES THE OPENING CREDITS ROUTE
As has been detailed in the past by directors who have worked with Marvel Studios is the fact that Kevin Feige and his team give directors a lot of leeway in crafting their MCU project — especially those who collaborated with the company after the dissolution of Marvel's original, at-times obstructive "Creative Committee."
Sure, they have to stay inside the lines and conform to the "house style" of Marvel Studios whilst keeping a good sense of continuity. But a lot of how each film or series looks and feels is in the hands of the director.
So, if James Gunn or Black Widow director Cate Shortland wanted to include an opening credits sequence at the beginning of their film, chances are they had no trouble getting the go-ahead for such a thing.
This begs the question of why it's still such an uncommon occurrence in the MCU, as an opening credits sequence has been extremely efficient in setting the tone of each movie that includes one. But even so, it adds a great, unique flair to the MCU installments that do elect to go that route.