The Marvel Cinematic Universe is officially back in action, having completed its first official season of streaming material with WandaVision on Disney+. This will continue later this week with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier before four more Disney+ shows and four movies release in 2021, all likely utilizing one common storytelling device.
Ever since the MCU first kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, the franchise has become synonymous with the use of mid and post-credits scenes, teasing future stories that Marvel Studios has in the works. The team behind the MCU has single-handedly trained the entire movie-going collective into believing that any given film isn’t truly over until the theater’s lights slowly begin turning back on again.
Some of the earliest movies only blessed the MCU audience with one post-credits scene, while the record for quantity goes to Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 with a whopping five scenes after the movie’s core plot ended. The only film that didn’t have a true mid or post-credits teaser was 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, which was an intentional choice by directors Joe and Anthony Russo in order to effectively close out the Infinity Saga.
Most of the movies have either one or two extra tidbits, and WandaVision continued that trend in its last three episodes as well. In this feature, the team at The Direct is ranking these after-hours teases in terms of production quality, how fun they were, and how well they teased the future of the MCU, amongst other variables.
Without further ado, here are the top 15 MCU mid and post-credits scenes as ranked by the staff at The Direct!
15.) Doctor Strange Meets Thor (Doctor Strange)
There's almost nothing more exciting in the MCU than two major Avengers meeting one another for the first time. One of the earliest examples of this comes in the mid-credits scene of 2016's Doctor Strange, Phase 3's second movie.
After Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange defeats Dormammu and brings the Time Stone back to Kamar Taj, this scene cuts to some time after the events of the film as he chats with Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder. Thor is seen in civilian clothes while the Master of the Mystic Arts changes his cup of tea into a full-blown stein of beer.
Strange reveals that he has a "watchlist of individuals and beings that may be a threat to this world," and that Thor's brother, Loki, is one of the entries on his list. Thor reveals that the two are looking for their missing father, Odin, and upon agreeing to return to Asgard once they find the All-father, Strange signs on to help Thor.
As the MCU has done on multiple occasions, this scene was used almost verbatim in the plot of Thor: Ragnarok after Thor sought out Strange for help. With the full scene coming a year after the post-credits tease, MCU fans certainly had to wait on the edge of their seats to find out what the result of this meeting would be.
While Strange and Thor may not have shared much one-on-one screen time, their meeting set the stage for Thor's wildest solo ride to date.
14.) Coulson Finds Mjölnir (Iron Man 2)
Early in the MCU's run of success, the art of the post-credits scene hadn't quite caught on as the phenomenon it is today. However, this trend wouldn't have been possible without the franchise's earliest installments, including the oft-forgotten Iron Man 2 from 2010.
At the start of the movie's third act, Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson bid Tony Stark goodbye, explaining that Director Nick Fury was sending him to New Mexico. Not giving much explanation in the moment, this movie's post-credits scene not only fleshed out Coulson's mission but teased the imminent arrival of someone already seen in this list.
Coulson drives up on a crater in Puente Antiguo before calling an unknown person and saying "Sir...we found it." The camera then pans out into the crater, focusing on the mighty hammer Mjölnir in its first appearance in the MCU.
This is yet another example of a post-credits scene reutilized in a future movie, coming during the plot of 2011's Thor after the God of Thunder was banished to Earth. While it wasn't a major turning point in the plot of that movie, it surely gave fans something to cheer about at the end of the previous Phase 1 solo feature.
13.) Too Many Sorcerers (Doctor Strange)
For the first time in this list, we get to a post-credits scene that hasn't yet been resolved. Although it continues perfectly from the end of its assigned MCU flick, it's still leaving fans wondering what the repercussions from it will be.
In the post-credits scene of 2016's Doctor Strange, Baron Mordo locates Benjamin Bratt's Jonathan Pangborn and starts an ominous discussion with him about power. When Pangborn tries to resist, Chiwetel Ejiofor's master of magic suddenly uses his skill to remove all traces of sorcery from Pangborn, leaving him paralyzed once again.
After the events of Doctor Strange, Mordo was left without a path to follow seeing Stephen Strange use the Time Stone to win, supposedly "violating the natural law." Mordo looks back at these events and comes to the ultimate conclusion that the world has "too many sorcerers."
With no direct sequel to this title yet, it's still a mystery how far Mordo will go to rid the world of its magicians and sorcerers. However, he is confirmed to return for 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Magic, where fans are hoping to see him follow through on this dangerous threat.
12.) I Think I Shall Call Him...Adam (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2)
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is still the MCU record-holder for the most mid and post-credits scenes in one movie by a wide margin. However, one of the five clips stands out amongst its peers.
The villainous Ayesha is seen with one of her servants on Sovereign after the alien race was defeated on Ego's planet, contemplating her next move. In front of her is an upgraded birthing pod, in which she is creating something "capable of destroying the Guardians of the Galaxy."
The real cheer-inducer comes with her next line when she proclaims "I think I shall call him...Adam." This can only lead to one result, in which the classic Marvel Comics character Adam Warlock is finally brought to life.
Sure, fans were entertained enough seeing the OG Guardians team up, Kraglin use his new toy, Groot go through puberty, and the late Stan Lee beg for a ride home with the Watchers. But in the end, Adam Warlock takes the cake for the future of the MCU in this movie.
Warlock is shown in Marvel Comics as something of a perfect being, toeing the line between hero and villain over the years, and he has been teased multiple times in the MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy movies. This scene is as much of a confirmation as any that he will be a part of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, and it will be exciting to find out how he makes his way into that story in 2023.
11.) I Know A Guy (Ant-Man)
Continuing the Marvel Studios trend of using post-credits scenes that come from a future adventure, this next entry teases the lead-up to one of the biggest battles in franchise history. This turned out to be true once again with the final film of Phase 2 as it led right into Phase 3.
The post-credits scene of Ant-Man featured two characters with no screen time in the actual movie, along with one who was on screen for less than five minutes: Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Sam Wilson.
In this incredibly vague scene, Sam talks to Steve about something that "would have been a lot easier a week ago." The two seem to agree that calling Tony Stark to help fix the problem would be a worthless endeavor, both agreeing that even if Tony believed them, the Accords wouldn't let him help.
Steve seems resigned to the fact that he and Sam are on their own, but Falcon gives him a slight bit of hope by saying "I know a guy." Fans later found out that this interaction was one of the last scenes before the major battle at the airport in Germany from Captain America: Civil War.
In that movie, Steve and Sam had just saved Bucky from Helmut Zemo and learned of his history as the Winter Soldier, with Bucky also confirming that there were more super soldiers just like him. When discussing the potential repercussions of the Sokovia Accords, the guy that Sam knew turned out to be Ant-Man, who made his way to Germany with Clint Barton to team up with the aforementioned trio.
While the only confirmable fact from the post-credits scene from Ant-Man was that it was in Captain America: Civil War, it did a fantastic job setting the stage for one of the most epic throwdowns in MCU history.
10.) Nick Fury Has An Emergency (Avengers: Infinity War)
Avengers: Infinity War came with not only the most shocking ending in MCU history but one of the most heartbreaking conclusions in any action movie to date. Thanos' snap with the Infinity Gauntlet wiped out half the universe, but it still found a way to inspire the tiniest bit of hope in the post-credits scene.
This short final scene showed Nick Fury and Maria Hill finding out about The Snap as cars crashed and people went into a state of chaos around them. As Hill vanished into thin air, Fury rushed back to their vehicle to grab a nondescript pager before turning to dust himself, almost giving his first MCU "motherf***er" in the process.
Fury managed to get a message out on the pager as it fell to the street, blinking a few times before a star-based red, gold and blue symbol appears on the screen. Fans who saw this instantly recognized the symbol to be that of Captain Marvel.
As was revealed in her 2019 solo movie, Carol Danvers gave Nick Fury the pager and explicitly told him it was "for emergencies only" should he need her help again. Clearly, this proved to be the case as Fury used it while watching half the people surrounding him turn to nothing.
Captain Marvel wouldn't come into the MCU until almost a year after this post-credits scene, but its leading woman made a massive impact on the story when she made her debut.
9.) Thor and Loki Run Into The Mad Titan (Thor: Ragnarok)
Thor: Ragnarok took some major risks by destroying the God of Thunder's home planet of Asgard and leaving his people without a home for the foreseeable future. On top of this ending, the movie's place in the release schedule set up the potential for a truly terrifying mid-credits scene, which was delivered in full.
Thor and Loki are seen on board the Grandmaster's ship discussing how good of a plan it is to travel back to Earth. After seeming to agree that things would be ok for them, the scene gets progressively darker in color and tone as the brothers' faces shift into looks of confusion and fear.
The shot cuts to another vessel that makes their ship look absolutely minuscule in comparison, which fans recognized as the Sanctuary ship piloted by the Mad Titan Thanos. This very same scene was in the opening moments of Avengers: Infinity War as Thanos killed half of Thor's people and revealed that he already had the Power Stone.
With that scene coming only six months after the mid-credits scene of Thor: Ragnarok, audiences went through a long period of anxiety even knowing what the consequences of that scene would be.
8.) The Snap Affects Ant-Man's Crew (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
As has been mentioned multiple times in this feature already, The Snap was likely the most monumental, game-changing event in the MCU to date. When it first came in Avengers: Infinity War, it was clear that this event would mightily affect the entire MCU for the foreseeable future, which was confirmed in the movie that came as a direct follow-up.
2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp was the first movie to come after Infinity War, although it mostly took place in the short time leading up to the events of the Phase 3 Avengers threequel. Although the two movies were mostly separate story-wise, they were one in the same during Ant-Man and the Wasp's mid-credits scene.
Scott Lang went into the Quantum Realm to obtain particles to help Ghost and do further research once he was out. However, he never found his way back to San Francisco due to the fact that The Blip happened, wiping out Hope Van Dyne and both of her parents while they were about to get him back into the outside world.
This had major repercussions, trapping Scott in the Quantum Realm for five years, even though it only felt like five hours to him. He then played a key role in helping the Avengers bring everybody back to life in Avengers: Endgame, although this mid-credits scene made for another anxiety-inducing moment for MCU fans before those events.
7.) Thanos' First Time With The Gauntlet (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Avengers: Age of Ultron was one of the rare MCU outings that only had one scene come after the core story, but it certainly did its job in setting up some of the major action that came in Phase 3.
This scene was only 30 seconds long, and started off mostly in darkness before light started pouring in and revealing the empty Infinity Gauntlet. A figure walked up and slid his hand into the Gauntlet, revealing himself to be the Mad Titan Thanos as he exclaimed "Fine, I'll do it myself."
Thanos was multiple films away from even obtaining the first of the Infinity Stones, but at that point in the MCU narrative, four of them had been introduced and utilized in other movies. In Age of Ultron alone, the Mind Stone was revealed to be inside Loki's scepter and Thor had his Water of Sights-induced vision which showed the first four stones flying into a cloud shaped like the Infinity Gauntlet.
It may have taken three more years in real time for Thanos to truly begin his quest for the Infinity Stones, but this first look at him wielding the Gauntlet was the very start of possibly the biggest MCU movie to date.
6.) Captain Marvel Looking For Nick Fury (Captain Marvel)
Yes, The Snap has been a consistent theme through most of the first nine entries in this list. But we promise, this will be the final scene in which it plays a key role.
In the mid-credits scene of 2019's Captain Marvel, the story takes us back to the moments directly following Thanos snapping and wiping out half of all life in the universe. The scene goes to the Avengers facility in New York, where the surviving members of the team are analyzing Nick Fury's pager from the mid-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War.
Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner and James Rhodes are analyzing the pager while keeping track of the nightmarish situation across the globe, trying to figure out what the device was supposed to do. They repeatedly reboot the device and try to get the signal out to whoever was on the other end of it, feeling the severity of the moment with every passing minute.
In the end, Natasha turns around to find Brie Larson's Carol Danvers standing in front of her, fully suited up as Captain Marvel. As the Kree/human hybrid hero returns to Earth for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, the only words to come out of her mouth were "Where's Fury?"
As was shown in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War and the final moments of Captain Marvel, Fury had the pager to call Carol should an emergency arise. As she arrived at the Avengers facility to meet the survivors of The Blip for the first time, the story was set for everything that came in Avengers: Endgame with Carol trying to figure out what in the world she needed to do.
5.) Wanda Practicing Her Astral Projections (WandaVision)
Not only does Phase 4 make an appearance in this list with only one project released, it manages to crack the top 5 due to its sheer shock value.
In early March of 2021, the season finale of WandaVision blew fans' minds as Wanda Maximoff made her full transformation into the mythical Scarlet Witch. Although the last three episodes all came with a mid-credits scene, a post-credits scene, or both, it's the final moments of the show's debut season that still have fans talking non-stop.
After Wanda leaves Westview in "Episode 9," she is seen in a cabin in the mountains trying to get away from the horrors she caused through the course of her first solo series. As she walks into the cabin to get a cup of tea for herself, the shot moves into her bedroom where we see a full-blown astral form of her donning the Scarlet Witch costume as she studies the newly introduced Darkhold.
Not only is this magic on the level of Doctor Strange, it exceeds what Benedict Cumberbatch's Master of the Mystic Arts has displayed in his time in the MCU. Whenever Strange used his own astral form, his real body was always knocked out, which makes what Wanda is doing absolutely incredible in terms of her magical skill level.
While Strange may not have shown up in full during WandaVision, teases were put in place for Wanda's next MCU appearance in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Displaying some of the most advanced levels of magic seen in the MCU to date, her team-up with the Sorcerer Supreme is only becoming that much more anticipated for when it debuts in about a year.
4.) The Ages of Miracles (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a turning point in both the MCU and the superhero genre as a whole, receiving rave reviews as one of the franchise's greatest accomplishments to date. On top of its near-perfect core story in 2014, the mid-credits scene did its job to help tease the imminent future for the MCU's next big team-up movie as well.
After Captain America set off on his next quest to find Bucky Barnes, the scene shifts to an undisclosed location where Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker and Dr. List discussed their plan of attack. Quickly, the clip reveals that they have gained possession of Loki's scepter, which hadn't been seen since the events of The Avengers. Considering Hydra had been infiltrating SHIELD for 70 years, this seems like something the Nazi descendants would want to get their hands on.
The two walk down a hall and contemplate how to deal with the Avengers while also speaking about how many people died from their experiments with the scepter over the previous few months. Then, they both look at the only survivors of these experiments: the twins.
Those twins are Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, who are in the early stages of developing their powers as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Strucker describes how they are in "the age of miracles," and how there is nothing that terrifies people more than miracles, setting the twins up as a serious threat to the Avengers in their next adventure.
For a good portion of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Maximoffs certainly gave Earth's Mightiest Heroes their fair share of problems before turning on the genocidal robot and teaming up with the heroes. However, that shouldn't discount how great of a job Captain America: The Winter Soldier did in teasing their potentially dark path
3.) Tony Meets Nick Fury (Iron Man)
When looking at the history of the MCU's post-credits scene, it would be a travesty to not honor the one that started it all. Even though many people weren't trained in the art of not leaving a Marvel movie until the very last second, the franchise's entire fan base has now enjoyed this scene multiple times over.
After the credits of 2008's Iron Man, Tony Stark returns to his Malibu mansion with Jarvis welcoming him back, although Jarvis is quickly disabled. A mysterious figure is standing in Tony's living room repeating his proclamation as a hero from the end of the film, while also asking him point-blank "You think you're the only superhero in the world?"
The mystery man teases the implications of a greater universe of which Tony is unaware before revealing himself to be none other than Nick Fury, the director of SHIELD. As Samuel L. Jackson comes out of the shadows, he gives MCU fans the most delicious of teases at the time by telling Tony "I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger initiative."
The stories behind this post-credits tease are legend, with Marvel Studios going so far as to literally drive Jackson right to the brink of the set to avoid any potential leaks of his inclusion in the movie. While Marvel Studios had surely given teases of their plans to potentially make team-up movies before Iron Man debuted, this was the first sign that it was truly a possibility.
Iron Man is still remembered to this day as a groundbreaking endeavor in the superhero genre, and its post-credits tease had plenty to do with that fact. The MCU owes a lot of its success to this film taking a huge risk, which ended up paying off in a big way.
2.) The First Look at Thanos (The Avengers)
Marvel Studios' ultimate payoff at the end of Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was bringing The Avengers to the big screen, and it was the series' biggest success at the time by becoming the third-highest grossing movie ever at the box office to date. As it turns out, the main plot that pitted the God of Mischief Loki against Earth's Mightiest Heroes was far from the last thing Marvel Studios had up its sleeve in that movie alone.
In the movie's mid-credits scene, the location shifts to outer space with The Other monologuing to an undisclosed being, describing how the humans of Earth were not as easily controllable as he initially thought. Speaking on how they "cannot be ruled" after the Avengers defeated Loki and the Chitauri, he concludes that "to challenge them is to court death."
During this, a massive figure stands up before turning to the camera and showing his purple, ridged face. That face turns out to be that of the Mad Titan Thanos, who is shown for the first time in any live-action movie as he gives a menacing smile almost right to the camera.
Brought to life by Damion Poitier for this scene, the character would be played by megastar Josh Brolin starting in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. While Thanos was only on screen for less than 10 seconds in The Avengers, he was built up as the ultimate big bad of the entire Infinity Saga, playing a key role in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
Marvel Studios was well on its way at that point in time to becoming the biggest pop-culture franchise in history as they teased the beginnings for one of Marvel Comics' most popular villains. Thanos may not have been an instantly recognizable name when he appeared in this scene, but he ended up becoming something of an iconic big bad in just over the next half-decade. The scene was Marvel Studios at its finest.
1.) Spider-Man's Identity Is Revealed (Spider-Man: Far From Home)
While it comes in as the most recent post-credits scene from any of the MCU's movies, the #1 entry on this list was high-ranking pick for the entire staff at The Direct. It not only changed the game for the MCU's iteration of the web-slinger in this specific story, it was a new direction for any live-action Spider-Man movie to date.
After taking Michelle Jones for a terrifying swing around New York City at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker is seen in the mid-credits scene jumping to the top of a light pole while a breaking news bulletin comes onto the screen outside Madison Square Garden. The report shows doctored footage, seemingly from the villainous Mysterio, implicating Spider-Man as the perpetrator of the events in London before JK Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson definitively blames Spidey for Mysterio’s death.
The end of this video has Quentin Beck revealing to the world that Spider-Man's secret identity is the one and only Peter Parker, sending the young hero into a frenzy as he yells "What the f-?!" before the scene cuts. This marks the first time in Spidey's big-screen movie history that his secret has been compromised on this scale.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is already set to feature likely more grand-scale, high-intensity action than any solo movie in the MCU's history to date when it arrives this December thanks to multiple universes' worth of Spidey villains. However, that challenge is going to be infinitely greater while Peter has the added problems of being unable to hide from the world any longer in his personal life.