Phase 3 of the MCU pushed the universe beyond its already impressive heights to produce several record-breaking movies and set up large parts of the even more ambitious Phase 4 and beyond. With Phase 4 now at an end, it’s a very interesting time to look at how the structure of Phase 3 shaped what fans experienced in the past few years.
The post-credits scenes in Phase 3 of the MCU ranged from gags that poked fun at the audience to big teases for projects that were then on the horizon, and still are in some cases. Avengers: Endgamemade the decision to forgo a post-credits scene and end simply on the sound of metal being struck in the distance, evoking the memory of Tony Stark building his armor in the original MCU movie, Iron Man. But even without one for that movie, Phase 3 ended up with 10 post-credits scenes as well as a host of mid-credits scenes. Some are better than others though.
10/10 Goose Coughs Up The Tesseract – Captain Marvel
Released between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel had a lot of fun toying with fans’ expectations. While the film’s mid-credits scene actually did provide a glimpse at the events of the upcoming Endgame, the post-credits scene was once again a bit of a troll on the movie’s part.
A static shot shows Nick Fury’s desk before Carol Danvers’ faithful Flerken, Goose, suddenly jumps up on it and proceeds to cough up the Tesseract. It’s as solid a gag as any of the others featured in Pase 3’s post-credit scenes, but it lacks the charm given by the actor’s performances in the others.
9/10 Mordo Attacks Jonathan Pangborn – Doctor Strange
Though a primary antagonist of Doctor Strange in the comics, Mordo isn’t enemies with Stephen Strange during his debut MCU outing. They begin as friends and the rift between the characters only really solidifies right at the very end of the film.
After having walked out on Strange following the events of the movie’s finale, Mordo attacks the peaceful Jonathan Pangborn, setting up his villainous turn down the road. Fans got to see a bit more of this progression in the variant of Mordo that Doctor Strange encounters in Multiverse of Madness, but seeing Chiwetel Ejiofor truly take his iteration of Mordo to the dark side is something that still remains a tantalizingly half-fulfilled promise.
8/10 An Ant Plays The Drums – Ant-Man And The Wasp
The tone of the Ant-Man movies is one of the lightest of the MCU’s many intersecting franchises though they still deal with some of the MCU’s heavier subjects. Ant-Man and the Wasp ends just as Thanos’ snap wipes out half of the universe, so the mid-credits scene shows Scott Lang getting stuck in the Quantum Realm, setting up his appearance in Avengers: Endgame.
The post-credits scene, therefore, has the tough task of providing another joke to take the movie out on that still acknowledges the serious situation that the main heroes are now in. This short scene of one of Hank Pym’s giant ants playing Scott’s drum kit in his empty house as the emergency broadcast signal blares in the background captures the uncertainty of the moment well, though it’s another gag scene that gives fans no real information about the future of the MCU.
7/10 Peter Parker In His Room – Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War introduced a number of important new characters in the MCU, including Black Panther and the MCU’s new Spider-Man, with the first co-production between Sony and Marvel Studios, Spider-Man: Homecoming, slated for the following year.
Following on from the tease of Wakanda shown in the mid-credits scene, the post-credits scene for Civil War shows a little extra glimpse of Peter Parker making his classic excuses to Aunt May for his injuries sustained while being Spider-Man. It’s not much more than a gag scene that shows a little more of Tony Stark’s upcoming Spider-suit tech, but the chemistry between Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei makes it a pleasant one nonetheless.
6/10 Bucky Emerges – Black Panther
After fans saw him cryogenically frozen in Wakanda in the mid-credits scene for Civil War, Bucky Barnes was absent from the events of the MCU until the post-credits scene for Black Panther, setting up his appearance in Avengers: Infinity War.
The scene is short and to the point but instead of directly setting up a movie that was due to be released, this little tease of Bucky is the beginning of plot threads that extended far beyond the rest of Phase 3. As he shares the scene with Shuri, it feels much more like a glimpse at the foundation for Phase 4 and the future, making it a rare MCU post-credit scene that’s actually gotten better over time.
5/10 Nick Fury Turns To Dust – Avengers: Infinity War
After the devastating defeat suffered by the Avengers at the end of Infinity War, the movie knows that fans will be searching for any faint ray of light in the bleak situation. So when fan-favorite characters Nick Fury and Maria Hill finally appear in the movie only to be turned to dust moments later, it’s yet another gut-wrenching moment.
As the shot moves in on the device that Fury drops onto the floor, it keeps the audience’s eyes fixed in hopeful anticipation of some sign of what will reverse the dark predicament. When Captain Marvel’s symbol flashes onto the screen at the last moment and the music swells before the shot cuts to black, it feels like more than just the standard tease for the next MCU movie. Even though Captain Marvel herself ends up having relatively little to do with the events of the following Avengers movie, the prospect of more heroics yet to come is exactly what the MCU’s post-credits scenes are all about, and this one delivers that feeling better than most.
4/10 A Secret Invasion Tease – Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home marked the end of Phase 3 of the MCU and while the movie’s mid-credits scene leads directly into the beginning of No Way Home in Phase 4, the post-credits scene looks even further into the future to Phase 5. As it shows that Talos and Soren have been filling in for Nick Fury and Maria Hill while the real Fury is off-world, the scene raises questions about the plot of the Secret Invasion series scheduled for 2023.
Considering that the scene reveals that two of the film’s major supporting characters weren’t who the audience had assumed they were, it also adds something extra to the movie itself, making future viewings a little different.
3/10 Captain America’s PSA – Spider-Man: Homecoming
The cruelest and funniest joke that the Phase 3 post-credit scenes pulled was ending Spider-Man: Homecoming with a PSA from Captain America on the virtue of patience, with Cap himself giving up on it due to a lack of interest before he can finish his point.
While the Deadpool style of breaking the fourth wall has already been seen in the MCU through She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, neither Sony’s Spider-Man films nor the MCU have been known for speaking directly to the audience like this. But it’s a fun joke that shows how responsive the MCU is to its fans, and Chris Evans’ short and sweet performance makes it a standout moment in Phase 3 overall.
2/10 The Grandmaster Surrenders – Thor: Ragnarok
Jeff Goldblum was one of a number of standout new comedic additions to the MCU that were introduced in Thor: Ragnarok. So, as the end of the movie and its mid-credits scene lead directly into the tragic opening of Avengers: Infinity War, reminding the audience that Goldblum’s Grandmaster is still out there to deliver more laughs down the road was a good note to end the film on.
Aside from Goldblum’s brilliant performance, it’s also a great change of pace to the intensity of the movie, which packs in a lot of big changes to Thor and the MCU among its action sequences and the comedic riffing of Taika Waititi’s signature comedy.
1/10 Stan Lee And The Watchers – Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Out of the movies in the MCU’s Phase 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 had the most mid-credit scenes by far. The whole movie is one big celebration of the characters and the comics that they come from. Stan Lee appears earlier in the movie, describing events with a group of Watchers in such a way that makes him seem like a being similar to them who has been observing the MCU in each of his many cameo appearances. This final little gag at the end of the movie sees the Watchers leaving him as he worries about how he’ll get home.
Though Lee would appear in more Marvel movie cameos, this scene is a great final note in his appearances as he tells the Watchers that he has so many more stories left to tell, which, as melancholic a thought as it may be now, is how most comic book fans like to think of Stan Lee.