Post-credit scenes (or stingers as the industry folk like to call them) have a long history in cinema. For many years, closing credits weren’t even used, so there wasn’t, technically, any post-credit scenes until about the late 70s and 80s. Yet, the idea was always there. For the most part, post-credit scenes serve two purposes. The one, which roots all the way back to the 1903 silent film, The Great Train Robbery, is the breaking of the fourth wall or a metafictional reference—a little recognition of the audiences watching the film. After the credits (or the end of the film), the story is closed off. Once the narrative is concluded, these post-credit scenes let the characters speak directly to the audience, showing that they are aware that they’re in a film. We first saw this in The Great Train Robbery with one of the characters pointing his gun at the audience and firing. This type of scene was also famously done in 1979’s, The Muppet Movie, as an animal comes out and shouts, “Go home! Go home!”
From this, several different types of metafictional stingers were spawned, things like blooper reels or gags that exist outside of the confines of the film, such as the man waiting for the taxi at the end of Airplane! In modern film, however, there is another type of post-credit scene that has gained popularity in the age of the sequel, and that’s the sequel teaser. We’ve seen countless teasers like this, from Young Sherlock Holmes teasing that Moriarty will be in the next film to X-Men: The Last Stand showing that Professor X is alive and well. With the prevalence of interconnected superhero movies, many of the modern post-credit scenes act as both a teaser and a connective tissue to other superhero films. We’re not just interested in any old post-credit scenes though. We’re looking at the ones that had the biggest impact on audiences. Which stingers were most captivating or had the most importance for the film overall. Here are the 15 most impactful post-credit scenes.
15. Crank – Crank: The Video Game
It’s short and it’s subtle, but the post-credit scene in Crank is truly a beautiful thing. After the credits end, a 16-bit arcade game version of Crank starts up and it’s amazing. It’s got a mini Jason Statham running around head-shooting baddies and collecting adrenaline to keep his heart going. When the heart stops, it’s game over. Sure, it doesn’t necessarily add much to the story, but it does, in a way, look at how the film is video-game-esque, silly and unrealistic. The fact that the game ends in death and you can insert more coins to keep it going also seems to hint that there is a second movie coming—even though Statham just fell about 300 feet to his obvious death at the end of the film—but that’s probably pushing it.
14. Lethal Weapon 3 – Late To The Scene
It’s impossible to ever get enough of the Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtagh (Danny Glover) show in the Lethal Weapon franchise, so when, at the closing of the credits in Lethal Weapon 3, we see the partners pulling up to the scene of a new crime, we get excited. In this post-credit gag, the boys are called to a bomb scare at a hotel or some big building and Riggs gets out of the car to go disengage the bomb, because that’s what cops do when the only bomb handling experience they have was a fluke. As he steps out of the car, the entire building explodes and the guys hurriedly back up and get out of dodge. It doesn’t necessarily add to the storyline, but it does prove to us a little more that these guys, while their perseverance and determination are top level, are really just bickering oafs for the most part.
13. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – The Actual Dewey Cox
After the credits in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, a black and white video pops of John C. Reilly playing “Walk Hard.” He’s wearing prosthetics to look differently than he did in the film and the audio is from the demo of “Walk Hard,” as submitted by Marshall Crenshaw. This beautiful little addition just adds one more dimension to the satire, showing how ridiculous the entire thing is. It leads you to believe, if only for a moment, that this might actually be based on a real character, but it obviously is not. Yet, having the original demo of the song in there also gives it a special place, paying tribute to it and giving Crenshaw his minute in the sun.
12. Wild Things – The Explanation
The entire credits scene in Wild Things was never an afterthought. It was always meant to play out the way it did, a necessary part of the movie. The script was full of twists and turns, so the viewer never really understands who’s the duper and who’s being duped. For that reason, this final scene is essential to the plot. In fact, it explains the plot. The film is tricksy. It may seem telling that the film needs a credit scene explaining what the hell you just saw, but it’s not so bad. Astute film fans can piece it all together without this credits scene, but it’s a nice little add because it provides you with some of the motivations and reasoning behind what all went down. It also gives you a bit of the backstory, which is helpful.
11. Iron Man 3 – Therapy Session
In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) voiceover narrates throughout certain sequences. We, as the audience, are led to believe that he is speaking to us. We feel special, but we’re being tricked. After the credits roll, a scene opens up revealing that Stark is sitting next to Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in a quasi-therapy session. It’s comical because Banner has fallen asleep and missed 95% of the story. This gives us a sneak peak into their relationship dynamic. We also get a little tease for the upcoming collaboration on the second Avengers film. The scene doesn’t necessarily build on the plot, but it does, in hindsight, add more comedy to the narrated pieces throughout. You need to watch it twice to really cash in on the joke, but, who are we kidding? You’re going to watch it several times.
10. Monsters Inc. – Animated Blooper Reel
At the end of Monsters Inc., the post-credit scene gives fans a hilarious and sweet “blooper reel.” Since bloopers aren’t actually filmed in the world of animation, at least not like this, it’s basically just an additional part of the film. It’s funny; it builds on the characters a little bit more, and it shows us that the animation team weren’t skimping out on money while making this. The time and effort put into it helps keep the fantasy alive for the kids too, assuming that kids still believe in that kind of stuff these days. We tend to picture today’s youth as jaded and hardened by their lack of imaginations. Maybe we’re out of touch.
9. The Incredible Hulk – Putting A Team Together
In what would become the first half-glimpse at The Avengers, the post-credit scene in The Incredible Hulk showed patient audience members Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) introducing the idea that he wanted to recruit Bruce Banner for “a team” that he’s putting together. Even though we knew well in advance of this film that the Avengers would be a thing in the near future, this scene was the first time that any of the individual films ever crossed paths. Seeing Stark’s mug in the Hulk’s movie was just enough to make comic fans snort with glee. Whispers everywhere, the theater crowd clamoring, this was it. This was the first look at a crossover universe that would dominate the box office for the next eight years and counting.
8. Slumdog Millionaire – Bollywood Dance Number
In many Bollywood films, there is a major dance number at the end of the film, and though Slumdog Millionaire is not a Bollywood film, it does borrow from the genre’s traditions. This is what happens during the credits of Slumdog Millionaire and it’s spectacular and hilarious all at once. Forgive any insolence in suggesting that these dance numbers are funny, when they are meant to be celebratory, but it is a ridiculous thing to see. Mass choreography, unbridled enthusiasm and a catchy tune, these are the things you’ll see in this credits scene. If you’re a Bollywood fan, this will be an enjoyable little homage. If you’re not familiar with Bollywood traditions, this will be an enjoyable and hilarious dance number. Either way it’s a win for the viewer.
7. Ant-Man – I Know A Guy
At the end of Ant-Man, we see Bucky, the Winter Soldier, being held down with his metal arm pinned in a vice. There with him is Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). In what is a teaser for Captain America: Civil War, the two superheroes discuss that they need help. They hint at the accords, which is a major plot point in Civil War and talk about Stark not being able to help. Then Mackie says that he “knows a guy” that might be able to help, which obviously means that Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) will be involved in Captain America: Civil War. This is a nice touch because Civil War needed a strong lead-in since it was so jam-packed. It also recalls the fight between Ant-Man and The Falcon that just took place, something that comes up in Civil War as well.
6. Hangover – Pictures From The Night
The fine details of the mysterious night that the boys got themselves involved in The Hangover is always a hazy question mark. We learn about the events from eye-witness account and some video camera footage, but none of the other specifics are ever shown in the movie. When the credits roll, however, the audience is treated to an amazing slideshow of photographs from the night. We get to see how certain things went down, the chronology of some of the events and just some details on the craziness that the guys got into. It helps to explain a few of the big-time mysteries as well, like how Bradley Cooper got banged up and ended up in the hospital, plus some bonus wedding pictures. It’s all very useful.
5. Thor: Dark World – Introducing The Infinity Stones
Thor: Dark World was blessed with two credits scenes, one in the middle which held a lot of significance and one at the end which gave closure and laughter. The end we will ignore. The middle scene, though, introduces us to the Collector (Benicio del Toro), who will later show up in The Guardians of the Galaxy. In this scene, Volstagg and Lady Sif from Thor’s home of Asgaard bring the Aethor (the weapon of Malekith, played by Christopher Eccleston in Thor: Dark World). They say that, since they already have the Tesseract on Asgaard, keeping two Infinity Stones so close together is not wise. This does a couple of major things. It introduces the Infinity Stones as the overarching theme of the MCU and it introduces the connection with Guardians of the Galaxy—they too will come face-to-face with one of the five Infinity Stones. Needless to say, there were many a groan of excitement coming from comic book fans even after Thor: Dark World ended.
4. WALL-E – Rebuilding The Earth
During the credits in WALL-E, a neat little animation sequence walks the audience through the rebuilding of the Earth. It shows how the humans were able to fix up and make livable again the Earth that they destroyed. It shows WALL-E and EVE helping out and doing their part as well. It’s especially neat because it shows the progression of humankind alongside the progression of the art. For instance, the artwork starts out as cave-like drawings and shows humankind’s very humble beginnings when they first returned to Earth. The drawings show how humans and technology work side-by-side to regrow the world instead of trying to replace the natural world with technology.
3. Iron Man -The Avengers Initiative
In what was the first of many post-credit scenes in the Marvel film universe, we have Tony Stark entering a room and seeing Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) at the end of Iron Man. Fury explains that Stark (and Iron Man the movie) has entered into a collaborative universe. This hints at how each of the Marvel movies will be connected and how each individual story will be part of a larger, overarching storyline—beginning with The Avengers. At the end of the scene, Fury introduces what he calls “the Avengers Initiative.” Since information about films almost always comes out before the movies themselves, we all knew that The Avengers would play a major part before the end, but this was the first time we had confirmation of that, and it was glorious. It still is.
2. Super 8 – The Homemade Movie
Throughout Super 8, the kids are filming a movie within the movie. It looks pretty good in the little snippets we see being filmed, especially considering these are professional actors playing little kids. After the credits, we actually get to see the end result, which is surprisingly really good. It’s got a good mix of camp and good acting, and it integrates many of the events of the Super 8 into the movie. It also shows us that them making a film wasn’t just a plot device, that the film was actually made. It would have been extremely disappointing if this wasn’t included, but you felt like you were being treated special for them showing it anyway.
1. The Avengers – Shawarma And A Look At Thanos
There are two credit scenes in The Avengers and both are brilliant. The first is the hilarious “shawarma scene” that shows The Avengers indulging in some delicious shawarma. This plays back to an earlier scene that had Iron Man asking if they can go eat shawarmas because he knows of a place. They do eventually eat there in the credits and they do it in silence. It’s an awesome subtle treat for the fans after the craziness that they just witnessed. Then, after the credits finish, we are introduced to the big baddie of the entire franchise for the first time, Thanos. After hearing about the Avengers and what they’re capable of, the purple-faced giant villain turns to the camera and smiles. This is massive because Thanos looks to play a huge role in all the films from Guardians of the Galaxy and beyond.
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