After-credits afterthoughts: A look at Marvel's movie stingers

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The after-credits scene. Comic book movies didn't invent the device, but they've surely taken the concept and run with it. Starting with Iron Man, the first in "Phase 1" of Marvel films, it became common to provide a bonus mid- or after-credit sequence to tie narratives together or preview what's ahead. Thor: The Dark World, the second film in "Phase 2," brought two of these so-called "stingers" to the mix this week. After seven films, it becomes hard to keep track of these bonus scenes. That's why Comic Afterthoughts is now providing a guide for all of the stingers offered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Obviously, spoilers are ahead.

1. Iron Man
This 2008 film kicked off the MCU franchise, and it was also the first to feature a stinger. Back then, Samuel L. Jackson's entrance as Nick Fury was an atom bomb in geekdom. Not only did the Ultimate-line version of Fury imply a connection between the films and the revamped Marvel Universe, but he also wanted to talk to Tony Stark about something called the "Avengers Initiative." To this day, I've never heard a theater crowd go crazier.

2. The Incredible Hulk
Some may question the legitimacy of the stinger in the Louis Leterrier-helmed take on the Green Goliath. They simply tagged the scene to the end of the film. Tony Stark discusses a new "team" he's forming with General Ross in a bar, and Bruce Banner is, of course, mentioned. When you consider the general timeline and progression of the MCU, the scene doesn't make a whole lot of sense (with Stark being the recruiter, and not Fury). But it at least tells us that Stark and Bruce Banner will have a future meet-up.

3. Iron Man 2
Things get back on track with this after-credits sequence. A black car with a New Mexico license pulls up to a crater, and Agent Coulson pops out. With a heavy-handed call to his superiors, he confirms that they have found "it." That "it" turns out to be Mjölnir, Thor's hammer. Short, sweet, and to the thunderous point.

4. Thor
Aside from the Bond-like "Thor Will Return in The Avengers" tag in the credits, 2011's Thor provides yet another mystical object in its stinger. Dr. Selvig is taken down to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and speaks with Nick Fury, who compliments him on his work in New Mexico. The brief conversation turns to a metal case, in which a Cosmic Cube (or Tesseract, if you want to be that way) is revealed. Fury speaks grimly about the power it contains, and how they'd like to tap into it. As Selvig agrees, a mirrored reflection shows that Loki is the one pulling the strings with the good doctor now.

5. Captain America: The First Avenger
As Cap makes the transition to modern times by the end of the film, it's only natural that the after-credits sequence would feature another proposition from Nick Fury. The widely circulated stinger features a simple, yet effective back-and-forth.
"You're here with a mission, sir?" Cap asks.
"I am," Fury says.
"Trying to get me back in the world?"
"Trying to save it."
The exchange is followed by a short teaser for Marvel's The Avengers, in which all of the bonus scenes converge.

6. Marvel's The Avengers
This film started the precedent of two stingers per film, one being the famous Thanos cameo and the other an after-battle meal. The first is mid-credits, with The Other warning of the consequences of challenging the humans. It's then that Thanos does a funky head turn and displays those pearly whites. The after-credits scene is simply the Avengers eating shawarma, no dialogue needed. The light moment seemed pretty reasonable, especially after saving the Earth from an alien invasion.

7. Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 is the first of Phase 2, but the narrative didn't hint at much for what's ahead. Its stinger followed suit, with a funny conversation between Stark and Banner, as though the former's been relating the film to his reluctant "therapist" this entire time. Banner has trouble staying awake, and there's not much more than a chuckle that comes out of this one.

(Since the following film just opened, MAJOR SPOILER ahead.)

8. Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World, like The Avengers, gives moviegoers a one-two punch. The first features Volstagg and Sif being led into a trophy room, with the flamboyant character The Collector, portrayed by Benicio Del Toro, appearing to take the Aether (the mysterious, dark substance featured in the film) from the pair. They say the reason they're keeping the Aether somewhere else is that it's dangerous to keep two Infinity Stones together in Asgard, further pushing toward the Thanos confrontation. The Collector, who will play a major role in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, assures the safety of the Aether. After the pair leave, he then reveals evil intentions with the line, "One down, five to go," hinting at a goal to collect all of the Infinity Stones. He's likely doing this for Ronan the Accuser of Thanos himself.

The second scene is Thor's return to Earth and the side of Jane Foster. As you would expect, a kiss is involved. Elsewhere, the grotesque creature transported to Earth earlier in the film is seen chasing birds.

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