5. X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
END SCENE: An unidentified person lies in a hospital bed, covered in tubes. A doctor enters and says “Good morning.” After a beat, the patient answers, “Good morning, Moira.” She responds with a stunned, “Charles?” The end.
WORTH THE BLADDER STRAIN? Yeah, otherwise you might think that Professor Charles Xavier had, in fact, been completely incinerated by Dark Phoenix. But c’mon, these people never really die. The scene also tiesThe Last Stand to X-Men: First Class (not that you would know that at the time) with the introduction of the mutant-friendly Moira MacTaggert (here played by Olivia Williams but played by Rose Byrne in the prequel).
4. IRON MAN 2 (2010)
END SCENE: S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson pulls to a stop in a car with New Mexico plates (earlier in the film, he told Tony Stark he’d been reassigned to the “Land of Enchantment”). He walks to a ridge and sees some bustling activity around a huge crater in the middle of the desert. Coulson gets on his phone and says, “Sir, we found it.” The camera pans down to the center of the crater – where a large hammer is embedded in the earth. Cue thunderclap, and fanboy squees.
WORTH THE BLADDER STRAIN? Definitely...for comic fans. Marvel had officially moved from “teasing” to “directly linking.” You weren’t getting throwaway gags or “what if” scenarios, these post-credit scenes were acting as 30-second teaser trailers for the next Avengers-related movie. But many ignorant moviegoers expecting something substantial stormed out with bloated bladders and screamed, “All that for a hammer?”
3. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)
END SCENE: An imprisoned Dr. Curt Connors is visited by a mysterious stranger, whose arrival is heralded by a thunderclap. In a raspy voice, the stranger asks Connors if Peter Parker knows the truth about his father. Connors says no, and then begs the stranger to leave Parker alone. The stranger disappears. See it here in an illegal bootlegged video, and then report yourself to the FBI for watching it.
WORTH THE BLADDER STRAIN? We’re going with yes, if only because it’s fodder for post-movie debating. Unlike the other Marvel teasers, which were pretty direct about what they were teasing, this one maddeningly refuses to give you any concrete clues as to who the unnamed baddie is. Director Marc Webb has even indicated he’s not entirely sure who it is, which is why he left it so open. Either way, who doesn’t enjoy a good movie debate? Preferably over pie. Electro! No, it’s Mysterio! No, it’s Green Goblin! No, it’s Tom Waits, Herald of Galactus! Ferris Bueller! And on and on and on…
2. THOR (2011)
END SCENE: Dr. Erik Selvig is summoned to the bowels underneath S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, where he runs into Nick Fury. Fury pops open a briefcase and shows Selvig a shining blue cube. We then see Selvig’s reflection in the glass behind him, and it reveals Loki saying “Well, I suppose that’s worth a look” seconds before Selvig says the same thing – the good doctor is a puppet for Thor’s evil step-brother.
WORTH THE BLADDER STRAIN? Absolutely. Marvel keeps raising the stakes. First it was a teaser for the concept of The Avengers, then it was a teaser for the Thor movie, and now it’s become not only a reminder that Loki is not dead (which is key), it also sets up the blue cube which will become the focus of the Captain America film that has yet to come out. These things are starting to do some heavy lifting now, and you have to do your homework.
1. IRON MAN (2008)
END SCENE: Tony Stark arrives at his house to find it in total darkness. (Shakey-cam footage can be seen here.) From the shadows, a voice mockingly repeats his movie-ending press conference announcement. “’I am Iron Man.’ Did you think you were the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” The man reveals himself as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, who has arrived to talk about a little something called “The Avengers initiative.”
WORTH THE BLADDER STRAIN? Yes. This was the first hint at what Marvel Studios had in store for their “movie universe.” Iron Man was the opening salvo in a series of films that would eventually bring us to this summer’s box office juggernaut The Avengers. If you left before the credits, you’d have no idea why everyone was going nuts about a one-eyed Sam Jackson (unless you just assumed it was nautical slang for man parts, like we always have).