Updated: July 12, 2022 10:24 AM EDT | Originally published: March 29, 2019 7:00 AM EDT

Warning: This post contains spoilers for all of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios has completely changed the way we watch movies. Every single one of their films is part of a “cinematic universe,” an interconnected set of stories that is incomplete unless fans watch each entry in the studio’s output. An essential part of Marvel’s successful strategy to build the world’s biggest film empire has been teasing future movies in mid-credit or post-credit scenes at the end of each film. These post-credit scenes stoke excitement for the next movie and tease how it might relate to the one you just saw.

This strategy has been so successful that just about every big-budget movie — be it spinoff, sequel or prequel — is now part of a “cinematic universe,” whether it be a DC Comics universe, a Lego universe or a Fast and Furious universe. And it’s now the norm to sit through the credits of these films waiting for some sort of teaser that will preview what movie is coming next. This even applies to non-superhero movies like Vice.

Marvel didn’t invent the post-credits scene: Comedic teasers appeared in the credits of The Muppet Movie (1979), Airplane! (1980) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). Some films even used the scenes to wrap up plots from the film, like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies in the 2000s. As franchises became a staple of Hollywood filmmaking, some films would even run the trailer for the next movie after the film, like at the end of The Matrix Reloaded.

But Marvel did leverage the post-credit scene as it never had been used before. And beginning in 2008 Marvel Studios’ post-credit scenes built to the events of the epic Avengers: Infinity War and the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.Now that we’re firmly in Phase 4, here’s a breakdown of every single Marvel post-credits scene and how they impacted the larger storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Iron Man (2008)

Marvel/Disney

What happens in the post-credits scene?

At the end of the movie, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) declares, “I am Iron Man” on national television. That prompts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to break into Stark’s home in the post-credit scene. “You think you’re the only superhero in the world?” Fury asks the billionaire. “Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” He then introduces himself as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and says he has come to talk about the “Avengers Initiative.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Yes. This is the first time we see Nick Fury and hear about S.H.I.E.L.D., the counterterrorism organization that eventually will bring the Avengers together. Even before Marvel Studios began production on Iron Man, they planned to eventually film a movie that brought characters with solo films like Iron Man and Hulk together to fight one bad guy, as often happens in comic books. Fury’s use of the word “universe” is intentional: He is hinting to the audience that this film will spawn the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Universal

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) learns how to control his inner Hulk through meditation.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Nope. Marvel replaced Norton with Mark Ruffalo and stopped making Hulk solo films. The studio would like you to pretend this movie does not exist.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Tony Stark approaches General Ross (William Hurt), who has been hunting the Hulk throughout the film. Stark says the super-soldier program that created Incredible Hulk villain Abomination “was put on ice for a reason.” We later find out in Captain America: The First Avenger that the government created Captain America (Chris Evans) in the 1940s using a similar serum. Tony then tells Ross, “We’re putting a team together,” teasing the eventual Avengers movie.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not really, but it is further confirmation that an Avengers movie is going to happen. Remember, in 2008 that was a really big deal.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Paramount

What happens in the post-credits scene?

S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) drives into the middle of the desert, gets out of his car and makes a phone call. “Sir, we found it,” he says. The camera then zooms in on the hammer of Thor (Chris Hemsworth).

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Yes, in that it sets up the model for future Marvel post-credit scenes. The moment was filmed by Thor director Kenneth Branagh and directly teased the next movie in the universe.

Thor (2011)

Paramount

What happens in the post-credits scene?

Thor’s friend Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) meets Nick Fury in a lab. Fury opens a briefcase to reveal a blue cube with “unlimited power.” In the background, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) appears and says, “Well I guess that’s worth a look.” Dr. Selvig then repeats Loki’s words. Surprise! Thor’s mischievous brother Loki, who supposedly died at the end of the film, lives on. And he’s controlling what Selvig says and does. Fury seems to be none the wiser, as he leaves the mind-controlled scientist alone in the room with a very valuable object.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Very. Loki will return as the main villain in Avengers and an ancillary character in several future films. We also get our first look at the Tesseract, a MacGuffin that plays a crucial role in Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel. Not only does it hold immense power, but the Tesseract turns out to be an Infinity Stone — one of the stones that Thanos uses to destroy half of all life in the universe.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Paramount

What happens in the post-credits scene?

At the end of the first Captain America movie, Steve Rogers, who has been frozen since 1945, wakes up in modern times. In the post-credits scene, Nick Fury approaches him with a mission to “save the world.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Yup. It basically acts as a teaser trailer for the Avengers.

The Avengers (2012)

Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers (Walt Disney Co.)
Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers
Walt Disney Co.

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

We see an alien (credited as The Other) inform a shadowy figure that the Avengers protected Earth from Loki and his alien army. “To challenge them is to court death,” the Other says. The mysterious figure then turns and reveals himself to be Thanos, a purple alien played by Josh Brolin. He smiles. It turns out he was behind Loki’s bid to take over Earth the whole time and gave Loki an army in exchange for the delivery of the Tesseract.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Extremely. Thanos is the biggest of big bads. He will be the man — err, alien — behind the curtain in Guardians of the Galaxy and the featured villain in Avengers: Infinity War. Intriguingly, the “courting death” line suggests that Marvel might have initially considered a different arc for Thanos. In the comics, Thanos collects Infinity Stones because he is in love with Death — yep, the physical manifestation of death — and wants to destroy the universe to impress her. Ultimately, Marvel Studios decided this storyline was too far-fetched for the films. The writers changed his motivation to killing half of all life in the universe for vaguely environmental reasons.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

In a callback to Tony’s shawarma line earlier in the film, the super team of superheroes sits and eats their shawarma in silence.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not at all. But fun fact: Director Joss Whedon actually shot the scene the night before the film’s premiere and added to the end of the credits at the last minute. Chris Evans had a beard at the time for the movie Snowpiercer, so he had to hide his face behind his hand.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Walt Disney Co.

What happens in the post-credits scene?

Tony Stark seems to be sharing his emotional problems with a therapist, but the camera cuts instead to a sleeping Bruce Banner.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Like much of the plot of Iron Man 3, this scene could not be less important to the larger arc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Walt Disney Co.

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Thor’s allies Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Sif (Jaimie Alexander) visit the Collector (Benicio del Toro, doing the most). They give him the Aether — the red substance that gave Dark World baddie Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) power. Volstagg explains that the Aether is an Infinity Stone, and they cannot keep it on Asgard because another Infinity Stone, the Tesseract, is already there. After Volstagg and Siff leave, the Collector ominously says, “One down, five to go.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Extremely. This is the first time the movies confirm that both the Aether and the Tesseract are Infinity Stones. We also learn that there are six Infinity Stones in total. The Collector — who seems extremely untrustworthy — will show up again in Guardians of the Galaxy and offer the audience all the necessary exposition concerning the Infinity Stones.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Thor’s romance with scientist Jane (Natalie Portman) is at the center of this movie. So it’s strange that their relationship status is not resolved until this post-credits scene, during which Thor shows up at Jane’s apartment and kisses her.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Sadly, no. We find out in Thor: Ragnarok that the two broke up.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Walt Disney Co.

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

During the movie, Captain America discovers that HYDRA infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. In the post-credits scene, HYDRA agent Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) predicts that the Avengers will begin rooting out hidden pockets of HYDRA agents. Strucker is keeping Loki’s scepter, which contains the Mind Stone, in his lair. Strucker also reveals that he has two mutants that he created through scientific experimentation locked up in a bunker: Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Yes. The Avengers arrive at Strucker’s hideout in the opening minutes of Avengers: Age of Ultron to retrieve Loki’s scepter and fight Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver eventually join the Avengers team.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

It was unclear whether Sebastian Stan’s Bucky — Cap’s long-lost-friend-turned-brainwashed-villain — survived the events of Winter Soldier. In this scene, we see him visiting an exhibit on Captain America and looking at a photo of himself from the 1940s.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Yup. Bucky’s struggle to reconcile his past and rid himself of HYDRA’s brainwashing will become the central story arc of Captain America: Civil War.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Zoe Saldana as Gamora in Marvel's <em>Guardians of the Galaxy</em> (Marvel)
Zoe Saldana as Gamora in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

This is a scene of Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) dancing. Please enjoy.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

It’s important to our emotional wellbeing: Groot lives! The tree-alien seemingly sacrificed himself to save his compatriots at the end of Guardians but now he’s growing again. He’ll be a teenager by the time Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 premieres.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Cosmo the space dog! Howard the Duck! All sorts of wonderful oddities from Marvel Comics escaped when the Collector’s palace was destroyed earlier in the film, and now they’re wandering free.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

No, it mostly provides Easter Eggs for fans. Although it does beg the question, did Cosmo and Howard survive Thanos’ snap?

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

This photo provided by Disney/Marvel shows, Chris Evans, left, as Captain America/Steve Rogers, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in the new film,
This photo provided by Disney/Marvel shows, Chris Evans, left, as Captain America/Steve Rogers, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in the new film, "Avengers: Age Of Ultron."
Jay Maidment—AP

What happens in the post-credits scene?

Following his introduction in the Avengers post-credits scene, Thanos retrieves a mysterious golden glove — what we now know as the Infinity Gauntlet — from a vault before menacingly declaring, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

You bet. The Infinity Gauntlet allows Thanos to wield the power of the Infinity Stones and ultimately destroy half the universe in Infinity War.

The scene itself doesn’t totally align with the plot of Age of Ultron. In this movie, a robot-gone-mad named Ultron tries to destroy humanity (before humanity destroys itself) but fails. Thanos, by picking up the Gauntlet, implies that he had some connection to Ultron (which he did not) or that destroying all Earthlings would solve his environmental problem (which it would not since humans make up a tiny fraction of living beings in the universe).

As for where this scene fits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, the Russo Brothers have since said that it takes place after Thanos slaughters the residents of Nidavellir and forces Eitri the Dwarf King (played by Peter Dinklage in Infinity War) to forge the gauntlet for him.

Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel's Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd, in the movie distributed by Walt Disney Studios. (Marvel/Walt Disney Studios)
Marvel's Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd, in the movie distributed by Walt Disney Studios.
Marvel/Walt Disney Studios

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) shows his daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily), a prototype of a new and improved Wasp suit.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

It sets up Hope’s debut as the Wasp in Ant-Man and the Wasp. That’s about it.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

In what turns out to be a clip from Captain America: Civil War, Cap and his buddy Falcon (Anthony Mackie) decide not to call on Iron Man for help after tracking down Bucky. Cap thinks they’re on their own, but Falcon has a different ally in mind. “I know a guy,” he says, referring to Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Uh-huh. Not only does this scene foreshadow the rift between Cap and Iron Man in Civil War, it also paves the way for Ant-Man to be brought into the Avengers fold. Ant-Man’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to be fully fleshed out, but it seems likely that he will join the Avengers in Endgame. It also stands to reason that his knowledge of the Quantum Realm will be instrumental to their success.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Spider-Man in <i>Captain America: Civil War</i> (Marvel)
Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War
Marvel

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Cap and Bucky have found their way to Wakanda, where Bucky has decided to go back into cryostasis until his brainwashing can be completely reversed. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a.k.a. Black Panther, ensures Cap that the Wakandans will do everything in their power to protect his friend.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Sort of. While we do get our first glimpse of Wakanda — which will become the main battleground in Infinity War — the clip mostly just sets the scene for Black Panther (as well as Bucky’s appearance in one of its post-credits scenes).

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

During the movie, Tony Stark gives Peter Parker (Tom Holland) a fancy new Spidey suit to replace his homemade one. In the post-credits scene, Peter messes around with the suit’s web shooters while Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) questions him about his black eye. He discovers that he now has the power to emit the Spider-Signal and the words “Spider-Man will return” appear on screen.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not particularly. It mostly teases Spider-Man’s solo outing in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Doctor Strange (2016)

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

In another scene lifted from an upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie — this time, Thor: Ragnarok — Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) offers to help Thor find his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), in order to ensure Loki’s swift return to Asgard.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not particularly. It foreshadows the expansion of Doctor Strange’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with an appearance in Thor: Ragnarok.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

During the movie, Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt) convinces Stephen Strange to seek out the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) by revealing that he healed his paralysis with magic that he learned at Kamar-Taj. In the post-credits scene, former Kamar-Taj instructer Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) shows up at Pangborn’s workshop to steal his magic, leaving him once again paralyzed.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Since he didn’t show up in Infinity War, we can only assume that Mordo will be the main villain in Doctor Strange 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel in <i>Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2</i>. (©Marvel Studios)
Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.
©Marvel Studios

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

While testing out the whistle-controlled Yaka Arrow that he inherited from Yondu (Michael Rooker), Kraglin (Sean Gunn) accidentally flies it straight into Drax (Dave Bautista).

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not really. But it could set the stage for Kraglin to play a bigger role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Following Yondu’s death in the movie, Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) reassembles his old crew, a team made up of Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie 27 (Ving Rhames), Krugarr and Mainframe (a robot voiced by Miley Cyrus). They decide to fight crime again.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Marvel has yet to reveal whether this group will appear in any forthcoming films, but in the comic books, they were all members of the original Guardians of the Galaxy team.

What happens in the third post-credits scene?

Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the High Priestess of the Sovereign, faces the wrath of her people when she fails to apprehend the Guardians of the Galaxy after they stole from them. Ayesha reveals that she has created a great weapon. “That, my child, is the next step in our evolution: More powerful, more beautiful, more capable of destroying the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think I shall call him Adam.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Probably. Adam Warlock is an important character in the Marvel Comics and likely will be an antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 alongside Ayesha.

What happens in the fourth post-credits scene?

Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) admonishes a teenage Groot for not cleaning up his room.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not at all, but at least Star-Lord is finally maturing somewhat.

What happens in the fifth post-credits scene?

Stan Lee has been regaling the Watchers — an alien race that observes the goings on of the universe but swears to never interfere — with stories from his past. In the post-credits scene, the Watchers abandon Lee on a planet.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not at all, though some fans theorize that Lee has played a Watcher throughout all the Marvel films.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Chuck Zlotnick—Sony Pictures

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. the Vulture (Michael Keaton), is confronted by a former associate named Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) in prison. Mac tells Toomes he blames Spider-Man for his injuries and asks Toomes whether he knows Spider-Man’s identity. Toomes lies and says he does not.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Potentially. In the comics, Mac Gargan becomes the Spider-Man villain Scorpion — an arc that will likely make its way to the big screen given Mac’s scorpion tattoo in this post-credits scene. The interaction also suggests that Vulture wants to take Spidey on himself. The two characters’ appearances also suggest that either Disney or Sony plans to make a Sinister Six film about six of Spider-Man’s foes teaming up to defeat him. Vulture and Scorpion would likely be a part of that team.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Throughout Homecoming, Peter Parker and his friends sit through Public Service Announcements by Captain America in class. In this scene, Captain America offers audiences one last announcement: “I’m here to talk to you about one of the most valuable traits a student or a soldier can have: patience. Sometimes patience is the key to victory. Sometimes it leads to very little and seems like it’s not worth it. And you wonder why you waited so long for something so disappointing.”

He then turns to someone off camera and asks, “How many more of these?”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not at all, but it is the ultimate flex from the creators of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: They know that they can make moviegoers wait in their seats for anything — and even poke fun of them for doing so — and they’ll still coax fans back for more.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Walt Disney Co.

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Thor and Loki discuss returning to Earth now that their homeland of Asgard is destroyed. They then see a gigantic ship overtaking their escape pod.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Extremely. This scene leads directly into the first scene of Infinity War, in which Thanos and his minions board Thor’s ship, kill Loki and Heimdall and steal the Tesseract, an Infinity Stone.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) tells the angry aliens on his planet that their revolution has been a success. “I’ve played a big part of it because you can’t have a revolution without somebody to overthrow,” he says. “It’s a tie.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

It does not, but we’re always happy for more Jeff Goldblum in our lives.

Black Panther (2018)

Walt Disney Co.

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

T’Challa tells the United Nations that for the first time in Wakanda’s history, they will be sharing their hidden resources and knowledge with the outside world. In perhaps the most political statement ever uttered in a Marvel movie, T’Challa says, “More connects us than separates us. In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.”

Someone asks, with all due respect, what a country like Wakanda has to share with the world. T’Challa, who knows that Wakanda is secretly the most technologically advanced nation in the world, smiles.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Only in that it sets up the fact that the Avengers will be able to travel to (and fight in) Wakanda in Infinity War. The promise that Wakanda will help the rest of the world will also likely factor into Black Panther 2.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Bucky Barnes — sans robotic arm — emerges from a hut in Wakanda. He thanks T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) for curing him.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Sort of. We now know that Bucky is back to his old, pre-brainwashed self, and ready to fight Thanos in the next movie.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Okoye (Danai Gurira), Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Avengers: Infinity War (Chuck Zlotnick—Marvel Studios)
Okoye (Danai Gurira), Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Avengers: Infinity War
Chuck Zlotnick—Marvel Studios

What happens in the post-credits scene?

Nick Fury and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) nearly get into a car accident. When they look for the driver in the other car, they see nobody there. They then see a helicopter crash, and Maria begins to disappear. Fury pulls out a beeper and starts typing a message as he begins to disintegrate — punctuated with the word “Motherf-cker.” The beeper lands on the ground and shows Captain Marvel’s distinctive symbol.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Extremely. We learn in this scene that Fury had some sort of friendship with Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), one that will be fleshed out in Captain Marvel’s origin story film. It’s also the first major hint that Captain Marvel will also play an important role in Avengers: Endgame.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. (Marvel Studios)
Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in “Ant-Man and the Wasp”.
Marvel Studios

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

The Wasp, Hank Pym and Pym’s long-lost wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) send a subatomic Ant-Man into the Quantum Realm for an experiment. Janet warns Ant-Man, “Don’t get sucked into a time vortex. We won’t be able to save you.”

While Ant-Man is in the Quantum Realm, his radio goes dead. The camera flashes outside the Quantum Realm, where The Wasp, Hank and Janet have all turned to dust. Ant-Man seems to be stuck in the Quantum Realm.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Extremely. This scene offers a number of hints as to how the events of Avengers: Endgame may play out. Ant-Man features heavily in trailers for Endgame. But the teasers don’t suggest how he escaped the Quantum Realm. It may have something to do with time travel though.

Janet mentions that people traveling in the Quantum Realm could get sucked into a time vortex. It’s unclear what the means, but that comment could suggest that scientists could use the Quantum Realm to master time travel. Fans have speculated that the Avengers will need to travel back in time in order to stop Thanos from snapping his fingers. Could Ant-Man offer them the solution? Maybe he did, indeed, get caught in a time vortex, one that could help the Avengers.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

A gigantic ant plays the drums.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

At this point, who knows? Maybe the giant ant will play a pivotal role in Avengers: Endgame. Anything could happen.

Captain Marvel (2019)

Marvel Studios (null—null)
Marvel Studios
null—null

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

The Avengers have recovered the tricked-out pager that Captain Marvel gave Fury. The pager stops sending a signal, and they decide to start it up again. “I want to know who is on the other end,” says Black Widow. As she turns around, she almost runs into Captain Marvel herself, who asks, “Where’s Fury?”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Definitely. This is the first real confirmation that Captain Marvel will indeed appear in Avengers: Endgame. In fact, it seems she will enter the fray very early, shortly after the Avengers decamp to their headquarters hours or days after Thanos’ snap.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Back in the 90s, Goose the cat — well, actually the Flerken — spits up the Tesseract he’s been carrying inside his belly onto the desk of Nick Fury.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Sort of. In Captain Marvel, we learned that Carol Davners’ old mentor used the power of the Tesseract in order to create a super-fast ship. Goose protected the Tesseract from the evil Kree aliens by swallowing it whole. Now, he deposits it on Nick Fury’s desk, essentially handing over the Infinity Stone to S.H.I.E.L.D.

We know from the post-credits scene in Thor that S.H.I.E.L.D. gained possession of the Infinity Stone sometime between the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor. Now fans know how that happened.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Still from 'Avengers: Endgame' featuring Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). (Film Frame—Marvel Studios 2019)
Still from 'Avengers: Endgame' featuring Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
Film Frame—Marvel Studios 2019

What happens in the post-credits scene?

There is no post-credits scene for Avengers: Endgame. There is, however, a metal clanking sound, pulled from the scene in the first Iron Man movie when Tony Stark is constructing the suit that started it all. The callback both honors Downey Jr.’s contribution to the franchise.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The scene doesn’t contribute to the plot of the future films, but it does have emotional resonance. Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tony Stark’s death at the end of Avengers: Endgame and Robert Downey Jr. retiring from the franchise marks the end of an era.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Michelle (Zendaya) catches a ride from Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in <i>Spider-Man: Far From Home</i> (JoJo Whilden—Sony Pictures)
Michelle (Zendaya) catches a ride from Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in Spider-Man: Far From Home
JoJo Whilden—Sony Pictures

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Peter Parker takes MJ on their first date: swinging around the city together. They land in Times Square just as a news anchor announces on one of the screens that an anonymous source has leaked a video of Mysterio’s last moments. The news network plays the video that was no doubt sent to them by the henchman of Jake Gyllenhaal’s villain Mysterio (who has since died during a fight with Spider-Man).

In the footage, Mysterio claims that Spider-Man is attacking him and that Spidey has plans to kill anyone who tries to take Iron Man’s place. The footage has been recut to make it seem as if Spider-Man ordered an army of drones to execute a group of citizens through Iron Man’s AI technology EDITH. In reality, Spider-Man canceled that order. Mysterio has set him up.

Jay Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons reprising his role as the Spidey-hating editor from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies) then appears onscreen to reveal that his newspaper The Daily Bugle can exclusively report the true identity of Spider-Man: Peter Parker.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Absolutely. Spider-Man: Far From Home spent a lot of time meditating on what a post-Iron Man world might look like. Peter seems the obvious inheritor to the throne and spends the movie reckoning with the responsibility that has been foisted upon him. Several scenes parallel those of the original Iron Man movie: Peter wears Iron Man’s sunglasses, borrows some of his tech and even builds a new suit to the tune of Tony Stark’s favorite song. This ending, too, mirrors the ending of the first Iron Man movie: In that film, Tony Stark reveals during a press conference that he is Iron Man. Now, Spider-Man has been outed too, albeit against his will.

That revelation sets up the events of the next movie. Back in Spider-Man: Homecoming, a villain played by Michael Mando named Mac Gargan (a.k.a. Scorpion) swore that if he ever found out Spider-Man’s identity he would hunt the hero down. Now, all of New York’s supervillains know that Peter Parker is the boy behind the mask. In all likelihood, Scorpion, Vulture (Michael Keaton) and other villains (perhaps the Sinister Six?) will team up to pursue Peter Parker — and the people he loves — in the next movie.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Throughout the movie, Spider-Man has conferred with SHIELD Agents Nick Fury and Maria Hill. But in this second scene, the two characters transform into Skrulls, the shape-shifting alien species from Captain Marvel. We discover that Nick Fury has enlisted Talos, the ostensible villain but actual good guy from that movie, to impersonate him on earth.

Talos calls the real Nick Fury. “People keep asking me where the Avengers are, and I don’t know what to say to that,” he says, panicked. Fury looks to be taking the call on the beach. But then the camera zooms out to reveal that Fury is in fact on a space station filled with Skrulls, likely the new headquarters for SHIELD as the organization prepares to take on increasingly galactic threats.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Definitely. There have always been MCU characters who dwell in space: Thor and the Guardians fo the Galaxy, for instance. But most of the Avengers movies have taken place primarily on earth and dealt with threats on that planet. After the fight with Thanos, Nick Fury has realized that the most dangerous threats lie among the stars, and he is turning his attention there. So, too will the MCU.

Many of the upcoming MCU films will likely be set primarily in space: Captain Marvel 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Eternals among them. A more space-centric focus could also set up a Fantastic Four movie, since that comic centers on a group of scientists who gain their superpowers during a space mission gone wrong.

That means that Spider-Man may also have to expand his territory from New York City to the planet as a whole. He’ll have help from other earth-bound heroes like Black Panther and Shang-Chi.

Black Widow (2021)

Still from the film Black Widow. (DisneyPlus)
Still from the film Black Widow.
DisneyPlus

What happens in the post-credits scene?

Black Widow is set in 2016, before the events of Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame. But the post-credits scene is set in 2023 or 2024, after Natasha dies. Yelena (Florence Pugh) visits the grave of her sister, Natasha Romanoff. She has a pup named Fanny with her, which is sweet because she joked to Natasha earlier in the film that she’d like to get a dog.

A recap for those who forgot how Natasha passes away: In Endgame, Natasha and Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, visit the planet where the Red Skull is guarding the Soul Stone. The superhero duo needs the stone to defeat Thanos. The Red Skull tells the two Avengers that one of them must die in order to attain the stone. Each offers to make the ultimate sacrifice, and after a small scuffle, Natasha wins. She leaps off a cliff and dies. A guilt-ridden Hawkeye returns to Avengers headquarters with the stone.

Back in 2023/2024, Yelena cleans Natasha’s grave and mourns for her sister. Julia Louis-Drefyus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine—a big bad who briefly popped up in Falcon and the Winter Soldier—appears. Yelena works as an assassin for Val but tells her boss that she’s on vacation. “Maybe you’d like a shot at the man responsible for your sister’s death,” Val says, showing Yelena a picture of Hawkeye. Technically, Val’s not wrong about Hawkeye’s role in Black Widow’s death.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

If you are at all invested in either the television series Hawkeye or Yelena’s future, then absolutely, it does. Yelena dropped into the Disney+ show starring Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and his newfound ward, Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, and tried to kill the Avenger. As the two tangle with each other—and (spoiler alert) Clint eventually convinces Yelena that he tried to stop Natasha from sacrificing herself—Yelena develops a begrudging friendship with Kate. Marvel is almost certainly setting up some sort of team-up project involving these two young actors.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. (Marvel Studios)
Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Marvel Studios

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

At the end of Shang-Chi, Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) summons Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and his friend Katy (Awkwafina) to discuss the magical Ten Rings that Shang-Chi now has in his possession. In the post-credits scene, a group of Avengers—Wong, Bruce Banner, and Captain Marvel—study the rings and determine that they are sending some sort of beacon but cannot figure out the signal’s destination. Wong says the rings aren’t in his magical codex. Banner says the rings must be ancient since they don’t contain any modern technology. And Captain Marvel confirms they’re not alien tech. Then Wong, Katy, and Shang-Chi indulge in some karaoke because why not?

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The scene certainly seems to be setting up the plot of the next Shang-Chi film, in which our heroes will presumably learn more about the magical bracelets.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) is supposed to be shutting down her father’s criminal empire. We see her cleaning out her childhood room. A henchman enters and tells her, “They’re ready.” She follows him into another room and takes a seat in front of the Ten Rings symbol her father used for his crime syndicate. “Let’s get started,” she says, implying that she is not dismantling the organization at all, but rather taking it over. The film ends with the caption, “The Ten Rings will return.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Yes: The Ten Rings has historically been a particularly powerful organization in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Ten Rings was the terrorist group who captured Tony Stark in the very first Iron Man film. Now they seem to be under new management. It’s likely that Xialing will show up as a villain either in the next Shang-Chi film or in a Disney+ series.

Eternals (2021)

Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Ajak (Salma Hayek), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and Druig (Barry Keoghan) (Courtesy of Marvel Studios—©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)
Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Ajak (Salma Hayek), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and Druig (Barry Keoghan)
Courtesy of Marvel Studios—©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

In the movie, the Eternals discovered that the Celestial Arishem planned to destroy Earth and foiled his plans. After they succeed, Arishem promises retribution and plucks Sersi (Gemma Chan), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), and Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) from the planet. Arishem says he will search the three Eternals’ memories to determine whether the human race is worthy of survival and will return for judgment.

In the first mid-credits scene, Angelina Jolie’s Thena, Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari, and Barry Keoghan’s Druig speculate about who could have kidnapped the other Eternals. Suddenly, Pip the Troll (a drunken alien voiced by Patton Oswald) appears to announce the entrance of Starfox, played by none other than Harry Styles. Pip introduces Starfox as an Eternal and the brother of Thanos. Starfox also goes by Eros, an illusion to the god of love, an appropriate title for anyone played by Styles. “Your friends are in big trouble,” Starfox tells the rest of the Eternals. “And we know where to find them.”

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Given Eternals’ middling box office returns, it’s unclear if the movie will get a sequel. But if it does, Harry Styles’ Eros/Starfox will certainly be joining the rest of the Eternals in their quest to save Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos. If Starfox is the (adoptive) brother of Thanos, that means that Gamora and Nebula are his nieces. Is it possible Starfox could pop up in the next Guardians of the Galaxy film?

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Kit Harington’s Dane Whitman spent most of Eternals mooning after his immortal girlfriend Sersi. But he does tell Sersi that his family history is “complicated” and that he’s recently discovered an old family secret. After Sersi disappears, he goes to a box presumably passed down to him by relatives and opens it. Inside it is an ancient-looking sword. The box is labeled “mors mihi lucrum,” which means “death is my reward.” The sword seems to call to him, and Dane says, to no one in particular, “I’m sorry. I have to try.” Perhaps he knows the sword is evil and will corrupt him but thinks it might help him get back Sersi.

As he reaches for it a mysterious voice calls into the room, “Sure you’re ready for that, Mr. Whitman?” The voice belongs to Mahershala Ali who is set to play the vampire hunter Blade in a future MCU film.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

In the comics, Dane is the nephew of Nathan Garrett, the villainous Black Knight. Nathan carried the Ebony Blade, which had been passed down to him for generations from his ancestor, Sir Percy, the Black Knight in the days of King Arthur. In the comics, the Ebony Blade is cursed: The more blood it sheds, the more bloodthirsty its owner becomes.

Blade does not yet have a release date, but when it does hit theaters, it’s possible that film will set up a darker series of movies in the MCU centered on antiheroes like Blade and the Black Knight.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Zendaya and Tom Holland in <i>Spider-Man: No Way Home</i> (Sony Pictures)
Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home
Sony Pictures

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

The first post-credits scene features a character from Sony’s burgeoning cinematic universe, not the MCU. Confused? We are a little, too.

Before Tom Holland’s Spider-Man swung onto the scene, Sony owned exclusive rights to Spider-Man, which meant that Peter Parker could not play a role in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the two studios struck a deal: Sony would lend Marvel the character for MCU team-up movies like Avengers: Infinity War, and Marvel Studios would lend characters like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange for Spidey films. Meanwhile, Sony would begin to build its own superhero cinematic universe centered on Spider-Man’s world, including foes like vampire Morbius and the alien parasite Venom.

Venom, for those who skipped Sony’s wacky movies on the anti-hero, is housed in the body of journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). After several misadventures, the odd couple of Brock and Venom have come to something of a truce: Venom doesn’t eat human brains and Brock finds chickens for him to eat. Together they fight meaner, scarier alien parasites. So, basically, Venom is a good guy.

Until, in a post-credits scene for the Venom sequel, Let There Be Carnage, Venom and Eddie get transported into a parallel universe. Once there, Venom sees Peter Parker’s Spider-Man on TV and wants to eat him. Presumably, Venom got sucked into Peter’s universe after Doctor Strange’s spell to make everyone in the world forget that Peter was Spider-Man went awry, summoning villains from across the multiverse who knew Peter’s secret identity. Admittedly, the logic here is shaky at best: As far as we know, Venom has never even heard of Spider-Man, let alone discovered his secret identity like Doctor Octopus or Green Goblin. But just go with it. The stinger suggested that Venom might make his way from San Francisco to New York to attack Peter.

No such luck. Venom doesn’t show up for the entire runtime of Spider-Man: No Way Home proper, only in the mid-credits scene. There, we see Eddie chatting with a bartender (played by Ted Lasso’s Cristo Fernández) about what Spider-Man’s whole deal is. Eddie and Venom are just preparing themselves to make the journey to Queens to have a chat with the young superhero when they get sucked back into their universe. However, a dollop of Venom goo is left behind.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Is Venom now somehow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? It’s unclear. Disney doesn’t own the rights to that character. Perhaps the studios are leaving the option open just in case they do decide to collaborate on future Spider-Man movies.

Spider-Man: No Way Home ended with a number of lingering questions: Is Holland’s Peter Parker going to show up in another movie? (Unclear.) Which studio will make that movie? (Also unclear.) Currently nobody knows him in the MCU, which would mean throwing him into another universe would be simple, but then why leave a bit of Venom behind in the MCU? (I really have no answers here.)

Perhaps Spider-Man will remain in his world, but nobody will remember him, so he’ll just exist in this weird anonymous pocket of the universe where he only ever encounters Sony characters.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

The second post-credits scene is a trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Only insofar as it got audiences interested in seeing the next Marvel movie—and suggested that the multiverse will continue to play a big role in this cinematic universe.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

This image released by Marvel Studios shows Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in a scene from
This image released by Marvel Studios shows Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in a scene from "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."
Marvel Studios—AP

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

At the end of Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange is strolling down the street when suddenly he feels a terrible pain in his head, and a third eye appears. The eye seems to be a curse, retribution for Doctor Strange using the powers of the Darkhold or Book of the Damned. (The evil version of Doctor Strange who had been completely corrupted by the Darkhold sported a third eye.)

In the first post-credits scene, Doctor Strange is summoned by a new character, Charlize Theron’s Clea. She says that he has caused an incursion—the collision of two universes—with his multiversal antics, and he needs to help her fix it. Doctor Strange reveals his third eye, transforms his scarf into his signature cape, and follows her to another part of the multiverse.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Clea will likely play a major role in future Doctor Strange films and perhaps the MCU as a whole. Clea is the niece of Dormammu, the interdimensional entity that Doctor Strange caught in a time loop at the end of Doctor Strange. She also marries Stephen Strange in the comics, so it’s good that Strange recently got over his crush on Chrstine (Rachel McAdams).

The threat of incursions could also give us a hint as to where the MCU is headed. We learn in Multiverse of Madness that travel across the multiverses has consequences. Stay in any one universe too long, and you may cause an incursion, and when two universes collide, only one survives. Incursions played a major role in the comics storyline Secret Wars, which first debuted in the 1980s and was revisited in 2015. The plot is complicated and involves a number of characters who we have not met (yet) in the MCU, like Fantastic Four’s Doctor Doom. But basically, every universe in the multiverse is destroyed as a result of incursions except for two, and those two universes battle it out.

Fans have been speculating for years that Marvel will use a Secret Wars-esque plotline to bring together characters from different universes. Right now, all of the main action in the MCU has taken place on Earth-616. In Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange also visits Earth-838 where the Illuminati captured him. Marvel could neatly introduce the characters from X-Men and Fantastic Four in yet another universe and fold them into a Secret Wars plot.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Early in the film, Doctor Strange curses the self-proclaimed Pizza Papa (played with comedic panache by Bruce Campbell) to punch himself for a week. In the second post-credits scene, Pizza Papa’s self-inflicted punches finally stop. ‘It’s over!” he yells, alluding to the fact that the movie has also come to an end.

Campbell is best known as the star of Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies—another franchise in which he must reckon with a bewitched hand. Campbell has made a cameo in just about every Raimi movie, including as the ring announcer in the first Spider-Man movie starring Tobey Maguire.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Not at all.

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder (Courtesy of Disney)
Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder
Courtesy of Disney

What happens in the first post-credits scene?

Zeus (Russell Crowe) lies on the ground nursing an injury he received at the hands of Thor. Thor and Zeus bickered when the God of Lightning refused to help the children of Asgard when they were kidnapped by Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale). Thor took Zeus’ lightning bolt and struck him with it, seemingly killing the Greek god. Thor even muses to Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) in the film that the pantheon of Greek gods will probably hunt them down until their dying days to avenge Zeus.

And yet, somehow, Zeus survived, though his ego is somewhat bruised. He calls upon his son, Hercules, to go after Thor. The camera pans to the legendary hero, and he is played by none other than Brett Goldstein, who is most famous for playing Roy Kent on Ted Lasso , the hit Apple TV+ soccer dramedy that Goldstein also writes for and executive produces.)

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The MCU has introduced so many potential heroes and villains via recent end-credits scenes at this point—Charlize Theron’s Clea in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; Harry Styles’ Starfox in Eternals; a mysterious Adam from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Will Poulter has since been cast in that role); an entire crew of space heroes that included icons like Michelle Yeoh and Sylvester Stallone in that same movie, to name a few—that it’s impossible to tell how many of these seeds will bloom into actual storylines.

But given that Goldstein’s character in the Apple TV+ soccer show is famously foul-mouthed and grouchy, we can likely look forward to a funny version of Hercules who is similarly cantankerous. Also there’s always the chance that the audience will start chanting “Roy Kent” in movie theaters, which is a fun prospect.

What happens in the second post-credits scene?

Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster (wearing, by the way, a not-particularly-convincing wig) finds herself at the gates of Valhalla. During the movie, she finally succumbed to cancer, and died in Thor’s arms. But since she wielded Thor’s hammer Mjölinir and fought as Thor herself before she died, she has been granted entrance to Valhalla, where Viking warriors travel in the afterlife. She is greeted by Idris Elba’s Heimdall, the all-seeing god who guarded the Bifrost bridge and Thor’s best friend. Thanos killed Heimdall early in Avengers: Infinity War, but not before Heimdall heroically used his last breath to send Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to Warth to warn the Avengers of Thanos’ plans.

Heimdall thanks Jane for helping to save his son from the clutches of Gorr and welcomes her to paradise.

Does this scene matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Again, who knows if this teaser will eventually manifest in some movie or television series set in Valhalla. Natalie Portman and Idris Elba feel like they’re way too famous to wind up, say, on a Disney+ show—but I would have said the same of Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke a few years ago, and they just wrapped up Moon Knight. But neither Elba or Portman ever really got their due in these movies—Marvel Studios has a bad habit of occasionally wasting incredible talent—so if they wanted their own spinoff, I bet the studio would be happy to film it.

 

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

You May Also Like
EDIT POST