Every Marvel post-credit scene and what they mean

The end is just the beginning (of another Marvel movie)

Marvel Studios made post-credits scenes a thing. Not that they didn't exist before, but it was definitely the MCU that made them a recognisable movie trope forcing fans to sit through reams and reams of unrecognisable names just for a glimpse of a secret scene not included in the main film. And they're not insignificant either! When you've built a world as vast and as interconnected as the MCU, no scene is wasted, which means many give hints and sneak peeks at upcoming films, as well as introducing new characters. And then there's the stings which give a nod to the original comics that inspired them, not to mention fun. throwaway, light-hearted gags. 

Admit it, a Marvel movie isn't a Marvel movie without at least a couple of post-credits scenes (Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has 5!) and with 18 films and counting, that's a lot of after-credits stingers to remember. And make no mistake, you do need to remember them, because they've all been leading to the same place: Avengers: Infinity War. Whether its the very first Marvel post-credits scene in which Nick Fury floats the idea of The Avengers with Tony Stark at the end of Iron Man, or the most recent Black Panther stinger in which Bucky Barnes returns to our screens just in time for the massive superhero showdown, Marvel post-credits scenes are important, and we've got every single one of them (and what they mean) right here...

Want more Marvel goodness? Check out the best Marvel movies of all time and the new Marvel movies coming soon. 

Iron Man (2008)

The scene: His tussle with Obadiah Stane a thing of the past, and having successfully revealed his identity to the world, Tony Stark celebrates by kicking back in his Malibu mansion. He's interrupted when S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury turns up to inform him of a new initiative he'd like him to be a part of: The Avengers.

What it means: The one that started it all was a huge deal. The appearance of Samuel L. Jackson at the end of the movie telling Tony Stark about the Avengers was the stuff that Marvel fans had dreamed of for decades. Fury's line - "You think you're the only superhero in the world? You've become apart of a bigger universe" - wasn't just referring to the character. It meant that Iron Man wasn't a standalone movie, but part of a vast, interconnected narrative.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The scene: General Ross (William Hurt) drowns his sorrows for the whole Hulk/Abomination incident in Harlem and is interrupted by Tony Stark. Stark takes a seat and turns the smug up to eleven. "I hate to say I told you so General, but there's a reason we put that super soldier serum on ice," he says to Ross, before informing him that a new team (The Avengers) is being assembled. 

What it means: It's not stated explicitly, but it's not hard to guess what he's getting at: Stark and co. want Hulk on the team, and Stark takes on Fury's recruitment role from the last credits stinger. Interestingly, the scene nearly caused continuity problems as this little altercation between the two men is never referred to again. One of Marvel's One Shots fixed that problem. "The Consultant" expands on the scene, revealing that it's part of a deal set in motion by Phil Coulson to ensure Abomination stays in prison while Hulk is released. Yeah, it didn't really work.

Iron Man 2 (2009)

The scene: A sleek black car arrives in the New Mexico desert. Agent Coulson steps out, stares off into the distance at an object buried in the ground and calls up Nick Fury. "Sir, we've found it," he says, as the camera zooms in on the item revealing ... Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.

What it means: Thor's going to be in a movie! He's probably going to be in The Avengers! It seems like small potatoes now, especially as we've seen so much of him onscreen, but back then? It was a big deal. The moment also establishes Coulson as an important player in uniting The Avengers, and harks back to an earlier scene in the movie where he excuses himself to deal with the incident.

Thor (2011)

The scene: Nick Fury brings Dr. Erik Selvig into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s secret underground facility to show him an artefact that's recently come into their possession - The Tesseract. Fury tells the doctor that his work has impressed S.H.I.E.L.D. and they want him to head up their research to harness the Tesseract's power for good. Selvig gazes at the blue cube, as the camera reveals Loki in his reflection. "I guess that's worth a look," says Thor's brother, before Selvig repeats the exact same line to Fury.

What it means: This properly sets up the events of The Avengers, and confirms that Selvig is being controlled by Loki. The Tesseract is also the first Infinity Stone seen onscreen, giving us the first clue to the MCU's overarcing storyline.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The scene: Well aware that he's now living several decades in the future, Cap takes out his frustration on a punching bag. "Can't sleep?" asks Nick Fury, sauntering into the gym. Cap responds with a smart aleck comment about Fury only wanting him to help save the world again. Cue a montage-teaser for The Avengers movie.

What it means: It confirms what we already knew before the credits rolled - Cap is with S.H.I.E.L.D. - while giving us a hint of what to expect from the first team-up movie.

The Avengers (2012)

The scene: In the first credits scene, The Other rushes to his master telling him of Loki's failure to acquire the Tesseract. He babbles on, covering Loki's ass about how hard it is to beat The Avengers. "To challenge them is to court Death," he says. His master rises from his throne, and turns to face the camera. Thanos smiles.

What it means: We learn that Loki wasn't flying solo - he was working for someone. And as if introducing us to the Mad Titan wasn't enough, it also confirms that at some point Marvel plans to visit the Kree race. This is the first credits stinger that set the wheels in motion for something that wouldn't be revisited for a couple of years. We don't see Thanos for another two years, at which point he turns up in Guardians of the Galaxy, so this clued us in on the MCU's grand scheme.

The Avengers (2012)

The scene: The Avengers sit around a table in a kebab house getting their chow on with some of NYC's finest shawarma. 

What it means: This second scene's pretty simple: after engaging in strenuous physical activity (defending New York City from aliens) The Avengers need massive amounts of greasy food. It's a nice little end note that keeps things light, and was added in right before the movie was shipped to theaters. If you look closely you can see Cap covering his face - because Chris Evans had a beard at the time from another movie he was working on.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

The scene: Tony Stark lies on a therapist's couch, wrapping up a story about his battle with Aldrich Killian. It's revealed that he's actually talking to Bruce Banner who slept through the entire thing.

What it means: Err... that Stark and Banner kept in touch after The Avengers? It's not the best of the stingers, which is a shame because the previous film gave us two great ones. Rumor has it that the original plan was to see Iron Man jet off to the outer reaches of the galaxy where he'd meet a ragtag bunch of Guardians…

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The scene: With Asgard's vault too full of powerful, one-of-a-kind artefacts, it's up to Sif and Voltstagg to transport the Aether somewhere safe. They journey to a special museum where they hand it over to Taneleer Tivan, aka The Collector. "One down, five to go," he says after the two Asgardians leave. 

What it means: This first credits scene is packed with Easter eggs, making it one that requires repeat viewings with your fan goggles on. It more importantly introduces us to The Collector who, like Thanos, is after the Infinity Stones. This leaves a fair bit open for speculation. Is he working for Thanos or are they competitors?

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The scene: The final credits tag finds Jane Foster and her chums hanging out in her apartment when all of a sudden a portal opens on her balcony. Is it Loki? Or a beast from Asgard? No, it's Thor. Jane runs out and the pair passionately kiss

What it means: Well, apart from the fact that Thor will travel across dimensions for love (awww!), it confirms that he's left Loki-posing-as-Odin in charge of Asgard. That's... bad.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

The scene: Halfway through the credits it cuts to Wolfgang Von Strucker chatting with a couple of lackeys as they walk through a secret underground HYDRA research base. The scene ends on a shot of the Maximoff twins, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, demonstrating their powers.

What it means: The Avengers will be going up against more than just HYDRA agents in the next movie; they'll be facing genetically-altered beings (aka mutants, but one-ever says that because of the whole Fox/Marvel X-Men rights issue). We also learn what happened to Loki's sceptre: it's being scrutinised by scientists, which is also bad news for Earth's mightiest heroes.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

The scene: Partly on his way to becoming his old self again, The Winter Soldier decides to enjoy his down-time by visiting a museum and boning up on history. It's during his casual jaunt to the Smithsonian that he lays his eyes on a Captain America exhibit that happens to include Bucky Barnes in a display.

What it means: Another silent stinger, it's still an important one. It's proof that the real Bucky isn't completely lost within the Winter Soldier. His memories begin flooding back, confirming what Cap said earlier. Basically? We're going to see these two life-long buddies back together again... at some point.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The scene: Inside the Milano, Baby Groot bops away to some jammin' tunes while Drax is sharpens his knife in the background. Each time Drax turns around, Groot stops dancing. then starts up again as soon as the big guy returns to his work. 

What it means: Groot lives! And he's really cute.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The scene: Right at the end, the camera pans across The Collector's museum - it looks like a bomb's hit it. That tends to happen when Infinity Stones are opened indoors. The camera pans through the wreckage, lingering on the ruined archive, as Cosmo the dog trots to his master and starts licking his wounds. "Why do you let him lick you like that," a voice chides offscreen. The camera pans to the speaker. "Gross," says Howard the Duck.

What it means: That James Gunn is awesome? Well, following the 'rules' of the MCU this would normally mean we're getting a Howard the Duck movie, but Gunn already shot down those rumors and said he just used the iconic Marvel waterfowl as a little bit of fun. Though he does turn up a couple of times in Guardians 2

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The scene: Thanos is getting a pig-sick of his minions' repeated failures to get the Infinity Stones, so we see him grumbling in annoyance as he puts the Infinity Gauntlet on and declares that he'll get the Stones by himself.

What it means: If the first Avengers movie credits scene let Thanos' plans be known, this lets the world know that he's not messing around anymore. Watching him don the Infinity Gauntlet is a huge moment that pretty much confirmed that the next Avengers movie would be strongly linked to the Infinity Stones. We're finally in the home stretch for Infinity War. 

Ant-Man (2015)

The scene: Hank Pym leads his daughter Hope down into the basement, where he discusses with her the power of responsibility. A panel slides back to reveal a hidden compartment housing the Wasp's suit. Pym tells Hope about the last person to wear it; her mother Janet Van Dyne.

What it means: There's no two ways you can take this scene. It's a super blatant moment that reveals what we'd hoped for throughout the whole of Ant-Man - the introduction of the Wasp. Let's face it, there was no way that we'd see that iconic suit and not get to see her in action. Shortly thereafter the studio announced the true title of the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Ant-Man (2015)

The scene: Tacked on at the end, Captain America walks into a dingy room where we see the Winter Soldier trapped in a vice. "This would have been a whole lot easier a week ago," says Falcon. Cap suggests calling Tony Stark for help and gets shot down. "Who knows if the Accords will let him help," his winged buddy responds. "But I might know a guy..."

What it means: In short? Team Cap is going to need help from Ant-Man in freeing the Winter Soldier. This plays less like a specifically-shot credits scene and more like an actual clip from Captain America: Civil War. That's because it is. If Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige hadn't confirmed that theory, the reference to the Sokovia Accords would still be a dead giveaway.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The scene: Even though Bucky’s name is cleared during the events of Civil War, the fact that he can still be activated means that he voluntarily decides to put himself on ice. His lab of choice just happens to be in Wakanda where Cap warns T'Challa that people will be looking for Bucky. “Let them try,” is the killer response as the camera shows us some more of the Wakandan jungle. Oh and a giant panther statue.

What it means: As well as giving the audience their first proper look at Wakanda after two movies mentioning it, this establishes that Cap trusts T'Challa, potentially setting up partnerships between the two in future movies. It also hints that Bucky might make an appearance in the Black Panther solo movie. Which of course he does, but more on that a little later... 

Read more: The most powerful thing about Captain America: Civil War is its human heart

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The scene: Peter Parker is in his bedroom playing around with the sparkly new suit that Tony Stark made him, when he accidentally activates a bright light as Aunt May quizzes him on who he was fighting (some guy called Steve from Brooklyn). After giving him an icepack, she leaves the room and Peter aims the red light onto the ceiling revealing a projection of the Spider-Signal. 

What it means: In the comics, Tony also made Peter a new suit (albeit not in the same colours). The Spider-Signal is a comic-inspired upgrade for the MCU version of Spider-Man, who wears it on his wrist, rather than his belt. The scene is followed by the caption, “Spider-Man will return” in a nod to Spider-Man: Homecoming. But other than that, it’s just a cool shout out to the character’s origins, and a confirmation of Tony's involvement in Peter's solo movie. 

Read more: 26 Captain America: Civil War Easter eggs worth knowing about

Doctor Strange (2016)

The scene: Thor makes his first MCU appearance since Avengers: Age of Ultron (having sat out Civil War) to have a quick chat with Doctor Strange, who wonders why he’s come to Earth with his cunning brother Loki. Thor tells him he’s come to find his father Odin (“family drama”) and that they’ll all leave when he finds him. “Allow me to help you,” Doctor Strange happily tells Thor, who’s still a bit blown away by the refilling beer stein in his hand.

What it means: Like the second Ant-Man post-credits scene, this could well be a scene lifted straight from Thor: Ragnarok, Doctor Strange's appearance in the threequel already being confirmed. At the end of Thor: The Dark World, it was revealed that Loki had shape-shifted into Odin, so there’s every chance Thor has figured out his brother’s trick and now needs to work out what he did with the real Odin. The Sorcerer Supreme is not a bad detective to have around. 

Read more: Doctor Strange’s magic is more real than you might think (and is based on Tutankhamun)

Doctor Strange (2016)

The scene: During the movie, Stephen Strange chats to a guy named Jonathan Pangborn, who has used magic to make himself walk again. He comes to regret that decision when Mordo, a bit annoyed with the whole sorcerer thing by this point, pays him a visit to rob Pangborn of his magic and leave him paralysed all over again. Poor guy.

What it means: While we could see him in Infinity War, this more likely sets up Mordo as the main villain in Doctor Strange 2, even if it hasn’t been officially announced yet. This brings him more in line with his comic alter-ego where he is a constant thorn in Doctor Strange’s side, even impersonating him for a short while. Mordo’s chilling final line that there are “too many sorcerers” hints that Pangborn isn’t the only person whose magic he’ll be taking. 

Read more: 12 Doctor Strange Easter eggs every Marvel fan needs to know about

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The scene: The first post-credits scene for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 sees Kraglin practising using Yondu’s fin and arrow which Quill gave to him after the funeral. It all seems to be going well enough as the arrow flies around the room, falling to the floor occasionally, but then Kraglin gets a bit over-confident and flies the arrow around a corner and straight into Drax’s throat! Drax clutches his throat screaming in agony as Kraglin stands there stunned before slowly backing away before Drax discovers what happened. 

What it means: That Kraglin is really clumsy and will probably be dead by the time GOTG3 comes around? Not many characters have hurt Drax and lived to tell the tale, but maybe the rest of the Guardians will be able to keep him from turning the Ravager into mush. In that case, perhaps he’ll be joining the team once he gets the hang of the fin?

Read more: 9 questions I have after watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The scene: The second GOTG2 post-credits scene sees Sylvester Stallone’s character, Stakar Ogord, reunited with some former Ravager companions, all of whom attended Yondu’s funeral. There’s the red-skinned Krugarr, a robot called Mainframe (voiced by Miley Cyrus), the crystal-studded Martinex, who you see earlier in the movie (Michael Rosenbaum), Charlie-27 (Pulp Fiction’s Ving Rhames), and Aleta Ogord (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Michelle Yeoh). Stallone says it’s a shame it’s taken Yondu’s death to bring them all back together again, but then they decided to reform and steal some stuff. 

What it means: I really hope it means that we’re going to get a GOTG spin-off movie about Stakar’s team of Ravagers - all of whom have been members of earlier Guardians teams in the comics. Just seeing them all together at the end of this movie made me want to know more. "Where they’ll show up and how they’ll show up, we’re still working on, but I would expect to see them in the future," James Gunn teases, via USA Today

Read more: 6 Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Easter eggs that tell us about the future of the MCU

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The scene: In the third post-credits scene, we see Elizabeth Debicki’s Kismet (AKA Ayesha) sulking after her defeat at the hands of the Guardians. Her handmaiden approaches to tell her the Council is waiting for her, and it’s revealed that they’re not too happy after she wasted their resources failing to beat the heroes. She soon cheers up though as she announces that she’s created something sure to destroy the Guardians, which is when the scene cuts to a sarcophagus-like birthing pod and Kismet reveals that she’s going to call it Adam. 

What it means: Any major Marvel fan will know which character James Gunn is teasing in this scene. Kismet is obviously referring to Adam Warlock, a genetically engineered superhuman with cosmic powers, who was originally in the first couple of drafts of GOTG2 before Gunn “took him out and saved him for a later time”. Does this mean that Adam will be the big bad of Guardians 3? Possibly but I think it’s more likely he’ll join forces with the Guardians if his comic book history is any indication. He’s not traditionally a baddie.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The scene: If you thought Baby Groot was cool, just wait until you see Guardians of the Galaxy 2’s fourth post-credits scene. It features Groot as a teenager, in his room, playing video games, and ignoring Quill’s pleas for him to tidy his room. Eventually giving up on getting any kind of reaction from Teenage Groot, Quill mutters to himself that now he knows how Yondu felt before leaving him to it. 

What it means: That Groot will be back to his normal (massive) size in the third Guardians movie. As cute as Baby Groot is, there’s only so much you can do with that character, so I’m pleased to have it confirmed that he won’t be staying a baby any longer. Now the only question that remains is if we’ll get to see adult Groot in Infinity War or if a teenage Groot will be bonding with a teenage Spidey, while Quill and Tony compare parenting notes. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The scene: The fifth and final post-credits scene from GOTG2 is an extension of Stan Lee’s cameo. We cut back to astronaut Stan sat on the barren planet he was occupying earlier in the movie, as the Watchers he entertained with his stories start to walk away. He asks them to stop, saying he’s got loads more tales to tell, and when they keep walking, insists he needs a lift home. 

What it means: This extension of Stan Lee’s cameo helped confirm a long-held fan theory than Lee is actually playing the same character in all of his MCU cameos. His character is a Watcher as well and has been travelling in time and space, checking out what all of the Marvel superheros have been up to. It’s a shame his fellow Watchers don’t seem as interested in what he’s witnessed as we are. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

The scene: The first of Spider-Man: Homecoming's multiple post-credits scenes sees an imprisoned Adrian Toomes being approached by Mac Gargan, one of the criminals who was captured by the FBI during the Staten Island Ferry incident. He says there's a rumour going around that the Vulture knows the true identity of Spider-Man, to which Toomes replies, "If I knew who he was, he’d already be dead." He's then called away for a visit with his family. 

What it means: That the Vulture isn't all bad? We know that Toomes knows exactly who Spider-Man is, but he obviously has no intention of giving up Peter Parker. The look on his face when he's told his family have arrived seems to imply to me that his secrecy is more for his daughter's sake than anything else, but still... The bigger point though, is that this scene reestablishes Gargan and shows off his scorpion tattoo. Gargan becomes Spider-Man villain the Scorpion (with a capital 'S') in the comics, so it looks like that's Homecoming 2's bad guy all set up. 

Read more: 6 questions I have after watching Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

The scene: The second post-credits scene features Captain America. He appears on screen, talking about patience, and how sometimes it can be rewarded but sometimes it's all for nothing. You see where I'm going with this, can't you? It's a massive, 'Go home, you're not getting a tease of Infinity War'. 

What it means: That Marvel knows what you're waiting for, and isn't pandering to you one little bit. 

Read more: By trading power and responsibility for failure and immaturity, Spider-Man: Homecoming delivers a perfect (origin-free) origin story 

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The scene: Thor: Ragnarok has a grand total of two post-credits scenes, and in the first one, Thor and Loki are aboard their new spaceship home, along with all the refugees of Asgard, trying to decide where to go next. They decide on Earth, even if its people are unlikely to throw Loki a parade when they realise he's returned. It's all lovely and fuzzy... until a huge, shadowy ship appears.  

What it means: Marvelites are already speculating who that sinister looking ship belongs to. The obvious choice is Thanos, the big bad for 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. This theory was backed up by those bastards, um, fans, lucky enough to get an early glimpse at the IW trailer at San Diego Comic Con and D23. You can read a full breakdown of that footage here, but it features Thor floating in space, which would make sense if Thanos had attacked the Asgard escape ship.

Read more: 5 questions I have after watching Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The scene: Scene stealer the Grandmaster, played by Jeff Golblum, stumbles out of a wrecked ship as natives of the planet Sakaar approach in the second post-credits scene. He congratulates them on a successful revolution, only to point out a revolution needs someone to overthrow, so he really played a vital part. "It’s a tie!" he yells, before the screen cuts to black.

What it means: We want it to mean there's a Grandmaster spin off in the works, but it's really a sign that Taika Watiti and his team knew that Goldblum would be a fan favorite. Still, we can hope. 

Read more: Jeff Goldblum sings his own Jurassic Park theme song and does a dolphin impression in our Thor: Ragnarok interview

Black Panther (2018)

The scene: T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia visit the United Nations in the first Black Panther post-credits scene, so that the new King can tell the world the truth about Wakanda. He announces that Wakanda will no longer be an isolated nation and instead offers to share the country's wealth. Someone in attendance condescendingly asks what Wakanda has to offer, to which T’Challa merely smirks in response before the scene ends. 

What it means: That the rest of the world will know just how technologically advanced and wealthy Wakanda really is by the time Avengers: Infinity War hits our screens. How will the other political leaders feel about being lied to for so long? No doubt we'll see a range of reactions, but hopefully we'll also see some of the good Wakanda will have bought to the rest of the world before Thanos turns up. 

Read more: 6 questions I have after watching Black Panther

Black Panther (2018)

The scene: In the second Black Panther post-credits scene, T’Challa’s sister Shuri wakes up Bucky Barnes (AKA, The Winter Soldier) and introduces him to Wakanda. They’re in a hut by the water rather than Shuri’s lab and the children playing around Bucky call him the White Wolf. 

What it means: Hopefully, this means Shuri has found a way to cure Bucky of his brain-washing triggers - remember, he was put on ice in Wakanda after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Interestingly, his new nickname - the White Wolf - is actually another moniker for T’Challa’s adoptive brother Hunter in the comics. He is a white man, taken in by Wakanda and cared for after a traumatic incident, who eventually becomes consumed with taking T’Challa down. Could this mean Bucky will be up to no good when he eventually reunites with the world in Infinity War? 

Read more: Every secret Easter egg and reference in Black Panther you might have missed