Method to their madness: Marvel movie credits scenes

Thanos-in-The-Avengers-

In all the verbiage that’s been dedicated to end-credits scenes in Marvel movies, gone unaddressed is the question of why some movies have one end-credits scene and why a few have two.

Early Marvel movies had only one end-credits “stinger,” or “button,” scene. The first, of course, was Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury showing up at the end of “Iron Man” in 2008.

“The Avengers” set a precedent for two credits scenes that was continued in “Thor: The Dark World” and, we’re hearing, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Spoilers ahead, obviously, although some are for movies you’ve probably seen by now. And if you haven’t, why not?

What we’re hearing so far about the end credits scenes from the “Captain America” sequel indicate the movie continues the mini-trend of two end credits scenes but also the trend of making one a direct promo for a future movie and one a character piece.

We saw that in “The Avengers,” which – in its first credits scene – teased Thanos as the bad guy behind the scenes of the movie. Then, in the end credits scene, the tired Avengers sit down for a meal in a nearly-demolished NYC restaurant. It’s a scene that emphasized the humor of director Joss Whedon.

Two end-credits scenes in “Thor: The Dark World” followed that pattern. In the first, the story is advanced toward this August’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” by introducing not only the character the Collector but the concept of the Infinity Stones before the very final scene showed Thor returning to Earth and reuniting with Jane Foster.

Now we’re hearing that two end credits scenes in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will follow the same approach. One will advance the larger Marvel movie storyline while the other will further the development of one character.

Is it purely a marketing strategy on the part of Marvel? At the end of the original “Captain America,” the most marketing-oriented extra so far included a montage of shots from “The Avengers.”

Is it artistic vision from the director? We know that’s not always the case. “Thor: The Dark World” director Alan Taylor grumbled about the inclusion of footage promoting “Guardians of the Galaxy” at the end of his movie. He didn’t direct it. Likewise, “Avengers” series director and Marvel’s big-screen consultant Whedon directed an “Avengers”-leaning promo at the end of the original “Thor” and, it was announced this week, directed one of the two scenes at the end of “Winter Soldier.”

So we’re guessing it’s more of a savvy, catch-em-while-they’re-in-the-theater-and-create-buzz move by Marvel.

And it’s one that usually adds to the enjoyment of the movies for fans.

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