One of the hallmarks of Marvel Studios’ films is that they typically have a little extra tease that’s thrown on to the screen either in the middle of or after the end credits. These scenes have been used both for comedic effect (such as the one in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3) and to tease future films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These sequences are fun for fans who read the comics and keep up to date with comic book films, but casual movie-goers are sometimes left scratching their heads wondering what they just saw. We’re here to help.
Thor: The Dark World, which has already been released in many countries around the world and will be arriving in theaters in the United States this weekend, actually has two different post-credits sequences that we’re going to discuss in detail, but first…
WARNING: The following paragraphs will completely spoil the end credits scenes of Thor: The Dark World. If you wish to not know what happens in the movie until you see it for yourself, please click here.
Still with us? Here we go!
Directed by Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, the scene begins as we see Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) touring through an odd museum like space, being led by an alien woman. The stranger then introduces the man that the Asgardians are there to see: Taneleer Tivan, also known as The Collector (Benicio Del Toro). Sif then presents the Elder of the Universe with the container holding the aether, the powerful element that Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) was pursuing for the entire film. She explains that with the Tesseract already in Odin's Trophy Room that it would be unwise and unsafe to keep two infinity stones in the same place, and that she wishes for The Collector to keep the artifact safe. The mysterious man agrees and seems helpful, but as the Asgardians leave The Collector whispers in a sinister voice, "One down, five to go."
We first learned that The Collector was going to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Del Toro landed the role this past summer, but all this time we assumed that we wouldn’t see his character until Guardians of the Galaxy. By taking the aether into his collection he makes his first appearance in a live-action film and also immediately becomes a huge part of Marvel Studios’ future plans.
But what exactly is going on? Sif and Volstagg presumably see The Collector as either a neutral associate or a friendly ally, but the last line of the scene suggests otherwise. Bringing together all of the Infinity Stones and attaching them to what’s called the Infinity Gauntlet gives the wearer of the gauntlet complete power over absolutely everything in the universe and the ability to do anything the mind can come up with. In the comics, acquiring all of the Infinity Stones and the Infinity Gauntlet is the main mission of the Mad Titan known as Thanos, who is known to Marvel Movie fans as the big purple villain who rears his ugly mug at the end of The Avengers. The post-credits scene in Thor: The Dark World suggests that The Collector could be in league with Thanos, which means that he’s neither neutral nor a friend – he is definitely an enemy. (And did I mention that you can actually see the Infinity Gauntlet in Kenneth Branagh's Thor?)
Details on the other post-credit scene on the next page!
The second scene is quite a bit more straightforward. From the end of the credits we cut back to where we left Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), alone in her London apartment and waiting for Thor’s return. Rather than taking a whole two years this time, however, with a crack of lightning Thor returns to Midgard a.k.a. Earth to be with his lady love. The scene then ends on a comical note as we see the Jotunheim monster (possibly the bilgesnipe referenced in The Avengers?) still running around our world, chasing birds.
While the first post-credits sequence was more of a setup for Guardians of the Galaxy and maybe even The Avengers 3, one can see the second being more built towards The Avengers: Age of Ultron and very likely Thor 3. The God of Thunder is now Earthbound, which not only means that he will be on-call when S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Avengers need him, but also that he is very, very far away from Asgard, where Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has just taken over the throne while disguised as Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins). The possible implications of this are far too numerous to go over here, but we should get a better idea of the picture as we slowly move towards Phase Three.
In terms of impact and momentum shifting, these end credit sequences are the biggest since Nick Fury first told Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative in 2008’s Iron Man. But what did you think of them? Hit the comments with your thoughts and theories about where this may lead!