The latest Marvel movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, recently began screening for select critics, and early reactions from that crowd have been wildly positive. And while the initial round of tweets and reports have largely steered clear of anything that would qualify as “spoilers,” word has leaked (with Marvel’s blessing) that Winter Soldier tacks on not just one, but two of Marvel’s now-requisite post-credits scenes: one by the film’s directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, and one by Avengers director Joss Whedon. Typically, these sequences either serve as amusing epilogues to the main feature (think “shawarma”) or teasers for future Marvel films (think Thanos). The Whedon-directed post-Winter Soldier scene, according to Collider, helps set up next summer’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron. And, given that it’s Whedon, the scene’s probably clever and funny as well—although critics are rightly remaining mum on that point for now.
It’s astonishing how quickly these little Easter eggs for hardcore comics fans have become not just commonplace, but expected. Early on, when the post-credits scenes were teasing the possibility of an Avengers movie, they were fairly short and casual. Now these scenes are almost like the first trailers for next year’s slate of Marvel films, and they’ve become more elaborate versions of the old “James Bond will return in…” credits-capper. (Many Marvel movies also include variations of the Bond line; Thor: The Dark World’s credits ends with “Thor Will Return.”) So far at least, they haven’t become essential to understanding the movies. We aren’t in full comics-crossover-land yet. For now, they’re just a marketing device, and a reasonably fun one. Still: Can we set an upper limit of two on these? I’d rather not have to stick around after the movie to see all the previews.