Marvel didn’t invent the post-credits stinger, but the company sure does own it. Not literally (yet), but you can’t expect to go into a Marvel movie and come out without a post-credits scene. I’m looking at you, guy who left when the credits started.
We’re going to talk about Infinity War‘s scene. How it’s different from the others, and what it means for Avengers 4 and the future of the MCU. But we’re going to do that below the gallery, because, you know: spoilers.
As Infinity War comes to an end, the world is falling apart. Literally half of the life in the universe, Earth included, has simply disappeared. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Marvel movies usually end pretty satisfactorily, with the villain dealt with and the heroes relaxing and eating shawarma. But the end of Infinity War marks Thanos’ victory. While he sits on his deck, relaxing as he watches the sunrise, planet Earth is in disarray.
The credits roll, long and somber, without the usual mid-credits joke stinger. This time around, there’s only one post-credits scene, and it’s a doozy.
Nick Fury and Maria Hill are in a car together and stop suddenly to avoid crashing into a van out of control. There’s no one in the van. A helicopter careens into a building above them, exploding. Fury figures out that something is up when Maria, like so many of our other heroes, disintegrates and disappears into the wind. He runs for his jeep and scrambles for something.
A modified pager. Kids, ask your parents what a pager is. As Fury himself disappears, he pushes the button, and we watch as a message sends. And then, an eight-point star turns gold, back-filled by red and blue.
Captain Marvel is coming.
This moment clues us into what’s going to happen in Avengers 4, but it’s also about what we can expect from the MCU going forward.
The eight-point star is the symbol of Captain Marvel, a hero so powerful that she’s not called when aliens are invading, not called when an evil AI is taking over the world. Only this is bad enough to summon Carol Danvers.
While the Avengers definitely aren’t done, there’s a new Captain in town. Actor Chris Evans’ contract is up after being extended for Avengers 4, and Captain America is an old dude from another time and place. Even if he somehow doesn’t die, he’s definitely retiring, and that’ll leave room for another incorruptible moral compass to stand at the center of the MCU. We think that will be Captain Marvel.
While Avengers showed the MCU that aliens are real, it’s not until Thanos arrives that the cosmos are truly and unavoidably coming home. As great as Captain America is, though, he’s just not suited to be the guy who guides heroes into the stars. He’s a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy who sees the world with clear and simple morals. He’s from Queens. He’s Steve Rogers.
Captain Marvel, releasing on March 6 2019, will go into detail about Carol Danvers’ journey from military Major to intergalactic Captain. Set in the 90s, the movie features Nick Fury prominently and should help establish why Captain Marvel is such a big deal.
Then, two months later, the third phase of the MCU will come to a close as Captain Marvel, Captain America, and their cohorts take down Thanos.
With Captain Marvel introduced, the MCU can start traveling to the stars. There’s a lot of space out there to explore. With the Fox-Disney merger in the wings, the Fantastic Four might not be far off. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ended with a stinger promising Adam Warlock. Characters like Nova and Quasar can’t be far off, either.
There’s definitely still stuff to do here on planet Earth, and I don’t think that part of the MCU is going away, but that logo on Nick Fury’s pager marks the beginning of a needed expansion of the MCU.
This is when we’ll start to find out if the MCU is really a sustainable beast, and whether this new captain can carry on what Steve Rogers started.