‘Thor 4’: Hercules throws new post-credits scene strategy for Marvel

brake alert: This story discusses plot developments and the first post-credit scene in the Marvel Studios movie “Thor: Love and Thunder” currently in theaters.

Since its inception, Marvel Studios has been known for using post-credits scenes as additional teasers for their upcoming movies. At times, viewers have referenced a direct sequel, such as when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) showed off a Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) suit at the end of 2015’s “Ant-Man,” which led to Hope’s rise to the title role of 2018’s “Ant- Man and the Wasp.” As is often the case, they serve as transportation between characters: Thor (Chris Hemsworth)’s visit to Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) campus at the end of 2016’s “Doctor Strange” leads to Thor’s search for his father in the 2015 movie “Thor: Ragnarok.” 2017 . “

These scenes were both fun shows and essential threads that tie the Marvel Cinematic Universe together. Audiences are waiting to see them for a taste of what’s to come, and this weather has been crucial to establishing the MCU as the greatest storytelling force in Hollywood history.

On rare occasions, end credits have also introduced new characters, such as Wanda and Petro Maximov (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) appearing at the end of 2014 with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” helping to lay the foundations for their critical roles in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” for 2015. But with the exception of Thanos’ presentation at the end of 2012’s The Avengers, audiences – at least those savvy ones who follow the entertainment news – already knew these characters and actors were coming early.

Not anymore. Last year, Marvel Studios began changing its strategy for post-credits scenes for its feature films, using them less as previews of previously announced titles than as actual advertisements for entirely new characters whose future in the MCU is not yet known.

The end of 2021 could have included “The Eternity” a great deal of cosmic events that take place in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Instead, Harry Styles appears as Starfox, aka Thanos’ brother, Eros, who talks mysteriously about helping the Eternals find their missing compatriots. At the end of May’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” we could get a taste of the upcoming multiverse hoaxes in February’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” or the upcoming second season of “Loki.” Instead, Charlize Theron suddenly steps up to Strange on a city street, online to join her on a mission to the Dark Dimension without ever revealing her name. (It’s totally.)

As of late, one might expect the post-credits scene for “Thor: Love and Thunder” (which opens in theaters Friday) to suggest what’s to come in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol” next May. 3,” given the role of the Guardians in the film’s first act. Instead, we learn about Hercules—the legendary Greek half-god and a Marvel Comics mainstay since 1965—as played by Emmy Award-winning “Ted Lasso” star Brett Goldstein.

Hercules first appears in the MCU after a speech by his father, Zeus (Russell Crowe), who attacks Thor earlier in the film until the thunder god Zeus strikes his own lightning bolt. In a post-credits scene, the camera stays fixed on Zeus nursing his wound, wondering bitterly to an off-screen person how the gods of ancient myth found themselves being overshadowed by new superheroes. To regain their position, Zeus orders his son Hercules to bring down Thor. The camera pans to Goldstein, an armored, hairy-chested, screaming “Yeah, Dad,” with all the fury we’ve come to expect of Goldstein’s performance as “Ted Lasso” as reluctantly retired footballer Roy Kent.

As with Styles and Theron, Marvel Studios has not yet determined when or how Goldstein will appear again in the MCU, but the good money is on those actors who co-titled the sequel to the movies in which they first appeared. After all, in the comics, Starfox he is The Eternal, wholly marries Doctor Strange, begins Hercules as Thor’s antagonist before the two become friends.

However, it’s still a sign of deep confidence (with a bit of healthy arrogance) that Marvel Studios use these scenes to introduce new characters without precisely indicating where those characters are headed. In each case, the suspense ends up seeing Styles, Theron, and Goldstein appear in the MCU more than those appearances might mean for the larger story, especially as the MCU runs thinner than it used to be. There is great storytelling potential in Starfox, Clea, and Hercules. But with more than 25 Disney+ movies and series already on the horizon for Marvel Studios, adding three more. more The main characters in the mix risk exacerbating the complaint that keeping up with the MCU is starting to feel less fun and more like homework.

In fact, Marvel planned to kick-start this strategy even earlier — with Julia Louis-Dreyfus appearing as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in the post-credits scene in Black Widow. This movie, of course, was due to debut in May 2020. But the pandemic pushed it into July 2021, past what was supposed to be Val’s second appearance, in the Disney+ series “The Hawk and the Winter Soldier.” On this show, Val gets a proper introduction, so the excitement of seeing Louis-Dreyfus is matched by a better understanding of the gruesome role she has to play within the MCU. When Val reappears in “Black Widow,” and orders Jelena (Florence Beau) to hunt down Hawk (Jeremy Renner), we’re more interested in what that means for those characters than we are indulging in the surprise of suddenly seeing Louis-Dreyfus in a Marvel movie.

Marvel Studios may have just passed the need for post-credits scenes — there’s no need to tease us anymore when we already know they’re all connected. However, rituals are hard to break, even after they have become unhelpful.

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