Warning: the following inevitably contains spoilers for the ending of Iron Man 3 and other, earlier Marvel movies.
Ever since Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury stepped out of the shadows at the very end of 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel’s movies have made creative use of post-credits scenes. Since Iron Man, each subsequent Marvel film built up anticipation with the next; Iron Man 2 concluded with the teasing sight of a famous hammer sitting in the desert. Both Thor and Captain America led the build-up to The Avengers, with glimpses of the Tesseract and a bewildered Cap meeting Nick Fury for the first time.
Iron Man 3, logically enough, follows on from The Avengers, so its post-credits sequence would inevitably differ greatly from those that came before. Might it introduce a new Marvel character we haven’t met before? Might it tease at the events of Guardians Of The Galaxy, or maybe Avengers 2?
Perhaps surprisingly, the sequence did none of this. Instead, we’re treated to a lightly comic sketch, in which Tony Stark’s shown lying on what looks like a psychoanalyst’s couch and discussing his problems; the entire preceding film, it turns out, is Stark’s rambling recollection of the past few years’ events, from the first time he met Dr Maya Hansen and Aldrich Killian (respectively, Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce) to the present.
Then, from a new angle, we find out who Stark’s been pouring his soul out to: none other than Bruce Banner, as played by Mark Ruffalo. When Stark irritably concludes that Banner’s slept through his entire story, Banner says, “I’m not that kind of doctor…”
Now, given that rumours were circulating that Iron Man 3 would feature some form of nod to Guardians Of The Galaxy, this sequence may come as a disappointment to some, even if it is quite a cheeky little reveal, and typical of Shane Black’s puckish sense of humour. It’s certainly not of the magnitude of Thor‘s post-credits scene, or the one that created so much excitement at the conclusion to 2008’s Iron Man.
In fact, we were half wondering whether the Stark and Banner scene above might be followed up with something a little weightier, essentially providing us with two stingers, as Avengers did with its Thanos reveal and shawarma dinner scene – but no. We sat patiently until the final logos faded to black and the theatre lights went up, and nothing.
It’s possible, however, that Marvel might repeat the same trick it pulled last year. On The Avengers’ initial release, it came with one mid-credit sequence – the first glimpse of Thanos – and it was only when the film opened in America on the 4th May that the second post-credits scene was tagged onto the end. Given that the screenings were relatively early, and that, like The Avengers, Iron Man 3 opens in the UK before the US, it could be that Marvel may have another, much more revealing scene in store for its homecoming release.
Or could it be that Marvel’s waiting until Iron Man 3 comes out on disc before it reveals anything tangible about Avengers 2, Guardians Of The Galaxy, or the other films it has bubbling away behind the scenes. Given just how unusually coy Iron Man 3′s stinger was, we’d be very surprised if Marvel doesn’t have more surprises in store.
See also: top 50 post-end credits scenes.