When Logan was released almost a year ago, it ended on a somber and totally satisfying note that left viewers to marinate in the sense of finality that came with saying goodbye to Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine. (In a particularly brutal way too.) Needless to say, there was no post-credits stinger that was added to tease Deadpool 2 or X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Nothing about James Mangold’s creative choices on this matter are surprising, yet still some might be curious to learn what the genre-flexible filmmaker thinks of the post-credit trope, which has become a staple of superhero movies in the last 10 years.
While chatting at the 2018 Writers Guild Beyond Words Panel, Mangold had (via CinemaBlend) some rather choice words of his own about the prospect of ever using a post-credit scene in the future. For even if he does return to superhero movies with his still developing X-23 spinoff, he has no intention of doing something that will “embarrass” him like a post-credit scene designed to sell what he describes to be more “product.”
“The idea of making a movie that would fucking embarrass me, that’s part of the anesthetizing of this country or the world. That’s further confirming what [audiences] already know and tying in with other fucking products and selling them the next movie while you’re making this movie, and kind of all that shit that I find really fucking embarrassing. Like, that audiences are actually asking for scenes in end credits when those scenes were first developed for movies that suck, so they put something extra at the end to pick up scores when the movie couldn’t end right on its own fucking feet.”
Hardly mincing words, these remarks from Mangold are not entirely surprising. While we would disagree about all post-credit scenes stemming from the need to add a grace note to a movie that otherwise has none, we are a long way gone from the sly and creative add-ons seen in films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Now post-credit moments are mostly part of a marketing strategy that instantly seems to be fueling hype for a new “product,” one that’s potentially years away too, while disguising the disposability of the current film you just watched and are already mentally placing on a shelf.
In this vein, Mangold elaborates while talking about fan culture:
“Now we’ve actually gotten audiences addicted to a fucking bonus in the credits. It’s fucking embarrassing. It means you couldn’t land your fucking movie is what it means. Even if you got 100,000 Twitter addicts who are gambling on what fucking scene is going to happen after the fucking credits, it’s still cheating. But there’s all sorts of bad habits like that that fucking horrify me, man, that have become de rigueur in the way we make movies, and I think the fear of being one of them that did that [kind of ending] then everyone’s patting me on the back, and I feel like shit inside because I know I cheated, is probably the greatest thing that scares the shit out of me.”
So it would be safe to say there would be no post-credits scene in X-23, right? Curiously, however, there remains the strange fact that there technically has been a post-credit scene in one of Mangold’s movies: At the end of The Wolverine (2013), Mangold’s story closes on Logan renewing his purpose in life and his will to live, only for a post-credit scene to reveal two years later he is still aimlessly wandering the world until Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen show up to tease Jackman’s Logan into appearing in the following summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
With that said, we imagine that Mangold was less than thrilled about that scene which was added late into post-production. One of the reasons the director has repeatedly stressed he sought an R-rating for Logan was to simply free himself from the burden of such franchised banalities that comes with a more family friendly, product and assembly line mentality. It made for a better movie with Logan, so perhaps it is food for thought about how post-credits scenes are used in the future.
This is also reminiscent of Zack Snyder claiming that Christopher Nolan said they would not include a post-credit scene in Man of Steel because “real movies” do not have post-credit sequences. While Nolan later denied he used those words, we imagine such a sentiment was likely shared by a director who also strove to make superhero movies more than just something that setup the next one.
While we might disagree that post-credit scenes are “embarrassing,” the better superhero movies—many of them directed by Mangold and Nolan—tend to stand on their own two feet as stories, as opposed to cogs in a machine. It’s worth thinking about before jumping for joy that a movie in 2020 was teased during a film you’re ostensibly enjoying today.