Marvel Studios is desperately trying to repeat Iron Man‘s post-credits trick, but because of one particular reason, it isn’t working in MCU Phase 4. After the events of the Infinity Saga, Kevin Feige and his team are busy rebuilding the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and they are currently setting the groundwork for their next culminating event. Since the franchise appears to be at another starting point again, it’s understandable that Marvel Studios’ moves to set up Phase 4 are drawing comparisons with their MCU Phase 1 blueprint.
At this point, it’s still to early gauge what Marvel Studios’ long-term plan is. Unlike Phase 1, where films were clearly being woven together leading to The Avengers, there is barely a single common denominator among all of the MCU Phase 4 projects. Instead, most of their stories exist in their own pockets of the universe. One thing that Marvel Studios seems to be trying to copy from Phase 1 is using post-credits scenes to introduce new characters. This approach worked really well when debuting Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in Iron Man’s stinger, so it is sensible that they are trying to emulate its success once again.
Sadly, however, Marvel Studios’ attempts at recreating their original post-credits trick’s impact for the wider MCU aren’t working. Both Phase 4 films and TV shows have used post-credits scenes to introduce new characters: Eternals had Pip the Troll (Patton Oswalt) and Eros (Harry Styles), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had Clea (Charlize Theron), Moon Knight had Jake Lockley (Oscar Isaac), and more recently Thor: Love & Thunder had Hercules (Brett Goldstein). Yet none of these reveals have had the same effect as Fury’s Iron Man post-credits scene debut because, unlike the former SHIELD director, none of these characters have made another appearance since their arrival. Fury, on the other hand, immediately became a primary player in Iron Man 2, followed by his stinger involvement in Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Despite not being physically present in The Incredible Hulk, he was at least mentioned. All of these cameos led to The Avengers – where he solidified his place in the MCU’s Phase 1 storytelling.
Phase 4’s Post-Credits Prove The MCU’s Future Problem
Aside from the fact that Marvel Studios’ Phase 4 post-credits strategy appears designed for shock value rather than cohesive storytelling, it’s also indicative of a bigger issue plaguing the franchise. Because of the sheer number of projects that they are releasing, sequels and other follow-ups take a lot longer to arrive in Phase 4 than they did in Phase 1. For example, with no word yet regarding when Doctor Strange 3 will release, it’s uncertain when Clea will be properly introduced into the universe. The same is true with Pip and Eros after Eternals.
It must be said that after Thanos’ The Avengers stinger introduction, it took several years before his next outing in Guardians of the Galaxy, and then a few more until his proper introduction in Avengers: Infinity War. However, he was unique in the way that he was the Infinity Saga’s big bad, meaning it made sense to ratchet up tension ahead of his proper reveal. Simply put, Marvel Studios cannot take this approach for multiple characters in Phase 4. In Phase 1, the franchise kept its storytelling streamlined, focusing on introducing each founding Avenger and bringing them all together for the Battle of New York, but in Phase 4, each of its films already feels incredibly interconnected to the wider MCU.
As exciting as it is to have a constant stream of MCU projects, there are concerns that it is getting too big for its own good. Given this, the MCU shouldn’t simply re-use its old storytelling tricks because they aren’t guaranteed to work, and the franchise has changed significantly since it was launched. The prime example of this overreliance on old tricks is the MCU Phase 4’s continued attempts to recreate Iron Man‘s successful post-credits debut for Nick Fury and its problematic Phase 4 stinger obsession – which must change moving forward.
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