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Marvel Cinematic Universe post-credits scenes ranked as Shang-Chi hits theaters

The 25th MCU movie landed in theaters Friday, so let's take a journey through the series' post-credits scenes since 2008.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
12 min read
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

See where Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' post-credit scene sits in our ranking. 


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings landed in theaters Friday, bringing us our first Asian-led Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It also continues Marvel Studios' grand tradition of mid- and post-credits scenes linking the adventure to the wider universe and setting up further adventures. Let's take a look at where the new movie's scenes rank among the MCU's teasers, from 2008's Iron Man to today.

Like the movies they're attached to, these stingers vary wildly in quality. Some add to the overall MCU tapestry, others leave you wishing you could get back the time you wasted. (At least you can skip the credits if you're watching on Disney Plus, though Shang-Chi isn't available there yet.) 

We've ranked the movies' post-credits scenes based on how shocking, important or delightful they are, but keep in mind this isn't ranking the movies themselves -- we've done that elsewhere -- and doesn't include post-credits scenes from the Disney Plus TV shows. Prepare yourself for a stroll down post-credits memory lane and be warned: massive MCU spoilers follow!


24. Ant-Man (2015)

Midcredits: Former Ant-Man Hank Pym shows daughter Hope Van Dyne a prototype Wasp suit, hinting that Hope will carry on the legacy of her lost mom, Janet.

Post-credits: We jump to Sam Wilson/Falcon and Captain America/Steve Rogers with a captive Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier. On the face of it, this is completely out of left field -- it's a scene from the middle of Captain America: Civil War referencing Falcon's encounter with Ant-Man.

Verdict: Poor. The scene with the Wasp costume is an obvious callback to the comic books and a setup for the movie's sequel, which is fine.

The Falcon/Cap/Bucky scene, on the other hand, makes no sense in isolation and puts the movie's stinger at the bottom of this list -- it feels like someone forgot to think of a post-credits scene and tacked this on at the end without a second thought. Also, Bucky is a post-credits regular, as you'll soon see.

23. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Post-credits: Superspy Nick Fury approaches Cap, who's clearly a little frustrated after being asleep for nearly 70 years and waking up in the present day, with a mission to save the world.

Verdict: Weak. The scene where Cap wakes up in a fake hospital and runs out into modern-day Times Square would've been a much stronger stinger, but it was probably too important to leave until after the credits. Instead, we get an overly vague hint at a big mission from Fury.


Iron Man 3 takes Tony out of the armor, but its post-credits scene is a bit disappointing.

Marvel Studios

22. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Post-credits: We find out that Tony Stark was recounting the events of the movie to the Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk), who fell asleep right as the story began.

Verdict: A cute scene between Downey and Ruffalo, but it adds nothing to the overall plot.

21. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Post-credits: You probably forgot about this one. Stark approaches General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross as he drowns his sorrows in a bar after unleashing Abomination on Harlem and still failing to capture the Hulk.

Stark knows about Ross' "unusual problem" (a subplot that's expanded in 2011's The Consultant one-shot, from back when Marvel Studios did those) and reveals that "we're putting a team together."

Verdict: OK. This doesn't add much to the Fury scene in Iron Man (which came out a few months earlier), but the Downey cameo is cool, and it's our first direct connection between movies. Linking it to a one-shot that few people actually saw wasn't a great move, but this might take on new significance with Abomination's return to the MCU.


The midcredits scene in Thor: The Dark World introduced us to the Collector.

Marvel Studios

20. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Midcredits: Sif and Volstagg hand over the dark-matter-creating Aether to the Collector. The Aether is really the Reality Stone, one of the Infinity Stones that big bad Thanos is gathering.

"One down, five to go," says the bleach-blond Collector, implying he's trying to gather all the stones.

Post-credits: Thor returns to Earth and reunites with Jane Foster -- who was apparently just sitting around pining for him -- then cuts to one of the monsters summoned during the final battle running around London.

Verdict: Mixed. The scene with the Collector adds another piece of the MCU puzzle, but the reunion's a bit limp and doesn't serve Jane's character at all. It's also her last appearance in the MCU to date -- she was written out in a throwaway fashion in Thor: Ragnarok.

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19. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Midcredits: Thanos has had enough of his foolish underlings' failure and puts on the Infinity Gauntlet: "Fine, I'll do it myself."

Verdict: Seeing the MCU's big baddie and the fancy glove he'll wear when he gathers the Infinity Stones is cool, but the scene feels like a bit of an afterthought.

18. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Midcredits: A sapling Groot (Vin Diesel) dances to the Jackson Five's I Want You Back, while an unaware Drax cleans his knife in the background.

Post-credits: The Collector sits in his ruined lair after the destruction caused by the Power Stone (another Infinity Stone). He gets a friendly lick from Cosmo the Spacedog, much to the disgust of Howard the Duck.

Verdict: A decent song and cameos from obscure Marvel characters… nah. One for the hard-core only.

17. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Midcredits: Janet Van Dyne, Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym are on a rooftop, helping Ant-Man/Scott Lang as he explores the Quantum Realm. The trio disintegrate, seemingly leaving Scott stranded.

Post-credits: As an emergency broadcast plays on the TV in Scott's house, his massive pet ant plays the drums.

Verdict: Pretty good. It's cool to see the wider MCU impact of Thanos' snap, but the ant/drum scene probably isn't worth sticking around for.


We get a Stan Lee cameo in the post-credits scene of the second Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel Studios

16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

This one goes a little nuts clearing up plot threads after the credits role.

Deep breath… Kraglin tries to master the late Yondu's telekinetic arrow, Ravager boss Stakar Ogord reunites with his ex-teammates, Sovereign leader Ayesha announces her plan to destroy the Guardians with new creation "Adam," Groot has grown into an obnoxious teenager and the Watchers abandon their informant (Stan Lee) on the moon.

Verdict: It's a lot, but it kinda suits this movie's tone. The most important aspect is "Adam," which hints at Adam Warlock, an android who plays a massive role in the comics ' Infinity Gauntlet storyline and may enter the MCU's cosmic side in the future.

15. Doctor Strange (2016)

Midcredits: Strange chats with Thor about the "family drama" we'd see in Thor: Ragnarok the following year, in a scene we'd see again in that movie (with a few minor differences). 

Post-credits: We revisit the disillusioned Karl Mordo. He visits Jonathan Pangborn, who used magic to regain the use of his legs, and steals his energy because there are "too many sorcerers" in the world.

Verdict: Pretty good. The midcredits scene is repeated in Thor: Ragnarok, but it hints at Strange's further adventures, and the post-credits one offers a strong potential sequel villain.

14. The Avengers (2012)

Midcredits: We got our first glimpse of Thanos (here played by Damion Poitier) as one of his minions reveals humanity isn't to be taken lightly after the Avengers defeated their attempt to invade Earth. Thanos' smile hints at a bigger plan.

Post-credits: The Avengers eating together silently in a shawarma restaurant.

Verdict: A mixed hint of things to come. The first scene offers a look at a plot thread that'd weave its way right up to 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, and the second showed us that some of these extra scenes were basically trolling audience members who stayed too long (even though it called back to a line from earlier in the movie).

Fun fact: Cap is covering his face with his hand in the shawarma scene because it was shot long after the rest of the movie and Chris Evans had grown a beard for Snowpiercer. Since Cap didn't have any facial fuzz in Avengers, Evans wore a "horrific" prosthetic piece to hide it.

Michael Keaton

Spider-Man: Homecoming gives us a little of more of Adrian Toomes/Vulture in its post-credits scene.

Columbia Pictures/Marvel Studios

13. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Midcredits: An imprisoned Adrian Toomes/Vulture runs into Mac Gargan, who's heard Toomes knows Spidey's identity. Since the wall-crawler saved Toomes' life, he keeps the secret to himself.

Post-credits: Cap appears in another educational video about the value of patience.

Verdict: Middling. The first one is definitely worth it, since it hints that Gargan holds a grudge and may set up Scorpion (a classic Spidey villain) for a future installment. The Cap one just sorta mocks us for sticking around though.

Thor (now)

Loki shows up in the Thor post-credits scene.

Marvel Studios

12. Thor (2011)

Post-credits: Dr. Erik Selvig meets Fury in the depths of the SHIELD facility, where he's shown a glowing cube that may be a source of "unlimited power." We also see that Selvig has been possessed by Loki, revealed to have survived his conflict with Thor and Odin.

This is our first look at the Tesseract, which plays a big role in Captain America: The First . Loki steals it in The Avengers and ultimately gives it to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War -- it actually contains the Space Stone, an Infinity Stone that basically lets you teleport and is an essential part of Thanos' plan.

Verdict: This scene isn't wildly exciting on the surface, but the Loki reveal and callback to the Cosmic Cube regularly seen in Marvel Comics are cool.

11. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Midcredits: Bucky opts to return to cryo-sleep until Wakanda's scientists can cure his brainwashing, while Cap warns T'Challa/Black Panther that it's a risk -- Bucky's still a wanted man.

Post-credits: We return to the Queens home of Spider-Man/Peter Parker as he fiddles with the web shooter Stark gave him, revealing the classic Spider-Signal (basically a projection of his logo). 

Verdict: Essential: We get our first glimpse of Wakanda, which looks awesome, and the scene sets up Bucky finally being fixed. The Peter scene isn't quite so important, but more Spidey is always good.

That's Bucky scene No. 2.


Bucky starts to come out of his brainwashed state in the post-credits scene for Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Marvel Studios

10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Midcredits: After the fall of the Hydra-infested SHIELD, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker examines the scepter Loki used to control minds in The Avengers -- it's actually powered by the Mind Stone -- yet another Infinity Stone.

He also delivers a monologue about the "age of miracles" as he looks at the rest of the subjects he's given superpowers to with the scepter -- Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.

Post-credits: A recovering-from-brainwashing Bucky visits a memorial to his heroic deeds during World War 2.

Verdict: Fascinating. It's a bit talky, but seeing the Maximoffs is pretty darn exciting. This scene took on new significance after WandaVision dived into Wanda's past.

It's awkward that von Strucker calls them "miracles" rather than "mutants" -- this was when Fox had the X-Men rights and the Marvel-owning Disney couldn't use those characters. That changed when Disney bought Fox in 2018, so we can expect to see mutants make their MCU debut soon-ish.  

The Bucky scene doesn't feel essential, but it's nice to confirm he's recovering his memories and it's the third time he's shown up in one of these.


Thanos wins in Avengers: Infinity War, but the post-credits scene offers some hope.

Marvel Studios

9. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Post-credits: Maria Hill and Fury witness a car crash caused by people disintegrating after Thanos' snap. Seeing Hill vanish, Fury manages to activate a mysterious pager before disappearing himself.

A gold star appears on the pager's screen, along with some red and blue.

Verdict: So good. This one shows the fates of a pair of beloved secondary characters and offers our first MCU hint of Captain Marvel.


We get a hint of what happened to Grandmaster (center) in the Thor: Ragnarok post-credits scene.

Marvel Studios

8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Midcredits: Thor and Loki discuss the plan to return to Earth and how "everything's gonna work out fine" just as the shadow of a massive ship eclipses their own.

Post-credits: Secondary villain Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) leaves his hidey-hole and finds himself surrounded by his former subjects, who revolted against him.

Verdict: Great. The former leads directly into Avengers: Infinity War (it's Thanos' ship) and the latter hints at a dark fate for the movie's lovable jerk.

7. Captain Marvel (2019)

Midcredits: Jumping from the '90s to post-Avengers: Infinity War, the heroes who've survived Thanos' snap try to figure out Fury's pager. Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel appears and asks, "Where's Fury?"

Post-credits: Back in the '90s, Goose, the Flerken-disguised-as-a-cat, coughs up the Tesseract on Fury's desk, hairball-style.

Verdict: Wonderful. The midcredits scene provides a vital link between Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, showing Carol's first meeting with the rest of the heroes.

The Goose scene isn't quite as strong -- we knew she had to spit out the Tesseract eventually. However, kudos for getting echoes of Fury into both scenes without actually having him show up. He's truly an international man of mystery.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi's extra scenes hint at this trio's future.


6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Midcredits: Captain Marvel and Bruce Banner talk to Wong, Shang-Chi and Katie about the origin of the powerful rings and realize they're sending a mysterious signal out into space. Bruce welcomes Shang-Chi and Katie "to the circus" of superhero life, and the pair bring Wong out for some Eagles-flavored karaoke.

Post-credits: Shang-Chi's sister Xialing takes over their late father's Ten Rings terrorist group, apparently merging it with her old fight club. Her brother thinks she's dismantling the group, suggesting that Xialing has some nefarious intent.

Verdict: Intriguing. The midcredits scene hints at the rings setting up a new MCU threat (perhaps linked to the aliens in upcoming movie Eternals) while introducing Shang-Chi and Katie to the Avengers. The second scene reveals how Xialing is taking charge, potentially setting her up as a future villain.


Iron Man 2 is one of the weaker MCU movies, but has a great post-credits moment.

Marvel Studios

5. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Post-credits: "Sir, we found it."

SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson drives out to a massive crater in the New Mexico desert, where we glimpse Thor's hammer Mjolnir.

Verdict: Exciting. This one is short and sweet, but seeing that hammer for the first time was wild and directly set up the next MCU movie (Thor).

4. Black Panther (2018)

Midcredits: T'Challa tells the United Nations he's ending Wakanda's isolationist policies and sharing its wildly advanced technological resources with the world.

Post-credits: Bucky, apparently recovered from his brainwashing, emerges from a hut in one of Wakanda's more traditional villages, and Shuri prepares to teach him about the country.

Verdict: Inspiring. The UN scene hints at Wakanda's wider MCU role and gives us an excellent T'Challa speech, while the Bucky one continues a plot thread from Captain America: Civil War without interrupting the main narrative. Also, we're up to Bucky appearance No. 4, which ties in nicely to Wakanda's role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.


Black Widow's post-credit scene reveals that Natasha and Yelena's sisterly bond will resonate in the future of the MCU.

Marvel Studios

3. Black Widow (2021)

Post-credits: The mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine finds Yelena Belova paying her respects at the grave of her sister, the late Natasha Romanoff. Val falsely blames Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, for Natasha's death, and assigns him as Yelena's next target.

Verdict: Excellent. This scene sets Yelena up as an antagonist in the Hawkeye TV show (which kicks off on Disney Plus this November) and offers further hints about Val's villainous plans after her appearances in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

2. Iron Man (2008)

Post-credits: This is the one you probably walked out on during your initial viewing, since Iron Man was the first MCU movie and we didn't know post-credits scenes were going to be a thing in every single one.

In the wake of publicly revealing that he's Iron Man, Tony arrives home to find his security system subverted and Fury waiting. The SHIELD director reveals that Stark isn't the only superhero in the world and that he wants to chat about the Avenger Initiative.

"Mr. Stark, you've become part of bigger universe. You just don't know it yet."

Verdict: The OG. This is pretty phenomenal because Fury essentially gives birth to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in that moment, putting us on a roller coaster that's lasted 13 years.

Bonus points for casting Jackson, who inspired Fury's look in Marvel's Ultimate line of comics in 2001.

1. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Midcredits: After defeating Mysterio in London, Spidey takes MJ on a triumphant swing around Manhattan. Their budding relationship is interrupted by a broadcast from Daily Bugle host J. Jonah Jameson, who plays a video framing Spidey for Mysterio's murder and reveals to the world that Peter is Spidey.

Post-credits: The Fury and Hill we've been following for this whole movie are revealed to be shapeshifting Skrulls Talos and Soren, while the real Fury was relaxing in a virtual reality chamber on a Skrull ship.

Verdict: Absolutely epic. The midcredits scene reintroduces a beloved character from Sam Raimi's '00s Spider-Man trilogy and completely changes Peter's life, setting us up beautifully for sequel No Way Home (which hits theaters this December).

The post-credits completely reframes Fury's role in Far From Home and hints at the upcoming Secret Invasion Disney Plus series

N/A. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Post-credits: The initial release just had the clanking sound of Tony constructing his armor in the first Iron Man.

About two months later, Marvel Studios rereleased the movie with a nice tribute to late Marvel legend Stan Lee and a deleted scene featuring the Hulk.

Verdict: The clanking is kinda cool, but hardly worth sticking around for. And the bits in the rerelease are nice, but don't offer any hints about the MCU's future.