What's the Point of Post-Credits Scenes Anymore?
Last Saturday I went and saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier for my birthday. Good film. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'm not here to give you a review because that position at the Houston Press is held in the iron grip of Dutch supervillainy. Instead, let's talk about what has become a kind of pointless institution; the post credit scene.
As a feature in film post-credit scenes are a fairly new phenomenon. Just a couple of years older than myself, actually. The first real example of one as we know it happens at the end of The Muppet Movie in 1979, and for much of the '80s they were more or less the domain of the comedic world. It was all fourth wall breaks like Ferris Bueller, blooper reels, or sometimes just jokes that didn't really fit in the framework of the movie proper.
Now the trend is to use them as a kind of mini-trailer for upcoming entries in the in-film universe. The first one of real significance I remember is 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, when it's revealed that Professor X managed to survive his disintegration at the hands of the Dark Phoenix. Since they're touting Days of Future's Past as a direct sequel to both First Class and Last Stand, I hope we actually do see the payoff for that next month when it's released.
Still, just as the post-credit has come fully mainstream with comic book movies, it's starting to feel decidedly pointless in many ways.
From a purely practical standpoint, I'm sure it's become a pain in the ass for the folks that work at the movie theaters. Having done that job myself for more than five years, I can tell you that the opportunity to clean up when most of the audience gets up to leave when the reading starts can be a blessing in a big seller on a bust weekend night.
There's also a sort of hipsterish snobbery I feel these days. I'm a credit watcher from a long line of credit watchers, and for me the lull after the ending is a time to sit, reflect on, and discuss the film. Yes, me and the movie geeks I used to run with were always on the look out for a hidden piece of movie that might roll after the credits, but more than that we were using this space to appreciate the film and celebrate the people who made it.
Post-credit scenes were a bonus, but now they're treated as a part of the movie that no one bothered to place correctly in the narrative.
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