Thanks to Marvel, post-credit sequences are not just a nice surprise, but now they’re a cinematic prerequisite. They have evolved from extra perks to a completed story, to world-building links that piece seemingly disparate movies together. Even when they take a completely different approach, like Guardians of the Galaxy does, it’s in the interest of showing Marvel’s reach, rather than nodding to the magic of the film in question.
Being the glue to future films is always a risky proposition. Movies like Masters of the Universe and Young Sherlock Holmes used these sequences to tease a future that would never come. And some, like Dogma, portray promises not delivered, like Alanis Morissette’s God in that movie literally closing the book on the View Askewniverse.
Will we get to a future where superheroes fall and a post-credits sequence nods to a Marvel future never realized? I don’t know. But one thing is sure: There is a great world and history of post-credits sequences outside of Marvel’s spandex and space travel – one generally dominated by comedy. We covered some a few years ago, but here are some more excellent post-credits sequences to delight in.
Not all comic book movie end-credits deal with superheroes. After the credits roll in Ghost World, the boys return, with Seymour, Josh and Doug brawling in the convenience store. It’s a perfectly ludicrous outtake that offers laughs while playing to the tone of the film as a whole. It snarks on the usual macho movie world of man-fighting and profanities as Seymour rages, punching and kicking Doug and Josh before laying down some f-bombs that remind us of Steve Buscemi’s early days as Mr. Pink.
If teen movies are guilty of one thing, it’s taking themselves too seriously. Everything must be epic as the hormones rage, and few films really acknowledge this. But Empire Records does in their post-ending scene that plays during the credits. When all is said and done, Mark and Eddie sit and debate the merits of Henry Rollins, The Pixies and Primus. They are so focused on their ultimately pointless and inconsequential discussion that they don’t notice a car squealing by and crashing. They just keep talking as the scene fades and the credits continue to roll. The emotions may have been wildly overwrought throughout the film, but Allan Moyle and crew want you to take it with a grain of salt.
Post-credit sequences aren’t a new invention. In fact, one of the best happened 34 years ago in the absurdist spoof Airplane! If you’ll remember, Ted Striker was a cabbie, and he just left his car on the curb, turning the meter on before running into the airport for “a minute.” After the credits wrap, the film returns to the cab, where the businessman is in the backseat still waiting. He looks at his watch and swears that he’ll wait another 20 minutes, “but that’s it!” It nicely nods to a random loose end, and it makes our impatience for sitting through credits seem a little wimpy by comparison.
Post-credit sequences are usually the realm of the mainstream, but they can be well-utilized in indie film. In this summer’s Happy Christmas, Anna Kendrick plays an angst-ridden drunk who convinces her sister-in-law (Melanie Lynskey) that penning a steamy romance novel is a good idea. The pair, along with Lena Dunham, collaborate on the book through the film, but writer/director Joe Swanberg decides to bookend with more brainstorming. It’s just audio, but it’s some of the funniest discussions the trio have about their novel, which leaves the film on a great note.
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka
Eighties parodies might just be the kings of the post-credits sting. After Airplane! made its mark, Keenen Ivory Wayans’s I’m Gonna Git You Sucka followed suit. Long after Wayans’s Jack and his army take down Mr. Big, and the credits roll, an injured Kung Fu Joe finally gets to the battle, crawling on his hands and knees. He’s had a bad day, getting the crap kicked out of him, getting fooled by one of those jerky answering machine messages, and now, with a heap of false, macho bravado, he arrives ready to fight. When a security guard tells him that he’s too late, however, he finally cracks and gets real – by asking for a Band-Aid.
One of cinema’s biggest scene-stealing moments came in the form of Bill Murray’s faux zombie in Zombieland. His all-too-brief moments are easily the most memorable of the film, not merely because of his presence, but because he has fun with the fervently loving nostalgia his career has built. In the film, he plays Ghostbusters with Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone (feeding into the ever-rampant desire for a sequel), and after the credits roll, he gives fans one more taste of his comedic legacy, nodding back to one more of his comedy classics, Caddyshack.
Wayne and Garth can’t fit inside the neat confines of one ending. When the first film wraps, they give a nod to Clue and offer not one, but three endings. There is a sad ending, a happy one and a Scooby-Doo ending just to keep things entirely random. But even that isn’t enough. Once all that storytelling is over and the credits begin to roll, Wayne and Garth sit on their couch and face their audience once again. The lingering scene exemplifies their reluctance to leave and let their movie end, but it also pokes fun at the very idea of post-credits sequences. The end has happened, and the story is wrapped. Anything more might be fun, but it’s also a dangling remnant after a finished story.