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Do the Marvel Cinematic Universe credits scenes matter anymore?
The stingers were once a vital part of the MCU. PLUS: The WGA strike continues, 'Oppenheimer' and 'Meg 2' get trailers, and Elizabeth Olsen had questions for the 'Multiverse of Madness' writers.
It’s already Tuesday! It’s only Tuesday? Either way, it’s time for another edition of Popculturology.
I spent a good chunk of my weekend doing peak 37-year-old dad stuff. Visited Home Depot twice. Bought eleven bags of mulch. Upgraded my toolbox and organized way too many screws.
We haven’t had a chance to watch a lot of new stuff the past few nights. We did catch up on Dave (which is in the middle of an excellent season with notes of Atlanta) and a few more episodes of Workin’ Moms (which is struggling). I still have a handful of episodes left to go in Star Wars: Visions’ second season.
We haven’t watched last week’s episode of Ted Lasso yet, but from what I’ve seen online, the latest episode has people questioning whether the show knows what it’s doing during what is allegedly its final season.
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Feature Presentation: Are the MCU credits scenes paying off?
Bonus Features: The writers’ strike continues
The News: Yellowstone canceled, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse tracking higher than the original
Trailer Watch: Oppenheimer, Meg 2: The Trench
Playlist: Succession, Barry
Odds and Ends: ‘Do you know what we’re doing in WandaVision? Have you seen it?’
Are the MCU credits scenes paying off?
Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, credits scenes have become a critical element of just about any franchise film. I’m surely not the only person who has frantically googled “credits scenes how many” as a movie wraps up, worried that my need to use the theater restroom might rob me of seeing the Avengers eat shawarma together.
Marvel Studios didn’t invent the credits scene. But they perfected them, conditioning a generation of moviegoers to expect a scene or two or five (looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) before it’s actually time to leave the theater or switch over to Netflix.
In the early days of the MCU, each credit scene was key to an upcoming film. Nick Fury appearing at the end of Iron Man launched the MCU. The reveal of Thanos at the end of The Avengers created the Infinity Saga. The introduction of Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff at the end of Captain America: The Winter Solider gave us one of the MCU’s central characters.
As the MCU has swelled — multiple movies per year, the addition of the Disney+ TV shows — these credit scenes have promised a world of stories that has yet to be realized.
While breaking down Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s credits scenes, Variety’s Adam B. Vary called the sheer number of credit scenes we’ve seen during the Multiverse Saga (everything after Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home) a “looming headache.”
“Over the past 21 months, Marvel has used its trademark post-credits scenes to tease as many as six — or more! — upcoming movies,” Vary writes.
This got me wondering how the credits scenes of the Multiverse Saga are actually faring. Are they paying off? By my count, there have been 23 credits scenes in the movies and TV shows that make up the saga so far. (Not counting The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special or Werewolf by Night.) Let’s go through them …
(These are all technically spoilers, but the quick discussion of the credits scenes for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are probably the only real spoilers here.)
The scene: Monica Rambeau meets with a Skrull.
Did it pay off? Yes. The first trailer for The Marvels reveals that Monica is working with Nick Fury.
The scene: Wanda Maximoff studying the Darkhold.
Did it pay off? Yes. This one leads right into Doctor Strange in Multiverse of Madness.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The scene: Sharon Carter gets pardoned, rejoins the CIA and immediately places a call to start selling secrets.
Did it pay off? Not yet. Sharon hasn’t appeared in anything else during the Multiverse Saga.
The scene: Yelena Belova is tasked by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine to kill Clint Barton.
Did it pay off? Yes. Yelena and Clint faced off in Hawkeye, with Yelena eventually realizing that Clint loved her sister. Julia Louis-Dreyfus also returned as Allegra in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The scene: Wong, Bruce Banner and Carol Danvers chat with Shang-Chi and Katy, telling them that the Ten Rings seem to be broadcasting a signal … to something.
Did it pay off? Not yet. If the Ten Rings were connected to Eternals powers, that film didn’t touch on it.
The scene: Xu Xialing, Shang-Chi’s sister, takes control of the Ten Rings. The group. Not the armbands.
Did it pay off? Not yet. Marvel Studios hasn’t announced a Shang-Chi sequel.
The scene: Harry Styles shows up as Starfox, an Eternal and brother of Thanos, with a sidekick voiced by Patton Oswalt.
Did it pay off? Not yet. Marvel has said virtually nothing about how the Eternals and these character will return in the MCU.
The scene: Kit Harington opens a case to reveal the Ebony Blade. Mahershala Ali makes a voice cameo as Blade.
Did it pay off? Not yet. Once again, no idea what’s going on with the Eternals in the future. Ali’s Blade is currently on pause during the writers’ strike.
The scene: The musical number “Save the City” from Rogers: The Musical.
Did it pay off? This one was just for fun.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
The scene: Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock at a bar. Despite Eddie and Venom being returned to their own universe, a part of the Symbiote gets left behind …
Did it pay off? Not yet. Plans for a fourth MCU Spider-Man movie haven’t been announced at this point, but this sets up the potential of a different Venom in the MCU.
The scene: The trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Did it pay off? Yes. It was a trailer for a movie that was released in theaters.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
The scene: Doctor Strange is confronted by Clea, played by Charlize Theron.
Did it pay off? Not yet. Adding Theron to the MCU is a major move, but there’s been no announcement about a third Doctor Strange movie.
The scene: Bruce Campbell’s pizza vendor announces that “it’s over!”
Did it pay off? Another one that was just for fun. Campbell is a favorite of director Sam Raimi.
The scene: Marc Spector’s third personality, Jake Lockley, is revealed.
Did it pay off? Not yet. Marvel’s been tightlipped when it comes to how Moon Knight and Oscar Isaac play into the future of the MCU.
The scene: Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers switch places, leading to a very confused Carol in Kamala’s bedroom.
Did it pay off? Yes. This scene is recreated in the first trailer for The Marvels, revealing that Carol, Kamala and Monica Rambeau’s powers are linked.
Thor: Love and Thunder
The scene: It’s Brent Goldstein as Hercules! His father, the not-dead Zeus, tasks him with taking revenge on Thor.
Did it pay off? Not yet. We haven’t heard a word about a fifth Thor film or Goldstein playing Hercules in any other film or TV show.
The scene: Jane Foster is welcomed into Valhalla by Idris Elba’s Heimdall.
Did it pay off? Not yet. Should it? Do we expect Jane to return from the dead? Wasn’t the point of her character the sacrifice of it all?
The scene: Wong frees Emil Blonsky from prison.
Did it pay off? Not yet. With a bunch of other Incredible Hulk actors returning for the seemingly untitled fourth Captain America movie, would Tim Roth reprise his role of Abomination in that one?
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The scene: Shuri visits Nakia in Haiti and learns that Nakia and T’Challa had a son — who is also named T’Challa.
Did it pay off? Not yet, but I don’t think it’s supposed to. Maybe twenty years from now if the MCU is still going, but this credits scene was meant to give closure to the in-universe death of T’Challa and the real-world death of Chadwick Boseman.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
The scene: An arena of Kang variants rally after the death of one of their own.
Did it pay off? Not yet. And it’s unclear where this one goes from here. The problem with the Kang variants is they’re all played by Jonathan Majors, and with his recent arrest, it’s unclear what Marvel Studios will do with the character. He’s the central villain of the Multiverse saga. Will they recast? Hope enough time passes to resume with Majors?
The scene: Loki and Mobius spot a Kang variant in the early 1900s.
Did it pay off? Not yet. The second season of Loki is expected this year, but once again, the Majors arrest could mean a delay and/or recasting.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
The scene: Rocket leads a new group of Guardians: Groot, Cosmo, Kraglin, Adam Warlock, Phyla and Blurp.
Did it pay off? Not yet. James Gunn is done with the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and Marvel Studios, so any future stories would need to be told by new writers and directors. This team doesn’t include Drax or Gamora, with both Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldaña saying they’re done playing the characters.
The scene: Peter Quill has breakfast with his grandfather, followed by a card declaring “The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return.”
Did it pay off? Not yet. This movie hasn’t even been in theaters for a week, but is Chris Pratt coming back? It’s weird that the card says “The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return” instead of “The Guardians of the Galaxy Will Return.” That’s a specific choice.
So do these credits scenes matter anymore?
I’m not going to say they don’t, but they definitely lack the same punch they did in the early days of the MCU. But here’s how I look at it: These credit scenes are about putting pieces on the table. Here’s Styles as Starfox. Here’s Theron as Clea. On the simplest level, each new credits scene, while maybe not paying off immediately, gives the writers and directors of every additional MCU project a few new toys they can play with.
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WGA strike continues
With the studios still unwilling to meet the terms of the writers, the WGA strike continues. Let’s take a look at how the work stoppage is affecting movies and TV shows.
Blade production shut down
Blade became the first MCU project to be paused due to the strike. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on Friday, reporting that “time simply ran out” before the newly hired Nic Pizzolatto could finish his script.
Stranger Things creators: ‘Writing does not stop when filming begins’
“We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work,” the brothers tweeted.
George R.R. Martin on the state of the Thrones shows
“The writer’s room on A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight has closed for the duration,” Martin wrote about the newest Thrones spinoff. “Ira Parker and his incredible staff of young talents are on the picket lines.”
The author clarified what was happening with House of the Dragon, appearing to have a different take on the process than the Duffer Brothers.
“Across the ocean, the second season of House of the Dragon started filming April 11 and will continue in London and Wales,” he wrote. “The scripts for the eight s2 episodes were all finished months ago, long before the strike began. Every episode has gone through four or five drafts and numerous rounds of revisions, to address HBO notes, my notes, budget concerns, etc. There will be no further revisions. The writers have done their jobs; the rest is in the hands of the directors, cast and crew … and of course the dragons.”
The Community movie delayed
Joel McHale confirmed to Collider that the long-awaited Community movie would be delayed. “I don’t say this lightly, but I stand with the WGA, and there’s no doubt that pay has gone down 23% since 2007, and that needs to change,” McHale said.
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Yellowstone heads to pasture
Yellowstone, the flagship show in Taylor Sheridan’s Paramount+ franchise, will end after its fifth season airs this November. After months of speculation over the future of the show, Paramount made the news of its ending — and the release of an upcoming sequel — official last week.
“Yellowstone has been the cornerstone on which we have launched an entire universe of global hits — from 1883 to Tulsa King, and I am confident our Yellowstone sequel will be another big hit, thanks to the brilliant creative mind of Taylor Sheridan and our incredible casts who bring these shows to life,” Showtime President and COE Chris McCarthy said in a statement (via Variety).
One of the driving forces behind the end of Yellowstone seems to be Kevin Costner’s scheduling issues. The new series will possibly feature Matthew McConaughey as the lead with several Yellowstone characters in the mix.
Variety also notes that creating a new series without Costner (instead of just bringing McConaughey or whoever in to replace him on Yellowstone) not only releases Paramount and Sheridan from any entanglements with Costner but “also allows them to stream a new series featuring most of the original Yellowstone cast, as Yellowstone itself currently streams on Peacock.”
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse tracking for a bigger swing
Despite being one of the best superhero movies and best animated movies ever, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse grossed just $190 million over its domestic release. Seriously, some of you failed that movie.
Hopefully this is going to change with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Box Office Pro reported last week that the upcoming sequel is tracking for an opening weekend of $85 million to $105 million. This would blow away the $35.4 million that Into the Spider-Verse opened with in 2018.
I bought my ticket for Across the Spider-Verse on Monday. It’s for an 8:30 p.m. show, which isn’t as late as when I saw Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania …
Whoops. Yahoo bought Tumblr instead of Netflix or Hulu
Wild that Yahoo was once one of the online giants. It’s hard to pinpoint every misstep the company made during the 2010s, but buying Tumblr for a whopping $1.1 billion was definitely one of the major mistakes. Former CEO Marissa Mayer recently revealed to Tech Brew that Yahoo almost made a very different purchase during her time at the helm.
“We looked at a transformative acquisition, and we bought Tumblr. At the same time, we were also considering whether it was possible to buy Hulu or, ironically, Netflix,” Mayer told Tech Brew. “And I think Netflix was $4 billion and Hulu was at $1.3 billion at the time. And either of those, with hindsight being 20/20, would have been a better acquisition.”
“A better acquisition” is an understatement.
Brian Cox will compete as a lead actor at the Emmys. Jeremy Strong and Kieran Culkin already plan to make the jump from the supporting category. With Variety reporting that Cox will do the same, can all three Succession actors earn Best Actor noms?
The Bear serves up second season on June 22. Hulu announced the premiere date on Monday.
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The newest trailer for Oppenheimer ran before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 this past weekend. I assumed I had missed it online somehow, but, nope, this was traditional Christopher Nolan “we put trailers in cinemas first” business.
This one looks good, right?
Oppenheimer opens on July 21.
Meg 2: The Trench
Stop. They added dinosaurs and other sea monsters to the sequel to the Jason Statham giant shark movie? If I lived in a world where the first movie happened, you’d never see me in the ocean again.
Meg 2: The Trench opens on Aug. 4.
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Episode: “Tailgate Party”
There aren’t enough Emmys to cover the performances this cast is doing during the final season of Succession. Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfadyen dominated “Tailgate Party,” an episode that saw the Roy kids gathered on Election Eve with the most powerful and wealthy people in America — and Tom.
We’ve been building all season toward the explosive confrontation between Shiv and Tom. While Tom has been trying to stay afloat at ATN, Shiv has spent the time since her father’s death scheming with Lukas and feeding him every morsel of news regarding her brothers. In typical Shiv fashion, it looks like things aren’t going to work out according to her plans.
I still have no idea how Succession will end. What’s the goal? These people can’t end as heroes, right? Or is that the message — that people with this level of wealth will always triumph? (I mean, the characters are treating the in-show presidential election like it’s a game.) And despite the reminder that “you’re not Logan” from Nate, Kendall is ready to push out his sibling and make a play to be the sole Roy running the family company. “One head, one crown,” right?
“I was raising our daughter while you were running a racist news organization.” — Rava to Kendall
Episode: “tricky legacies”
This week’s Barry picked up eight years into the future. No Hank. No Fuches. Just Barry and Sally living as Clark and Emily in the middle of nowhere with their son, Jon.
It’s a depressing life. They don’t have video games or a TV. Sally drinks to cope with her life as a waitress. Barry shows his son videos of kids dying while playing baseball to scare him into isolation.
By the end of the episode, though, Barry came to the realization that he was going to have to step back into his old life in order to protect this new life. “I’m going to have to kill Cousineau,” he declared after Sally discovered that Gene Cousineau was consulting on a Warner Bros. film about Barry.
One of the most interesting elements of this episode, and maybe it was just a fun Easter egg, was the names selected as Barry’s pseudonym and for his son: Clark and Jon. Hiding his persona as the superhero version of a hitman by calling himself Clark, putting on a pair of classes, living on a farm and having a son named Jon? Barry is an evil version of Superman. (Clark Kent being Superman’s alter ego and Jon Kent being his son.)
Does Barry end with his son adopting his hitman mantle, just as Jon Kent doing in the recent comics?
“There’s happy cry, and then there’s sad cry, and then there’s, well, there’s Mom cry, and that can be very loud and scary.” — Barry to his son
James Gunn’s Last Hurrah (Miles Surrey, The Ringer)
How Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 uses disturbing animal cruelty to make a larger point (Brian Truitt, USA Today)
Can James Gunn Rescue the Superhero Movie? (Sam Adams, Slate)
How Jay Leno Became the Villain of the Last WGA Strike (JM McNab, Cracked)
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‘Do you know what we’re doing in WandaVision? Have you seen it?’
You wouldn’t be alone if you saw Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and thought, huh, didn’t Wanda already go through this storyline in WandaVision?
Olsen touched on this subject during a video with Vanity Fair, reiterating the truth that because WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness were going through production at the same time, the Multiverse of Madness writers hadn’t seen WandaVision.
“It’s a similar arc in Multiverse of Madness that is in WandaVision. There could be parallel stories being told there of grief and loss,” Olsen told Vanity Fair. “Well, I proposed that to the writers who wrote Multiverse of Madness. I said, ‘Do you know what we’re doing in WandaVision? Have you seen it?’ And, no, they had not seen it because it wasn’t finished yet. I had to try and, I dunno, play it differently.”
Not sure how the MCU fixes this kind of thing. When you have so many projects in the works at once — and they’re across movies and television — things aren’t always going to sync up.
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