Over recent years Marvel Studios has turned the occasional surprise after-the-credits scene into something movie fans wait for expectantly – and then study, analyze and rank according to its standing within the Marvel Universe. Even so, in 2014 the internet was ablaze with blog posts dissecting the outrageous post-credits stinger brought to us by Marvel mega-hit Guardians of the Galaxy. The reason for such intense discussion? A brief, bizarre appearance by one Howard the Duck.
But has the studio taken things too far and ruined the surprise? Here we look at ten films – including two iconic Marvel offerings – that did credit cookies the right way, blowing audiences’ minds with after-the-fact plot twists you probably didn’t even know existed – until now.
10. Masters of the Universe (1987)
Over the top and hilariously cheesy, Gary Goddard’s ill-fated 1987 He-Man adventure, Masters of the Universe, has gone on to become a cult hit among die-hard movie fans. And while it would never replicate the success of, say, Star Wars, Masters of the Universe more than compensated for its box-office failure with sheer exuberance. For this, thanks must go at least in part to some preposterously hammy dialogue, Dolph Lundgren’s committed efforts as the muscle-bound hero, and the brilliant overacting of Frank Langella – who plays He-Man’s nemesis Skeletor like a kid with low blood sugar in a candy shop.
Just when you think all that ludicrousness has come to an end, though, after the credits a supposedly dead Skeletor literally pops up, facing the camera, and delivers the unforgettable line, “I’ll be back.” Now where have we heard that one before?
9. Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
Like Masters of the Universe, Jeff Wadlow’s hyper-violent 2013 comic book sequel, Kick-Ass 2, uses a short post-credits scene to reveal that the lead villain is still alive and ready for another film. And just as with the He-Man romp, a follow-up looks pretty unlikely, owing to Kick-Ass 2’s poor box office takings.
Nevertheless, at the climax of Kick-Ass 2, vengeance-fueled villain Chris D’Amico, a.k.a. The Motherf**ker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), drops into a shark-infested tank and is subsequently attacked, the tank filling with his blood. Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) understandably assumes that his opponent is dead. However, after the credits The Motherf**ker is seen in a hospital bed reaching for a straw, minus both legs and another, somewhat more personal appendage.
8. Curse of Chucky (2013)
Voiced by Brad Dourif, evil doll Chucky has seemingly been killed more times than South Park’s Kenny McCormick. But if you stayed right till the very end of 2013 sequel Curse of Chucky, you might have thought that really was it for moviedom’s cutest serial killer.
As the film’s dust is settling and blood coagulating, throat-slitting Tiffany (still possessing the body of actress Jennifer Tilly) shows up and puts Chucky in the mail so that he can cause yet more murderous mayhem. The stinger, though, sees Chucky arrive at the door of now fully-grown early series protagonist Andy Barclay (played once again by former child star Alex Vincent). What’s more, Andy has been expecting Chucky and greets him with a catchphrase and a shotgun blast to the face.
Still, series creator Don Mancini has, unsurprisingly, already declared that there are plans for a seventh installment. After all, even a gunshot at point-blank range can’t keep a bad doll down.
Image: YouTube/Credit Cookies !
7. 30 Minutes or Less (2011)
If you’re a fan of Danny McBride’s larger-than-life Eastbound & Down alter ego, Kenny Powers, then 2011 comedy 30 Minutes or Less has the perfect post-credits twist – complete with lightning-shooting nipples and pleasure oils.
Here, McBride plays underachiever Dwayne King, who with his friends Travis (Nick Swardson) and Juicy (Bianca Kajlich) hatches a plan to finance the hit of his rich, overbearing dad the Major (Fred Ward). Predictably, though, things don’t go as planned, and Dwayne ends up dying violently when his van explodes – or so it seems.
After the credits, Dwayne – who’s obviously survived the blast – appears in an ad for Major Tan: Tanning Salon, the family tanning business-cum-brothel he now runs with Travis, Juicy and the Major.
Image: YouTube/San Ax
6. Battleship (2012)
Peter Berg’s campy 2012 sci-fi romp, Battleship, features a typically more-is-more post-credits stinger and sequel setup. Unfortunately, the film was such a massive flop that a follow-up seeing the light of day is about as likely as Skeletor delivering on that “I’ll be back” promise.
This outrageous roller coaster of a movie climaxes with its extraterrestrial invasion being averted in a predictably over-the-top final battle sequence showcasing more explosions than a Mötley Crüe concert – and Battleship soon starts to feel like a $220 million Navy recruitment ad.
After the credits, though, the film picks up in Scotland. Three school kids come across a crashed extraterrestrial pod and attempt to prize it open – cue the bagpipes. In the end, a passing handyman named Jimmy blowtorches his way in, revealing a creepy alien hand that sends them all running for the hills. Perhaps the U.S. Navy isn’t what it’s cracked up to be after all.
5. Slither (2006)
Directed by James Gunn, gruesome 2006 B movie throwback Slither is a black comedy loaded with classic horror flick references. An alien parasite that’s hitched a ride on a meteorite that crashes on Earth proceeds to invade a small town after infecting auto salesman Grant Grant (Michael Rooker). Then in an epic climax – which, like the opening meteorite incident, is reminiscent of Irvin Yeaworth Jr.’s 1958 horror, The Blob – the slug-like, tentacled monster meets its gut-bursting end thanks to the smart use of a propane tank and a gun. Or does it?
The film’s exasperating you-think-it’s-dead-but-it-isn’t-really approach to post-credits plot revelation sees a curious cat licking one of the exploded extraterrestrial’s still-moving appendages – only to become its latest victim. Controversially, the scene and other aspects of Slither have been criticized for being too similar to Fred Dekker’s 1986 comic horror outing, Night of the Creeps.
4. Iron Man (2008)
Everybody sees who the key grip is on a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie, because the franchise has become famous for its overuse of teaser-happy post-credits scenes. And the film that started that trend for the MCU was Jon Favreau’s 2008 superhero blockbuster, Iron Man.
After the credits have rolled on the title character (Robert Downey Jr.) defeating Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Iron Man’s alter ego, Tony Stark, returns home – presumably from a hard day’s work kicking ass – only to unexpectedly be greeted by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Luckily for Stark, Fury’s news is good – and it also changes the face of the entire MCU. When Fury dropped the line, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative,” comic book geeks around the world wet their pants in anticipation.
3. Cloverfield (2008)
Cloverfield, J.J. Abrams’ 2008 ode to classic movie monsters, is perhaps as widely remembered for its clever marketing as it is for its shaky handheld camera-style vibe. Fans loved the film’s multilayered pre-release viral campaign, and further buzz was prompted by the movie’s numerous in-joke Easter egg references to everything from TV show Lost – which Abrams also co-created – to 1933 classic King Kong. The film’s post-credits distorted audio snippet, too, was prime fodder for movie geeks everywhere, who eagerly uploaded their discovery.
In essence, Cloverfield’s credit cookie delivers the same simple if-you-think-it’s-all-over-think-again message as Slither, only it does so in a more sophisticated way. At first, the creepy post-credits recorded message sounds as if someone is saying, “Help us.” However, played in reverse the recording’s content is revealed as the words, “It’s still alive.”
2. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
In 2006 Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand became the first X-Men movie to feature a post-credits scene – a tradition subsequently upheld by 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2011’s X-Men: First Class and 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Before the superhero film’s big final showdown, Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey vaporizes franchise mainstay Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Still, this isn’t quite the end for the venerable telepath. After the credits, recurring Marvel Comics character Dr. Moira MacTaggert (Olivia Williams) is seen tending to a comatose patient, who turns to her and says, “Hello, Moira.” Following a few moments of shocked silence, she replies, “Charles…”
1. 28 Days Later (2002)
Originally, director Danny Boyle and writer Andrew Garland wanted heart-thumping 2002 zombie flick 28 Days Later to finish on a downer. Despite this, after their dark preferred ending didn’t sit well with test audiences – who found it “too bleak” – it was replaced by a more typically Hollywood, happier alternative.
That said, following the reveal of the so-called “true ending” on the film’s U.K. DVD release, some U.S. theater audiences were treated to this game-changing scene after the movie’s credits. In this version, Cillian Murphy’s Jim is still taken to a deserted hospital by fellow survivors Selena (Naomie Harris) and Hannah (Megan Burns). However, the women are unable to resuscitate him and he dies. Segments featuring Jim dreaming about the bicycle crash that put him in hospital at the beginning of the film can also be seen on DVD in an extended take on the true ending.