I recently saw the film Black Panther. I am not a fan of action films in general and superhero films in particular because the long fight and chase scenes bore me and I wait impatiently for them to end so that the story can move along. In my experience, nothing is lost by fast-forwarding to the end of these scenes. The resulting films would be at least a half-hour shorter and immeasurably better. But I know that I am not the target audience for these films.
Anyway, the point of this post is not to review the film, which was fine for its genre, but about its end. I am one of those people who sit through to the end of the credits, sometimes being the last person leaving the theater, while the people who came with me wait patiently. I do this even when watching at home, mainly because I like to know the names of the cast members and I like looking at the list of music used in the soundtrack.
But after the credits of this film ended, there was an additional scene that took me by surprise. Such after-credits scenes are not unprecedented, as this article discusses.
The most important early post-credits scene arguably came in 1979 with “The Muppet Movie.” The credits roll over footage of the Muppets hanging out and happily partying. When they finish, Animal, left in center frame, opens his eyes and yells: “Go home! Go home!”
A trend was born.
Post-credits scenes became particularly popular in comedies during the 1980s. The one in “Airplane!” finds a man who was left sitting in a cab at the beginning of the film still waiting for his driver to return. “I will give him another 20 minutes, but that’s it!” he exclaims, as the meter shows he owes more than $100.
In the films where I had seen these scenes, they usually involved some throwaway lines or gag that did not really matter. But in Black Panther it was kind of an important scene that added to the story and I felt should have been part of the main film so that everyone saw it. The article says that post-credit scenes are now commonplace especially in superhero films that are really franchises and where they point to the inevitable sequels, so maybe people who watch these films know to wait until the end, while I had not really noticed them until the Black Panther film.
Why do filmmakers have such scenes? Does it serve any purpose other than as a way to make people watch the credits in the hope of seeing an after-credit scene?