'Thor: Ragnarok' Credits Scene: Let's Talk About What It Means...

After nine years and 17 movies, Marvel Studios has gotten pretty good about training audiences to stay in their seats as the credits roll. By slipping extra footage into the credits, they have effectively tricked millions of people into hanging around and showing a little bit of respect for the thousands of artists and technicians who made the production happen. That's probably the greatest trick Marvel has pulled off to date.

Of course, these mid-credits and post-credits scenes are often where the connective tissue between various Marvel movies is planted and Thor: Ragnarok is no different. The mid-credits scene in Taika Waititi's film is setting up something huge, but the film itself concludes with an ellipsis, something to be resolved in a later Marvel adventure.

So let's talk about what it means. Major spoilers lie ahead, naturally.

Thor, King of the Space Vikings

Thor: Ragnarok concludes on a bittersweet note: Thor realizes that in order to save the people of Asgard, the realm of Asgard must be destroyed. Cue the release of Surtur the demon, cue the fiery showdown with Hela (and her apparent defeat), cue the total obliteration of Thor's home as the survivors escape in a spaceship crewed by gladiators from Sakaar (this is a weird movie!). The film ends with Thor now the king of a nomadic people, flying toward Earth in search of a new home. He may have lost his hammer and his eye, but he gained the responsibility (and the great power that comes with it) that has been eluding him since the first movie. It's a terrific ending, the kind of sweeping change that cannot be simply undone and will have lasting consequences for these characters moving forward.

But this peace doesn't last. After the credits have rolled for a few minutes, we return to ship and find Thor and Loki having a conversation, their shaky partnership still holding up. But they are interrupted: a giant spaceship, so big that it dwarfs the vessel containing the entire citizenry of Asgard, looms over them...and the screen cuts to black. That's it. Who is on that ship and what they want is left unanswered for now. Is it Thanos, the Big Bad of the MCU who has been teased since the closing credits of 2012's The Avengers and will finally take center stage next year? The only thing that can be said with certainty is that Thor's life isn't about to get easier. It looks bad!

And that's where the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War comes in. Because footage from that film, which screened at D23 and Comic-Con earlier this year, seems to suggest what happens next. If you want to know as little as possible about Infinity War (or simply aren't interested in a little bit of educating guessing), this is your chance to click away.

Thor Ragnarok clip

The Infinity War Lead-In

The first footage for Avengers: Infinity War opens not with Earth's mightiest heroes, but with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, Groot, and Mantis are seen piloting their spaceship through a debris field, prepared for danger. But before they can figure out what happened, a figure slams into the windshield of their ship: Thor, looking worse for wear. They bring the battered God of Thunder on board the ship, where he looks at the motley crew around him and asks, "Who the hell are you guys?"

It's a crowd-pleasing moment (Thor and the Guardians in the same room!), but it also suggests that things aren't going to go well for the newly mobile Asgard. After all, here's Thor, unconscious in space. Surrounded by wreckage. Looking like he's just lost a fight. It's easy to put two and two together.

So let's go ahead and ask the question: does Avengers: Infinity War open with the final pieces of Asgard being obliterated by Thanos, who is surely in command of that giant ship? (In our spoiler interview with producer Kevin Feige, which will be published on Monday, he would neither confirm or deny if Thanos was in the ship.) That would be shocking, but it would also be a low blow to everyone who enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok. Remember everything our heroes fought so hard to save? Well, it's gone now!

Or we could be seeing the aftermath of a battle where Asgard escaped. That wreckage could be merely pieces of Thor's ship. Hell, it could be pieces of Thanos' ship or the remains of smaller fighters that Thanos deployed for a battle. Any of these sound like the better option than wiping out all of the surviving men, women, and children from Asgard so soon after they escaped oblivion.

In any case, it certainly looks like this Thor: Ragnarok credits scene exists to lead us directly into Infinity War and will result in Thor abandoned in space, where he meets the Guardians of the Galaxy. At least that's what a tiny little bit of pop culture detective work implies.

It should be noted that the Avengers: Infinity War footage also features Loki facing off against Thanos, arms spread...but is he welcoming him or preparing to fight him? There's also a shot of Thanos palming Thor's head like a football and squeezing until he screams. Things will not be looking up for the Odinson!

Thor Ragnarok - Chris Hemsworth as Thor

An Eye For an Eye...

One final note: in the Comic-Con trailer, Thor is seen with both eyes. This is clearly a move from Marvel to not spoil his disfigurement at the hands of Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, but it means that they either shot alternate takes with Chris Hemsworth for Infinity War knowing that these images would be teased in advance or some visual effects wizard was tasked with restoring Thor's right eye for those shots. The latter is more likely. There are numerous shots in the Thor: Ragnarok trailers that have been modified from the final film. In fact, one of the best images in the film (Thor taking full command of thunder and lightning, as seen above) was digitally tweaked for the previews – both of his peepers are intact in the trailer while one has been ripped out in the actual movie.