The 10 Best Marvel Movie Credits, Ranked

I'm done with the post-credits scenes in Marvel movies. 

At the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they served their purpose as a promise to the fans that, one day, all the pieces being assembled would add up to something huge. Years later, that assembly keeps growing bigger and bigger, and each new piece seems less consequential and more like wheel-spinning. Marvel is the top dog now, and it no longer needs to convince anybody that it holds the present and future of the film industry in the palm of its hand. Credit scenes just aren't as exciting as they used to be.

Rather than post-credits scenes, I'd much rather talk about the credits themselves. For the past few years, the credit sequences (typically following the film's ending and playing out before that post-credits teaser scene) have been the most creative and visually dynamic parts of Marvel movies. Studios like Perception, Prologue and Sarofsky have raised the bar with each entry to the point that the best Marvel credits sequences are often entertaining mini-movies in their own right.

So let's talk about the most important aspect of Marvel movies that fans habitually ignore: the very best end title sequences in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

10. Ant-Man and the Wasp

These days, end titles have a format. A large thematic object appears on screen. The name of a cast or crew-member is projected upon the object. Rinse and repeat. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, these objects have included water globules, marble statues, and even shadow puppets. But the use of miniatures in the end titles of "Ant-Man and the Wasp" has them all beat. It's a nod to sci-fi B-movies of the past, as well as a very funny acknowledgement that this is a movie about people becoming tiny. "Ant-Man and the Wasp" is a notably low-key Marvel film, meant to be a breather between the bombast of "Avengers: Infinity War" and the non-stop fanservice extravaganza of "Avengers: Endgame." Choices like the end title sequence demonstrate how this can sometimes be a creative boon rather than a limitation.

9. Captain Marvel

The end titles of "Captain Marvel" use a simple set of motifs. Lines, circles, golden stars. The results may not be especially original, but they're very cohesive. The linear rocket trail becomes parting hangar doors; galaxies reveal themselves to be the eyes of Carol Danvers' alien cat Goose. It's an end titles sequence that has very strong anime opening energy (which means bonus points from me). The rock song that accompanies it is also in keeping with the film's use of period songs, and, for me, preferable to the generic music that often populates Marvel scores. The end titles of "Thor Ragnarok" are comparable, with their emphasis on directional movement; I like this one slightly better, though.

8. Iron Man

In the beginning, there was no Avengers initiative. There was only Black Sabbath. The end of "Iron Man" was a one-two punch of Tony Stark admitting his superhero identity to the world, followed by an explosion of colors and wireframe sprockets set to the riffs of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." It admittedly lacks the finesse of later end titles, missing the small visual gags that accompany the names of cast and crew in later films. It doesn't even use the entirety of the song! But it also lacks the pretension and prestige that dogs the credits of the "Avengers" movies, films that treat their props and heroic iconography as sacred relics. The end titles of "Iron Man" are solely concerned with showing the audience a good time, and there they succeed admirably.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

No other director who has worked for Marvel has been allowed to go as far out on a limb as James Gunn. You know this because they let him put title credits at the start of his movie instead of at the end. Little Groot dancing at the end of the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" was a surefire hit, so of course the sequel asks the question, "what if Little Groot danced all the way through the opening credits?" He does, and it's adorable. But the real highlight of this sequence isn't just Groot, but the way we see each member of the team in context. Gamora busy at work, Rocket ensuring Groot remains safe and healthy, Peter having the stuffing beat out of him by an alien tentacle monster. Plus, there's Drax keeping a very close and careful eye on Groot, a hilarious call-back to the first movie. At their best, Marvel films are very good at knowing exactly what their audiences want to see before they know themselves.

6. Avengers: Endgame

The end titles for "Avengers: Endgame" are a procession of photographs meant to be a capstone for every creative decision that had brought the Marvel Cinematic Universe to that point. But they have one fantastic gimmick; the screen-sized signatures of the lead actors, accompanied by the soaring Avengers theme. It is the most transparent gesture at extorting a standing ovation from the audience in a film full of these gestures. But it's also an acknowledgement that the success of Marvel was built not just on the comics backlog, but on the hard work and charisma of these actors. "Avengers: Endgame" understands that if audiences didn't believe Evans could lift that hammer, they would have nothing. Perhaps, one day, we could hope that Hollywood pays the same respect to the special effects industry?

5. Spider-Man: Far From Home

The recent Spider-Man end titles are some of the highlights of the Marvel catalog: creative mixed-media sequences that push the boundaries with every movie. The end titles for "Far From Home" are a little sadder than those for "Homecoming" (see below), and lack some of the chutzpah that made the latter so endearing. But they're arguably even more thematically cohesive, built around papers, photos and passports. It's the end titles equivalent of a high school yearbook signature page, nostalgic in the moment but suggestive of a greater change ahead. It also puts giant peppermint hearts around Ned, which is rad.

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This is the first Marvel end title sequence that I remember truly wowing me. Throughout "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," I was thinking "It would be great if this film had a spy thriller title sequence spelling out its themes of government corruption, shades of grey, and personal loyalty." Lo and behold, that is precisely what the audience is given at the end of the film. The motifs of Hydra tentacles, interlocking gears, and black, white and red palette are simple but effective. Each actor is represented on screen in a way that perfectly captures the motivation and iconography of the character they play. I still get chills seeing moments like the unfolding network of Hydra computers, or Samuel Jackson staring daggers at Robert Redford. Plus, in a rarity for Marvel, the accompanying instrumental music track is pretty good!

3. Black Panther

Did Marvel know what they had with "Black Panther?" The cast and crew must have known that they had an era-defining hit on their hands, one of just a few films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe able to stand on its own two feet as a standalone movie. As you'd expect, the end title sequence is incredible. The use of vibrating black sand is an inspired choice. The shot of Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger pointing his finger directly at Black Panther, with the same energy as Sasuke facing off against Naruto under a pounding waterfall? Beautiful. Kendrick Lamar and SZA collaborate for the end credits because if you're doing a theme song for the King of Wakanda, you need the best of the best. No other sequence on this list feels as much like an event.

2. Spider-Man: Homecoming

The end titles of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" have it all. The Ramones, marker effects, pencil animation, paper cut-outs. If the film was meant to be a youthful shot in the arm compared to the Avengers of the world, the title sequence doesn't merely surpass but instead embarrasses its competition. The use of character iconography also finds a nice balance between the literal (the centralization of Tony Stark as Peter's mentor and foster dad) and the metaphorical (a big crane claw to symbolize the Vulture.) As the wildest and most experimental sequence yet released by frequent Marvel collaborator Perception, I'd love to see more from them in this vein. Side note: am I biased in favor of this sequence because it reminds me of the excellent opening titles of "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World"? I'm not made of stone!

1. Iron Man 3

"Iron Man 3" was subject to behind-the-scenes tampering by Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter that likely damaged the film as a whole. Considering what we now know about Perlmutter and his past behavior, I would not be surprised if this was the case. On the other hand, the end titles for "Iron Man 3" are so confident, so assured, that when I see them I have to assume that the cast and crew (led by infamous Hollywood director and scriptwriter Shane Black) otherwise knew exactly what they were doing from beginning to end. The music rocks. Every actor looks like they're having the time of their lives. Each freeze-frame is inspired, and the tempo with which the sequence cuts from scene to scene never lags. Ben Kingsley's credit is a hilarious pay-off to a movie-long joke at the audience's expense. Then the title appears: IRON MAN THREE. Respect to the king.