Viewfinder: When the end isn’t the end
The writer talks about the Marvel Cinematic Universe-generated love for the post-credits sequences, and how our films can take a page or two out of that book
Every time a Marvel film gets released (Captain Marvel, this week), you can rest assured that the internet will be flooded with analysis pieces of the post-credits scene(s), often more than about the actual film itself. As Captain Marvel ended and the credits began rolling, I looked around the theatre to notice not one person stirring. It’s almost adorable how everyone’s taken these post-credits scenes for granted. The titles rolled on and on, and the people chatted among themselves, largely, I suspect, about the names on the screen. I don’t know about you, but I get quite excited about relatable names in credits. Discussing those names and getting exposed to the long list of departments that have come together for a feature film is a big part of my enjoyment of cinema.
Captain Marvel has two scenes after the film ends, one satisfying mid-credits scene, and one underwhelming end-credits scene. But I like how the studio has got people glued to their seat till the screen turns black. Despite the many decades-long existence of post-credits scenes — or stingers as they are also called — Marvel’s use of them has been instrumental in creating a culture of cinema-goers who have, during this age of urgency, learned the zen-like patience of sitting through credits.
Some reading up suggests that a comedy, The Muppet (1979), was among the earliest films to use this. The 80s was rife with mainly comedies that had a post-credits scene, films that often broke the fourth wall using this device. Mostly though, it has been used for comic effect, like the second post-credits scene of Captain Marvel. Or like the one in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (any reason to throw in a Harry Potter reference) that shows Gilderoy Lockhart struggling with his memory loss. Interestingly, even die-hard fans of the franchise didn’t know the existence of this scene, till it got popularised on YouTube. Now though, thanks to the Marvel films, everything has changed. People sometimes linger at the end of films like Batman V Superman and Wonder Woman (which don’t have a post-credits scene), leaving theatre attenders rolling their eyes.
This may well be an interesting idea for our own films. If for nothing else, it could ensure that by switching the bulk of the credits to the end, we could have everyone who’s participated in the making of the film, get their due, unhindered by the urgency to start the film. Some of our films have a during-the-credits scene (like U-Turn). Many of our films though seem to have taken to using bloopers, and I don’t care for them at all, given how it mostly comes at the end of a film that already feels like bloopers stitched together. If anything, watching the cast and crew have so much fun making a mediocre film only makes the after-taste worse. However, a post-credits scene at the end of interesting films may be a worthy addition. Anniyan’s final scene (the one that has him punishing a corrupt man in a train), for instance, would have been perfect after the credits. Something more recent? Perhaps Petta could have had a small romantic moment between Kaali and Mangalam (Simran) that sends us out with more warmth. If nothing else, it would have at least served to bring back her character back from writer-imposed exile.