The art of cinema is a wondrous thing when one actually takes the time to think about it. Be it one of high expectations or less than satisfactory results, the common film possesses the ability to wholly engross its viewers and submerge them into the world behind the moving images. When the film fades into color, it is the start of a journey; thus, it is reliant on the credits to conclude that same journey, serving as the end of the line.
When those bold, stark, and white words roll upwards, it breaks the immersion between fiction and reality, jolting viewers away from a world that could have been and returning them into their theater seats. But as of recent years, really no older than the past decade or so, there’s been some kind of unnatural pull which compels people to stay in their seats a little longer. Some sort of force that directs them to endure the barrage of unpronounceable names belonging to editors nobody cares about. While one might have told you it was black magic a decade before, today we know it by its common name: the post-credit scene. Really no difference between the two.
The post-credit scene is, by definition, “a short clip that appears after all or some of the closing credits and sometimes after a production logo of a movie, TV series or video game have run.” When we think of the post-credit scene, images of Marvel or other big-budget franchise films come to mind and really, the post-credit scene has been used more as a plot-device than anything else.
Indeed, the post-credit scene these days serves as a new beginning rather than an end of the line, often becoming sequel hooks to future films. While it does do well in assuring their target audiences that more material is in store and planned, the usage of it has almost become shallow. There’s no suspense to the post-credit scene these days and it’s become a chore just waiting for it to roll up on the screen. Movie goers expect all films to have some scene awaiting them after the credits roll and become outraged when they’re treated with naught more than a black screen. Oh, and those disclaimers always saying no one was harmed in the film. Those are annoying too.
The post-credit scene can be amounted to a reward-based system. By putting more time into the film as well as the effort of bothering to stay around, movie goers expect to be rewarded as such with thirty to forty extra seconds of footage. And in hindsight, sometimes the post-credit scene isn’t even all that great and literally just serves as a gateway to other films. The biggest offender to this would have to be the influx of superhero movies.
To some extent, the original point of the post-credit scene has been entirely forgotten. The earliest known example is 1903’s The Great Train Robbery, in which-spoilers-the leader of an antagonistic outlaw band takes aim and fires at the screen and “into” the audience. This scene serves as a double shocker due to the same character having been killed in the film’s conclusion. In this way, it’s easy to see the downfall of post-credit scenes from their original intent and how they were meant to invoke shock from the viewer with a lasting and surprising twist at the end.
But these days, there’s no shock and awe; only an expectation that can be too high at times. It wouldn’t be inappropriate to say that post-credit scenes no longer mark the end of the line, but rather act as a transition or new start in film. While this puts the usage of it in a bigger, much broader scope, it ultimately underhands the original point of it. Until a new trend in film starts to arise, one should expect the phase of post-credit scenes to never go away. But on the bright side, at least now we can appreciate all the people who cameo in the credits. Like all the unpronounceable names who weren’t harmed in the making of the film…actually, no. Those are still annoying.