Since the first ever real post-credits scene in the 1979 ‘The Muppet Movie’, post-credits scenes or ‘stinger’s have been used in a host of ways; to show comic scenes that didn’t fit in the movie, to set the scene for a sequel, even to encourage some movie theatre goers to stay through the theatrical sequence in order to prevent a crush upon leaving. They have become an integral part of the movie experience, but this could lead to questions as to what value does a post-credits scene have, when its inclusion is definitely anticipated and almost expected?
One argument for keeping the post-credits scene is that it encourages film viewers to watch the credits, giving greater exposure to the sheer number of people, and the hard-work that many individuals put in to creating a film. If it stops even a handful of people from switching off as soon as the names of those in starring roles have rolled up the screen, then that can only be a good thing for lighting experts, costume experts, animations experts and the numerous other essential roles in film-making.
A lot of people are fans of post-credits scenes. They have been received particularly warmly by superhero film fans, especially the Marvel Comic films where filmgoers are very keen to know what comes next and for loose ends that were in the original comics but not in the films to be tied-up. The most eagerly anticipated post-credits scene so far has been the secret scene shot just weeks before the release of the film ‘The Avengers’ in 2012. It turned out that the Avengers has two post-credit scenes sparking confusing and controversy in some as to what the value of a post-credits scene really is.
A number of film-goers, particularly those that are less interested in the big science-fiction Hollywood blockbusters, are beginning to question whether the role of a post credits scene has been warped and it is merely a money spinner and marketing ploy that is over-used, tired and no longer needed. The surprise of being asked why you are still sitting there watching a movie after is has finished simply doesn’t have the same effect when you are expecting it. Using a post-credits scene to tie up loose ends or give a taste of a sequel really feels like it should be a part of the movie proper, not just an add-on at the end.
Surely when the post-credits scene is a code to enter to win a competition for some custom-sneakers as it was at the end of ‘Coraline’, the world of marketing and advertisement has taken a step too far. It would be like including an advert for 4×4 car insurance with a discount code at the end of the ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ films, or a voucher for a fast food chain at the end of the 2006 film ‘Fast Food Nation’.
Game players are however on the whole much more receptive to the extension of post-credits scenes. For them they feel it is an extension of the game play, a reward for completing the challenge and reaching the end, not something that every gamer does, certainly the same can’t be said on the whole for film fan, if you don’t watch to the end then there must have been something seriously wrong with the film in the first place. In game play, setting the scene for a sequel feels more realistic and less like a desperate attempt to maintain interest because it is a game. You dip in and out of game play; you don’t dip in and out of a film. Games run in series, and whilst films can follow one another, they are not ‘serial’ in the same way.
Surely if something is really that vital to the film experience that it needs to be included in a post-credits scene, either include it somewhere within the main feature, or save it for the ‘extras’ disc on the DVD. Going back to having a post-credits scene as a rare treat would renew the suspense and intrigue, rather than having film fans clamouring of message boards to guess what the post-credits scene for the latest movie release may be.