So, Thor: The Dark World recently came out, and, as with all the Marvel Universe films, it featured some bonus sequences post-credits. There was a mid-credits and a post-credits scene, and, while both play their role, it is the mid-credits scene that is of major importance to future events in the cinematic Marvel Universe. More specifically, with next year’s wild card addition to the Marvel roster, Guardians Of The Galaxy.
However, before dealing with this, I’ll get the post-credits scene out of the way.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a perfectly good scene, a nice bit of sweet and touching romance between Thor and Jane Foster. His returning to her when she’s in a post-Thor funk to get into one of those wonderfully cinematic, passionate kisses we are all so fond of was a perfect follow up scene to the end of the film, in which we see Thor turn down the throne of Asgard. The film’s closing scene combines with this post-credits addition for a lovely, heartwarming moment which I can’t help but compare to Disney’s Hercules‘ ending, when Hercules refuses godhood in order to spend his life on Earth with Megara. And while Thor doesn’t give up his powers to be with Jane, this scene does serve as definitive proof that Thor is now of Earth, and has well and truly given up his claim to Asgard.
But here’s the important bit. The mid-credits scene shows a distinctly alien setting – the pink lady is a real tip-off – in which the Lady Sif and Volstagg arrive with a very important item. This item is the Aether, the source of all the trouble in The Dark World. Introduced to the mysterious and eccentric Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro, the Asgardians explain that, with the Tesseract on Asgard, it’s not safe to keep two Infinity Stones in one place. As the pair leave, the Collector says “one down, five to go”.
Here’s why it’s important: the Infinity Stones are clearly the film’s name for the Infinity Gems, 6 powerful stones which, when placed in the Infinity Gauntlet, grant the wearer omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and God-like power, along with absolute dominion over all realities. So, clearly quite a big deal. Even more so when you consider the main seeker of said Infinity Gems: namely, Thanos, the giant purple dude in the post-credits scene of Avengers. Thanos is essentially the Marvel equivalent of DC’s Darkseid, a super-powered alien tyrant looking to rule the entire universe. Just your regular weekend, then.
Now, the Collector is one of the Elders Of The Universe, the last survivors of otherwise extinct races known for their personal obsessions, and in comic history has, at various times, tried to “collect” the Avengers. The dude is obsessed with collecting interesting artifacts and life forms: after his wife gave up her immortality after losing the will to live, the Collector realised he would need a hobby to maintain his sanity. So, a perfectly reasonable response to your wife’s death. The important thing, however, is that Thanos once took an Infinity Gem from him, the Collector being unaware of it’s true power. While The Collector of the film seems much more aware of what he’s been given, the fact that Thanos is involved in the overall arc would suggest that The Collector may not hold onto the Aether for long.
The film that this really links into is 2014’s Guardians Of The Galaxy. An odd choice for Marvel, the film is based off a little known and short lived comic that features a rag-tag, oddball band of space-farers, including a genetically engineered master marksman and tactician that just happens to be a raccoon, and a hyper-intelligent tree creature. The film is set to see these characters go up against lieutenants of Thanos. Essentially, Avengers’ post-credits scene was the greatest tease of all time, in that Thanos isn’t going to appear until Avengers 3. However, with the introduction of the Collector in this mid-credit scene in The Dark World, and Guardians Of The Galaxy set to more directly address Thanos, to a degree at least, next year, it seems we are slowly building towards what is, if rumours are to be believed, the epic conclusion of the Marvel film cycle. For now…