The new HBO Max miniseries peacemaker (The peacemaker), spin-off of the James Gunn film the suicide squad, indirectly gives a lesson to Marvel series and movies about the use of post-credit scenes. Or rather, remember a lesson: they should not (or, at least, should not) alter the finished product and should not (should not) constitute only a commercial claim. Marvel has us spoiled. Post-credits can be just plain fun and don’t have to be connected to what’s to come. There is no doubt that Marvel Studios and Disney are responsible for the current obsession with post-credits scenes. It all started with Hombre de Hierro, in 2008. And it hasn’t stopped (with the exception of Avengers: Endgame). It is true that although Marvel has been the catalyst that drives other great series to imitate this practice, it did not invent them, but it has marked the current model. Of course, peacemaker is not the first superhero cinematic product, nor the only one, to make playful use of post-credits scenes (even Marvel has taken advantage of the occasion, curiously when James Gunn has been in charge of the film, as happened with the post-credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. one and 2, with the exception of the presentation of Adam Warlock), but it is striking that it is in an IP (intellectual property) series broken off from an IP movie linked to the comics of a director and screenwriter linked to the Marvel movies: James Gunn.
All episodes of peacemaker they contain a post-credits scene that only and exclusively includes a gag from the episode. There is no possible spoiler, you do not discover anything new about the characters. They are post-credits scenes in which, for example, you can learn that “every man should have scabies once in his life”, that there is technology capable of producing scabies at will, or in which you can attend a peculiar lineup. Or you can learn how it’s impossible for a duck to dress up as a human! They do not advance the plot, nor are they a preview of what is going to happen the following week (in this case three episodes have been posted at the same time, but the entire series is designed for weekly consumption). They are solely and exclusively a fun. As the cliffhangers stay within the episode (45 minutes long, each) and many of them could have been reserved for post-credits scenes to ensure interest and conversation from week to week, peacemaker clearly stands out and thus adds to the debate on whether the post-credit scenes are necessary or are, in the end, a hindrance. For peacemaker everything that has to be in the episode stays in the episode: each of them contains everything it wants to tell and offers enough information to leave you wanting to see the next episode. That is the lesson for Marvel movies and series.
From the first MCU movie, Hombre de Hierro (2008), Marvel Studios has included a post-credits scene in almost all of its films, with the sole exception of The incredible Hulk. And from the movies, the post-credits have jumped to their series. Kevin Feige, of course, is clear about what they are for. “Movies bring people together, but they also bring people together behind the scenes,” he explained at BAFTA’s 2018 Britannia Awards. “At Marvel we’ve been putting a scene after the end credits in all our movies since the beginning. The fans love it; it’s a tease of something to come. But the real advantage is that the audience will sit there and watch all the names of the hundreds of thousands of people who work so hard to bring these movies to life. That really inspired me as a kid, to see all those names, and I hope it inspires people today.” The problem is that we have been forced to wait for something else. Forever. We have been prepared to find the big surprise of the film after it ends, knowing that the highest note is in the post-credits. This is how we understand who Kit Harington is in Eternals or what awaits us with Harry Styles in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, something that could have been perfectly included within.
Star Wars had always been a good example that we didn’t need post-credits until it came along. The Mandalorian. Since the presentation of the new adventures of Boba Fett in the last episode of season 2 we no longer see any chapter without waiting for the last credit title to finish just in case. Denis Villeneuve is right when he says that “I don’t like post-credits scenes”. But that’s because he hasn’t seen the ones from peacemaker. It is the same model of the scenes of dead pool, and the same model of the first post-credits in cinema, in all in one day. They are post-credits that make you value the product itself and that do not make you think about what will come next, but about how much you have enjoyed what you have seen. And if you don’t want to use them for that, then don’t put anything.
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