Post and mid-credits scenes have been around for decades, but they’re popularity has spiked in recent years, particularly with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the films and TV series of which often lead directly into one another across a multimedia narrative arc.
These brief segments that play after all or part of the final credits have rolled are typically added to thank the viewer for sticking with it through the credits sequence.
Often, these scenes are used to help build up or tease a sequel, though sometimes they’re inserted strictly for humorous purposes, a little comedic extra for the die hard fans.
But they can have their drawbacks. Sitting through the credits of major blockbusters - the cast and crews of which can include thousands of names - can be tiresome, and sometimes, post-credit scenes are so much of a teaser that it may be hard to work out what it is exactly they mean.
Which is why here at NationalWorld, we want to explain the meanings behind the post-credit scenes of some of the biggest films and series in recent years.
Starting with our first example, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we’ll hopefully shed some light on post-credit scenes so that even viewers less up to speed with the rich law of many cinematic universes can get maximum enjoyment from them.
Does Black Panther: Wakanda Forever have a post-credits scene?
Technically, Wakanda Forever does not have a post-credits scene, but it does have a mid-credits scene.
That being said, though there is no post-credits ‘scene’ to speak of, the filmmakers do include a dedication to the late Chadwick Boseman, the actor who first brought the Black Panther character to life on the big screen with the first film in 2018.
Boseman died at his LA home as a result of complications related to colon cancer in 2020 at the age of 43 years old. Despite being diagnosed in 2016, Boseman never spoke publicly about illness and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, only a handful of non-family members knew he was sick.
As such, his already tragic premature death came as much more of a shock, and the loss of a particularly beloved actor drew tributes from around the cinematic world.
What happens in the mid-credits scene?
We see Shuri burn a shirt and reflect on what was taken just before the credits roll, but mid-way through them, we come back to her on a beach in Haiti, the sun shining and the tide coming in.
Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) enters the scene from off-screen with a child - her secret child - and explains that the boy has been given a Haitian name - Toussaint.
But Toussaint quickly tells his aunt that his real name is Prince T’Challa, and he bears his father’s name.
What does it mean?
T’Challa and Nakia had a secret agreement to conceal the birth of their son before T’Challa passed away from an undisclosed sickness, so that the boy might grow up in Haiti with a normal upbringing free from the pressures of the Wakandan monarchy and line of succession.
On a narrative level, it enables Shuri to experience a sense of renewal in addition to closure over the death of Chadwick Boseman’s death.
Shuri has experienced a never-ending string of losses over the course of the last few films, including the deaths of her mother, brother and father, but now, the universe has offered her something in return, and she is no longer alone in the world - her family can now have hope for the future.
Many fans have been left wondering how this sets up future MCU films, or even a Black Panther sequel, but it appears as if this particular mid-credits scene does nothing more than provide some emotional closure to the current Black Panther duo of films.
At the time of writing, a third Black Panther film has yet to be confirmed (although, in a move designed to bait fans’ excitement, it’s been revealed that one has officially been “discussed”).
In November 2022, it was revealed that the Disney Plus series Ironheart would be a direct continuation of the Wakanda Forever story, but whether this particular mid-credits scene plays into that in any way remains to be seen. That series will debut in 2023.
For now, it seems as if Wakanda Forever’s mid-credits sequence is a way for Marvel to honour Boseman’s pop-culture legacy for a final time.