Marvel Studios has built its empire on the back of the shared universe model. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, every subsequent film produced by the studio has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that not only encompasses 20+ feature films but a stable of TV shows and other associated media. Part of the reason this franchise model has worked so well for Marvel is that each film features multiple connections to other entries in the series, with each new installment building upon the plot of the one before it.
Much of this taken the form of post-credits stingers designed to tease future plotlines and characters, but there are also a variety of little details hidden away in some movies that offer clues for what’s to come next. In other words, the MCU is pretty much always foreshadowing something on the horizon and here are the 50 most prominent moments of foreshadowing that we’ve seen over the last decade of Marvel movies.
50. War Machine – Iron Man
We’d have to wait until Iron Man 2 to see Tony Stark’s best buddy Colonel James Rupert Rhodes don a battlesuit and become War Machine, but the original film sets this event up in a fun way that shows Marvel already had big sequel plans from the beginning. After helping Tony recover following an attack from Obadiah Stane, Rhodes catches a glimpse of one of Stark’s Iron Man prototypes but decides against wearing it, stating “Next time, baby,” as he leaves. In a way, he’s only half right, as Rhodes does indeed become War Machine in Iron Man 2, albeit with a different actor in the suit, as Terrence Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle in the role.
49. The Avengers Initative – Iron Man
It’s easy to forget now, but the idea of a shared movie universe was unheard of when Iron Man was released in 2008. In hindsight, launching a multi-billion dollar franchise with a solo movie dedicated to a B-list hero was a pretty risky gamble on Marvel’s part, but it’s a bet that ultimately paid off better than anyone could have imagined. A lot of that success can be attributed to Robert Downey Jr. and his incredible comeback performance as Tony Stark, but the film saves its biggest and best feat for last.
In arguably the best example of foreshadowing in the MCU, Iron Man ends with a post-credits scene that shows the first meeting between Tony Stark and Nick Fury, with the latter stating that he’s putting together a team. While he doesn’t explicitly name it, we know that Fury is referencing the Avengers here, opening the door for all sorts of experimentation with future movies. In one fell swoop, Marvel not only popularized the idea of post-credits scenes serving as shared universe tie-in events, but launched an entire franchise in the process.
48. Capsicle – The Incredible Hulk
On the home video release of The Incredible Hulk, there’s an alternate beginning that shows Bruce Banner walking through a snowy landscape. Eventually, an avalanche is triggered and while the snow falls towards the camera, you can just make out Captain America’s frozen body buried in the ice. It’s very tough to spot, as it’s only there for a split-second, but it’s a cool detail that is also the first canonical reference to Captain America in the MCU.
47. Super Soldier Serum – The Incredible Hulk
In an attempt to produce a soldier who might actually be capable of subduing the Hulk, General Thaddeus Ross administers a serum to Colonel Blonsky (Tim Robbins). Ross notes that the serum is a replication of the original formula developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine, which helps explain why it doesn’t work properly and ends up turning Blonsky into the Abomination. As we learn in Captain America: The First Avengers, Erskine’s formula was in fact the Super Soldier serum, which is administered successfully to Steve Rogers, turning him into Captain America in the process. Blonsky’s flawed transformation also mirrors that of the Red Skull, who was the first subject of Erskine’s formula and became deformed, though it isn’t made explicitly clear if this was a result of a mistake in Erskine’s formula or if it simply brought out the worst in an already evil human being.
46. Putting Together a Team – The Incredible Hulk
A spiritual successor of sorts to Iron Man’s post-credits scene, here we see an already converted Tony Stark trying to sell General Ross on the idea of the Avengers initiative. We get another nod to Captain America when Stark reminds Ross that the Super Soldier program was “put on ice” for a reason. While the scene itself is now largely inconsequential — especially since it’s never followed up in any other film — getting back-to-back Avengers teases with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk only helped reinforce how committed Marvel was to seeing its shared universe idea come to fruition.
45. Project Goliath – Iron Man 2
As Tony Stark is researching a way to cure the illness caused by his arc reactor’s palladium core in Iron Man 2, he asks Jarvis to “tap the Oracle grid. I need some things out of storage. Give me everything from Projects PEGASUS, EXODUS, and GOLIATH.” Eight years later, we’d finally learn what Project Goliath was all about, as Ant-Man and the Wasp introduces us to Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), a former colleague of Hank Pym who was once known as the hero Goliath (no affiliation).
44. Howard Stark’s Connection to Captain America – Iron Man 2
Howard Stark’s legacy is briefly touched upon in the first Iron Man, but it wasn’t until the sequel that we’d see Tony’s father properly introduced. Played by John Slattery (Mad Men), Howard appears in old footage as Tony is doing research for the Stark Expo/trying to find the secret to creating a new element to use in his arc reactor. The elder Stark’s connection to Captain America is also introduced here, as we can spot Captain America comics in his collection and there’s also the shield to consider. Agent Phil Coulson hands Tony a roughed up shield, only for Tony to use it to prop his particle accelerator up while he forges his new element.
While it ends up being a little jarring to then see Dominic Cooper — an actor who bears little to no resemblance to Slattery — play a younger Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger, that film follows through on his close connection to Steve Rogers, creating his iconic shield and even forming the third piece of what turns out to be a non-existent love triangle with Agent Peggy Carter, who meant it when she insists Howard is just a friend.
43. Wakanda – Iron Man 2
It’s no secret that Iron Man 2 is one of the worst Marvel movies in part because it’s too preoccupied with setup work for The Avengers but looking back, it’s surprising how far-looking the film is in terms of teasing future events in the MCU. The best example of this comes at the end of the film, where Tony Stark meets with Nick Fury to discuss the Avengers Initiative, only for it to be decided that Tony will serve as a consultant (a decision that ultimately turned out to be pointless). However, there’s more going on in this scene than Tony getting offered kind of a crummy job, as the map behind him has multiple global locations highlighted; locations, it turns out, that indicate where certain heroes are.
There’s a marker in New Mexico for Thor’s hammer, one in the middle of the Atlantic that may or may not be a nod to Namor the Submariner and a location in Africa. We now know that the latter location is Wakanda, the home country of the Black Panther, which means that Iron Man 2 teased the character a full six years before his introduction in the MCU. Oh and there’s also a marker in Antarctica on the map that has yet to have a payoff. The Savage Land, perhaps?
42. The Tesseract – Iron Man 2
As already mentioned, Iron Man 2 is widely considered to be one of the lesser films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a lot of that has to do with the film having to balance its central story with studio-mandated setup work for future films in the franchise. Many of these references are pretty obvious: Tony uses Captain America’s shield to build a reactor, there are news reports depicting the campus battle from The Incredible Hulk, and the post-credits scene involves Agent Coulson discovering Thor’s hammer in a crater.
However, one MCU Easter egg you may have missed is the Tesseract, which would go onto to become an important item in both Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. The powerful cube makes a brief appearance in the scene where Tony is watching old film reels of his father. In one of Howard Stark’s notebooks, there’s a sketch of the Tesseract, but drawn in the form of a so-called “Schlegel diagram.”
41. Mjolnir – Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 saves its best Avengers tease for last, with a post-credits scene that sees Agent Coulson travelling to a crater in the New Mexico desert. Coulson gets on his phone with Nick Fury (we assume) and says “Sir, we found it,” before the camera cuts to the center of the crater where Thor’s hammer Mjolnir is lodged. This is arguably one of the most important post-credits scenes in the MCU because it was not only directed by the filmmaker behind the next film in the franchise (in this case, Thor director Kenneth Branagh) but established the formula of post-credits scenes acting as “next time on” advertisements for future films. Plus, knowing that we’d soon be introduced to the God of Thunder was pretty cool!
40. The Infinity Gauntlet – Thor
The original Thor is noteworthy for being the first Marvel movie to truly open the cinematic universe up, introducing viewers to the cosmic side of things with Asgard and the Nine Realms. However, Marvel Phase 1 was still very much in its infancy here and there was little hint of an Infinity War looming far over the horizon. That being said, Thor still managed to contain hints of things to come, though you had to be paying close attention to see one of the most significant ones.
Just after the Destroyer is awakened in Asgard and kills the two Frost Giant thieves in the weapons vault, a certain jeweled glove can be seen in the background. That’s right, it’s the Infinity Gauntlet, which ends up becoming a much more significant part of the franchise lore as things progress. Of course, we find out much later in Thor: Ragnarok that this particular gauntlet is a fake, but it’s still a nice bit of foreshadowing nonetheless.
39. “Well, I Guess That’s Worth a Look.” – Thor
The post-credits scene in Thor essentially leads right into the opening of The Avengers, as we see Stellan Skarsgard’s Dr. Selvig escorted through a S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker and introduced to Nick Fury. Fury tells Selvig that he needs his help and shows him the Tesseract, which will become one of the most important items in the entire MCU. The big reveal though is Loki, who appears in a reflection, implying that Selvig is being mind-controlled in some way by the trickster god. This not only confirms that Loki didn’t die when he fell from Asgard, but foreshadows that he would be the big bad in The Avengers.
38. Thor: Ragnarok Reference – Captain America: The First Avenger
In the same opening scene where the Red Skull makes a subtle reference Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s a hint of what’s to come in Thor: Ragnarok. The Tesseract is kept in a wall sculpture of Yggdrasil, “the world tree,” which also depicts a serpent called Jormungandr. In Norse mythology, Jormungand is the serpent that Thor does battle with during the Asgardian end of days, aka Ragnarok. While we never actually get to see Thor battle Jormungandr, the end of days conflict very much takes place in Thor: Ragnarok, with Surtur laying waste to Asgard.
37. Zola Face Distortion – Captain America: The First Avenger
When Dr. Arnim Zola is first introduced in The First Avenger, his face is distorted through a lens or screen of some kind. This is actually a reference to the character in the comics, as his mind inhabits a robot body, with his face displayed on a screen on the robot’s torso. While we don’t get to see Zola in all his robot glory in the sequel, The Winter Soldier, having his consciousness inside a computer is a pretty good payoff to this neat Easter egg.
36. Bucky Picking Up Cap’s Shield – Every Captain America Movie
There’s no way Chris Evans would be able to play Captain America forever and even though we were just being introduced to his portrayal of the character in Captain America: The First Avenger, the film was already laying the groundwork for future story events that would see someone else carrying the mantle. During the train sequence, Bucky Barnes briefly picks up and uses Cap’s shield — a significant moment that was not lost on some fans. In the comics, Bucky takes up the role of Captain America after the death of Steve Rogers, so having the character hold the shield here is a visually loaded way of signalling that eventual event in the movie universe.
We see Bucky hold the shield in both Captain America sequels — as a villain in The Winter Soldier and again as Steve Rogers’ friend and ally in Civil War. As of the time of this writing, Bucky Barnes has not officially replaced Steve Rogers as Captain America in the MCU but considering Avengers 4 is widely believed to be Chris Evans’ last Marvel movie (and the fact that Sebastian Stan is still under contract for multiple future appearances as Bucky), it’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing him donning the red, white, and blue in the near future.
35. Project 42 – The Avengers
The Avengers sees Earth’s mightiest heroes come together as a team for the very first time, but the seeds of dissent were already being sown in subtle ways. One example that many may have overlooked are the files that Agent Coulson hands Tony Stark to read early on in the film. In these files, among other things, are references to Project Pegasus and Project 42. These are allusions to the Civil War story arc in the comics, in which Stark builds an extra-dimensional prison called Project 42, built on a site marked Project Pegasus (in the MCU, Project Pegasus is the name of the Tesseract test site). The events of Captain America: Civil War play out quite differently, of course, but a high-security prison called the Raft is built to house dissident heroes, suggesting that Marvel already had plans for Civil War when The Avengers was made.
34. “You Lack Conviction” – The Avengers
This was probably never an intentional moment of foreshadowing on Marvel’s part but in the wake of Avengers: Infinity War, Agent Couson’s “dying” words to Loki in The Avengers have taken on a whole new level of significance. Coulson tells Loki that he will ultimately lose because he lacks conviction and he turns out to be right, as Loki ends up being undone by his conflicted allegiances to his family and his desire for power. In contrast, Thanos comes along and succeeds largely due to his extreme level of conviction, as he is unwavering in his purpose.
33. “If We Can’t Protect The Earth …” – The Avengers
While it’s true that pretty much everything in The Avengers is foreshadowing the events to come in Avengers: Infinity War, Tony Stark’s line to Loki has taken on a whole new level of grim significance since the latter film was released. Just prior to the Battle of New York, Stark tells Loki “If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it.” For awhile, protecting the Earth proves to the Avengers’ forte but Infinity War represents the first time the Avengers fail their mission, as they are unable to stop Thanos. Now, with the universe’s population cut in half, Tony Stark and the remaining Avengers have to not only avenge the Earth, but all life taken by the Mad Titan.
32. Thanos – The Avengers
This is probably the most unsubtle moment of foreshadowing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it’s also the best. Revealing Thanos at the end of The Avengers was a huge power move on Marvel’s part, revealing the true scope of its ambitious shared universe plans. We now had a clear crescendo moment to build toward, as even though many of the movies set between the first and third Avengers had little to do with Thanos, the big villain’s presence was still there and it was only a matter of time before he was truly unleashed.
The only real downside to this scene is that you can tell that Marvel didn’t quite have their plans fleshed out yet, as the line about “courting death” was a clear reference to the Infinity Gauntlet arc from the comics in which Thanos wipes out half the universe in order to curry favor with his mistress Death. In contrast, the MCU Thanos is more of an environmentalist type, wanting to achieve perfect balance in the universe in order to ensure living things don’t run out of resources. But hey, it’s the thought that counts right?
31. The Vision Easter Egg – Iron Man 3
Tony Stark’s A.I. JARVIS (Paul Bettany) wouldn’t become The Vision until Avengers: Age of Ultron, but his transformation is subtly referenced in Iron Man 3. During the scene where Tony, Pepper, and Maya (Rebecca Hall) are in Tony’s house discussing the giant stuffed bunny sitting in the living room, you can see that Tony has hung a stocking for JARVIS. This Easter egg is pretty awesome in and of itself, but is made even better by the fact that the stocking is red, green, and yellow, the same colors as The Vision. We wonder if he still puts the stocking out at Christmas time …
30. Dr. Selvig’s Chalkboard – Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World was not a proud moment for the MCU, but it still managed to set up some enticing future storylines, including one bit of foreshadowing that many probably never even noticed. If you pay close attention to the blackboard used by Dr. Selvig in the classroom scene, you’ll notice two pretty significant references in among the wild diagrams. The first has to do with the nine realms, which are touched upon later in The Dark World when Thor and Malekith visit a few of them during their climactic fight.
One realm in particular, Muspelheim, ended up playing an important role in Thor: Ragnarok, as the fiery realm’s ruler, Surtur, ends up being summoned to destroy Asgard at the end. The other reference is the 616 universe, which in Marvel speak refers to our universe. While we haven’t seen the multiple universe thing play out yet in the MCU, it’s only a matter of time before the franchise dips its toe into that well.
29. Bringing the Aether to the Collector – Thor: The Dark World
Another thing that Thor: The Dark World has going for it is one of the better post-credits scenes in the MCU (it actually has two, but the second isn’t as consequential as the first). In the first scene, which appears mid-credits, we get our first introduction to the world of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the form of Benicio del Toro’s Collector. Thor’s allies Volstagg and Sif hand the Aether substance over to the Collector, revealing in the process that it is in fact an Infinity Stone, as Volstagg points out that “It’s not wise to keep two Infinity Stones so close together,” (the other being the Tesseract, of course).
The scene ends with the Collector stating ominously, “One down. Five to go,” which ends up being a red herring since he never ends up collecting any others. Instead, Thanos ends up killing him and taking the Aether by force, showing that keeping the Infinity Stones apart only delayed the inevitable.
28. Stephen Strange – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
By the time we got to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it was not a matter of if, but when we’d get to see Doctor Strange introduced in the MCU. Still, getting to hear the Sorcerer Supreme mentioned by name was an enticing moment, especially with how significantly The Winter Soldier changed the status quo with the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been successfully infiltrated by HYDRA (still the best twist in the entire franchise).
As we learn from the traitorous Agent Sitwell, HYDRA has a number of persons of interest on the radar, including Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and the one and only Stephen Strange. While nothing ever really comes of this, as Doctor Strange has yet to actually deal with HYDRA on a personal level, it’s a cool bit of universe building that confirmed Strange would be a significant player moving forward.
27. Crossbones – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
There’s so much going on in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s easy to overlook Frank Grillo’s excellent work as Strike Commander Brock Rumlow. Rumlow begins the film as an apparent ally to Steve Rogers, but is later revealed to be a HYDRA agent. In the climactic battle, Rumlow is badly injured and suffers some serious burns. We learn that Rumlow is still alive, setting up his transformation into Crossbones, one of Captain America’s main adversaries in the comics. To help hammer this point home, the straps over Rumlow’s chest in his final scene resemble the shape of a crossbones, reflecting his alter-ego’s name and the symbol he wears across his chest.
It’s a clever bit of foreshadowing that we wouldn’t have to wait long to see payoff, as Captain America: Civil War opens with the Avengers thwarting Crossbones and his crew from stealing a biological weapon in Lagos. Though Crossbones (sadly) blows himself up in the encounter, it triggers a series of events that lead to the Avengers going to war with one another.
26. Winter Soldier Dossier – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
At the end of The Winter Soldier, Natasha Romanov gives Steve Rogers the dossier on Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier, telling him, “Be careful, Steve. You might not want to pull on that thread.” While it’s never explicitly stated, the events of Civil War seem to imply that the dossier reveals the details of the 1991 mission in which the Winter Soldier killed Tony’s parents. This is such a clever bit of foreshadowing as it signals that Steve is going to learn some things about Bucky that he may wish he hadn’t, and it will be up to him to decide whether or not his former friend is worth saving.
25. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch Introduction – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is hands down one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it’s only fitting that its post-credits scenes are also among the strongest out there. The second scene shows Bucky reconnecting with his past, offering further evidence that his Winter Soldier brainwashing may not be permanent, but it’s the first scene that really foreshadows some big events to come.
We are introduced to HYDRA’s Baron von Strucker, who we learn is in possession of Loki’s scepter, which of course is later revealed to be one of the Infinity Stones. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Strucker has Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver locked in cubes, both exhibiting superpowers. Thus, Strucker, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver are all established as future villains in the franchise and indeed, Avengers: Age of Ultron begins with the Avengers assaulting Strucker’s base.
24. Yondu’s Comment About Star-Lord’s Father – Guardians of the Galaxy
Peter Quill’s backstory is only lightly touched upon in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, with much of it being filled in by Yondu, who essentially raised Quill aboard his ship and brought him up as part of his alien bandit group called the Ravagers. At one point, it’s revealed that Yondu was hired to deliver Quill to his father but decided to keep him instead, in part because Quill’s father is, according to Yondu, a “jackass.”
While much of this is played for laughs, Yondu’s throwaway comment about Quill’s dad ends up being a surprising case of foreshadowing, as the sequel reveals that Kurt Russell’s Ego the Living Planet is indeed a “jackass” who killed off all of his other children because they did not possess Celestial powers like Peter and who also has been planning to consume countless planets.
23. “The End Game” – Avengers: Age of Ultron
Much of the conflict in Avengers: Age of Ultron stems from Tony Stark’s concern over the Earth not being prepared to face off-world threats (hence the whole protection A.I. gone rogue thing). Later in the movie after Ultron has already become maniacally self-aware, Tony reminds his allies how unprepared they are to face alien threats, referencing the Battle of New York. He tells Steve Rogers “That up there? That’s … the end game. We’ll lose.” Steve replies “Then we’ll do that together, too.” While this exchange doesn’t explicitly reference Thanos, as neither character is even aware of his existence at this point, it does foreshadow the events of Infinity War. Both Tony and Steve end up being right, in a sense, as the Avengers do lose the fight against Thanos, but they do so together.
22. The Wasp is Alive – Ant-Man
There’s so much going on visually in the Quantum Realm that it’s no surprise that the filmmakers would include hidden details in the background. Viewers spent hours examining the original Ant-Man’s Quantum Realm scene hunting for Easter Eggs and they found a big one in the form of a superhero silhouette. It was later confirmed that this was indeed a cameo from the original Wasp. This ended up being important foreshadowing for Ant-Man and the Wasp, as much of that film revolves around rescuing Janet van Dyne from the Quantum Realm.
21. “Guys Who Climb Up Walls” – Ant-Man
When Ant-Man was released, the idea that we’d soon be seeing Spider-Man make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe still felt surreal, even though the role had already been cast by that point. But even though we’d have to wait until the following year’s Captain America: Civil War to see Tom Holland’s wall-crawler, Ant-Man was the first MCU movie to reference the character’s existence. During the scene where Falcon is asking Luis about Ant-Man, Luis tells him that he’ll have to be more specific as, “We got guys who jump. We got guys who swing. We got guys who climb up walls.” Without mentioning him by name, it’s pretty clear that Luis is referencing our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man here.
20. “It’s About Damn Time.” – Ant-Man
One of the most disappointing things about the original Ant-Man is that it kind of wastes Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne, as she’s not only characterized as kind of a nag (something the sequel directly addresses and fixes) but is also clearly much more capable than Scott Lang at being a superhero. In the film’s mid-credits scene, Hope’s father Hank Pym shows her the new Wasp prototype suit he’s been developing and offering it to her, with Hope commenting that, “It’s about damn time.” Essentially, the scene can be read as an apology of sorts for not getting Hope in on the action but promising to rectify it with the sequel, which even bears the Wasp name in the title.
19. “I Know a Guy” – Ant-Man
Ant-Man’s second credits scene is essentially a retooled clip from Captain America: Civil War, with Captain America and Falcon having captured Bucky Barnes. The trio discuss the issues surrounding the Sokovia Accords and that they’re basically on their own and need help. This leads to Falcon suggesting they recruit a new ally, which we know to be Scott Lang. This ends up foreshadowing that Ant-Man will have a part to play in Captain America: Civil War, which was a pretty big deal at the time since it was still unclear just how many different characters would be involved in the events of that film.
18. Spider-Man: Homecoming Reference – Captain America: Civil War
While Captain America: Civil War ties into Spider-man: Homecoming in a pretty obvious way by introducing us to Tom Holland’s Spidey, there appears to be a direct reference to the film buried in a much earlier scene. Two of the words that come up in Winter Soldier’s Hydra brainwashing commands are “Homecoming” and “Seventeen,” which can be read as references to the title and date of release of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Apparently, HYDRA really does control everything, right down to the release date and title of a new Spider-Man movie!
17. “Dottie” – Captain America: Civil War
This isn’t actually an example of foreshadowing but it’s such a clever example of how interconnected the MCU is that we just had to include it here. During an exchange in Civil War between Steve and Bucky where they reminisce about going on a double date in Brooklyn when they were younger, Cap mentions that Bucky was dating a redhead names Dolores, who had the nickname Dot. While the jury’s still out on whether or not this is meant as a canonical reference, that description fits one Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan), Peggy Carter’s nemesis from Agent Carter. This would actually be a fitting match for Bucky considering his long stint spent as a Soviet assassin, as Dottie is also revealed to be a Soviet sleeper agent.
16. Bucky In Cryostasis – Captain America: Civil War
Practically a prologue to the Black Panther movie, the mid-credits scene in Captain America: Civil War establishes that both Cap and Bucky are on good terms with T’Challa, who spent most of the movie plotting to kill Bucky after being led to believe he was the one responsible for his father’s death. Injured and still suffering from HYDRA brainwashing, Bucky decides to be put into cryo-sleep while T’Challa and his team of scientists find a way to reverse his condition. It’s a great way to introduce Wakanda prior to Black Panther and also establishes an alliance between Captain America and T’Challa that will come into play during the events of Infinity War.
15. Guardians 3000
Stallone’s Stakar returns for one last appearance in the second of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s five credits scenes, which sees him reuniting with his old Guardians 3000 gang. Michael Rosenbaum’s Martinex is also in attendance, but we are also introduced to some new members played by some surprisingly big names. There’s Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta (Michelle Yeoh), and perhaps most shocking of all, a vocal cameo from Miley Cyrus as Mainframe. There’s also the magic-wielding alien known as Krugarr, who is the apprentice of Doctor Strange in an alternate future timeline from the comics and eventually succeeds him as the Sorceror Supreme. It’s hard to say whether or not this was just a fun gag or foreshadowing events to come but considering James Gunn has already said that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will feature old and new characters, so there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing the Guardians 3000 gang in some capacity.
14. Adam Warlock – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is pretty light on shared universe connections as a whole, but one of its mid-credits scenes is set to have major implications for the MCU going forward. We see Elizabeth Debicki’s villain Ayesha creating a new artificial being designed to destroy the Guardians once and for all. She names him Adam, as in Adam Warlock, who is going to be a major character in an upcoming MCU story. The only problem is it’s unclear at this time how Warlock will be used. He could play a significant role in thwarting Thanos’ plans in Avengers 4, but Marvel could also be saving him for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Either way, expect Adam Warlock to be a big deal whenever he does show up.
13. TIE: Groot End Credit Scenes – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2
In both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, we’re treated to bonus scenes dedicated to Groot. While these scenes are played up for laughs, they actually foreshadow where Groot will be at the next time we see him. In the original Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a scene right at the end that shows Baby Groot dancing along to the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” foreshadowing his innocent and playful demeanor throughout Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
In the sequel, there’s a mid-credits scene that depicts a teenage Groot being scolded by Peter Quill for how messy his room is. This version of Groot acts like a petulant adolescent during the scene and indeed, this is how he’s characterized for much of his appearance in Infinity War. Sadly, that film ends with Groot being reduced to ash, which we guess foreshadows that he’ll be, well … dead, during his next appearance.
12. Miles Morales Nod – Spider-Man: Homecoming
During the scene where Peter (poorly) interrogates Aaron Davis (Donald Glover), the latter brings up his nephew and his desire for him to grow up in a safer neighborhood. Why is that significant? Well in the comics, Davis’ nephew is none other than Miles Morales, AKA the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man. This basically confirms that Morales is part of the MCU and could potentially show up in a future installment. Considering how popular Morales is, it’s hard to imagine Marvel not doing this, but we may have to wait awhile considering how popular Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has proven to be.
11. Mordo Goes Rogue – Doctor Strange
The first credits scene in Doctor Strange is important in that establishes the meeting between Strange and Thor in Thor: Ragnarok, but it’s the scene that follows that sets up a surprising twist going forward. The scene picks up with Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo, who’s paying a visit to a sorcerer by the name of Pangborn (played by Benjamin Bratt). Telling Pangborn that he’s “perverting nature” with his magic, Mordo takes his power’s away, stating that there are “too many sorcerers.” This sets up Mordo, who was an ally of Stephen Strange throughout the first Doctor Strange, as a villain going forward. This surely didn’t come as a surprise to comic fans, as Mordo has traditionally been portrayed as a villain, but it offers an interesting twist on the character going forward.
10. “I Don’t Need That On My Conscience” – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Ever since he wsa introduced in the MCU, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has had the closest connection with Tony Stark/Iron Man, who has been a mentor and paternal figure for the young hero. We see this dynamic hit its emotional apex in Avengers: Infinity War, as Peter Parker dies in Stark’s arms as a result of Thanos snuffing out half the life in the universe. Tony is left speechless in his grief as Peter fades from existence and we know this is especially difficult for Tony because this whole thing was setup as a nightmare scenario for him back in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
During the scene where Tony scolds Peter for trying to take the Vulture down by himself, he says to the teen “What if somebody had died tonight? Different story, right? ‘Cause that’s on you. And if you died, I feel like that’s on me. I don’t need that on my conscience.” At the time, Tony’s words seemed like your typical master-apprentice teaching moment, but it arguably foreshadowed the aforementioned scene in Infinity War. With Tony left alive, Peter’s death is sure to weight heavily on his conscience when we catch back up with him in Avengers 4.
9. Fake Infinity Gauntlet – Thor: Ragnarok
When Hela enters Odin’s vault in order to access the Eternal Flame, she reveals that the murals in the throne room aren’t the only lies being sold by her departed father. We see Hela walk up to the Infinity Gauntlet and casually knock it off its pedestal, claiming it’s a fake in the process. This actually addresses an issue introduced all the way back in the original Thor movie, in which saw the debut of the Infinity Gauntlet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The problem was that eagle-eyed fans noticed that the gauntlet was a right-handed glove; a problem that was only compounded further when we see Thanos put on the ‘correct’ left-handed glove in the post-credits scene of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. As Hela demonstrates, Marvel Studios essentially retconned this issue by having Asgard’s version turn out to be a fake this whole time … and also confirms that Thanos grabbed the real one in the mid-credits scene of Age of Ultron.
8. Thanos’ Ship – Thor: Ragnarok
Thor: Ragnarok is a bit of an odd entry in the MCU in that it transforms the Thor series into a comedic farce (with wonderful results) but is actually telling kind of a harrowing story when you really think about it. Sure, much of what happens to Thor, Hulk, and the rest of the cast is played for laughs, but the film ends with Asgard destroyed and its remaining people reduced to being space refugees. And as if to hammer home that point, the end credits scene shows Thor and Loki sharing a tender moment together, only to be interrupted by the arrival of a much larger spaceship turns out to belong to Thanos. While this scene and the opening of Infinity War somewhat undercut the wild, exuberant tone of Thor: Ragnarok, this was the final piece in Marvel’s decade-long setup job for Thanos’ arrival and it worked like gangbusters.
7. Black Panther’s Suits – Black Panther
Credit to Reddit user AidanDawson for pointing this one out, but Black Panther finds a pretty clever way of foreshadowing its central conflict early on and through clothing no less! Early on in the film, T’Challa’s sister Shuri shows her brother two new Black Panther suits she’s designed: one is gold and brash, while the other is a more subtle silver. T’Challa ends up opting for the latter suit, stating that the gold one is, “Tempting, but the idea is to not be noticed.” Later on, the film’s villain Killmonger chooses the gold suit, which fits with his brazen personality but there’s more going on here than the two character’s differences in style.
By choosing the more traditional suit, T’Challa is reflecting the film’s theme of tradition vs. innovation, as he is also reluctant to share Wakanda’s technology with the world for fear of it being exploited. However, in the end, T’Challa’s choice actually reflects where he is by the film’s conclusion, as he goes for a middle ground option of revealing Wakanda to the world, but making sure to still keep some of his nation’s secrets close to his chest. The silver suit can be read as the middle ground option: better than his old suit, but still traditional enough so as to not compromise his core beliefs.
6. “Half My People” – Avengers: Infinity War
One of the biggest plot holes in Infinity War involves the attack on Thor’s ship. We see what happens to Thor, Hulk, Loki, and Heimdall (RIP to the latter two), but the big missing piece is Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. After playing such a prominent role in the events of Thor: Ragnarok, we not only don’t get to see her in Infinity War, but she’s never even mentioned. There’s always a chance that she was killed off screen along with the other Asgardians, but she’s arguably too significant a character for this to be her fate.
Still, no one should be making funeral arrangements for her just yet, as there’s one particular line from Thor that seems to foreshadow that we’ll be seeing Valkyrie again. Thor tells the Guardians of the Galaxy that Thanos wiped out half the population aboard the Asgardian ship, which suggests that there are still many who were left alive. Valkyrie is almost surely among them, but it’s still weird to not have her mentioned once, as she definitely would have been right in the thick of the off-screen fight we don’t get to see before the opening scene. And while we’re at it, Thanos better not have killed Korg and Miek either!
5. “Dust and Blood” – Avengers: Infinity War
This cool moment of foreshadowing happens during the Black Order’s assault on Wakanda. As Black Panther is staring down the enemy forces, he comments that “Thanos will only have dust and blood.” On a textual level, Black Panther is making reference to the very real human cost endured by going to war, as many Wakandans do die in the subsequent battle. However, it also foreshadows the film’s final moments, as Thanos quite literally has dust and blood when he decides to use the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half of all life in the universe.
4. Hawkeye’s Absence – Avengers: Infinity War
More of implied foreshadowing than anything, Hawkeye’s absence in Avengers: Infinity War is significant because it signals that he will play a vital role in fixing things in Avengers 4. Although Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton was briefly mentioned, the Avengers sharpshooter was totally absent from the events of Infinity War.
However, thanks to set photos and the fact that every other member of the “original six” Avengers are spared from Thanos’ attack, keeping Hawkeye hidden from view is really a clever way of signalling that he’ll make a comeback in the next film. The leading theory right now is that Clint’s family will have all perished during the population erasure, leading Clint to adopt the Ronin identity on a quest for revenge. We will see for sure in 2019!
3. Captain Marvel – Avengers: Infinity War
Infinity War features a pretty devastating conclusion, but it also offers hope for the Marvel universe with its final scene. Nick Fury and Maria Hill witness Thanos’ devastation first-hand on the streets of New York, as people all around them start disappearing. As they begin formulating a plan, Hill starts turning to dust, prompting Fury to take out a pager-like device and activate it right before he too is reduced to dust.
The pager-thing falls to the ground with the message “sending” before a bright emblem appears on the screen. The emblem of course belongs to Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who is appearing in her own solo movie in 2019. This moment is perhaps our best clue for where Avengers 4 is headed, as bringing Captain Marvel into the story now indicates that she will be instrumental in setting things right.
2. Hints at Cassie Lang’s Future – Ant-Man and the Wasp
When Cassie Lang gives her father a bedside pep-talk and tells him that she hopes to grow up to be a superhero like him someday, it plays off like something you’d hear any child say if one of their parents was an Avenger (wait, was Ant-Man ever technically part of the team? It’s hard to keep track). However, this is no throwaway line, as Cassie does indeed grow up to become a full-fledged superhero.
In the comics, Cassie exposes herself to Pym Particles in the hope that they will imbue her with super abilities (this occurs after Scott Lang has already passed away). After an argument with the Young Avengers, Cassie’s superpowers manifest themselves by causing her to grow enormous in size and strength, just like her dad. Fortunately, things quickly settle down and Cassie eases into her role as Stature, a selfless hero who ends up fighting alongside the Initiative against the Skrulls during the Secret Invasion event.
Will Cassie Lang become a hero in the MCU? It’s hard to say at present but if she does, this is a great way of foreshadowing such an event.
1. Stuck in the Quantum Realm – Ant-Man and the Wasp
If you stayed for the mid-credits sequence — and at this point, why wouldn’t you? — you know that Ant-Man and the Wasp directly ties into the events of Avengers: Infinity War for its final scene, with Hope, Hank, and Janet turned to dust by Thanos’ “snappening” and Ant-Man now stuck in the Quantum Realm. With the only three people seemingly capable of rescuing him dead (at least temporarily), the big question now is how Scott will make his escape.
One of the big rumors is that Avengers 4 will be set years in the future, which has been backed up by reports that Marvel is looking to cast an older Cassie Lang. Assuming Cassie ends up becoming a hero like her dad, she could be Scott’s savior, though the Quantum Realm’s time vortexes could also be of significance in resolving the effects of the Infinity Gauntlet.