Over the past 14 years, aside from the VFX and the action, one of the most anticipated parts of a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie has been the after-credits scenes. Almost all movies in the MCU have had one or more post-credits scenes since Iron Man introduced the concept with a Nick Fury cameo in 2008. Thor: Love and Thunder carries on this legacy. Also read: Thor Love and Thunder review: Chris Hemsworth dazzles, Christian Bale scares
Huge spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder ahead!
Love and Thunder, directed by Taika Waititi, is Thor’s fourth solo adventure in the Marvel universe and brings Chris Hemsworth back in the title role. Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson and Christian Bale also play the villain Gorr the God Butcher. The film contains a mid-credits scene and an end-credits scene, which serve as a continuation of the story.
One of the sequences in the film features Thor, Valkyrie (Tessa), Jane (Natalie), and Korg (Taika) who travel to Omnipotence City and ask other gods to form an army to stop the threat from Gorr. But things take a nasty turn after the god-king Zeus (Russell Crowe) refuses help and threatens to capture the heroes. This leads to a fight that ends with Thor shooting Zeus’s own lightning bolt through his heart, seemingly killing me. After this, Thor and the others take Zeus’ thunderbolt to aid in their battle against Gorr.
The scene in the middle of the credits reveals that Zeus is actually alive, but seriously injured. The scene shows him women tending his wound while giving a monologue about how gods were once feared but are now no more. He goes on ranting about what it means to be a god for a long time and ends it by saying that people will be afraid of gods again when ‘Thor Odinson falls’. The camera then flips to reveal that Zeus was actually talking to someone, his son Hercules (Brett Goldstein in a cameo). Zeus asks Hercules if he understands and Hercules answers he does.
This interaction may set the stage for a future collision between Thor and Hercules, which may return Chris Hemsworth† During the promotions of Love and Thunder, it was repeatedly suggested that this could be Chris’s last Marvel movie. He had said his enthusiasm waned after 11 years in the role. But now that Zeus entrusts Hercules with a revenge mission against Thor, Chris should return. This could very well mean Chris will return only for a cameo, possibly to be killed by Hercules. That would serve two purposes: to keep the series going by getting a new Thor to take on the mantle and establishing Hercules as a formidable threat. The film also had Natalie Portman’s The Mighty Thor and the Asgardian Children’s powers of Thor in the climax of the battle. Marvel already has several worthy successors ready.
But a bigger indication is the message that appears at the end of the credits. It just says ‘Thor is coming back’. For some, it could mean another actor could be back as a new Thor, but Chris’s arc isn’t over yet. And when Thor comes back, he’ll be there.
Between the two is an ending credits scene, which brings back a popular MCU character. Natalie PortmanJane Foster dies in battle against Gorr and like all warriors who die in battle, she goes to Valhalla, the Viking equivalent of heaven. And welcoming her there is Heimdall (Idris Elba), the protector of Asgard who was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Cameo aside, this scene doesn’t do much for the franchise’s future, although it could be a way of bringing “dead” characters back into the fold.
Another recent trend continuing the Love and Thunder post-credits scene is being used as an actual casting announcement. For a long time, MCU post-credits scenes were used to set up a future story, using existing characters from another movie. The first time new characters were introduced was when the Maximoff twins were introduced at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier. But lately, MCU movies have been doing this more and more. Harry Styles’ Starfox was introduced in Eternals, while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduces Charlize Theron as Clea. Love and Thunder does the same by setting up Brett Goldstein as a potential villain/antihero in the future of the MCU. Also read: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Charlize Theron Introduces Her Character Clea
For now, no Thor sequel has been announced, nor is an Avengers movie planned. So it remains to be seen how and where Thor will return and when we’ll see Hercules next. It could very well be in a Disney+ series. San Diego Comic Con is later this month and one can expect an announcement there. But whatever the case, one thing is certain: the… MCU isn’t done with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor yet.