While there are audible groans in many theater when no mid-credits scene shows up at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, you don't want to leave your seats. The final scenes after the credits is kind of a big deal, with significant ramifications.
In it, we finally catch up with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) who are, as best we can tell from current Agents of SHIELD continuity, not SHIELD agents at present (assuming TV continuity still counts). Their vehicle gets hit by a car, but upon investigating, they find that said car has no driver. Looking around, they see what looks like a large-scale Left Behind-type scenario, as half the population of the world is being vaporized due to Thanos' magic finger-snap. Naturally, this is causing vehicles of all sorts to crash. In the comics, this was the incident that summoned all the heroes in the first place.
Then Hill sees herself beginning to disintegrate. Fury pulls out what looks like a futuristic pager--arguably an oxymoron, since who uses pagers any more, but we'll get to that--and makes a call of sorts. As he disintegrates, he manages to get out the first half of the Samuel L. Jackson signature line "Motherf...." before turning to dust himself. The Russo brothers are fond of Jackson in-jokes (recall how the Ezekiel passage from Pulp Fiction appears on Nick Fury's tombstone in Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and clearly know all too well that Disney will never let them get the second half of that particular word onscreen. And they know you know.
As for the pager, it connects, and a red, yellow, and blue logo appears on the LCD screen: the symbol of Captain Marvel, a.k.a. Carol Danvers. Captain Marvel, of course, gets her own movie shortly before the next Avengers installment, and it's set in the '90s, when pagers were, in fact, still a thing. So it's likely Nick Fury, who has been confirmed to appear in that movie, has been hanging on to his since then. Presumably we will find out where the Captain has been since the '90s, as none of the other Avengers would seem to have heard of her; then again, in the first Iron Man movie, nobody had heard of Captain America, even though he was a cultural icon with his own trading cards.
Now, while Captain Marvel was not a key character in the original Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, her presence here is significant because Thanos began development as an antagonist for the original Captain Marvel, who has since become known as Mar-Vell, and will be played by Jude Law in the upcoming film. It's also a canny way to make viewers feel like the next two movies between now and Avengers 4 won't just be disposable filler, but important plot points you'll want to know in order to get the whole story.
Does this get you psyched for Captain Marvel next year? Let us know in comments!
Images: Marvel, Marvel Studios