Over the last 14 years, apart from the VFX and the action, one of the most anticipated parts of any Marvel Cinematic Universe film has been the post-credits scenes. Almost all films 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 this legacy forward. Also read: Thor Love and Thunder review: Chris Hemsworth dazzles, Christian Bale terrifies
Huge spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder ahead!
Directed by Taika Waititi, Love and Thunder is the fourth solo adventure for Thor in the Marvel universe, bringing back Chris Hemsworth in the titular role. It also stars Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Christian Bale as the villain Gorr the God Butcher. The film features one mid-credits scene and one end-credits scene, which serve as continuation to the story.
One of the sequences in the film involves Thor, Valkyrie (Tessa), Jane (Natalie), and Korg (Taika) travel to Omnipotence City, requesting other Gods to form an army to stop the threat of Gorr. But things take an ugly turn after the king of gods Zeus (Russell Crowe) refuses help and threatens to capture the heroes. This leads to a fight which ends with Thor blasting Zeus’ own thunderbolt through his heart and seemingly killing me. Following this, Thor and the others take Zeus’ thunderbolt with them to help in their battle against Gorr.
The mid-credits scene reveals that Zeus is actually alive but grievously hurt. The scene shows him women tending to his wound as he goes on a monologue about how gods were once feared but now aren’t. He goes on a long rant about what it means to be a god and concludes it by saying that people will fear gods again when ‘Thor Odinson falls’. The camera then pans to reveal that Zeus was actually talking to someone, who is his son Hercules (Brett Goldstein in a cameo). Zeus asks Hercules if he understands and Hercules replies he does.
This interaction potentially sets the scene for a future clash between Thor and Hercules, potentially bringing back Chris Hemsworth. During the promotions of Love and Thunder, it was implied — repeatedly — that this may be Chris’ final Marvel film. He had mentioned his enthusiasm was waning after 11 years in the role. But with Zeus entrusting Hercules with a revenge mission against Thor, Chris would have to return. This could very well mean Chris coming back just for a cameo, potentially to be killed by Hercules. That would serve two purposes–allow the series to continue by getting a new Thor to take up the mantle, and establish Hercules as a formidable threat. The film had Natalie Portman’s The Mighty Thor and the Asgardian children also channel Thor’s powers in the climactic battle. So Marvel already has several worthy successors ready.
But a bigger indication is the message that appears at the end of the credits. It simply states ‘Thor will be back’. To some, it may mean another actor can be back as a new Thor but Chris’ arc hasn’t ended yet. And if Thor does return, he will be there.
In between these two is an end-credits scene, which brings back a popular MCU character. Natalie Portman‘s Jane Foster dies in the 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. Apart from the cameo, this scene does not do much for the franchise’s future although it could be a way to bring back ‘dead’ characters into the fold.
Another recent trend that Love and Thunder’s post-credits scene carry forward is being used as a de facto casting announcement. For long, MCU post-credits scenes were used to set up a future story, using existing characters from another film. The first time new characters were introduced was when the Maximoff twins were introduced at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier. But of late, MCU films have done this increasingly. 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/anti-hero in the MCU’s future. Also read: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Charlize Theron introduces her character Clea
For now, no Thor sequel has been announced and there is no Avengers film planned as well. So it remains to be seen just how and where Thor will return and when we will 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 may be, one thing is certain–the MCU isn’t done with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor just yet.