Over the past 14 years, aside from the VFX and action, one of the most anticipated parts of any Marvel Cinematic Universe movie has been the post-credits scenes. Almost every film in the MCU has had one or more post-credit scenes since Iron Man introduced the concept with a cameo by Nick Fury in 2008. Thor: Love and Thunder carries that legacy forward.
Huge spoilers ahead for Thor: Love and Thunder!
Directed by Taika Waititi, Love and Thunder is Thor’s fourth solo adventure in the Marvel Universe, with Chris Hemsworth returning in the title role. It also stars Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson and Christian Bale as the villain Gorr the God Butcher. The film contains one middle and one final scene that serves as a continuation of the story.
One of the sequences in the film involves Thor, Valkyrie (Tessa), Jane (Natalie) and Korg (Taika) traveling to Omnipotence City and asking the other gods to form an army to stop the Gorra threat. But things take an ugly turn after the king of the gods, Zeus (Russell Crowe), refuses help and threatens to capture the heroes. This leads to a fight that ends with Thor striking Zeus’s own lightning bolt through the heart, seemingly killing me. Thor and the others take Zeus’ thunderbolt with them to help them fight Gorr.
The mid-credits scene reveals that Zeus is indeed alive, but badly injured. The scene shows him as the women tend to his wound as he continues his monologue about how the gods were once feared but not anymore. He talks at length about what it means to be a god and concludes by saying that men will fear the 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 says yes.
This interaction potentially sets the stage for a future clash between Thor and Hercules and potentially brings back Chris Hemsworth. During the promotion of Love and Thunder it was hinted – repeatedly – that this might be Chris’ last Marvel film. He mentioned that his enthusiasm is waning after 11 years in the role. But with Zeus tasking Hercules with revenge against Thor, Chris will have to return. This could very well mean that Chris is only coming back for a cameo to be killed by Hercules. This would serve two purposes – allowing the series to continue by getting a new Thor to take up the mantle and establishing Hercules as a formidable threat. Natalie Portman’s The Mighty Thor was in the movie, and the Asgard children also channeled Thor’s powers in the climactic battle. So Marvel already has several worthy successors ready.
But a bigger clue is the message that appears at the end of the credits. It simply says “Thor will return”. For some, this may mean another actor may return as the new Thor, but Chris’ arc isn’t over yet. And if Thor does indeed return, he will be there.
There is a final scene between the two that brings back a popular MCU character. Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster dies in battle against Gorr and, like all warriors who die in battle, goes to Valhalla, the Viking equivalent of heaven. And she is welcomed there by Heimdall (Idris Elba), the protector of Asgard who was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Other than a cameo, this scene doesn’t do much for the future of the franchise, although it could be a way to bring the “dead” characters back into the fold.
Another recent trend that Love and Thunder’s post-credits scene carries over is being used as a de facto casting announcement. For a long time, MCU post-credits scenes have been used to create a future story using existing characters from another film. New characters were first introduced when the Maximoff twins were introduced at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier. But lately the MCU movies have been doing that more and more. Harry Styles’ Starfox was introduced in Eternals, while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness features Charlize Theron as Cleo. Love and Thunder does the same by setting up Brett Goldstein as a potential villain/anti-hero in the future of the MCU.
So far, no Thor sequel has been announced, and no Avengers movie is planned. So it remains to be seen how and where Thor will return and when we will see Hercules next. It could easily be in a Disney+ series. San Diego Comic Con is later this month and an announcement can be expected there. But be that as it may, one thing is for sure – the MCU isn’t done with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.