Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” End Credits

Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright as Okoye and Shuri, wearing expensive non-superhero fashions to "blend in" with mixed results, from Marvel's "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever".

Okoye and Shuri learned everything they know about “going undercover” from James Bond parodies.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: after going 2-for-2 on his first feature films Fruitvale Station and Creed, director Ryan Coogler raised the bar in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Black Panther, and in turn gave Chadwick Boseman a long-overdue boost into super-stardom after years of his own fine works such as 42 and the still-underrated Persons Unknown. His death was among the many, many, many reasons we will never forgive the year 2020 for its endless curses.

Though we were blessed with chances to celebrate his life and talent posthumously in Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and the grand surprisie of an alt-timeline Panther reprise in What If…? season one, the MCU proper never got a chance to say goodbye, to give King T’Challa of Wakanda the big sendoff he would’ve deserved if only Boseman could’ve had a couple more years to perform the honors. Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole return for that very purpose — and so, so much more — with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

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Yes, You Know There’s a Scene During the “Black Adam” End Credits

Dwayne Johnson IS Black Adam!

The People’s Furrowed Brow.

Longtime MCC readers may recall a quainter era when sitting through the end credits of every single film used to be my thing, a longtime viewing habit I share with my wife that the resulting traffic stats kept encouraging me to indulge here. Sometimes that still works for me, as borne out in the first few months of 2022 when search engine users wouldn’t stop clicking on my months-old, disposable entries for Venom 2 and Encanto. (The latter didn’t even have an end credits scene — just a single fancy clip-art image that amused me. And yet, for weeks strangers kept clicking and clicking and clicking, like hundreds of twitchy-fingered Energizer Bunnies.)

Now every geek-news site has at least one fan-writer on retainer who’s more than willing to sacrifice ten extra minutes of their lives to sit all the way through films in case of any clickbait opportunities. I can’t fault those gig-economy freelancers for getting paid to crank out what I’ve been giving away for free for ten years now. Nice work if you can network with the right people to get it.

For the sake of my mental health and sensible allocation of my free-time resources, I try not to treat the end-credits thing as a competition. If I did, after last Sunday’s nonstop busyness I’d have been neck-deep in despair the next morning when the scene during the Black Adam end credits took mainstream entertainment headlines by storm. The sincerely shocking surprise had already been ruined online by boorish bigmouths over a week earlier, but after opening weekend Warner Brothers and Dwayne Johnson jointly decided it was cool to spread the same major spoiler to anyone with narrower internet feeds who’d missed out. So my pro bono end-credits monitoring services aren’t needed here.

Fun trivia, though: did you know if you pay to see the scene during the Black Adam end credits in theaters, you also get a whole movie for free? It’s true! It’s called Black Adam. I sat through that too, for better or worse. It’s miles ahead of the worst thing I’ve seen in theaters so far this year, and a few streets ahead of Justice League, but it isn’t making my Top 10.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Thor: Love and Thunder” End Credits

Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman in "Thor Love and Thunder".

“Y’know, if we let Gorr end him, we could have the movie all to ourselves…”

Unlike some actors we know who used to earn eight-figure paychecks from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now probably have to subsist on seven-figure residuals, Chris Hemsworth isn’t going anywhere. The star and Executive Producer is back for Thor: Love and Thunder, as is Taika Waititi, costar and director of Thor: Ragnarok, the Best Thor Movie Ever and possibly the funniest MCU film to date. Perplexingly, he’s followed up with my least favorite Waititi film to date.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Lightyear” End Credits

Lightyear!

To finity and no farther!

“In 1995 Andy got a new toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”

That’s paraphrasing (i.e., possibly misquoting from fading memory) the first lines from Lightyear — its high-concept, low-bar mission statement and its disclaimer to deflect any viewers who might’ve refused to relax without some form of canonical context, no matter how tenuous or superfluous. Critics’ memories of the exact verbiage differed from one site to the next. The erstwhile animation trailblazers at Pixar were hoping those same fuzzy memories might forgive/forget the shamelessly unnecessary Toy Story 4 and embrace this, their latest merchandise revival to be contrived from the greatest animated film trilogy ever.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” End Credits

Dr, Strange 2 IMAX Poster!

We don’t always pay extra for Marvel movie upgrades, but this time…eh, why not.

A coworker of mine was invited to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on opening weekend despite the fact that she’d never watched a single Marvel product in her life. While I chuckled for a few minutes and mentally judged the invitee for his selfish chutzpah, another coworker generally on the same pop-culture page as me graciously tried to recap both the first Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: No Way Home in hopes that it might give her the slightest help before being dragged into the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s kind to show someone how to dog-paddle at least a little before they’re shoved into the deep end of the pool by some dude eagerly looking forward to giving her swimming lessons while she’s drowning. Oh, the gleeful countdown he probably kept in his head for days until that heroic moment when he could point at Benedict Cumberbatch onscreen and proudly, loudly whisper to her, “That’s Doctor Strange!”

Meanwhile, I’m unhelpfully daydreaming how this exchange might’ve been twice as entertaining, but only half as helpful, if at all helpful, if coworker #2 had delivered the recap in the style of Ant-Man’s pal Luis. I am arguably an enabler of the problem here.

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Yes, There’s a Bonus After “The Batman” End Credits

The Batman Poster!

Poster for the box office smash I Am Vengeance (Orange).

It’s been two months since the last new superhero film hit theaters, and six months since the last new DC Comics film. Between Oscar season and unwanted studio castoffs, it’s been such a drought for viewers who’ll only leave the comfort of their homes for comic-book films. At last The Batman is here to save them. Not that I’m complaining too loudly about this cinematic rescuer, as it’s one of the Dark Knight’s best films in over a decade, maybe longer.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” End Credits

Spider-Man No Way Home!

It wouldn’t be a true Spidey film if Peter didn’t unmask for the final battle.

Here’s the Too Long, Won’t Read version: despite some wonderful interplay among the main cast and the special guests at the heart of the film (and one beautifully meta performance in particular), Spider-Man: No Way Home is my least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film since Thor: The Dark World. I’m in the minority on this, but no other 2021 film has aggravated me as much as this box-office leviathan did.

Hope that helps? You’re now free to go. Thanks for stopping by. I do understand. I just need to get the following 5000 words out of my system. Imagine it’s Martin Scorsese’s rapid voice so it’ll move faster.

Still here? Cool, but fair warning: it’s been a long time since I front-loaded a movie entry with a courtesy spoiler alert. There’s no way I can adequately express my reactions without moving beyond the trailer-approved plot points and into its numerous surprises, some of which were foretold on various geek clickbait sites and some of which I predicted from the trailers. Really, the courtesy spoiler alert is for real, anything goes. You might find plenty of reasons for irritation with me, but by venturing beyond the courtesy spoiler alert guard post you hereby forfeit the right to count “AAAHH! SPOILERS!” among them.

Once again, for those just joining us: courtesy spoiler alert. Thank you.

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Yes, There’s a Capybara After the “Encanto” End Credits

Disney's Encanto!

Not many family photos could double as a cover for their own superhero comic.

Once upon a time, new Disney and Pixar animated films were an automatic “see in theaters” category for our family. (Well, generally speaking. Maybe someday I’ll get around to The Good Dinosaur.) Works from other animation studios were not so guaranteed and were judged on a case-by-case basis. Our last animated theatrical experience was Pixar’s Onward, which was back in March 2020 and just-okay. For non-Disney fare (not counting shorts) I’d have to go clear back to the third How to Train Your Dragon in 2019, which was likewise just-okay.

Then along came a pandemic that interrupted our traditions and our rhythms. Some studios kept releasing new cartoons anyway, albeit on a protracted schedule. We ignored all of them, even after getting our shots, because of inertia. I recently caught up with a few 2021 releases on streaming services, but they haven’t been a top priority. (Maybe someday I’ll get around to Raya and the Last Dragon.) Amidst this current holiday season my son and I noticed the oversight and revived our tradition at last with an outing for Disney’s Encanto — apropos of the occasion, a film about family, tradition, and ruination that we think comes from without when in fact the disruption is coming from inside the house.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Eternals” End Credits

Celestial Arishem!

“Kneel before your new god, the great and powerful d6!”

Hi, I’m a longtime comics reader who always thought the Eternals sucked.

Among the tenets of staunch dogma handed down by elder comic book fans is: Jack “King” Kirby was a saint and every page he breathed upon was perfection incarnate. To find fault in anything Kirby ever did is to sound like an edgelord poser and betray Comics. Kirby indisputably drew legendary comics and was one of the most significant co-inventors of one of our greatest American corporate mythologies, but his heyday largely ended a few years before my time. His pages could be wondrous panoplies of dynamic, majestic, blockbuster imagery, all the more mind-blowing if you can see the original, full-size art in person.

Then there were the other components, from the peculiar scripting in his post-1970 Stan-Lee-less bombastic productions to his predilection for pun-filled character names that could sound like their own MAD Magazine parodies. Multiple short samples of his mid-’70s Eternals, arguably a rehash of his DC “Fourth World” work with new nametags, left me cold. Later revivals by the likes of Walt Simonson and Neil Gaiman — yes, that Neil Gaiman — likewise did nothing for me. I didn’t even finish reading Gaiman’s version. I tried. Alas, I’m not proud to be a longtime heretic barred from the Eternal Orthodox Church of King Kirby the Konsummate Kreator.

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “In the Heights” End Credits

In the Heights!

How you doin’?

Usually whenever an entry dawdles in my head unwritten for such a ludicrous time span, I don’t preface its procrastinated release with hyperbole to the effect of “It’s an entry five months in the making!” as if I’ve been toiling away on it day and night, tinkering with every last clause and syllable with a mental toolkit until I achieved self-expressive perfection. Sometimes that is my writing process in my mind, till I unveil the end results and then spot three typos and six flat punchlines. That isn’t the excuse here.

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