‘Stinger’ scenes after film credits need to come to an end
By RICHARD ROEPER firstname.lastname@example.org May 16, 2012 8:14PM
Neve Campbell (left) and Denise Richards in 1998’s “Wild Things,” a movie that employed a “stinger” before they became an overused cliche.
Updated: June 29, 2012 9:33AM
You can’t blame moviegoers for racing to the exits once a film has reached its conclusion. Spend two hours sucking down a soft drink in a container the size of R2D2, and it’s gonna be a race to the bathroom the second the credits start rolling.
Only one problem. If you don’t stick around until the very last Personal Assistant to the Assistant to Mr. Downey has been thanked and the very last note of the Pounding Terminator-Influenced Soundtrack has been sounded, you might miss something.
It’s the extra scene after the credits, or the “stinger,” as some fans call it.
SPOILER ALERT! We’re going to talk about the endings of movies and the content of some stingers just ahead. You’ve been warned!
Again: SPOILER ALERT!
We’re not talking about outtakes that roll during the closing credits — scenes in which an actress can’t keep a straight face as she’s reciting a line, or we see an actor improvising variations on a joke. Nor are we focusing on scenes that roll adjacent to the credits, e.g., Mr. Rooney getting on the school bus in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” We’re talking about stand-alone moments that occur just before the lights go up, stopping moviegoers in their tracks, e.g., Ferris looking surprised to see us, asking us why we’re still in the theater and telling us to “Go home!”
There was a time when the stinger was a rare treat. Now it’s so commonplace — especially in the superhero movies — that you see message boards threads about possible stingers before a movie even comes out. And it’s become such a predictable part of the viewing experience that “Marvel’s The Avengers” contained TWO stingers — one halfway through the credits, and a comedic nugget at the very end. For all I know there’s a third stinger that takes place while the staff is cleaning up all the popcorn we’ve left on the ground.
Enough is enough?
Is this trend the cinematic equivalent of an extra helping of dessert after a great dinner — or is it becoming as tiresome and cliched as characters in action movies saying, “I’ve got a bad feeling,” and, “I’ve got this!” Isn’t it reasonable for a moviegoer to expect the story of the film to be told within the lines? If you have to sit through 20 minutes of commercials and trailers and two hours of movie, should you have to stick around for the credits, which sometimes feel as long as the movie itself?
With the Marvel movies, the stingers have been great fun, with post-credits vignettes after movies such as “The Hulk” and “Captain Avengers” planting the seeds for the Avengers movies. It started with the first “Iron Man,” when Nick Fury says, “Mr. Stark, you’ve become a part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet,” and it continues through the aforementioned “Avengers” extra scenes.
The stinger at the end of “Coraline” revealed the code to type in a contest to win a pair of custom-made sneakers. “Finding Nemo” has an awesome stinger with a little guy gobbling up a much bigger foe. The Darth Vader breathing stinger for “Phantom Menace” was probably better than anything in the actual movie. In the stinger for “American Gangster,” Denzel shoots us.
But do we really need the stinger that pops up after the credits for “Battleship”? Is the setup for a sequel a promise — or a threat?
One of my favorite movies of 2012 is “The Grey,” which was released on DVD earlier this week. The final scene in Joe Carnahan’s man vs. wolf thriller is just perfect, with Liam Neeson arming himself and facing off against the alpha wolf, looking near-certain death in the eye. But then, after the credits have rolled ... Well, let’s just say I wish they’d left well enough alone.
One of the most audacious post-ending sequences occurred with “Wild Things,” the Mr. Skin-friendly thriller starring Kevin Bacon, Denise Richards and Neve Campbell. It’s not really a stinger because the scenes play during the credits, but essentially, we get an explanation for nearly every twist and turn in the movie — after the movie has “ended.” Gee, thanks for finally sharing!
From “Airplane!” to “Lethal Weapon 3,” from the original “Muppet Movie” to the “Pirates” franchise, from “X-Men: the Last Stand” to a number of this summer’s blockbusters, it’s a stinger epidemic. The freshness has worn off, and unless you’ve got something truly original to show us, save it for the DVD.