From the time I was a wee lad, my father used to do something that annoyed me every time our family went to see a movie in theaters. As the final shot would fade to black and the movie’s theme started to play one last time, the credits would start to role and the crowd of moviegoers would file out while my dad would make us sit there and watch the seemingly never-ending credits. Let me tell you, for a pre-teen kid this was tantamount to actually watching paint dry, only this paint scrolled endlessly from bottom to top. I grew legitimately embarrassed by this practice, particularly when theater employees would come to sweep up the unearthly amount of spilled popcorn everywhere and in my mind I thought they were looking at our family like we were strange.
Around my mid-teenage years, I finally started to pick up why my dad always sat in his seat for a good five to seven minutes after a movie finished, and it wasn’t to wait for a possible post-credits scene, which was not as common before Marvel popularized it. For him, calmly watching (or at the very least staying) for the credits was his way of silently applauding and recognizing the work of the literally hundreds of people involved in the making of a movie.
There were exceptions to this practice as a bad movie would compel him to stay only momentarily before he joined the exodus out of the theater. But generally speaking, it’s a regular practice of his and one that I now try to carry on and share with others. I don’t mean to imply that I quietly watch every name pass by; quite the opposite, it’s a great chance to talk to those around you about the quality of the acting, everyone’s favorite scenes and what the movie could have done better. If the audience is really lucky, they get treated to gems like Tom Cruise as Les Grossman dancing through some of the credits in Tropic Thunder (Seriously, what a treat that was).
It’s because of this practice that I was one of only ten people in what was a full theater who saw the post-credits scene of Iron Man and literally freaked out (in a crazy fanboy way) by the prospect of an Avengers movie. Now when you go see a Marvel movie, maybe a dozen people will leave while the rest sit in their seats in expectation. Truth be told, I find little Easter egg scenes like this, while sometimes pointless in comparison to Samuel L. Jackson standing in your living room, encourage viewers to stay for the credits. Audiences may may not stay for the same reasons I do, but it’s a start.
When I’m with a group of people who don’t share my family’s tradition of staying for the credits, I’m often compelled to leave when they want to, which is usually right as the movie finishes. In this regard, I hope that more people start staying for the credits when it’s obvious there will be no bonus scene at the end, because in my mind it’s not just respectful, it’s classy.