The "Iron Man 3" post credits scene, in case you didn't stay for it, is pretty darn good, and it's more fun and less inscrutable than most of the post-credits teases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it doesn't reveal much about where Tony Stark, or Robert Downey Jr., is off to next -- which is especially troubling considering how "Iron Man 3" ends.
We'll take a deep dive and analyze the post credits scene and how Tony Stark will manage to get around from here on out.
Here There Be "Iron Man 3" Spoilers
First, a brief summary of the "Iron Man 3" post credits scene. After a really long credits sequence, a short scene plays revealing who Tony Stark has been narrating to the entire time. He's lying on a psychiatrist's couch, and talking to Bruce Banner, aka Mark Ruffalo, aka The Hulk, and telling him the whole "Iron Man 3" story. But The Hulk clearly nodded off, and he admits that he did so basically immediately and missed the whole story. Tony's a little peeved, but Bruce says he's not that kind of doctor -- which he isn't -- and doesn't have the temperament for it. And that's it. A closing card says that "Tony Stark will return," and that's the end of "Iron Man 3."
What should we make of the "Iron Man 3" post credits scene? Well, it doesn't really tell us anything. The last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, "The Avengers," teased "Guardians of the Galaxy." "Iron Man 3" teases "The Avengers 2," since The Hulk and Iron Man are both part of the Avengers. But it doesn't tease any plot details at all -- it just reconfirms that Tony and Bruce are buddies and that the initial difficulties in getting the Avengers together in the first place won't carry over to the second film (getting Thor back to Earth may be a bit harder).
The biggest question in the "Iron Man 3" post credits scene is how exactly Tony Stark is going to be Iron Man anymore. In the denouement of "Iron Man 3," Tony blows up all the Iron Man suits and gets the shrapnel -- and the electromagnet -- surgically removed, theoretically eliminating Tony's ability to directly power the Iron Man suits. This isn't a huge problem, but it will make "The Avengers 2" look silly when Tony has to rebuild a bunch of suits in a hurry. And you know Tony kept at least one anyway. That's the kind of guy Stark is.
Just as important, but unasked by the "Iron Man 3" post credits scene, is whether Robert Downey, Jr. will return as Tony Stark. We know Tony Stark will return, but RDJ's contract is up and the actor is ready to play hardball. Downey has already hinted at retiring from the Stark role, which is probably just a negotiation tactic. Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo aren't locked down either.
Get to work, Marvel, and stop being stingy. "The Avengers 2" without the same cast isn't the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. It would just be low rent.