Iron Man 3 is out in theaters tomorrow, and it should come as no surprise that those who are willing to sit through the end credits — and seriously, they run something like ten minutes and include more names than a small-town phone book — will be rewarded with an extra (and very funny) bonus scene. Some call these little bonuses “credit cookies,” others call them “stingers.” In Roger Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary, Serdor Yegulalp dubs them the “Monk’s Reward,” defined thus: “A surprising final line or image, tagged on after the credits have finished rolling… so named because it usually takes monk-like devotion to sit through the credits to get to it.” The previous Marvel movies made a regular habit of including credit cookies, mostly as preparation for The Avengers, but they’re not the only movies to throw in a little something extra for those who stick around to find out who the unit accountant was. (Warning: minor spoilers ahead, but all for movies that have been out for a year or more.)
Since the earlier Marvel stingers were all about preparing for The Avengers, there was some question about what the hell they’d do for a credit cookie this time. To cover all bases, writer/director Joss Whedon did two: the first, a serious set-up scene for the next “phase” of Avengers movies, and then a more light-hearted payoff to an earlier joke about schwarma. It wasn’t in Whedon’s original script, or even in the first cut of the film; in fact, it wasn’t even in the film when it premiered, or when it opened overseas. Whedon and his cast added in the button mere days before the movie opened in North America, and Chris Evans — who had a full beard for another role — hid his face behind his hand, to cover up the terrible prosthetic make-up used to cover that beard.