WARNING: Major spoilers ahead.
Of course you planted yourself firmly in that seat as the closing credits rolled on "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." After all, one of the most exciting things about any Marvel movie is seeing how it teases some future Marvel movie after cataloging the best boys and dolly grips, right?
Marvel's Phase Two (i.e., all the post-"Avengers" movies) has been a little underwhelming with the credits scenes. After "The Avengers" teased "Guardians of the Galaxy" baddie Thanos, we've only gotten a sleepy Bruce Banner joke at the end of "Iron Man 3" and a confusing appearance by Benicio Del Toro as the Collector (another "Guardians" character) at the end of "Thor: The Dark World."
However, the "Captain America" sequel really kicks things into high gear with our first official prelude to "Avengers: Age of Ultron." After the first batch of closing credits, we're introduced to HYDRA bigwig Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) as he maniacally muses on the fall of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA, "two sides of the same coin that no longer hold any currency."
Von Strucker seems unfazed by the severe turn of events depicted in the Cap sequel as examines the powerful weapons he now has at his disposal. First, he's somehow retrieved Loki's mind-controlling scepter that the puny god used to wreak havoc in "The Avengers." But more importantly, Von Strucker possesses "the Twins," or so he mutters as he looks into a two-sided glass cell holding two of the most anticipated additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Yes, "the Twins" are Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), who will later be known as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, respectively. However, they don't look like they’re ready to join Earth's Mightiest Superheroes just yet; in fact, they're a bit of a mess, with Pietro sporting a shaggy haircut and seemingly unable to control his sudden bursts of super-speed, and Wanda sitting on the floor, wild-eyed and quietly crazed as she works her dangerous "hexes."
Von Strucker declares that the "age of miracles" has arrived, meaning that mutants are now officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (though the term itself belongs to 20th Century Fox as they own the rights to the X-Men, which will feature a different version of Quicksilver). The scene ends with one of Wanda's floating objects suddenly exploding and we cut to the rest of the scrolling credits.
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have been all the rage on the Net lately, as recent pics from the set of the "Avengers" sequel revealed both Taylor-Johnson and Olsen in costume and battling the forces of Ultron alongside master bowman Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
In case you missed them, here's another look (alongside their comic-book counterparts).
There's a second bonus scene as well, one at the very tail end of the credits (the "shawarma placement," if you will). This final sequence takes us back to the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian, where we glide past the main attraction and move in on the section dedicated to Cap's WWII buddy, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes.
Another camera move reveals the lone figure reading the exhibit to be its actual subject: Bucky himself, now free of the Winter Soldier garb and wandering about in search of his identity. Bucky's presence at the Cap exhibit could be to set up his switch back to being one of the good guys after his villainous turn in "The Winter Soldier."
In the comics, Bucky's memories are eventually completely restored and he's recruited for covert operations by Nick Fury. He even becomes the new Captain America after Steve Rogers is believed to be killed in action... and keeps the persona when Rogers re-emerges, complete with his predecessor's blessing. We don't know if the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be following that storyline, but no matter what's in store for him on the big screen, we definitely haven't seen the last of Bucky Barnes.
We'll look for more hints in "Guardians of the Galaxy" (opening Aug. 1) and then see Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch slide into action in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (May 1, 2015).