Now that Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters, many fans will be speculating about what comes next. The new MCU installment is mostly a standalone effort, with minimal connective tissue to the rest of the ongoing franchise narrative. But the movie does feature a mid-credits scene that teases a lead-in to next year's Avengers: Infinity War. Let's discuss what that and the post-credits scene mean.
Obviously, there are SPOILERS for Thor: Ragnarok and a bit of Infinity War below.
The Mid-Credits Scene
Thor: Ragnarok ends with Asgard destroyed, as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) allows the demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) to go full "Ragnarok" on the Norse god's homeworld in order to save its people and the rest of the universe from Hela (Cate Blanchett). With help from Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Heimdall (Idris Elba) and his new Kronan friend Korg (Taika Waititi), Thor carts off the Asgardian survivors aboard a ship stolen from the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). They're all nomadic refugees heading toward a potential new residence on Midgard, aka Earth.
When the credits stop the first time, we're back with that ship filled with an entire realm's worth of characters. Suddenly, an even larger ship appears and starts to pull them in. Presumably, that's a ship belonging to if not also containing the big bad Thanos (Josh Brolin). There are certainly some of those Chitauri aliens from the first Avengers movie. Also presumably, Loki has managed to salvage the Infinity Stone known as the Tesseract from Odin's trophy room before its destruction, and maybe Thanos has tracked it suddenly to this "Statesman" ship. But does that mean Infinity War will open with a direct continuation of this hijacking?
Fans in attendance at Comic-Con this year saw some footage from Infinity War, none of which has wound up online. Coverage of the material, however, describes what looks like an opening sequence with the Guardians of the Galaxy flying through space and then meeting Thor when his body crashes into the Milano. Thor is also said to have had both eyes (despite losing one at the end of Ragnarok), so the timing is unclear. Maybe they'll erase one of his eyes before the movie is finished? Marvel movies often tease direct lead-ins during these cliffhanger mid-credits scenes, but they're rarely exact links from film to film.
My guess is the footage fans saw at Comic-Con involves some events with Thor exiting the Statesman prior to its being engulfed by the larger ship and then needing the Guardians' help to rescue his friends and attempt to retrieve the Tesseract. We know from our interview with Infinity War co-director Joe Russo that one of the interesting dynamics in the movie will be between Thor and Guardians leader Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). Other than that, we'll have to wait and see - and not in the next MCU installment, either. First, we've got Black Panther offering another relatively standalone solo story in theaters on February 16, 2018. Infinity War opens soon after on May 4, 2018.
The Post-Credits Scene
After all the end credits are done, there's another scene that isn't as significant to the future of the MCU, as far as we know. This one shows the Grandmaster pouring out of another of his ships and into the presence of his worlds' angry inhabitants who've been part of a revolt against the tyrannical ruler. It's another comedic moment with the scene-stealing Goldblum, as he explains that they've done a great job as their part in the rebellion game against him. It probably doesn't mean much other than to show that he's still alive, for now. But will he be torn apart by the mob he encounters after the screen goes dark? Not likely, since we expect to see him in the MCU again someday.
One place we know we'll see the Grandmaster in the future is in a flat in Australia. Goldblum teased that he'll be in a short similar to the mockumentary shorts involving Thor and his human roommate, Darryl. This will obviously be just a jokey non-canon sketch and will probably be included as an extra on the Ragnarok home video release. We'll actually get to see a lot more Goldblum/Grandmaster on the Blu-ray release, though it'll mainly be deleted and extended scenes from the movie. Finally, we've been told the character could someday share the screen with his brother, the Collector (Benicio Del Toro). Both of the cosmic figures have seen their homes destroyed and will have to meet up in their flight eventually.