Yes, the ending of Thor: Ragnarok once again drops a post-credit stinger on to rabid Marvel fans, but for the most part, the movie — director Taika Waititi’s first entry into the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” the third entry in the trilogy of Thor-led films, and the seventeenth film in the greater interconnected Avengers series — takes a totally different direction than its predecessors. Ragnarok recalls the days of standalone adventuring. As Thor ventures from Asgard to Earth to Sakaar and back to his kingdom, he’s rarely bogged down in setting up other films. Mostly.
The spaceship at the end of Ragnarok
The first of Thor 3‘s two end credits scenes finds Thor and Loki staring out over space, on their way to Earth with the last survivors of Asgard. The sweet moment is interrupted (or intercepted) by a large ship, multiple sizes bigger than their own, looking like it’s ready to swallow them up like a Star Destroyer swallows Tantive IV in the original Star Wars. Deductive reasoning suggests this is the ship of Thanos and The Black Order, the primary villains of Avengers: Infinity War (and presumably the untitled Avengers 4, slated for 2019).
Thor, the Infinity Stones, and Thanos’ role in Avengers: Infinity War
The last time we saw Thanos, back in the Avengers: Age of Ultron post-credits scene, he was putting on his Infinity Gauntlet, which had empty space for all of the cosmic Infinity Stones. Fans quickly pointed out that we’d actually seen the Gauntlet loaded up before, back in Odin’s treasure room in the first Thor movie. Ragnarok corrects that apparent error when Hela immediately knocks over the Gauntlet on Asgard and declares it a fake (which also makes sense as the Aether from Thor: The Dark World had to go to The Collector so it wouldn’t be in the same vault as the Tesseract, the other name for the Space stone). Hela does show great interest in the Tesseract, but then settles on… The Eternal Flame.
The Eternal Flame?!? If you’ve been following the reveals of the Infinity Stones a.k.a. Marvel’s magic MacGuffins, you know the Tesseract showed up in Avengers (as did Loki’s Scepter, though that’s not outed as a Stone until Age of Ultron), The Aether (the Reality Stone) appeared in Thor: The Dark World, The Orb showed up in Guardians of the Galaxy — where the Collector finally told the backstory of the stones and gave us a glimpse at the unique colors for each one — Ultron outed Loki’s scepter as the Mind Stone (which the villain used to create Vision) and Doctor Strange (in Doctor Strange) slyly dropped that the Eye of Agamotto necklace was the Time Stone. That leaves one Stone left: The Soul Stone.