There was once a time when comic book movies would be chock-full of nods to the comic source material, secondary characters in the universe, or even light hints of what may be in store in future sequels. But these days, Easter eggs are a certified means of marketing sequels, teasing spinoffs, and helping comic book fans connect the filmmakers’ dots before mass audiences. It’s especially the case in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Marc Webb’s reboot of the Spider-Man film series already contained a few nods to the comics, but the sequel does far more, essentially laying out several films still to come. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of smaller references to the comics, TV shows, or real-life locations used in filming. We’ve gathered up all of them, no matter how subtle they may be, so see how many of these bits of trivia, Easter eggs, and comic book references you spotted. Needless to say, there will be plenty of SPOILERS in our list of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trivia, so read at your own risk.
The first Easter egg is far from a subtle one, and found when Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is catching a ride during the high-speed chase in the film’s first act. When receiving a phone call from Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), his ringtone can be heard playing the theme song from the original animated Spider-Man TV series.
Comic book fans were more than a little surprised when it was revealed that Rhino – the enormous, musclebound/horned villain – would not only appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but would be played by the less-than-intimidating Paul Giamatti. They were even more surprised when the first set photos of Giamatti in costume had him not in a CG rig, but tattooed in a tracksuit.
While Giamatti appears in his full ‘Rhino’ persona at the film’s conclusion, audiences get a brief tease of what’s to come when Peter Parker reveals his underwear of choice: rhino-covered boxers. Perhaps a clue that Aleksei Sytsevich chose the Rhino rig due to his zoological daydreaming? No way to know for sure.
Stan Lee Cameo
As is expected in Marvel and Sony’s films, legendary comic book creator Stan Lee makes his appearance early on in Amazing Spider-Man 2. Introduced as one of the family members attending Peter and Gwen’s graduation, Lee witnesses the webslinger’s late arrival, saying, “I think I know that guy.” With Spider-Man one of the heroes most clearly tied to Lee for the past few decades, we would certainly hope so.
Hint of Villainy
Although the Daily Bugle newspaper is only mentioned in the film, Sony took the opportunity to use the fiction news outlet as one of its prime pieces of viral marketing. In the weeks and months leading up to the films’ release, multiple villains were teased through the paper’s website, ranging from Cletus Kasady (Carnage), Herman Schultz (Shocker), Frederick Foswell (Big Man) and others. Whether these false news stories were meant as simple allusions for fans of the comics, or a sign of what’s to come… only time will answer that question.
J. Jonah Jameson
Saim Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy may not have been a hit with all audiences, but one aspect of the films that garnered universal praise was J.K. Simmons’ performance as Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. While two films have now been released without an appearance, audiences do get to see that the cruel sense of humor Jameson has become known for is alive and well – even in the form of an email.
Since most viewers are likely to read the message Peter receives from Jameson in Simmons’ voice, it’s no surprise director Marc Webb has admitted that were the character to appear in the flesh, there is a good chance Simmons could be called on to reprise the role. His position on Spider-Man has been established, and now his attitude toward Parker is clear. Hopefully, a cameo (at the very least) is next
Die-hard comic fans were somewhat disappointed (or relieved) when it became clear that Marc Webb wouldn’t be adapting Electro’s classic costume for the big screen. Jamie Foxx offered the explanation of his supervillain suit needing “to make sense in 2013,” meaning a sleek black rubber. Not to be completely overlooked, Webb managed to at least reference the original colors, in the form of Max’s green and yellow-iced birthday cake (he got it from Spider-Man!).
One of the most outspoken bullies of Oscorp employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is his superior, Alistair Smythe (B.J. Novak). While indirectly responsible for the creation of ‘Electro,’ comic fans recognize the name as belonging to the supervillain Spider-Slayer. Outfitted with a metal armored carapace and a serious hatred of Spider-Man, Smythe would become a threat to both Peter Parker and the Daily Bugle’s editor J. Jonah Jameson.
Jameson had first hired Smythe’s brilliant father to construct a series of Spider-Slayer machines, but the destruction of them also led to the scientist’s death, sending his son Alistair on a quest for revenge on both his father’s target and his benefactor.
With some of Spider-Man’s most famous villains known to comic book fans and those who saw Raimi’s trilogy, the various teases of villains were perhaps not as shocking as possible. Possibly to counter that expectation, the first trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 dropped some shocking names, uncovered when Harry Osborn scrolls through the many files and secret projects bequeathed to him by his father.
Including Venom, Morbius, Doctor Octopus, and a possible reference to Kraven the Hunter, the vague allusions are likely not all seriously planned for future films. But the contents of Oscorp’s ‘Special Projects’ department are explicit hints at what comes next for the franchise.
The signature equipment of Spider-Man villains Vulture and Doc Ock are featured prominently in the film (along with a pair of actors who fit the profiles in supporting roles), and Sony removed all doubt by revealing what might end up being the cast of the upcoming Sinister Six spinoff.
Once Peter has sworn off a relationship with Gwen, he proves unable to abandon her completely, following her from rooftops as she goes about her life. In one scene, Stacy can be seen walking her dog – but it isn’t just any dog. In fact, it’s Ren, the golden retriever that real-life couple Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield adopted in 2012.
Felicia Hardy/Black Cat
Casual moviegoers were probably startled out of their seats when the young woman present at Harry Osborn’s first meeting with Oscorp’s leadership revealed that her name was ‘Felicia,’ sending comic fans in the theater into squeals of delight. For the unaware, Felicia Hardy (played by Felicity Jones) is the name of the classic Spider-Man villain/love interest known as Black Cat, although her skills at burglary and costume are nowhere to be seen in the finished film.
The character’s backstory has varied over the years, but it’s possible that a turn toward villainy is in store. Especially when you consider that a scene between Felicia and Harry (post-Goblin-transformation) was teased in trailers, but is removed from the final cut.
“Whatever a Spider Can”
More a clever line of dialogue than a hidden nod to the source material, Harry Osborn explains to Peter that his father’s genetic research not only gave Spider-Man his strength and acrobatics, but granted him the ability to “do everything a spider can.” The slight tweaking of the classic theme song verse “does whatever a spider can” is sure to elicit a chuckle from older fans, but is subtle enough to slip past plenty of the unfamiliar.
Nod To The Roots
With Peter Parker’s future career as a photographer for the Daily Bugle teased, audiences also got to hear that regardless of the reboot, Jameson is still anything but generous when it comes to paying his freelance photogs. Peter informs his aunt that while he’s making money selling Spider-Man photos, Jameson’s rates would be fair “if it were 1961.”
This could be read as a reference to the original comic book series’ launch, except Spider-Man’s first appearance was published in 1962, in “Amazing Fantasy” #15. While one year separates the line from a truly clever historical reference, Parker’s enthusiasm for pay that is next to nothing today was a nice touch.
The Ravencroft Institute acts as the prison/asylum/treatment facility for the super-powered Electro and Harry Osborn in the film, but is torn from the pages of Marvel Comics. In the film, the chief medical officer – Dr. Ashley Kafka – has her gender swapped (played instead by Martin Csokas), but much of the other purposes of the facility remain intact. It’s unclear how many ‘patients’ are stored at Ravencroft in the film universe, but in the comics, several of the most dangerous and deranged criminals have called it home at one time or another.
The appearance of Ravencroft Institute in the film offered the filmmakers plenty of time to pay homage to both real-life and fictional figures. It’s unclear – but entirely possible – that the mention of long-serving ‘Dr. Thomas Warren’ on one of the building’s plaques is meant to imply a connection to Miles Warren, known to comic fans as ‘Jackal.’ Whether he appears in future films as either personality, this namedrop shows just how interconnected Marvel films have become.
Before Miles Warren’s biological experiments with the human genome led to the creation of ‘Jackal,’ he studied under the guidance of Herbert Wyndham, a.k.a. the ‘High Evolutionary.’ It was Wyndham who led to the creation of Jessica Drew’s ‘Spider-Woman,’ not to mention crossing paths with the newborn ‘Quicksilver’ and ‘Scarlet Witch’ – Magneto’s twins – set to appear in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Editor’s note: We chose not to highlight the typos.)
It isn’t just comic book characters that the filmmakers decided to honor in their construction of Ravencroft; with the filming taking place on location at SUNY Maritime College in The Bronx, the production team decided to include a few nods to real life sailors. In this case, (at least some of) the ‘distinguished researchers’ seen above are actually names of past naval officers.
Itsy Bitsy Spider
During the climactic battle between Spider-Man and Electro, the fast-flowing villain moves quickly from one power conduit to another, attacking Spidey incessantly while also emitting loud musical notes. The fact that the song is actually “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” may have been missed by some audience members, leading to Peter informing us all that he “hates that song.”
Will She or Won’t She?
Generally, the death of a main character is something movie studios tend to keep under wraps. But in the case of Gwen Stacy, her character’s fate has been sealed for decades. Initially, both Webb and Stone played off the inevitability of her death, claiming they may end up straying from the comics. But when Stone was seen on set in the exact mint coat and purple skirt in which her comic book counterpart perished, the writing was on the wall.
Webb played with expectations somewhat, featuring not one, but three separate chances for Stacy to drop to her death, before proving that the third time was the charm, with her death mirroring that of the comics nearly identically.
The Clock Strikes
The uninitiated may have been too caught up in wondering if Spider-Man would manage to save Gwen from a lethal fall to notice the exact details of the clocktower’s inner workings. At the height of tension, Spidey is fending off Goblin with one hand, holding Gwen with the other, and keeping the clock’s gears from moving with a foot. When the pressure becomes too much, the gears shatter, sending the hands of the clock spinning.
When the hands finally do come to rest, they do so at the 1:21 position. With “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” appearing in “The Amazing Spider-Man” #121, the filmmakers kept yet another dimension of the original intact.
While the only mid- or post-credits scene Amazing Spider-Man fans got was a trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, the button scene from the previous film introduced one of the largest mysteries in the film’s universe to date. With the appearance of a mystery man clinging to the shadows, it was clear more forces were at work than director Marc Webb would admit.
At the time, we suspected the figure could help the films build to a Sinister Six blockbuster, and while that seems to be the case, the man himself was also revealed in the course of this film. He is none other than Gustav Fiers (played by Michael Massee), a figure who may be unknown to comics fans, but a key player in author Adam-Troy Castro’s novels concerning the Sinister Six. It is Fiers who assembles the Six to help execute a citywide attack, but his motivations in the film remain a mystery.
It wasn’t until the film’s final scene that Paul Giamatti got to appear in a suit befitting his ‘Rhino’ moniker, with the design of the finished suit taken from the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comics more than the classics (although given a stronger Transformers feel, as opposed to Iron Man). But another easter egg for Marvel fans was dropped in the news coverage leading up to his showdown with Spider-Man.
It is Harry Osborn who masterminds Aleksei Sytsevich’s escape from prison, as well as his new ‘sinister’ identity. But Rhino is revealed to not have escaped from some random prison, but ‘The Vault’ – the high security penitentiary reserved for Marvel’s supervillains. The exact design and purpose of The Vault has varied in the comics, but expect to see more of it in future films.
It’s On… Again
Although there may not have been the mid- or post-credits scene revealing the future of the Amazing Spider-Man franchise as fans have come to expect from other Marvel films, fans weren’t left out of the fun entirely. Instead of simply showing audiences their tease for the future, Sony required people use the Shazam app while Alicia Keyes’ “It’s On Again” played during the credits to unlock a brief teaser video from inside Oscorp.
Far from a teaser image or open-ended reference, the unlocked video essentially revealed the roster of the upcoming Sinister Six film. It’s not an official list, but equipment tied to the likes of Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter (pictured above), Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Rhino, and possibly Black Cat are all visible.
Comic book fans have been trained to keep an eye out for nearly every background name, detail, or address that pops up in a superhero film. So when Oscorp Tower was revealed to be located at 1525 Avenue of the Americas, fans likely expected to find the address to be that of Marvel’s New York office, or even a Sony headquarters. So what really rests at the given street number? Nothing. The Avenue of the Americas terminate at Central Park before ever reaching so high a number.
The actual stand-in for Oscorp Tower’s exterior and interior is Hearst Tower located at 300 West 57th Street, but enter the address provided in the film into Google Maps, and you’ll be dropped in the center of the intersection of the patriotic avenue and West 59th Street. Take a look around, and what will you see? A few things, actually.
Besides the mystery plushie pinned spider-like to the second floor window, a bicycle taxi sporting an advertisement for a live-action Spider-Man is prominently visible, with a theatrical poster for Emma Stone’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. The presence of both means this photo was likely taken after Stone’s romantic comedy was released in theaters, but before the original Amazing Spider-Man. The fact that they appear directly opposite is either an incredibly overwrought Easter egg, or a complete coincidence.
As further evidence that Marvel Comics and New York City share a serious amount of DNA, the intersection also sports the famous statue of South American political leader Simon Bolivar, the namesake of X-Men: Days of Future Past‘s antagonist Bolivar Trask and his brother Simon.
Those are all the Easter eggs, bits of comic book trivia, and subtle references fans can look out for on repeat viewings, but if you have any that we may have missed, please share them in the comments.
If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spoilers Discussion.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.