Who doesn’t love spotting a good Easter egg in their favorite comic book adaptation? There’s something about finding Easter eggs in movies, television, video games, and anywhere else that drives people nuts.
Finding connections or hidden little gems where you wouldn’t expect there to be is one of the coolest things about comic book universes. So many different stories are connected to one another and finding the tiniest nods to true comic book fans just feels great.
One could argue that Easter eggs are an incredibly important aspect of comic book adaptations. Marvel is no stranger to this concept, and DC is quickly picking up speed in building their shared universes. The number of storylines in any one universe can span in the hundreds, so to get one particular grouping to work, there needs to be a nod or two in the background to keep them connected and canon.
Some of these Easter eggs are less “Easter eggy” and more “giant boulder in your face”, while others have a debatable significance that is still discussed among fans today. There may be a few spoilers ahead, so tread with caution!
Without further ado, here are the 15 Biggest Easter Eggs In Comic Book Movies, Ranked.
15. Tony Stark’s ringtone in Iron Man
In the 2008 comic book adaptation Iron Man, pre-War Machine James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard) orders pilots to chase down an unidentifiable object that appears to look suspiciously like Tony Stark. He then gets a cell phone call from Mr. Stark during the chase. (Nice product placement, Verizon. Didn’t we have smartphones by 2008? Get it together!)
The ringtone that plays for Stark’s contact is actually an adorable MIDI version of 1966 Iron Man cartoon theme song.
That’s not the only throwback Easter egg in Iron Man, either. In another scene where Stark is gambling and partying in a casino, a jazzy version of the original theme song plays as well.
14. That Ant-Man / Hawkeye Scene in Civil War
In 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, we get a good old direct homage to the comic book series that birthed the notorious boom of comic book film adaptations.
As Captain America: Civil War‘s crazy hero-packed showdown takes place, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) team up to take down Iron Man. Ant-Man shrinks down and climbs onto one of Hawkeye’s arrowheads, where he is then launched directly at Iron Man in order to sabotage his suit.
The visual could definitely escape anybody who isn’t familiar with The Avengers comics. The scene is an almost exact replication of the cover art from issue #223 of the Avengers comic book series, right down to the angles and perspective. An honorable and seriously cool homage, indeed.
13. Bob Kane’s Art in Batman
This little Easter egg from Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation Batman (yep, the Jack Nicholson one) may go over many viewers’ heads.
Reporter Alexander Knox and journalist Vicki Vale start investigating strange rumors about a man named “Batman” who is fighting crime in the streets. Their coworkers aren’t so keen on the idea and have a good laugh at them, and somebody hands Knox a drawing of a little anthropomorphic bat in a suit.
Many viewers might not have caught this Easter egg because it was so quick and the signature on the sketch may be difficult to make out in time. Next to the comedic Batman rendering in a little box is the signature of Bob Kane, the original co-creator (alongside Bill Finger) of the Batman character.
12. Captain America’s shield in the Iron Man movies
Captain America’s shield makes an appearance not once, but twice in 2008’s Iron Man and 2010’s Iron Man 2.
In the first Iron Man film, Tony Stark is removing his armor when Pepper walks in to speak to him. As the camera turns just slightly, a partially constructed Captain America shield can be seen on a workbench behind him.
In Iron Man 2, the appearance of Cap’s shield isn’t really an Easter egg at all. Agent Coulson hands a Captain America shield to Stark, where he dismissively uses it as a wedge to straighten equipment he’s currently using. The scene seems a bit out of nowhere.
In an interview, director Jon Favreau admitted it was necessary for continuity: “We had to figure out how to deal with the reality that the shield was in [Tony Stark’s] workshop.”
11. Carol Ferris in Man of Steel
At the end of 2013’s Superman epic Man of Steel, General Swanwick and another United States Air Force officer are seen driving through the desert when a surveillance drone crashes directly in front of them.
The two soldiers get out to investigate and Swanwick has a dialogue with Superman, who calls them out on their attempts to find out who he is. After he leaves, Swanwick asks the other soldier why she’s smiling, to which she replies “I just think he’s kind of hot.“
Her badge shows the name “Ferris”– as in Carol Ferris, the girlfriend of Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern and the alter ego of supervillain (and more recently superhero) Star Sapphire. If you’re a Green Lantern fan, you probably clocked this right away.
10. Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk cameos
The very first original live screen adaptation of Marvel’s Hulk was the 1978 CBS television series The Incredible Hulk. The titular character was played by professional bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, who is pretty much the only Hulk to not be made up with CGI. Lou Ferrigno, with his massive build, booming voice, and distinct accent is still very much a memorable actor and easily recognizable.
Perhaps that’s why he was tucked into three different Marvel movie cameo scenes, including 2003’s arguably terrible The Hulk, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, and 2012’s The Avengers. He plays a cop in the first film (alongside Stan Lee), a security guard in the second, and is the voice of the actual Hulk for the latter two films. He is also rumored (though still uncredited) as the voice of the Hulk in the first film as well.
9. Victor Zsasz in Batman Begins
It’s no secret that Victor Zsasz is a fan favorite villain in the Batman universe, and also one of the more consistent and difficult to defeat. The sadistic serial murderer is identifiable by his bald head and tally marks for each of his murders from his neck down. If you’re unfamiliar with the Batman comics, you may have missed his low-key appearances in the 2005 adaptation Batman Begins.
First, he can be spotting during his sentencing hearing and his last name is mentioned. Victor is then spotted during the big escape from Arkham scene where he turns his neck just enough to reveal the tally marks on his neck. While Zsasz only had a few cameos and no concrete role in Batman Begins, he does have a more prevalent presence in the Fox television series Gotham.
8. Hacked names in X2
2000’s X-Men was the first ever film adaptation of the X-Men series of comics from Marvel. Its sequel, X-2: X-Men United was released three years later to even bigger acclaim. The sequel was also loaded with a ton of Easter eggs that even the most trained eye could miss.
The most obvious Easter egg would be the scene in which Mystique is hacking into a computer that is packed with forboding references– Kevin MacTaggart (Proteus), Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver), Danielle Moonstar (Mirage), and other names are listed, alluding to future appearances in the film franchise.
There are a few others too: Doctor McCoy appears on a television screen during a scene in a bar. Iceman’s brother also wore a shirt with a phoenix on it, as well.
7. The Hitler punch in The First Avenger
There are few comic book covers as iconic and recognizable as the very first Captain America issue, which was released in 1941. The badass portrayal of our favorite Captain knocking out one of the evilest real life villains in history was recreated momentarily in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
In the film, U.S. Senator Brandt puts Steve Rogers on a national tour to promote war bonds as scientists attempt to study him and rediscover the super soldier formula. While performing, Cap punches an actor dressed up like Hitler to the joyous applause of raucous children in the audience. This scene was no more than a few seconds or so, but it is definitely a true homage to the first Captain America comic book cover.
6. Star Sapphire’s helmet logo in Green Lantern
Carol Ferris appears on our list once again as a comic book movie Easter egg, this time in the 2011 adaptation Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.
In the film, Carol Ferris (Lively) is piloting an aircraft while wearing a helmet. A star symbol emblazoned on the helmet is actually a nod to her future alter ego, Star Sapphire.
Ferris actually becomes a Green Lantern villain under her alter ago after being possessed by the Star Sapphire gem. She harnesses powers much like Green Lantern’s and can create force blasts, fly, and create force fields. She is selected as queen of the extraterrestrial all-female legion of similar “Star Sapphires” and eventually becomes the founder of the Star Sapphire Corps, where she turns from her villainous ways.
5. Captain Marvel mention in Doctor Strange
At the beginning of the film, Doctor Strange is speeding down a freeway (quite recklessly) while on the phone with his assistant Wong (also very reckless). He is told about a new case– a twenty something young woman who was recently struck by lightning and that an implant in her brain that served to help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia was affected.
Sure, that could be an allusion to a new original character or a reference to a different Marvel character. But there’s a very strong possibility that the line was a reference to Carol Danvers’ (Captain Marvel) revised origin story. If so, that could mean there will be a future link between Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange in the upcoming movie about one of Marvel’s strongest superheroes.
While Danvers didn’t get her powers in that particular way (some DNA splicing with a Kree warrior did the trick in the comics), there’s a good chance that writers will change things up a bit to avoid similarities to Green Lantern.
4. The batman poster in Man of Steel
Man of Steel was absolutely stuffed with Easter eggs and references, some of them subtle and important, others brazen and tongue in cheek. Who could have missed the giant LEXCORP sign? Does that even count as an Easter egg?
During one particular explosive fight scene in Man of Steel in which Superman crashes into a building, he lands in one particular office space that has a very particular poster taped to the back of a work desk.
The cheeky “Keep calm and call Batman” poster can be spotted in the left corner of the scene very briefly. Whether this was an allusion to the future Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice film or a humorous jab at the two heroes’ less than savory relationship, we’ll probably never know.
3. The Wayne Enterprises satellite in Man of Steel
Yet another Batman reference in Man of Steel, the Wayne Enterprises satellite was definitely less of an Easter egg (it was really hard to miss, although half of the satellite’s label is obscured) and more of a direct reference.
“It does say Wayne Enterprises on the satellite, but you can only see half of it,” director Zack Snyder said in an interview, “I really just wanted to say, ‘This is the DC Universe.’ And whether or not it’s the Wayne Enterprises of Chris Nolan’s movies or whether it’s the Wayne Enterprises of DC in general, that’s yet to be seen. But that particular reference was there, for me to say also to Chris, ‘Thanks for helping me out with this. You’re an awesome and cool guy and I appreciate it.’ But it also means for me that Batman’s out there somewhere. There is a Batman and he is out there… somewhere.”
2. The Infinity Gauntlet in Thor
In the 2011 film Thor, the Destroyer, a massive sort-of robotic war machine, is awakened by trickster Loki and kills its way out of Asgard’s valuable weapons vault on a mission to find and kill Thor on Earth. During the scene where the beastly metallic weapon murders two Asgardian guards before its great escape, a golden glove adorned with crystals can be seen in the storage area in the background. It’s a very split second sort of Easter egg and very easy to miss.
This artifact is, of course, the Infinity Gauntlet. This is the object that is the apple of Thanos’ eye and more than likely to be the central plot device of the future Avengers: Infinity War and the fourth Avengers movie.
1. Batman’s parents’ assassin makes an appearance in Watchmen
One scene that had fans of Watchmen and Batman losing their minds was in the divisive 2009 superhero movie Watchmen. Zack Snyder sure does love his references.
In the film’s beginning credits, audiences got to enjoy the now iconic montage of scenes from the Watchmen’s past. In one particular frame, we see Nite Owl punching a robber in the face. Upon closer inspection, one can see that a wealthy-looking couple is exiting the back of Gotham Opera House with an elderly butler. This reference is interesting, as fans have not quite been able to figure out if the DC Comics universe is just a comic book in the Watchmen world or an actual alternative timeline.
This Easter egg was awesome because it took the often strict continuity rules of comic books and sort of flipped them around, almost comically poking fun at them in this particular universe.
What other huge Easter eggs have you caught in your favorite comic book movies? Let us know in the comments!
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