The average movie fan might think that the story, script, action and drama is everything a movie is made of. But sometimes, a movie’s greatest moments, jokes, and meaning can be found in the background, just waiting for viewers to spot them – and feel like they’re seeing their favorite films for the very first time.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Amazing Hidden Messages in Movies.
I Am Legend
You don’t think of background jokes or secret humor when it comes to I Am Legend, but Robert Neville (Will Smith) found plenty of clever ways to keep himself busy as the only human left alive (in New York, at least). But take a closer look at his house and you’ll notice Neville used the lack of security to indulge his love of art, decorating the walls with priceless paintings, including Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. The best part is that not all of them are fake: the movie’s hero had to steal them from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, but the real world museum actually let the filmmakers use some of their prized possessions in the movie. Apparently, it was too good a joke to pass up.
Edgar Wright made sure that the movies of his “Cornetto Trilogy” would be linked by stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but there are too many small connections to count. One of the best can be spotted in Hot Fuzz, when Frost’s character is sifting through DVDs in a grocery store. Look fast, and you can spot the unmistakable cover of Shaun of the Dead, the trio’s previous film – with a price tag planted over Pegg’s face. The movie apparently exists in Hot Fuzz‘s universe, since the title “Zombies Party” was actually the movie’s title in foreign markets.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
Fans might never have noticed that the villain of the third Indiana Jones movie first appeared as an Imperial officer aboard an AT-AT walker in the opening battle of The Empire Strikes Back, played by actor Julian Glover. But they probably should have, thanks to a clever gag from director Steven Spielberg. Long before the character is revealed to be up to no good, he meets with Indy to discuss the Holy Grail. But pay attention to the music coming in from the party outside, and you’ll hear a lighter take on Darth Vader’s Imperial March. It’s an awesome nod to the actor’s previous role, but an even funnier hint that he wasn’t to be trusted.
This survival story set in Earth’s orbit took a few liberties with its physics, but got more right than it did wrong. That’s largely thanks to astronaut Andy Thomas, who used his multiple space flights as a consultant for Gravity‘s cast and crew. For his hard work, Thomas earned a funny, but dark homage, listed as one of the deceased members of the Explorer’s mission. But that wasn’t all: the Australian-born astronaut got a nod to his homeland in the form of a “Kangaroo Crossing” sticker slyly planted in the movie’s version of the International Space Station.
Iron Man 3
Tony Stark’s former chauffeur showed he has a sophisticated side when a run-in with a superpowered soldier sent him into the hospital. But the reveal in Iron Man 3 that Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) was a Downton Abbey fan was far more than it seemed. The scene being shown features the characters Branson and Sybill – a wealthy young woman and a chauffeur. A perfect storyline, since the Marvel Comics universe saw the chauffeur land just as unique a catch: Pepper Potts.
Disney’s trip inside the world of video games packed in all kinds of famous cameos, but the animators showed they were serious, hardcore arcade gamers, if the graffiti is anything to go by. There’s the messages referring to the Warcraft legend Leroy Jenkins, and a hopeful promise for Final Fantasy fans that “Aerith Lives.” But the most inside joke in Wreck-it Ralph comes with the tag “Sheng Long Was Here.”. The Street Fighter character began as an April Fool’s Joke in an issue of EGM, sending fans everywhere chasing the urban legend for years. But in Game Central Station, the hope is still alive.
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg was careful not to glamorize any part of World War 2, but after seeing the nearly half hour sequence of American soldiers charging Omaha Beach, losing countless men in the process, it’s hard to not be satisfied when they finally break through the German lines and start turning the battle in their favor. But Spielberg concealed another tragic moment in Saving Private Ryan‘s first victory. When two German soldiers come out with hands up to surrender, their pleas of mercy are ignored, and they’re shot where they stand. What they were actually saying: “don’t shoot, I didn’t kill anyone, I’m Czech,” implying they were men taken prisoner when Germany occupied their homeland, and forced to man the front lines – making an ugly moment even more tragic.
Any fan of classic westerns knows Clint Eastwood’s A Fistful of Dollars, but the 1966 movie Django, based on the same Japanese story (Yojimbo), is less well known in the West, despite being famous throughout Europe. The movie starred Franco Nero as the title gunslinger, and was considered the most violent movie ever made when it released. So it’s no surprise it inspired Quentin Tarantino, among other directors, who would name the star of his own western after Nero’s character. Nero even makes a cameo in Django Unchained. He’s officially playing a different character, but when he asks the former slave how his name is spelled, the audience gets a one of a kind reference that will fly over most of their heads.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson unfortunately spent most of Furious 7 in a hospital room, but he didn’t let that keep him out of the fight entirely. But what was Hobbs doing all that time in bed? One scene reveals that he’s taking in a football game, before the action is interrupted by breaking news. But take a closer look at the sack being made by “Number 94”: it’s no random game, but the showdown between the University of Miami and Florida State in 1991. The defensive tackle making the sack? None other than Johnson himself, at age 19. His season would end due to injury, but considering how his career turned out, we don’t think it’s a touchy subject.
In the world of super spy James Bond, everyone has a codename. There’s “Moneypenny,” “Q,” and the woman in charge, “M.” Judi Dench’s version of the fearless leader has held the title for longer than most, even when the series was recast and rebooted with star Daniel Craig. But her real name was never revealed – or was it? When Skyfall‘s final act saw her killed in the field, she left James one of her prized possessions. But take a closer look at the outside of the box: she didn’t sign with her codename, but her real one – Olivia Mansfield. Turns out the “M” was more fitting than fans realized.
Those are the best hidden messages and meanings we could find in movies, but which ones have we missed? Be sure to tell us in the comments, and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one!