There’s nothing as satisfying to a comic book fan as seeing a beloved comic story, characters, settings, and twists adapted to the big screen. But with so much history to draw from, it isn’t just the script that fans should look to for hidden easter eggs, cameos, or comic book references. Be warned, there may be some spoilers in our list of 10 Hidden Details in Superhero Movies.
No fan of the Dark Knight can forget the closing scene of Batman Begins. With Bruce Wayne having saved Gotham City from the League of Shadows, Jim Gordon warns him that a new criminal has surfaced, taking Batman’s emphasis on theatricality and costume to heart. The Joker’s calling card thrilled fans, making it clear the Clown Prince of Crime would appear in the sequel, but a closer look shows that the playing card was signed into evidence by someone named “J. Kerr.” It’s a shortened version of “Joe Kerr” – just one alias the villain has adopted over the years, which means he may have been tempting Batman to bring him down for longer than fans ever knew.
When Thor makes his entrance into Marvel’s first team-up, it’s not in the name of teamwork: simply grabbing his brother Loki from Cap and Iron Man for a cliffside chat. The pair of Asgardians disturb a few birds as they land, but casual Marvel fans may not understand why the same set of birds continues to circle the scene. These are no random creatures, but Huginn and Muninn, the ravens from Norse mythology that gather information from Earth, and return it to Odin in Asgard. It helps explain why Loki and Thor’s father is always kept up to speed on his sons’ behavior, while giving fans yet another easy-to-miss easter egg to search for in future films.
Man of Steel
For Batman V Superman and his Justice League universe, Zack Snyder decided he needed an older, battle-hardened Batman who’d been fighting crime for years already. But it was the special effects team on Man of Steel who first had the idea of showing Batman was already a pop culture icon in Metropolis. When Zod first discovers his heat vision in the movie’s final battle, he causes a skyscraper to fall apart around Superman. It’s just then that a poster in one of the cubicles can be seen, reading “Keep Calm and Call Batman.” He may not have planted the Easter egg himself, but Snyder took the advice to heart.
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Captain America series made actor Chris Evans a household name, and forever synonymous with the star-spangled hero. But his entry into superhero cinema wasn’t totally smooth. Before Cap, Evans appeared as the Human Torch in Fox’s Fantastic Four series. Evans won over more fans than the films, so few complained when he was chosen to play another Marvel hero. But the studio couldn’t resist a joke at Johnny Storm’s expense, including a version of the original Human Torch costume in the World Exposition visited in The First Avenger‘s opening act.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The movie may be remembered as the one which ended star Andrew Garfield’s time as Peter Parker, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had an even bigger story to tackle: the death of Gwen Stacy. While casual fans enjoyed the chemistry between the two lead actors, comic book fans knew that Spider-Man’s fight sequence with Green Goblin was going to end in tragedy. Gwen’s death was every bit as tragic and unforgettable as fans would have hoped, with an easter egg every bit as fitting. As the clock’s gears hit the ground, the hands spin to read 1:21. As in Issue #121, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died.”
Marvel’s Creator Cameos
These days, the average moviegoer might think that superheroes find “real” success on the big screen, leaving the artists and writers who actually created their best stories out in the cold. While that’s partly true, Marvel Studios has been sure to include the creators in the fun. Audiences got to see writer J. Michael Straczinsky learn that it’s easier to move Thor’s hammer on the page than in person, Legendary writer and artist Walt Simonson feasting next to Lady Sif, and even writer Ed Brubaker watching his Winter Soldier brought to life in front of him.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Director James Gunn’s space opera may include more Easter Eggs and nods to the comics than any Marvel film before, but it’s the one message in the film that we can’t figure out that seems the most important. Whenever a new planet or location is introduced, a set of coordinates appear alongside it. Most point to actual locations in the Andromeda Galaxy, but when the villain’s ship is first shown, the string of characters means something else entirely. Swap out the numbers for the corresponding letters of the alphabet, and we’re told that “THIS IS MOMS CANCER”. Since Star-Lord’s human mother died of cancer, it sounds like even more plot twists are on the way, but your guess is as good as ours.
Thor: The Dark World
Even if the brilliant Dr. Erik Selvig was being mind-controlled by Loki through much of The Avengers, it was his cosmic knowledge which helped them save the day. But it came at a price. By the time Thor: The Dark World came around, Selvig was institutionalized, obsessed with the glimpse he’d gotten of Marvel’s larger universe. As a result, his chalkboard of notes packs plenty of easter eggs. Comic writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost get a shout-out for their X-Men and X-Force storylines, while Dr. Selvig has apparently deduced that the MCU, like the Marvel Comic continuity, is set in the “616 Universe.”
There’s also a nod to The Crossroads, the nexus of alien dimensions likely to appear in the Doctor Strange fiction, and The Fault, a rift in space that has played a major role for both the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Inhumans. They may be the scribblings of a mad man, but he’s onto something.
There was a time when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just a dream, revealed as a hard-to-believe goal for the studio in a post credits scene for Iron Man. Nick Fury wasn’t lying, and The Avengers began to form soon after, with Iron Man 2 even using Captain America’s deconstructed shield in a gag. Since fans knew to look for it, the shield’s appearance doesn’t qualify as a secret. That honor goes to the previous film, when the same shield appeared on Tony’s workbench – but even those who noticed it couldn’t have guessed it was actually a sign of the shared universe to come.
Man of Steel
Zack Snyder made no secret of his love for the TV series Smallville, even calling on a few cast members to appear in Man of Steel. But the references didn’t stop there. When a teenage Clark is bullied by a group of football players, it’s shown to take take place in front of Sullivan’s Truck & Tractor Repair – a direct reference to Chloe Sullivan, the fan-favorite Smallville character created solely for the TV series, but included – at least in name – in Snyder’s re-imagined origin.
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