Most movie audiences head to the theater to see a story exactly as its told, without looking too closely at the plots, characters, or lines of dialogue. But for the diehard fans always searching for added meaning, some twists, names, or confusing quotes can make even a classic movie twice as much fun to watch.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Hidden Messages in Popular Movies.
There’s plenty of symbolism in this sci-fi series, but younger fans probably missed one clever reference. When Neo has gone as far down the rabbit hole as possible, and is fleeing from enemy agents, he makes a strange demand of his operator outside of the system: “Mr. Wizard, get me the hell out of here!” The line is lifted from an old cartoon series starring Tooter Turtle, whose adventures in different time periods would always go wrong – only his friend, Mr. Wizard could save the day. Apparently the show also existed in The Matrix‘s artificial reality. Either that, or Keanu Reeves felt a kinship with the monotone turtle.
Aside from pop culture references, the Wachowskis also managed to include one massive hint that most fans probably never noticed. When Neo finally confronts the Architect of the Matrix in the first sequel, he learns that the creator of the system has been following him his entire life (or lives) – and the first movie already offered proof. When Neo is first captured by enemy Agents, a bank of surveillance monitors shows him being interrogated. The exact same monitors the Architect is surrounded by in the next movie. Critics may claim the directors never planned on more than one film to start, but some of the bigger ideas were clearly there right from the start.
It’s hard to believe Jurassic Park was originally not going to use CG dinosaurs, but Steven Spielberg spent months working with stop motion guru Phil Tippett to create his dinosaurs with the same technique used to bring the Imperial Walkers and Tauntauns to life in The Empire Strikes Back. When the director asked ILM to show him what a computerized dinosaur could look like, the decision was clear. When Tippett learned he’d been beaten out by newer tech, he told the director that “he’d just became extinct.” Luckily, that wasn’t the case – but Spielberg made sure to put that very wording into the movie as one of Ian Malcolm’s lines.
Every fan of Quentin Tarantino knows that the director likes to connect his films into one universe, with characters living in the same world, or some films existing as movies for those characters to see in a theater. But what about a movie that reveals it’s just a movie in its own story? That’s what some fans claim about Jackie Brown. When a character walks out of a movie theater to the sound of its credits score, the music is what’s expected of Tarantino. But viewers will eventually realize that it’s the same music that plays over the movie’s own end credits. A shared universe wasn’t enough: the director had to hint that Jackie Brown was already playing in theaters while the cast was still living through it.
Now known as one of the greatest action movies of all time, it’s easy to forget the softer side of Die Hard hero John McClane. When the New York cop flies to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his family, he brings a gift with him: a large stuffed bear, complete with a red ribbon tied around its neck. If the movie followed the novel it was based on, that bear should have made it to John’s daughter, but director John McTiernan never got to show that scene. Apparently, nothing said fatherly love to the director like a teddy bear, since his next movie The Hunt For Red October doubled down on the idea. When Jack Ryan had saved the day and headed home to his wife and daughter, he did what any good dad would do: picked up a teddy bear of his own, red ribbon and all.
It doesn’t usually pay to look below the surface of a movie based on grown men getting hit in the face with inflatable balls, but this is one exception. When the team at Average Joe’s Gym goes up against the cocky, well-funded, testosterone-fuelled Purple Cobras, it’s a battle of David vs Goliath. But viewers might not realize that seeing the “Joes” vs. “Cobra” is one big nod to G.I. Joe and their greatest enemies. With that in mind, audiences should have realized that the Joes would always come out on top.
A good witch or wizard needs a trusty pet, and for Harry Potter, Hedwig the Owl went above and beyond the call of duty. The bird’s dedication to the boy wizard made her a hit with fans, and broke their hearts when she sacrificed her life to protect Harry in The Deathly Hallows. A righteous death for the boy she loved should have been expected. In the books, Hedwig takes her name from a medieval witch or wizard. But in the real world, Hedwig is the patron saint of orphaned and abandoned children – making her the perfect guardian for the movie’s hero.
Marvel’s Avengers universe is based on fantastic figures, science, and otherworldly adventures, but they’re apparently even hard to believe for the everyday characters inside the films themselves. When Ant-Man villain Darren Cross references the old stories of a miniature superhero working in secret, he claims they’re nothing but “propaganda, Tales to Astonish.” He’s not wrong, either. Ant-Man’s unbelievable powers actually debuted in the comic “Tales to Astonish,” making this one of the most meta moments Marvel has ever featured, and a major statement about the hero’s entire story for the viewers who manage to catch it.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Director John Hughes had a knack for churning out classic movies in the 1980s, and with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, decided to remind audiences of that very fact (in as subtle a way as possible). The license plate of Cameron’s father’s Ferrari reading NRVOUS – “nervous” – fits his character, but it’s the rest of the cars that deliver the nods to the director’s previous work. The plate on Ferris’ mother’s car – VCTN – refers to Vacation, his dad’s plate – MMOM – refers to Mr. Mom, and the principal’s plate was clearly made just for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 4FBDO.
From the moment Avatar hit theaters, it was clear that James Cameron had filled the movie with tons of political messages. From deforestation, over-aggressive military, to the destruction of Native peoples and the discovery of the New World – you name it. It didn’t take long for people to notice that there was one country in particular that the director was singling out. When the movie’s villain, Col. Quaritch, is explaining the risks of the planet to his new recruits, it’s hard to miss the stripes of the American flag shining behind him – once you see it, it’s not even that subtle.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite hidden messages or secrets meanings? Be sure to share them in the comments, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one!