[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.]
With the entire DC Extended Universe of films based on the comic book company's biggest stars hinging on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, fans expected to see some hints of what was to come in Justice League and beyond. But they got much, much more than just hints. Along with the usual wealth of comic book details, adapted subplots and characters, and good old fashioned easter eggs, Batman V Superman featured several major teases of what lies ahead - so many, fans are guaranteed to miss some.
Considering how veiled, subtle, or ambiguous some of the comic nods turned out to be, we thought it worthwhile to break down the truly hidden or nuanced bits of trivia for fans, explaining the more complicated points along the way. Whether you're a diehard fan of DC's Big Three, or just a casual movie fan who would like to see how many references and planted universe details they completely missed, we hope our list is exactly what you're looking for.
Needless to say, there will be plenty of SPOILERS in our list of Batman V Superman: Every Easter Egg & Hidden Detail.
38. Created By Bob Kane With Bill Finger
It's a credit that many will overlook, but may jump out to seasoned comic book movie fans: "Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger." But what casual fans may not realize is that the credit in the opening sequence has been decades coming. While it was Bob Kane who came up with the idea of 'The Bat-Man' to build the momentum launched by Superman - and Bob Kane who retained that credit, and profits for the years that followed - the truth known by all in the comic community was that Bill Finger was just as much to thank. If not more so.
Depending on who you believe, it was Finger who came up with most of the details, supporting characters, and general themes of Batman... or all of them. Had Bob Kane followed his own idea, the hero known as Batman would have looked like the man pictured above, without the money, tortured past, gadgets... the list goes on and on. The credit to Finger has only been officially handed out in recent years, so it's only fitting that the movie starring the most faithful comic book Batman should see his name in the spotlight.
37. The Mark of Zorro
Keeping up the focus on Batman, the title sequence is one known by heart for all but the most fresh-faced comic book movie fans. While exiting a theater at night, Thomas and Martha Wayne are gunned down in front of Bruce, sending Martha's pearls, and Bruce's life, scattering to the winds. Considering the wealth of scenes, lines and themes lifted from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," it's fitting that Snyder should recreate the scene almost identically. In the film, The Mark of Zorro can be prominently seen advertised, and the clutching hands, the pistol caught in the pearls, and the bloody outcome are all perfect recreations.
36. Jimmy Olsen
At one point the rumors suggested that it would be actor Scoot McNairy playing famous photographer and Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen. But in the end, McNairy's role was a new (and small) one... yet sadly for fans, Jimmy did make an appearance. In the theatrical cut his character is never explicitly stated, but director Zack Snyder revealed that the photographer accompanying Lois Lane into Nairomi, Africa (played by Smallville alum Michael Cassidy) is James Olsen. The photographer who is executed after a few seconds onscreen.
Snyder has promised that the R-Rated home video cut will include his introduction, setting the stage for the reveal that he is actually "a CIA spook." The thinking was to cast a major star in the role, so their immediate death would raise the stakes for all involved. But when his top pick for Jimmy - Jesse Eisenberg - was too good to cut out of the film, Snyder instead went with, unsurprisingly, another Smallville cast member.
The man who actually uncovers the tracking device in Jimmy's camera is soon after revealed to be working for Lex Luthor - and is named Anatoli Knyazev. In the comics, that was the real name of the Russian operative known as 'KGBeast,' or simply 'The Beast.' Relying on some imrpessive augmentations and weapons, this version - played by Callan Mulvey - is basically just Lex Luthor's top henchman. Still, the name is a nod that the die-hard Batman fans won't miss.
34. Rigby's Mailbox
Aside from the main battle between the title heroes, the stunt team had their work cut out for them, with a half a dozen fight sequences between various characters and performers. It was nothing new for stunt coordinator Tim Rigby - a stuntman and driver on 300, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman - but his tireless efforts clearly earned him a credit on screen, with "Rigby" labeled on the mailbox beside Lois' when she retrieves her mail after her brush with death in the desert.
33. Rocket Signs
When Zack Snyder turned a single warehouse filled with blue and green screens into one of the most impressive graphic novel adaptations yet made, it was clear that 300 captured plenty of the filmmaker's unique style and techniques. The production designers on Man of Steel made sure to honor the movie by decorating the town of Smallville with signs advertising the Smallville Spartans sports team, but it was the effects team who took over the task for the sequel.
Take a close look at the space shuttle Superman is rescuing during the montage of heroics in the movie's first act, and you'll see "300" (thanks to the Russian alphabet) prominently featured on its fuselage, even if the Russian writing helps to obscure it.
32. Action Comics #1
As some debate the intentions of Superman, or his relationship with humanity in general, the audience is shown one person who has more than made up their mind: Wallace Keefe (McNairy). As he assembles his climbing/spraypaint rig, the walls of his home are shown to be plastered with newspaper clippings focused on the exploits of the Man of Steel, clearly done out of obsession and hatred than the usual fan scrapbooking. Among the headlines is a red-and-black drawing of the scene pictured above, with Superman violently smashing a car into a rock.
The image was immortalized on the cover of "Action Comics" #1, the hero's first starring appearance in his best known form. But swap out the bright colors for some threatening ones, and just as it does on Wally's wall, it sends a far more sinister message.
31. "Must There Be a Superman?"
It's a question posed by Charlie Rose in the movie, while interviewing Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) - but it was first asked more than forty years ago. In the comic of the same name, written by Elliot S! Maggin, Superman is warned of his interference in social norms by the Guardians of the Universe (the Green Lantern head honchoes). Forced to question if "there must be a Superman," the hero must explore his relationship with humans, other aliens, governments... all ideas on full display in Batman V Superman (even if Maggin wasn't actually given credit).
30. Metallo - Sort Of
There were a ton of rumors claiming that Metallo - the former soldier John Corben, rebuilt as a kryptonite-fueled maniac - was going to be making an appearance in the film, but those rumors have since been put to rest. That doesn't mean Zack Snyder didn't take the opportunity to include a nod to the villain. When Lex is first giving Senator Finch a tour of his lab, filling her in on kryptonite, the scientist who narrates that effectiveness of the kryptonite fragment (played by Ralph Lister) is credited as 'Emmet Vale' - the scientist who turned Corben into Metallo in the comics.
29. The Dead Robin
The filmmakers didn't hold back on the seeds being planted for their shared movie universe in the film's marketing, featuring the armor of Robin, damaged, and defaced with what was clearly a note from Batman's arch nemesis, The Joker (Jared Leto, debuting in Suicide Squad). The suit makes as short an appearance in the finished film, and no further context is offered (since fans put together plenty of theories and explanations ahead of time). If the movie version is following the comics, then the suit belonged to Jason Todd, the second young man taken on as Batman's sidekick, who was beaten and bombed to death by Joker in "Death in The Family."
28. The Favorite Ride of Gadget-Heads
When Bruce Wayne decides to side with Alfred, and enter Lex Luthor's home in his civilian identity, he uncovers one seriously classic car. For those who may have not known exactly what was being referenced here, the car in question is an Aston Martin DB Mark III - which happens to be the first vehicle of the super spy James Bond. But hold on, Bond's signature care was a DB5! In fact, the DB Mark III was Bond's car of choice in the original Ian Fleming novel "Goldfinger," kitted out with a host of gadgets and clever customizations. So even if it isn't as handy as the Batmobile, it's Bruce Wayne's way of keeping close to home.
27. The Artwork Says It All
There's a good chance that fans were too focused on the actual meeting of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne to pay attention to the walls of Lex Luthor's residence, but the artwork behind Clark in the exchange is no coincidence. It looks remarkably similar to artist Cleon Peterson's "A Balance of Terror," showing terribly violent acts perpetrated by characters in black, upon characters of white. Considering that the film will later feature the Dark Knight brutally beating the shining beacon of hope that is Superman, the artwork is actually foreshadowing. That's just one interpretation of the work, but almost all reflect the themes within the film itself.
26. "Saving a Cat From a Tree"
Bruce Wayne doesn't mince words when it comes to his thoughts on Superman, going so far as accusing the Daily Planet of playing to the hero's ego, writing "puff piece editorials" about him when he does something as simple and meaningless as saving a cat from a tree. It's a familiar image of neighborhood heroism, but in this case, it's not just metaphorical. In the first Superman movie, actor Christopher Reeve did exactly that to show that no act was too small for the Man of Steel.
25. "It's Not 1938"
Undeterred by Bruce Wayne's comments, Clark carries on his mission to uncover the facts behind Gotham's 'Bat' - much to the chagrin of his editor, Perry White. Clark is informed by his boss that since the year is no longer 1938, some of Clark's views, or outdated beliefs don't work the way they used to. But the date isn't chosen at random. 1938 was the very same year that Superman's first comic, "Action Comics" #1, hit newsstands.
24. The Sword of Alexander
Less a superhero easter egg, and more an explanation for those wondering why a sword in a museum should become such a talking point between Diana and Bruce. Claimed to be "the sword of Alexander," both know it's simply a replica. But the sword isn't just important for being worn by one of the greatest conquerors in the world, it's also the blade, as explained by the museum official, that cut "The Gordian Knot." Since most of our readers are probably not versed in classical history, it's a story in which Alexander decides not to bother trying to solve an unsolvable knot, but simply cuts the knot out (a literal shortcut). We won't suggest how much that idea is at work in the rest of the movie, but it's an interesting reference, all the same.
23. Apokolips Here on Earth
We've given a full breakdown of the potential stories, villains, and twists implied through Bruce Wayne's 'Knightmare' sequence, but the dreams that keep Bruce waking up in a panic show some obvious nods to DC Comics mythology. Specifically, that of the New Gods. To make a long story short, it looks to be Darkseid, the evil ruler of the planet Apokolips whose handiwork Bruce is admiring (even if he sees it as a result of Superman, instead). The omega sign is frequently used by the cosmic villain, and the soaring fire pits bursting from the Earth are a perfect match to those at home on his native Apokolips. And believe us, that's just the the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Zack Snyder's potential Justice League teases...
When the first look at the Knightmare scene was offered, the winged soldiers terrorizing Batman had comic readers picking their collective jaws up off the floor. They couldn't actually be Parademons - the foot soldiers of Darkseid - could they? The final film makes the point absolutely clear, confirming that the strange, beastly enemies Bruce is tormented by are, in fact, the forces of Apokolips. Aside from the wings, the unmistakable red goggles on the soldier who finally arrives to knock Batman out cold make the connection obvious. What it means in a larger sense, well, that falls to another character entirely...
21. "You Have To Find Us, Bruce!"
When Bruce awakens from his nightmare vision of the future, he has only a few seconds before his world is quite literally torn apart. A rupture in space and time burst into being in the heart of his Batcave, with an armored man stepping out to greet him. The character in question is none other than Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), sporting a heavy duty armor suit as The Flash (not unlike the one seen above). Aside from reassuring Bruce that "he was right about him all along," Barry - presumably, from the future - informs Bruce that "Lois Lane is the key," and that he must "find us," implying that Bruce Wayne has the ability to change, or ensure the future so long as he seeks out the Meta Humans an unites them for a single cause.
The suggestion, for theorists looking to connect the dots, is that perhaps Bruce's vision of the future isn't just a nightmare, but an actual vision, being delivered to him as he sleeps by a future ally. The theory is backed up when Barry disappears back into the wormhole, and Bruce once again burst wide awake off of his desk - yet the sheets of paper still fluttering to the ground behind him from the rupture in time suggest it was more real than he realizes.
20. The Lang Farm
When Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) makes his somewhat return, sharing a heart to heart conversation with his son (perhaps a memory of Clark's), he recalls a heroic task of his own from his youth. Saving his family's farm from a flood earned him temporary glory, but was cut short when he, like his son, realized that no heroic deed is without a cost: while slowing the river's flow saved their property, it destroyed that of the Lang family upriver. That's a reference to Lana Lang, a girl from Clark's childhood seen in most versions of his story, including a brief cameo in Man of Steel.
19. Senator Superfan
Not every cameo comes from a celebrity or comic book icon, as United States Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy has proven. Leahy is currently the most senior senator serving, and at one time, was third in line to the presidency - but all that is dwarfed by his film career with the caped crusader. Leahy has been an outspoken Batman fan for decades, having written forewords for multiple collections of comic stories starring the Dark Knight. His affection even earned him cameos as himself in Batman and Robin, a Wayne Enterprises board member in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, and now a role as Senator Farrington beside Finch at the hearings on Capitol Hill.
18. Ralli's Diner
When Superman finally decides that it's time for him to visit the Capitol and appear before the hearings into his exploits, Ma Kent (Diane Lane) takes in the proceedings via TV, working as a server at Ralli's Diner. It's no random name, either: Ralli's is a minor location in the DC Comics universe, made famous in a story in which Lex Luthor travels hours outside of town to the greasy spoon, offers a young waitress a life of luxury and romance should she leave her life, and man, behind. In the end, she agrees, but Lex has already abandoned her. It's a sign of just how cruel and callous Lex can be, even if Lex's men later arrive to actually take Martha Kent back to town.
17. The Bat-Rifle
When Bruce uncovers the fact that the White Portugese is a ship, bringing in kryptonite illegally, he takes to a crane in the port, rifle in hand. Though the presence of a gun in Batman's hands shocked some viewers, it's a nod to Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," and fires only a tracking beacon. The image of Batman holding the rifle, like the battle between the heroes, and even lines of dialogue from the final act are all lifted off the page, making this a true adaptation of the comic, even if the larger plot lines are different.
16. Nicholson Terminal
Once the krpytonite retrieval becomes a full-blown car chase, Lex's men lead the Batmobile on a frantic chase between ships, containers, and buildings. Pay close attention to the building that Bruce's Batmobile first erupts out of, and you'll notice it's the "Nicholson Terminal & Port Company." It could be a coincidence, but considering that Jack Nicholson is remembered by many as the great Batman villain ever, paying tribute to his rendition seems a likely easter egg.
15. Belgium, 1918
When Bruce Wayne finally delivers the encrypted photo to Diana, the photo is clearly taken from the set of the Wonder Woman origin movie, with Gadot’s co-stars Chris Pine, Ewen Bremner and Saïd Taghmaoui, among others. A vintage photograph from Diana’s exploits in 1918 (in what looks to be a war-torn village) isn’t evidence of meta-human activity on its own, but when combined with the surveillance footage of her in the modern era, the Amazonian’s immortality is made clear. What isn’t clear is how Lex Luthor came into possession of the photograph to begin with. It’s also unclear how Diana came to know that Lex possessed evidence of her superhuman physiology, or how large a role she actually played in WWI. Those are questions obviously answered only in future films, but the early look at the Wonder Woman solo movie is an unexpected surprise. And in the end, it was just one of many.
Continuing the march of meta-humans on display in Lex Luthor’s cache of top secret files, video of an underwater shipwreck reveals a pair of glowing eyes in its ruptured hull. When those eyes become a man, it’s no surprise that they belong to Aquaman a.k.a. Jason Momoa, in his full, tattooed, trident-ed glory. Unfortunately, Aquaman gets arguably the shortest end of the stick (at least in terms of fans eager to see how James Wan will tackle the challenge of setting a superhero movie underwater). After taking a shot at the camera with his trident, a camera farther away from the destroyed rig captures Aquaman as he bursts away from the wreck fast enough to send out not one, but two shockwaves.
How does he swim so fast? No idea. Does this footage imply that he has already returned to his underwater culture, instead of pre-release speculation that suggested he would be raised on the mainland only to discover his powers later in life? Or is this confirmation that the hero’s origin story will be significantly reimagined? And most importantly, where does his unmitigated rage for underwater camera rigs originate? We may not know the answers until the Justice League gives him a proper introduction to the team.
Finally, it’s Vic Stone a.k.a. Cyborg that takes the spotlight… with some help from his father, Silas Stone (Joe Morton). We had theorized earlier on that, in keeping with the usual comic book origin, Vic, a promising young football star, could be mortally wounded in either the Superman/Zod battle from Man of Steel, or the showdown with Doomsday in this film.
The former is still possible, but when the files are accessed, Vic is already little more than a torso and head, suspended on a S.T.A.R. Labs workboard as his father records his findings to the camera. As time passes, Silas resorts to technology, and electronic replacements in order to keep his son alive. The damage to Vic is even greater than the comics usually depict, leaving him with a mainly-artificial body.
As he is brought to life (not unlike Frankenstein’s monster), Vic begins to scream, confirming that he actually is on his way back to walking, talking, and fighting alongside the Justice League. But Vic’s condition isn’t helped by random chance. It’s a strange, pulsing box that gets the action started, and that box is instantly familiar to avid readers of DC Comics…
12. Mother Box
The final video clip highlighting Cyborg features Silas noting that a mysterious cube has become operational, resembling a box made up of fluctuating tiles, pulsing and reconfiguring as a strong light shines from within. When this bix comes close to Vic, it goes into auto-pilot, zapping the components around him, and triggering the formation of a cybernetic skeleton and limbs. It may seem like unknown technology simply meant to look futuristic or artificially intelligent, but it seems most likely, given the other hints offered, that it’s a bona fide Mother Box, hailing straight from the home of the New Gods.
The prime technology of the New Gods are the aforementioned ‘Mother Boxes,’ a combination of sentient technological being, an A.I., and a magical guardian angel. In Cyborg’s most recent origin in DC’s New 52, it was one such Mother Box – left behind by an invading parademon – that triggered the same surge of healing (compiling his body out of alien tech that the scientists couldn’t hope to understand).
11. The Flash
The second cameo appearance of The Flash delivers on the superspeed fans of the hero have been dying to see. When accessing the rest of Lex’s encrypted files, Diana stumbles upon one that seems mundane compared to the others: a young man caught in a convenience store robbery. With a smirk, the man – Barry Allen – halts the crime in a heartbeat, sending the cameras into digital destruction as lightning flashes everywhere around him. It may not be the clearest look at his powers, but if the solo Flash movie is going to be a true origin, Zack Snyder has at least shown the time-hopping hero Barry will become, and how important he can be to the world as a whole.
Not so much an easter egg, but yet another pop culture(?) reference of Lex Luthor's that may fly by most viewers. When meeting with Lois Lane atop LexCorp tower, Jesse Eisenberg rattles off a number of hard-to-catch phrases. But two that are easily made out can be heard when he greets Lois, followed by "Plain Lo in the morning. Lola in slacks." The lines are taken from Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," a reference made even more incredible by the fact that Alfred himself - actor Jeremy Irons - starred in the 1997 adaptation of the novel opposite Dominique Swain.
9. The Riddler Graffiti
The scenes of Bruce Wayne preparing the battlefield for his showdown with Superman are lit only by lightning, which means the graffiti adorning the walls can only be seen in bits and pieces. But one clever reference is hard to miss: the question mark made famous as the calling card/obsession of the Riddler. It's impossible to guess if this is meant as an actual hint of what's to come, but even if it was just a Batman fan on the production team who couldn't pass up making an easter egg, it's there to reward the fans poring over each frame.
8. JOE + KR
It's isn't just a nod to the Riddler that can be found in the fight scene, but a mention of Batman's famous nemesis. Fans have gotten creative with their findings in the graffiti, but what's certain is that at two different points in the fight, the writing on the wall features the phrase "JO --> KR" or "JO + KR" = both a reference to the Joker. It's most likely an easter egg planted by the set painters and production designers, as opposed to Zack Snyder, but a cool addition all the same.
7. Carla Gugino Cameo
Regular Zack Snyder collaborator Carla Gugino - from Sucker Punch and Watchmen - didn't appear in Man of Steel, but did lend her voice to Kelex, the Krpytonian robo-butler drone seen prior to Krypton's destruction. In Batman V Superman, Gugino makes a return. Not as a robot, but as the voice of the downed Kryptonian spaceship Lex uses to create his Doomsday abomination.
Once General Zod's remains are slipped into the waters of Lex's mad science laboratory, the computer is able to confirm the identity of the man, revealing that he hails from Kandor. To comic book fans, particularly those familiar with the sillier parts of "Superman" history, the city of Kandor is famous for being shrunk down prior to Krypton's destruction, and kept safe in Superman's Fortress of Solitude. it's unlikely that the story line will play out, but it's a cool reference for fans.
5. The Dark Knight Returns... Again?
When the fight between Doomsday and Superman takes an ugly turn, leaving Supes hovering in space, completely ruined by the nuclear impact, it falls to Batman and Wonder Woman to keep the monstrosity busy. Bruce does it by staying mobile, using his grapple gun to remain one step ahead of the villain. At one point, landing on a wall with his arm extended, lit up from behind by lighting for a split second. For those who know the cover art of Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," the obvious recreation was nearly impossible to miss.
When the battle between Superman and Doomsday kicks off, the gathering of military figures - Harry Lennix's Swanwick chief among them - decides that it's necessary to bring in POTUS, or the President of the United States. The president can get just a single line out before the prospect of a nuclear strike is put forward, and he agrees. The voice is actually that of Patrick Wilson, the star of Zack Snyder's Watchmen.
3. The Silver & Black
When the death of Superman at the hands of the Kryptonian Doomsday is carried out, he is buried in a state funeral procession, with an empty casket of polished black used to signify his body, emblazoned with a silver 'S'. It's a touch that every Superman fan would instantly catch, since the black suit and chromed chest emblem is the exact look taken by the Man of Steel when he first returns from his 'death' (read: Kryptonian rehabilitation coma/sleep). In case fans had any fear that Snyder was departing from the comics, this choice returns us to familiar territory.
2. Prisoner TK-421
Director Zack Snyder and J. J. Abrams had a friendly competition when their respective blockbusters were in production, embodied in lightsabers, arrested stormtroopers, and even a miniature model of Batman's Tumbler on the Millennium Falcon. But Snyder saved his best Star Wars easter egg for last, assigning Lex Luthor that prisoner number ending in TK-421 - the same callsign of the stormtrooper who has his uniform stolen by Luke and Han in the series' first movie.
1. Darkseid is Coming?
Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne can both agree on one thing by the end of the movie: something, or someone big is coming. The point is driven home in the final shots, when the painting in Lex's study has been inverted, as he promised, revealing a winged Satan descending from the skies. Again, he informs Batman that while his plan failed, the battle has alerted others, and that bell can't be un-rung. The "he" soon to be coming is never named, and he doesn't have to be for the audience to get the idea. But with Justice League coming soon, and the numerous hints of Apokolips, it seems that Darkseid is the devilish figure being discussed.
Those are the easter eggs, secrets and tiny touches we spotted in Batman V Superman, but be sure to let us know which ones we've overlooked, and we'll keep updating the list as more and more secrets are uncovered.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is in theaters now.