One key scene in Iron Man 2 featured a S.H.I.E.L.D. activity map that was packed with Easter eggs teasing the future of the MCU. By 2010, Marvel Studios had committed to their Avengers strategy, and the Iron Man sequel was seen as a vital stepping-stone on the way to the 2012 blockbuster. As such, it introduced Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, featured a significantly increased presence for S.H.I.E.L.D., and had a lot of teasing Easter eggs.
In one key scene at the end of Iron Man 2, Nick Fury met with Tony Stark to reveal that the Black Widow had been assessing him for participation in the Avengers Initiative. The conversation didn't exactly go the way Stark wanted it to, with Black Widow deciding she couldn't recommend him given he was hardly a team player. But it didn't take eagle-eyed viewers long to realize that the really interesting details were in the background of this scene, offering an unprecedented glimpse into S.H.I.E.L.D. priorities.
During the scene, the camera panned around the two characters and revealed a number of S.H.I.E.L.D. holoscreens. One screen actually showed footage from Bruce Banner's clash with General Ross in Virginia during The Incredible Hulk (in the MCU timeline, the 2008 release happened at the same time as Iron Man 2). But the most important detail was a S.H.I.E.L.D. activity map, which showed areas of interest to the organization. From Captain America's frozen body to teases for Black Panther and Namor, here's what Iron Man 2's S.H.I.E.L.D. map revealed.
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Tony Stark's Malibu Pad
Let's start with the most obvious S.H.I.E.L.D. hotspot; Malibu, home of Tony Stark. It makes sense that Malibu would appear on this activity map, given Nick Fury had a major operation monitoring Stark, involving some of his highest-level agents. No doubt S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Department of Damage Control was heavily involved in clean-up after Vanko's attack on the Stark Expo as well.
Mjolnir & Thor's Arrival In New Mexico
New Mexico is also marked as an important hotspot, a clear reference to the Mjolnir impact site from Thor. It was teased over the course of Iron Man 2 that S.H.I.E.L.D. satellites had been detecting strange energy surges over New Mexico, with gravitational lensing that suggested it could be an Einstein-Rosen Bridge. Though they didn't know it, they were detecting the Bifrost, specifically when Odin cast Mjolnir and Thor to Earth. Iron Man 2's post-credits scene then showed Coulson's arrival at the impact crater.
Hulk vs. Abomination (Or Iron Man vs. Whiplash) In New York City
New York City had seen a lot of superhero conflict long before The Avengers' Battle of New York. First, in The Incredible Hulk, the Green Goliath and Abomination fought in Harlem, the end-result of Thaddeus Ross' mission to apprehend Bruce Banner that saw the General illegally break into S.H.I.E.L.D. secure servers. It's possible that's what the NYC marker on the map means.
However, given the timeline of Iron Man 2 in relation to The Incredible Hulk is unclear, it may be another event: Iron Man and War Machine's fight against Whiplash and the Hammer Drones from earlier in the film. Either way, this marker is less a tease of the future than an acknowledgment of the fights already happening in the world (and a reminder that you really don't want to live in the MCU's Manhattan).
Captain America Frozen In Greenland
There are two markers on the S.H.I.E.L.D. map in Iron Man 2 setting up the next year's Captain America: The First Avenger. The first is located in Greenland and would appear to be an indicator of a search for Steve Rogers himself; it was revealed in The First Avengers that Cap crashed one of the Red Skull's planes into the Greenland ice cap back in 1945, and S.H.I.E.L.D. had never stopped looking for the crash site.
That said, there is one slight continuity issue here; the opening of Captain America: The First Avenger states that the bomber was actually found by a Russian oil team and S.H.I.E.L.D. took over when they called it in. This was retconned in official tie-in comic, Fury's Big Week, which revealed that shortly before the events of Iron Man 2 S.H.I.E.L.D. had recently discovered one of the crashed Hydra drones and went looking for Cap, but due to the dynamic environment, the mission was unsuccessful. In the end, the bomber was actually found by a Russian oil team, and S.H.I.E.L.D. took over when they called it in.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019