With hundreds of characters, dozens of timelines and several decades’ worth of content, Marvel Comics has shaped modern pop culture through its wealth of creativity. Like many other fruitful ventures, the comic books have been adapted into countless movies over the years. The movies don’t always enjoy the same box office or critical success, but they’re always among the most hyped and high-profile movies.
The creatives at Marvel have proven themselves to be masterful storytellers, weaving together disparate narratives to form the most complex stories. Sometimes they drop hints at the beginning that require multiple viewings to catch. Others times, though, their hints are more like hammers hitting you over your head with how obvious they are.
Some of those “hints” are so painfully obvious that even the most uninformed viewer could see the plot twist coming from miles away. Others are disguised a simple Easter eggs and fun references to geek out over, allowing ardent fans to be blindsided. Regardless of your familiarity with Marvel’s franchises, there are bound to be spoilers that you caught and others that slipped through your fingers. If the title hasn’t clued you in on it, the list below contains plenty of spoilers not just for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also for Marvel movies from Sony and Fox. There are also some references to the comics, so if you’re super sensitive to spoilers, here’s your chance to look away.
Here are 12 Spoilers Fans Missed At The Start Of Marvel Movies (And 8 Incredibly Obvious).
20 Missed: Thor's Shirt In Thor: Ragnarok
Thor: Ragnarok made waves with its boldly comical take on Thor’s journey, complete with the vivid colors and wacky humor that director Taika Waititi is known for.
One brilliant use of color that you might’ve missed involves Thor's wardrobe in the scene where Loki and Thor track down Odin. Thor is wearing a jacket layered over two shirts; one green and one purple. It’s a subtle way to foreshadow Thor’s encounter with the Hulk on Sakaar. Or perhaps it’s Thor’s way of paying homage to his buddy, even though the Hulk has yet to don his iconic purple shorts in the MCU.
19 Obvious: Star-Lord's Real Daddy In GotG
Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, spends a whole lot of time wondering about his biological father. Star-Lord eventually finds out that his father is Ego, a Celestial who plans to complete the Expansion. They manage to bond for a little bit until Ego reveals that he planted the tumor in Meredith’s head. Peter then realizes that Yondu is his true father figure, and is stricken with grief when the latter passes. It’s a striking realization for Peter, but not so much for the audience.
Meredith tells a young Peter that his father was an angel, made out of light. As she’s about to pass, she tells him that his father would come pick him up later on. Yondu calls himself as pretty as an angel, and literally comes to pick Peter up.
18 Missed: Feige's Famous Pizza In Deadpool
News of Disney buying Fox was all people could talk about for a good while, and with good reason. The entertainment giant has been slowly but surely building its empire, acquiring the rights to some of the most popular (and profitable) franchises.
In Deadpool, which was distributed by 20th Century Fox, Wade orders pizza to lure the pizza delivery guy Jeremy. As the mercenary threatens Jeremy, there’s a shot that reveals the pizza place is called Feige’s Famous, a clear reference to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. The Disney/Fox deal hadn’t been put into motion when Deadpool came out, but the movie’s innocent little nod to Kevin Feige now seems just a tad bit ominous.
17 Obvious: Uncle Ben's Spiel In Spider-Man
There are a few time-honored traditions in superhero stories: father figures will pass, and so will love interests and sidekicks, but these tragedies will always be foreshadowed by a heavy-handed speech. Perhaps the most famous instance of this is Uncle Ben’s spiel in Spider-Man.
Peter Parker’s going through a lot of changes— there’s high school, puberty, and his newfound spidey senses. Luckily, Uncle Ben’s got impeccable timing, delivering a memorable speech to his nephew in the car. Worried about Peter’s sudden changes in behavior, Uncle Ben tells Peter to be careful of the man he’s about to change into, and, of course, that with great power comes great responsibility. Sadly, Peter doesn’t heed his words until it’s too late.
16 Missed: Frozen Cap In The Incredible Hulk
It’s hard to imagine a time before Mark Ruffalo started playing Bruce Banner, but Edward Norton actually starred as the Hulk in the character’s first appearance in the MCU.
Despite the inconsistent casting, Marvel did already have a plan to weave together multiple storylines and was dropping hints everywhere. In the alternate opening of The Incredible Hulk, Bruce travels to the Arctic, having given up on finding a cure. Before Bruce can end his own life, the Hulk emerges and causes an avalanche. As the snow and ice come crashing down, you can catch a glimpse of a certain star-spangled vibranium shield in the bottom left of the frame.
15 15: Obvious: Surtur Trashing Asgard In Thor: Ragnarok
Thor: Ragnarok opens with Thor captured in chains as Surtur lounges on his fiery throne. It’s a quirky scene full of banter that sets the tone for the rest of Taika Waititi’s installment in Thor’s arc. Surtur waxes poetic about Asgard’s inevitable fall when he puts his crown into the Eternal Flame. Thor clearly doesn’t care, taunting him over and over as he spins around in his chains.
Surtur keeps going on and on about how Thor can’t stop Ragnarok, and since the word is literally in the movie’s title, it’s pretty obvious that the prophecy is going to come true. Sure enough, it does, although it comes with the added bonus of ending Hela’s ruthless reign over Asgard.
14 Missed: Project Pegasus And Project 42 In The Avengers
The Avengers is the culmination of years of planning, and fans were understandably excited to see our favorite heroes team up. Captain America: Civil War came out four years later, chronicling the team’s inevitable falling out over their opinions of the Sokovia Accords. As it turns out, Marvel had already dropped some small hints leading up to the Avengers’ major disagreement.
In the opening scene of The Avengers, there’s a sign that says “Project Pegasus” during the evacuation. Agent Coulson hands Tony a bunch of files, which include mentions of Project Pegasus and Project 42. Sure, Project Pegasus is the name of the Tesseract test site, but it’s also a reference to the Civil War arc in the comics.
13 Missed: Thanos' snap survivors In Captain America: Civil War
Whether or not Ruffalo’s infamous slip about Infinity War was staged or not, it certainly got everyone talking. He was about to say something about half the characters, but quickly changed his quip. Only half of the Avengers get snapped away, so it seems like his last-minute change was sort of a save.
However, it wouldn’t have been a spoiler to the eagle-eyed few who caught this tiny hint in Civil War. The Avengers get together with Thaddeus Ross, and are informed that the UN is about to pass the Sokovia Accords. On one side of the table, there’s War Machine, Black Widow, Cap, and Iron Man, all of whom survive Thanos’s snap. Those on the other side— Wanda, Vision, and Falcon— all disintegrate.
12 Missed: "Immigrant Song" In Thor: Ragnarok
You might’ve seen Asgard’s destruction at the hands of Surtur coming from miles away— after all, it’s literally part of a prophecy-- but the opening scene of Thor: Ragnarok has another hidden spoiler, specifically during the fight between Thor and Surtur.
Led Zepplin’s "Immigrant" Song underscores the scene, and it’s definitely matches the heated fight raging on. Plus, it’s inspired by Norse mythology. As it turns out, it also hints at the ending of the movie. The lyrics say “The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands.” Sure, by then Mjolnir’s been destroyed, but the Asgardians end up boarding a spaceship, transporting them away from the ruins of Asgard and toward Earth.
11 Obvious: Gwen's fate In The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Toby Maguire might’ve been replaced by Andrew Garfield following Columbia Picture’s reboot of Spider-Man, but keeping with tradition, there was plenty of clunky foreshadowing to go around. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Gwen Stacy delivers a speech about how temporary and fleeting life is, and how despite feeling immortal, everyone has to pass sometime. In fact, she says what makes life so valuable is that it doesn’t last forever. Get it? Because she’s one of the many famous “women in refrigerators.”
Combined with Peter’s ominous visions of Captain Stacy haunting him and warning him to stay away from Gwen, the “hint” is right up there with Uncle Ben’s speech in terms of subtly.
10 Missed: Spider-Man: Homecoming release date In Civil War
Like many of his colleagues in the MCU, Bucky Barnes has a tragic past that keeps coming back to haunt him. One of the most heart-wrenching and powerful moments has got to be when Bucky tries to resist getting activated and turned into the Winter Solider once again.
In this scene in Civil War, Zemo traps Bucky and recites a list of words that send Bucky scrambling until he’s fully activated and under Zemo’s control. The internet is abuzz with the potential significance of each word, and as it turns out, among those words are “homecoming” and “seventeen.” Spider-Man: Homecoming came out in 2017.
9 Obvious: Hope Becoming The Wasp In Ant-Man
The mid-credits scene in Ant-Man is meant to be a teaser for what’s yet to come, signalling Hope van Dyne’s transformation into the Wasp, but honestly, did anyone not see that coming? First of all, Hope is clearly a version of Hope Pym, who is also known as Red Queen in the comics, so there’s already an inkling there that she is going to be some sort of superpowered human. Second, her last name is van Dyne, and the movie explicitly states her mother was the Wasp. Third, we see a silhouette of the Wasp when Scott is in the quantum realm.
While Hope taking up the mantle isn’t much of a surprise, it’s still a significant step for the Wasp to become Marvel’s first female title character.
8 Missed: The Sentinels In X-Men: The Last Stand
It’s easy to forget that the X-Men movies are technically Marvel movies even though they’re not a part of the MCU, especially since they definitely have the intricate storytelling to match Marvel’s sprawling universe. In X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine and Storm have students enter the Danger Room, where they fight some Sentinels. In The Wolverine, Xavier and Magneto, knowing the Sentinels are approaching, ask Logan for his help. In Days of Future Past, the Sentinels have already taken power and are wreaking havoc on the mutants.
What started as a little Easter egg for us to geek out over turned out to be a clue to one of the most significant events in the X-Men franchise.
7 Missed: Shaw's future In X-Men: First Class
To say Erik Lehnsherr has a tough life is a giant understatement. He’s tormented by Sebastian Shaw from an early age, and even loses his mother to the evil man. Erik’s quest for vengeance leads him to hunt down Shaw, who eventually meets his end when Magneto pushes a coin into his head.
It’s a callback to the circumstances around a traumatic event of Erik’s childhood, but it’s also foreshadowed early on. When we first see the grown-up version of Erik, he hits a picture of Shaw with the coin, and it lands right in Shaw’s forehead. You might not have foreseen the way Shaw’s life ends, but Erik certainly has given it a lot of thought.
6 Obvious: The Infinity Gauntlet In Thor
The MCU is full of Easter eggs that don’t necessarily have deeper meanings or connections to the movies they’re in. That’s why so many of these seemingly obvious clues go largely unrecognized as anything other than fun little references. However, the appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Odin’s vault in Thor stood out to fans.
Apart from being colorful and visually striking, it stood out compared to other Easter eggs due to its ties with Thanos, one of the biggest baddies the Avengers ever face in the comics. Plus, the fact that they had to retcon the gauntlet in Ragnarok, having Hela point out it’s a fake, just further underscores the significance of the prop going forward.
5 Missed: Iceman Comes Out In X2: X-Men United
In X2, Wolverine, Rogue, Pyro, and Iceman visit Iceman’s parents, who live in Boston. Bobby’s parents try to wrap their minds around Bobby’s mutant powers, with his mother awkwardly trying to ask him when he first found out about his mutations.
It’s a scene that had fans drawing parallels to LGBTQ experiences of coming out to family members, especially since there had been fan theories of Bobby being gay for a while. Plus, his love interest is Rogue, a girl he literally couldn’t touch at all. As it turns out, the scene foreshadowed the revelation in 2015 that Bobby is indeed gay. He joins the ranks of several other out and proud mutants in the franchise, like Northstar and Colossus.
4 Obvious: Cosmic Marvel In Iron Man
Vision came to life as an android in a synthetic body of Vibranium thanks to Tony, who used parts of J.A.R.V.I.S’s remaining data. Before J.A.R.V.I.S meets his untimely end-slash-rebirth, he’s primarily Tony’s assistant.
J.A.R.V.I.S plays a vital role for Tony when he’s in his Iron Man suit. When Tony is first testing out the suit, he tries to see how high he can fly safely. J.A.R.V.I.S is there to make sure he doesn’t mess up, of course, and he’s also there to spoil Tony’s eventual forage into space. J.A.R.V.I.S suggests that they improve the exosystems if Tony ever wants to visit other planets, and sure enough, Tony does.
3 Missed: Galaga In The Avengers
There have been a lot of parodies of and jabs at the repetitive nature of the foes the Avengers— and sci-fi heroes in general— face. The enemy is often some sort of alien creature who comes to Earth via a dimensional tunnel. The creature tries to conquer or destroy the planet with the help of mindless minions who heed their every command.
It’s a tried and tested sci-fi formula, and it’s even hinted at at the beginning of The Avengers. Tony catches a S.H.I.E.L.D technician slacking off and playing Galaga at work. The objective of the game is to protect the earth from alien invaders, much like the Avengers do at the climax of the movie.
2 Obvious: Logan Music Box In Deadpool 2
Logan made waves as not only one of the grittiest superhero movies ever scene, but also for depicting Wolverine’s final end. It’s a tearjerker of a scene with Logan holding his daughter/clone Laura's hand.
Of course the Merc with a Mouth would make a reference to the icon’s passing in his sequel. Deadpool 2 opens with a music box with a morbid depiction of Logan’s passing. As it turns out, it’s not just an homage or irreverent poke at the mutant. It also hints at Deadpool's own passing at the end of his movie. Deadpool's fake demise even uses the same music that was played as Wolverine drew his last breath in Logan.
1 Missed: Super Soldier Serum In The Incredible Hulk
Cap’s cameo as a human popsicle in the alternate opening was ultimately cut from the final version of The Incredible Hulk, but the movie still has another hint to Cap’s appearance later on in the MCU. Like Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner, the main antagonist Emil Blonsky is injected with a serum designed to give him extraordinary abilities. Unlike the good guys, though, the experiment goes horribly awry for Blonsky, leaving him with a whole host of problems.
If you look closely, the serum is labelled with not only the words “Stark Industries,” but also the name of Dr. Reinstein. This is an alias of Dr. Abraham Erskine, who later shows up in Captain America to pioneer the development of the Super Soldier Serum.
What are some other spoilers at the start of Marvel movies? Tell us in the comments!