When you sit down to see a Marvel movie, you can expect many things: a Stan Lee cameo, comic book references, hilarious jokes, and an overload of Easter eggs. These are some of the many things that make MCU movies and TV shows absolutely Marvel-ous.
From James Gunn to Anthony and Joe Russo, every MCU director has provided great fan service and hidden quirky references throughout their movies. However, sometimes they hide their Easter eggs better than the great Easter bunny himself.
Although we may not be at the level of Captain America when it comes to cultural references, we aren’t all master Easter egg hunters and there are definitely some comic book, movie, and music references that you didn’t catch in your favorite MCU movies.
Sometimes we’re so distracted by the high-paced action scenes that we don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the background. Then, other times we’re too fixated on things like Thor’s new haircut, Matt Damon’s cameo, or Luis’ incredibly long stories, to notice anything else.
Therefore, we miss some of the things that the directors wanted us to catch. However, fear not. We’re here to help you put the pieces together and unveil the secrets of the MCU.
So, it’s time to take off the 3D glasses and pick up the magnifying glass. Here are the 20 Things You Completely Missed In The MCU.
20 Someone Loses an Arm in Every Phase 2 Movie as a Tribute to Star Wars
If you’re a Star Wars fan you know that many characters in the series brutally loses a limb. The most memorable ones were Anakin, Luke, and Darth Vader. However, it also happened to C-3PO, Mace Windu, Count Dooku, and many more.
Kevin Feige channeled the Force and added this theme to his movies.
He said, “I’m obsessed with Star Wars. Who’s not? I’m 40 years old. I’m in the movie business. I went to USC. So, I’m obsessed with Star Wars – and it didn’t start out as intentional, but it became intentional… someone gets their arm cut off in every Phase Two movie. Every single one.”
You can catch this Star Wars tribute when Thor loses an arm in Thor 2, Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3, Bucky in The Winter Soldier, Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man in Age of Ultron, and Yellowjacket in Ant-Man.
19 Doctor Strange's Reference-Filled Ride Leading to His Accident
As Doctor Strange drives towards the accident that would forever change his life, his ride is full of Easter eggs.
While driving, Strange is talking to Billy about potential patients. The first one is a “35-year-old Air Force Colonel [that] crushed his lower spine in some experimental armor.” Although the director, Scott Derrickson denies this, many fans still believe this is a nod to War Machine.
The last patient is a “22-year-old female with an electronic implant in her brain that controls schizophrenia, struck by lightning." This patient is believed to be Captain Marvel. Although this isn’t her origin story, some people believe it could be a way to introduce her powers in a more human-like way.
The song that plays during the drive is called Interstellar Overdrive which was released on Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets album. This album featured a picture of Doctor Strange on the cover.
18 Stan Lee's Cameo in Every MCU Netflix Series
We’ve all come to expect Stan Lee’s cameo in every MCU movie. However, have you spotted him in the television series?
Although he doesn’t physically make an appearance, Lee’s face can be found hidden in every Netflix series.
In Daredevil and Jessica Jones, he is shown on a decorated plaque in the police station. In episode 12 of Luke Cage, he can be spotted on a poster saying “See a crime? Report it!” and in the 13th episode of Iron Fist he is on a “Be Proud” poster for an NYPD officer-recruitment campaign.
Finally, in The Defenders, Stan Lee appears halfway through the third episode when Matt Murdock is following Jessica Jones. If you look over his right shoulder, you can see Stan Lee on a poster that says “Remember New York, not all heroes wear capes!”
17 The Shawarma Palace Appears Earlier than You Think
The Shawarma Palace is probably the most memorable part of The Avengers (2012), but you might not have noticed its appearance earlier on in the movie.
During the Avengers’ last fight, Iron Man crashes to the ground after fighting the Leviathan and lands right in front of the Shawarma Palace. Maybe he also caught a glimpse of the restaurant and its enticing window is the reason why he suggests going there after their battle.
Another interesting fact about the Shawarma scene is that it was filmed a year after the original movie. Chris Evans had been growing a beard for another film and this is the reason why he’s the only one in the shot not eating.
He had to use his hand to cover up remnants of his beard that prosthetics missed and therefore couldn’t eat and laugh with his fellow Avengers.
16 Odin's Birds Are Always Watching Thor and Loki
In the comics, Hugin and Munin are two ravens that serve as Odin’s eyes and ears throughout his realm and beyond. They can be spotted in Thor, sitting on each side of Odin’s throne during Thor’s botched coronation ceremony, and hovering over the king during his Odinsleep.
One of the ravens is also seen in Odin’s first appearance in Thor: The Dark World as he is listening to it on a balcony.
Then in The Avengers, the birds can be spotted when Thor took Loki from the Quinjet. They were sitting perched on some rocks before Thor and Loki slammed into the ground and later, fly past the mountaintop while the two brothers argued.
Maybe Odin wasn’t such a bad father after all and sent his ravens to check in on his sons.
15 The Yggdrasil Tree is Hidden in Multiple Movies
The Yggdrasil tree is the world tree that holds the nine realms together. Thor explains the meaning of the tree and draws it for Jane Foster in the first Thor movie. However, it’s also hidden throughout other MCU movies.
In Captain America: The First Avenger, the tree is engraved into the wall where Red Skull finds the Tesseract. Then, in Thor: Ragnarok, it is carved in the wooden door of the safe house where Heimdall is hiding the Asgardians from Hela. It can be seen both on the outside and inside of the wooden door.
At the end of Ragnarok, a similar tree can also be found burning in the middle of Asgard as Surtur destroys Thor’s home. This could be extremely significant as the tree represents the health and wellbeing of the nine realms. Maybe the image of the burning tree is foreshadowing terrible events to come.
14 Nick Fury's Tombstone in Winter Soldier
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury fakes his death and visits his gravestone at the end of the movie with Cap, Black widow, and Falcon. But what do you inscribe on the gravestone of one of the most beast men in the MCU?
Anthony and Joe Russo also struggled with this question during production. Apparently, it took them over ten iterations before they settled on the perfect inscription, “The path of the righteous man... Ezekiel 25:17”.
This quote is part of a bible verse that Samuel L. Jackson famously quoted in Pulp Fiction (1994). It’s the line he used right before he attacked his victims.
So, to memorialize the Avengers’ mighty leader, they incorporated one of Samuel L. Jackson’s most iconic roles.
According to Joe Russo, “it’s better to put something in there that is a wink and a smile and excites people than just something bland.”
13 The Ten Rings Terrorist Group Returns in Ant-Man
The Ten Rings is a mysterious and deadly terrorist group led by the Mandarin. In Iron Man, this group attacked and abducted Tony Stark in Afghanistan, allowing him to become the hero we know today.
However, we haven’t seen the last of them. In Ant-Man, you might have caught a glimpse of a man with clear connections to the terrorist organization.
When Darren Cross presented the Yellowjacket suit to potential buyers, one of the bidders had a ten rings tattoo on his neck. He drew his gun to try and shoot Hank Pym and was eventually taken out by Ant-Man.
The tattoo is hard to see, but if you check out one of the deleted scenes from the movie, you get a very clear image of ten rings on the man’s neck.
12 Captain America's To-Do List in Winter Soldier Changes in Each Country
After being frozen for decades, Captain America writes up a list of cultural items, people, and events that he needs to learn in order to assimilate into modern society. However, depending on where you watched the movie, you may have seen a different list.
In the United States, the list includes Steve Jobs, I Love Lucy, and the moon landing. However, in Russia these are replaced by the Soviet Union Dissolution and Vladimir Vysotsky.
In the UK he includes The Beatles, Sean Connery, and the World Cup; in France Cap want to learn about Daft Punk and Louis de Funès; in South Korea, Old Boy and Dance Dance Revolution; and in Mexico, Shakira, Neri Vela, and Maradona’s Hand of God are markers of cultural influence.
Apparently, Star Wars, Nirvana, Rocky, Thai food, and Troubleman are known all over the world as they are included on every list.
11 Hawkeye is Always Around
Some people may see Hawkeye as the most irrelevant and underused member of the Avengers. However, he’s around more than you think.
In Thor, when Thor was trying to get his hammer from the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound, there is an agent positioned above him that is aiming to shoot him with a bow. Agent Coulson refers to this archer as Barton. Clint Barton is Hawkeye’s real name.
Black Widow also wears a small arrow necklace throughout most of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In an interview, Scarlett Johansson revealed that it was her little nod to Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.
She says, “I guess you can interpret it in different ways, but we thought it would be nice to have something a bit personal for Widow. You kind of forget that she’s still a woman and that she has her interpersonal relationships in life outside of work.”
10 Iron Man's Shirt Contains Easter Eggs
The MCU wardrobe department gets to have a lot of fun with Easter eggs especially since Tony Stark’s wardrobe is full of cultural references and sneaky little nods.
In The Avengers, Stark is wearing a Black Sabbath shirt. In 1970, Black Sabbath released a song about a man who travels into the future and sees the apocalypse.
This song was called “Iron Man” and is a nice nod to Tony Stark’s alter ego.
Interestingly, the band had never even heard of the Marvel character when they wrote the song.
In Thor: Ragnarok another one of Tony Stark’s shirts is seen hiding cultural references. When the Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner, Thor hands him one of Stark’s shirts to wear.
The shirt has an image of a Duran Duran album cover. One of their hit songs is Hungry Like the Wolf, which foreshadows Hulk’s battle with Fenris Wolf.
9 Chris Evans' Other Marvel Role is Referenced in The First Avenger
As you probably know, Captain America isn’t Chris Evans’ first gig in the Marvel Universe. In 2005, Chris Evans constantly yelled “Flame On” and engulfed himself in flames as the Human Torch in 20th Century Fox’s The Fantastic Four.
There is a nod to Chris Evans’ other alter ego when Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes visit the Stark Expo at the beginning of Captain America: The First Avenger. In the beginning of the scene, you can spot an android in a red jumpsuit underneath a glass dome.
This red-dressed android is the original Human Torch. The Torch was the first superhero created by Marvel, back in 1939 when the company was known as “Timely Comics.”
He later joined The Invaders with Captain America and was the inspiration for Stan Lee to create Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four.
8 The Nicknames of Asgardians in Thor Movies
Some Asgardians have nicknames throughout the movies that hint at the original source material.
In the first Thor movie, Thor is associated with the name “Donald Blake.” Jane Foster gives him clothes from her ex-boyfriend, Dr. Donald Blake and later, they spoof his identity as Blake while in S.H.I.E.L.D custody.
In the original comics, Blake tapped his magical cane on the ground and it transformed him into the God of Thunder. This same motion can be seen in Thor: Ragnarok when Thor taps his umbrella to return to his true form and change the umbrella into Mjolnir.
Valkyrie is another Asgardian whose nickname is an Easter egg.
In Ragnarok, the Grandmaster calls Valkyrie “Scrapper 142," which refers to her comic book debut in Incredible Hulk #142.
Although Valkyrie appeared in Avengers #83 a year earlier, she was simply an impersonation by the Enchantress rather than her true self.
7 Billboards in Thor and Iron Man
Most MCU Easter eggs are hard to find. However, if you pay attention to billboards hidden in the films, you’ll be sure to catch at least one.
In Thor, there are a couple of shots in the town of a billboard that advertises New Mexico as the “Land of Enchantment… Journey Into Mystery.” This is a reference to Thor’s first Marvel debut in the comic book, Journey Into Mystery.
A similarly phrased billboard appears in London during Thor: The Dark World. However, this billboard says, “Is your journey really necessary?” and is the recreation of a WW2 campaign to promote car sharing schemes.
You can also find a hidden billboard in Iron Man (2008). When Iron Man is zooming down a road, you catch a glimpse of an alien dragon on the side of a building. This is Iron Man’s famed nemesis, Fin Fang Foom.
6 The MCU Likes the Number 12
The MCU has an obsession with the number 12.
The gag started in The Avengers when Tony Stark gives Pepper Potts 12 percent of the credit for Stark Tower.
Then, in Age of Ultron, we learn that there is a 12-second difference between the birth of the Maximoff twins. In the movie, Quicksilver reminds Scarlet Witch that he is 12 seconds older than her.
Finally, in Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket makes fun of Star Lord because he only has 12 percent of a plan to take down Ronan. However, it seems like 12 percent is all they needed.
James Gunn was asked about the significance of the number 12 on Twitter and he simply said, “the number 12 is often used in writing/comedy because it’s the highest one syllable number.”
5 Captain America's Shield Appears When You Least Expect It
Captain America makes an appearance in almost every MCU movie. However, you had to pay close attention to catch them all.
In Iron Man, Tony Stark leaves Afghanistan and returns back to his lab. He’s having trouble removing his armor and Pepper Potts walks in to ask him what he’s doing. In this scene, you can catch a glimpse of Cap’s shield behind Stark.
The shield also appears in Iron Man 2 when Agent Coulson visits Stark. This one is easy to spot as Coulson asks about the shield. However, in the same movie, Tony Stark is looking through his father’s belongings and you most likely missed the Captain America comic hidden among his things.
In a deleted scene for Incredible Hulk, you can also catch a glimpse of Cap’s shield frozen in ice, and in The Avengers, one of Coulson’s Trading Cards is the cover of a Captain America comic.
4 The Name of Iron Man's Inventions in Age of Ultron
When Iron Man is looking for a new AI to replace JARVIS, he tosses one aside called Jocasta. This is the name of the robotic bride Ultron created. Eventually, she betrays him and becomes a member of the Avengers.
Iron Man also passes on a user interface called TADASHI. This is a reference to Disney’s Big Hero 6, where Baymax has an AI program stored in a chip labeled after his creator, Tadashi Hamada.
The program that Iron Man finally decides on is called FRIDAY, which is a nod to his holographic assistant in Iron Man Vol. 3 #53.
We’re also introduced to the Hulkbuster in Age of Ultron, which was launched from a platform known as Veronica. This is a reference to Archie Andrews’ two love interests in the Archie comics. Hulk already dated a Betty in Incredible Hulk, so now it’s his time with Veronica.
3 Avengers References in Spider-Man: Homecoming
You saw Captain America’s cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but did you catch the references to his other Avengers teammates?
In Peter’s chemistry class, there are black and white photos of famous scientists hanging above the whiteboard. Take a look at the fellow at the end, and you’ll recognize him as Bruce Banner. Peter’s school also memorializes Howard Stark, as he can be seen on a mural in the school’s hallway.
Next door to the Thai restaurant Peter and Aunt May eat at, is a church called “Korean Church of Asgard.” This is a clear reference to Thor, Asgard’s God of Thunder.
At the end of the movie, Peter is also wearing a gray shirt that we once saw Pepper Potts wearing in Iron Man 3, and the cargo ship transporting Stark’s stuff from Avengers Tower holds a new Captain America shield and Ultron’s head.
2 The Many Disney References Scattered Throughout the Movies
Disney bought Marvel in 2009 and was not shy about adding its own Easter Eggs in the Marvel Universe.
When Bucky is captured and interrogated in Civil War, his cell windows are painted with the letter “D” and the number “23.” This is a nod to D23, the Official Disney Fan Club.
Pixar also gets a nod with the famous A113 sequence in The Avengers. A113 refers to the classroom where many famous Pixar creators got their start and subsequently is hidden somewhere in every Pixar movie. In The Avengers, A113 can be spotted as the file that holds Stan Lee’s cameo in the end scene.
Disney also incorporates some of its songs into the MCU.
In Ant-Man, Luis is whistling It’s a Small World when he infiltrates Pym Technologies and in Age of Ultron, Ultron sings a creepy version of Pinocchio’s I’ve Got No Strings on Me.
1 The Collector's Collection of Easter Eggs
The Collector has collected many rare specimens from across the galaxy and just about everything he has put in a glass case is a reference to a movie or comic.
The obvious Easter Eggs are Cosmo, Howard the Duck, and Adam Warlock’s cocoon, but did you spot the other harder to find references?
While you’re taken into his museum in Guardians of the Galaxy, see if you can find the Dark Elf behind the Collector’s assistant, the Frost Giant frozen in an icy case, or the sitting Chitauri behind Rocket.
There are also slugs in one of the glasses that represent the little slimy critters from James Gunn’s horror/comedy, Slither (2006), and a NASA advanced crew escape suit in a container. Maybe the Collector took a liking to human exploration.
Did you catch any other interesting MCU Easter eggs? Let us know in the comments!