When George Lucas dreamed up the tale of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the incredible Star Wars of his now decade-spanning film series, he proved anything was possible to a new generation of filmmakers. Although those directors may not have reached the same heights, that didn’t stop them from tipping their hat to Lucas and his galactic heroes in their own films.
Here is our list of the Best Star Wars Easter Eggs in Other Movies.
Apocalypse Now is remembered as Francis Ford Coppola's monumental tale of darkness and descent in the Vietnam War, but it didn't begin that way. It was originally George Lucas who planned on directing the film, with his close friend Coppola executive producing. By the time the pair had become big enough names to make the movie happen, Lucas was filming Star Wars, and making Harrison Ford a household name after giving him his big screen break in American Graffiti years earlier. Coppola took over Apocalypse, but found a small role for Ford to play, fittingly, named after their mutual friend. To make the reference clear, Ford's 'Colonel Lucas' is referred to as simply "Luke" in the actual scene.
The Star Wars easter eggs found in the Indiana Jones films are well-documented, ranging from the obvious to nearly impossible to catch. The most often cited references are the airplane tail numbers in Raiders of the Lost Ark hinting at both Obi-Wan Kenobi and C-3PO, and the Shanghai night club named for Luke Skywalker's Jedi Master seen in Temple of Doom. The heiroglyphics containing R2 and 3PO are harder to spot, and the chemicals in The Last Crusade hinting at Han Solo's carbonite cocoon. But not every nod is so clear: the sacrificial lava pit in Temple of Doom, for instance, makes the exact same sound as Darth Vader's lightsaber igniting.
The battle between Star Wars and Star Trek has waged since the 1970s, with fans hotly debating which franchise reigns supreme. But when director J.J. Abrams took over the Trek series for his 2009 reboot, he injected the franchise with some big screen spectacle typically associated with George Lucas's space opera. To make his love of Star Wars clear years before he took the helm of Episode VII, Abrams included R2-D2 in his own universe, visible among the wreckage of a massive fleet of ships. Only visible for a second, R2 is clearly the go-to easter egg for every director.
Star Trek into Darkness
Just to make sure that fans made the connections between Trek and Wars clear, Abrams followed up his reboot with yet another R2 unit. This time, the droid calls the Enterprise home, and can be glimpsed for even less time, flying out of the ship during an explosive decompression. Given the drama seen in both franchises, this seems like just another day on the job for your average R2.
Marvel’s Phase 2
While it's technically the middle chapter of a planned trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back is still recognized as one of the greatest movie sequels in history, considered to be an even better film than the original by many fans. So when Marvel Studios decided to pursue that same level of success with "Phase 2" of their shared cinematic universe, they decided a studio-wide homage was in order. Empire's climactic battle saw Luke Skywalker lose his hand to Darth Vader's lightsaber - meaning every Phase 2 Marvel movie had to follow suit.
First came Iron Man 3, in which the film's villain loses his limb courtesy of a Stark blade. It was followed by Loki slicing off Thor's hand in The Dark World, although it's revealed to be an illusion. Captain America's Winter Soldier sports an artificial arm, and both Groot and Nebula get the same treatment in Guardians of the Galaxy. Add in a pair of lost limbs in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it's hard to know if Luke Skywalker would be proud, flattered... or disgusted.