xXx: Return of Xander Cage is off to a strong start at the box office (though it will still open #2 this weekend behind M. Night Shyamalan's Split). It's been ten years since Vin Diesel last brought Xander Cage character to the screen, but it seems moviegoers still have a taste for the xXx approach to over-the-top action.
Fans venturing out to see Diesel's latest action-packed exploits will also get a special treat in the form of a surprise Avengers reference, but they'll have to keep their eyes peeled if they want to catch it. The easter egg involves xXx star Samuel L. Jackson, who plays ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Diesel himself appears in the MCU, playing the voice of Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, and the upcoming Vol. 2.)
Comicbook.com picked up the little blink-and-you'll-miss-it Avengers reference. There's a scene where Samuel L. Jackson's Augustus Gibbons is trying to recruit real-life soccer superstar Neymar to the xXx team. A Suicide Squad-style character card lists off Neymar's traits, including his reason for being at the meeting with Gibbon - He thought he was being recruited for the Avengers.
Besides being a neat little reference, the joke indicates that Vin Diesel and company do have a sense of humor about where xXx ranks in the pecking order of cinematic hero teams. And since Jackson and Diesel both have their parts to play in the MCU, it's cool for them both to throw a little tip of the hat in that direction. Besides the Avengers easter egg, Return of Xander Cage also features a surprise (at least until the TV spot about a week ago) cameo by xXx: State of the Union star Ice Cube.
Though xXx is no Avengers, the box office numbers for Return of Xander Cage are such that the door now has to be open on a possible fourth entry in the series. In fact, Vin Diesel has indicated that Paramount is interested in putting together a xXx 4. If Diesel does return for another go-around as xXx, let's hope he doesn't wait ten years to make it happen this time.
Has the tongue-in-cheek tone of xXx: Return of Xander Cage convinced you to (re) see the film this weekend? Let us know in the comments section, and stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on the xXx franchise as they hit.
- xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) release date: Jan 20, 2017