With more than a decade of Marvel Cinematic Universe magic under our belts, the first 19 MCU movies have given fans some of the best comic book adaptations of all time. As Kevin Feige and co set their sights beyond the events of Avengers 4 and what’s to come in Phase 4, audiences are promised another action-packed crop of intertwining movies.
Taking a leaf out of Marvel comics and helping craft a shared universe, MCU movies are known for their clever nods and hidden Easter eggs that tie everything together with a star-spangled bow. With this is mind, here are the 10 best MCU Easter eggs (so far) that have graced the world's highest-grossing franchise.
Pulp Fiction — Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Apart from playing the eye-patched Nick Fury in the MCU, one of Samuel L. Jackson’s best-loved roles is as Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It may seem like an odd connection, but the 1994 mobster movie is directly referenced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Although Jackson’s Fury faked his death to trick HYDRA, the former SHIELD director still gets a tragic tombstone. Engraved under the name Col. Nicholas J. Fury is “The path of the righteous man: Ezekiel 25: 17.”
For those who don’t know, the passage was part of Jules’ Earth-shattering speech and one of the most iconic Jackson moments of all time. So, is the one-eyed Fury just a reformed version of Jules Winnfield?
Those famous faces — Thor: Raganrok
Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok was a million miles away from the dark vibe of Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World and set the ball rolling for the future of the Asgardian franchise.
As well introducing new faces like Cate Blanchett’s Hela and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, a few more Hollywood A-listers made in into the cast.
With Loki disguised as Odin, Thor returned to Asgard in the midst of a dramatic reenactment of the first two movies. Sam Neill, Matt Damon, and Liam Hemsworth were hiding in plain sight as Odin, Loki, and the God of Thunder respectively. Considering Liam Hemsworth was once considered to play Thor, it was Waititi’s homage to the MCU’s early days.
Egghead — Ant-Man and the Wasp
The MCU may have done a stellar job of solving its villain problem thanks to recent additions like Hela, Killmonger, and Thanos, but Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp strayed back into questionable territory.
Not that there’s anything wrong with Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost, but she’s hardly the best villain the franchise has to offer. When IMDb spoiled the casting of Michael Cerveris as Elihas Starr, fandom went into overdrive that obscure villain Egghead was joining the superhero sequel.
It turned out that Ghost was Ava Starr in a flashback scene involving an accident with the Quantum Realm. Instead of being the villainous Egghead that everyone hoped for, Elihas was killed off before we even got a proper look at him. Although Reed could retcon this for a possible Ant-Man 3, it looks like Egghead has been hard-boiled for now.
Cosmo the Spacedog — Guardians of the Galaxy
Containing more Easter eggs that you can throw a giant rabbit at, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies are a treasure trove of homages to Marvel comics. Heading back to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the team of space rogues came across the collection of Benicio del Toro’s Taneleer Tivan, aka the Collector.
In the background and next to a bedraggled Howard the Duck was Cosmo the Spacedog. The clever canine is not only a fan-favorite of the comics, but also went on to become an integral member of the Guardians.
While Seth Green went on to appear as Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (and was even considered for Infinity War), Cosmo is still MIA. Given the destruction of Knowhere and the Collector’s base, here’s hoping that Cosmo managed to evade Thanos long enough to pop up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Silk — Spider-Man: Homecoming
Finally repairing the tattered reputation of Spider-Man movies, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming was a welcome breath of fresh air to the MCU thanks to Tom Holland’s chirpy performance as the friendly neighbourhood hero.
Jam-packed with Spider-Man characters like Mary Jane Watson, Vulture, and a tease of the Sinister Six, one character was quietly spinning a web of intrigue in the background. Actor Tiffany Espensen played Peter’s classmate and fellow decathlon enthusiast, Cindy Moon. Anyone up on their comic knowledge will know that Moon is the real name of Silk.
Cindy briefly popped up on the school bus in Avengers: Infinity War, but with Sony’s Spiderverse currently working on a Silk standalone, we shouldn’t expect a starring role from Espensen in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The original Guardians — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Bigger and brighter than its predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, put the wheels in motion for a much larger Guardians universe. The sequel honed in on Yondu’s shady backstory and introduced Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord/Starhawk.
Starhawk returned at the end of the movie to wave Yondu off in style and was accompanied by a whole squad of former Guardians pulled straight from the comics. There was Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum), Mainframe (strangely voiced by Miley Cyrus), and a CGI version of the character Krugarr.
It is unclear what will happen to any of the Guardians following Gunn’s firing from the MCU, however, it would be a shame to waste the talents of Stallone, Rhames, and Yeoh. Yes, even you Miley.
Aliens — Avengers: Infinity War
While it would’ve been great to hear Robert Downey Jr. shout “Get away from her you b*tch”, this wasn’t the Aliens homage everyone was hoping for in Infinity War. Bridging the gap between generations, Peter Parker turned out to be a fountain of pop culture knowledge as he referenced the likes of James Cameron’s Aliens.
In a plan to defeat Ebony Maw, Spider-Man teamed up with Iron Man to save Doctor Strange and and take on the sinister member of the Black Order. It turns out, watching the 1986 movie came in handy for Parker.
Copying Aliens, Maw followed in the footsteps of the Xenomorph and was blasted out into space to face an icy grave.
Lou Ferrigno — The Incredible Hulk
Just like a Stan Lee cameo in every MCU adventure, it was a fair assumption that original Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno was going to appear in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. Louis Leterrier’s movie is a forgotten corner of the franchise, but at least fans remember Ferrigno’s all-too-brief cameo.
Known for his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk in CBS’ ‘70s TV series, Ferrigno has provided Hulk’s voice since and even gave the Emerald Giant his gruff vocals in Thor: Ragnarok.
Appearing in The Incredible Hulk, Ferrigno voiced the Green Meanie but also appeared as a security guard (in non-green form) for a single scene.
Punching Hitler — Captain America: The First Avenger
As audiences tapped along to the USO musical number in Captain America: The First Avenger, director Joe Johnston gave fans one of the most iconic Steve Rogers images of all time. A group of cheering troops can be seen showing their admiration as Chris Evans’ muscular hero gave Hitler a right hook.
It may have been Rogers pummelling an actor hired to play Hitler, but comic book readers will get the reference to the legendary cover of Captain America #1. Cap landing one on the Führer may be a well-known piece of Marvel trivia, but it doesn’t make the Easter egg any less golden.
Captain Marvel? — Doctor Strange
As Phase 3 of the MCU winds to a close, there is one more hero set to join the roster of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Officially teased in the mid-credit scene of Avengers: Infinity War, many know that Carol Danvers will surely save the day in Avengers 4. However, has Kevin Feige been teasing her since back in 2016?
Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange charted the rise and fall of Dr Stephen Strange from brilliant surgeon to Sorcerer Supreme. In the moments before Strange’s car careened off a cliff and left him with life-altering injuries, he was taking a call about a girl who had been struck by lightning.
Many ignored this as just a boring piece of scripting, but the interesting part was that she’d apparently gained new powers from her brush with death. Audiences have been told that 2019’s Captain Marvel will reinvent the origin story of Danvers and some guess that she was lightning girl. Prepare for confirmation or debunking of a fan theory that’s been three years in the making.