[Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War]
Combining nearly everything the MCU has brought us so far Avengers: Infinity War is a wholly new type of superhero movie, that boasts absolutely everything you could want. In amongst it’s giant cast of characters, universe altering events, surprise cameos, and awesome action scenes there is of course a huge number of easter eggs and references to the wider MCU and pop culture in general. Here is our top 25, in a an order that (mostly) follows the plot of the movies itself.
25. The MCU’s 10th Anniversary:
As the movie opens and we see the familiar Marvel Studios logo, but this time the ‘I’ and ‘O’ in ‘Studios’ are highlighted, making a clear ’10’, in celebration of the cinematic universe’s tenth year. Also worth noting is that the logo sequence is completely silent, compared to it usually being accompanied by the logo theme.
24. “We have a Hulk”:
Loki’s showdown with Thanos is great, and gives us a great snapshot of everything the Loki character has been over the years. One of the more memorable parts is when the god of mischief tells Thanos “we have a Hulk”, after which the Hulk comes in and starts fighting with Thanos. This line is a great moment to start off the movie, but even better when we think back to the original Avengers movie in 2012, where Tony Stark says those exact same words to Loki himself (also not long before Hulk ends up smashing Loki into the ground).
23. Thanos is Coming:
After Heimdall manages to send Hulk to Earth (via the Bifrost/Dark Energy), Hulk ends up crashing into Doctor Strange’s New York based Sanctum Sanctorum. The scene that follows, with Doctor Strange and Wong preparing for an attack whilst peering into the Hulk sized hole in the stairs, is taken straight from the comics, in which Silver Surfer says “Thanos is coming”. Here it’s Bruce Banner rather than the Silver Surfer, but the framing of the shot, positioning of the character and the line itself are all a clear homage to the scene from the Infinity Gauntlet comic book.
Other prominent call backs to the book include the way Thanos alters reality to turn Drax into cubes, and Mantis to ribbons, we also see Thanos sitting looking out at a peaceful view seeming content at the end, in another direct homage to the source material.
22. Morgan Stark:
One of the smaller references in the movie sees Tony and Pepper Potts discussing the idea of having a child, with Tony pointing out that they could name the kid after Pepper’s ‘eccentric uncle’ who we then find out is called ‘Morgan’, making their potential child ‘Morgan Stark’. In the comics Morgan Stark is actually Tony’s jealous cousin, who believes that Tony’s father Howard cheated his own father (Edward) out of the family fortune and fame.
21. Cauldron of the Cosmos:
When we first saw the New York Sanctum in Doctor Strange’s 2016 solo film it was filled with all sorts of artefacts from the comics, but this time Doctor Strange actually names the Cauldron of the Cosmos (whilst scolding Tony Stark for leaning on it). In the comics the Cauldron allows Doctor Strange to ponder the mysteries of the universe and even look into the past.
20. Spider Sense:
Even though Infinity War is Spider-Man’s third MCU appearance, the latest Avengers movie is the first to give us a concrete view of Peter Parker’s spider sense. There was for a shot while a debate over whether this version even had it (I mean he has insane reflects whilst fighting people so for me at least he clearly always had it), but in Infinity War we actually see the hairs on Peter Parker’s arm stand up, signalling the danger of Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian’s incoming attack.
19. Stan Lee:
The same scene that shows Spider-Man enter the fight, also gives us our compulsory Stan Lee cameo. Here we see the famed co-creator of characters such as Hulk, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Iron Man, Thor, and of course Spider-Man himself, driving Peter Parker’s school bus.
18. Squidward, Flash Gordon, Grimace, and Footloose:
In yet another of the MCU’s pop culture reference, Tony Stark calls Ebony Maw ‘squidward’ referencing Spongebob Squarepants, who admittedly does look pretty squid-like. Tony’s quick wit also sees him call Peter Quill Flash Gordon, who in turn calls Thanos Grimace (as in the McDonald’s mascot), and Footloose (continuing the thread from the first Guardians movie).
When Tony asks if Peter has any ideas on how to deal with Ebony Maw, Peter replies with “have you ever seen that really old movie Alien” (the line itself a reference to Peter taking about that”really old movie Empire Strikes Back” in Civil War). The sequence that follows is a little more than a simple reference, we see a scene ripped straight from Alien, in which the heroes take down Ebony Maw just like Ripley did with the Xenomorph (turning a reference in to a pretty important plot point, and great homage).
16. The Iron Spider:
We first got a glimpse of Spider-Man’s ‘Iron Spider’ costume at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming(in an important scene in which Peter chooses to be a ‘friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man’ rather than a fully fledged Avenger), and from the trailers knew the suit would return in Infinity War. Originally the suit Spidey dons in the Civil War comic book (showing his allegiance to Iron Man’s side), the suit is yet another part of the comic book universe that the MCU has brilliantly brought to the big screen.
15. The Chitauri:
In the flashback to Thanos destroying Gamora’s home world, we see the Mad Titan’s army of Chitauri using a number of weapons and ships just like the ones they used to invade New York in the Avengers. We’ve seen Chitauri tech, weapons, and armour pop up here and there in the MCU, in the likes of Agents of SHIELD, Age of Ultron (in Tony’s Scarlet Witch induced vision) and even pretty prominently in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but this is the first real time we see the Chiaturi back at full strength invading a planet since 2012’s Avengers.
14. Nova and The Nova Corps:
Early on Thor explains to the Guardians of the Galaxy that Thanos will be headed to Knowhere, as he has already decimated the planet Xandar, and the Nova Corps along with it. Xandar and The Nova Corps feature in the first Guardians movie, and are actually the reason the Guardians are first brought together (the Nova Corps being the ones who arrest them all). The end of the first Guardians movie see’s Nova Prime (Glen Close) safely lock away the Power Stone on Xandar.
There is a decent chance that this destruction of Xandar will play pretty heavily into the origin for Nova, a human hero who harnesses the power of the Nova Prime, and who we know has some sort of movie in development.
Amongst a number of firsts, Infinity War gives us our first look at Nidavellir, one of the Nine Realms, and home to the Forge that created Thor’s hammer Mjølnir. With Nidavellir only been mentioned once so far in the MCU (actually written on a blackboard in Thor: The Dark World), it takes on a mythical status even in the MCU, with the likes of Rocket and the other Guardians considering it to be nothing more than a legend. In infinity War, we find that Eitri (Peter Dinklage’s mysterious role) is the only surviving Dwarf on the forge, and that Thanos killed the other three hundred after Eitri built the Infinity Gauntlet for him.
That team of Rocket, Groot, Eitri and Thor then build ‘Strombreaker’, a hammer belonging to Beta Ray Bill in the comics, who so far has only showed up as one of the heads on the Grand Master’s tower in Thor: Ragnarok. In the MCU Stormbreaker is an Axe capable of killing Thanos and summoning the power of the Bifrost, and looks to be a combination of the comic book Stormbreaker, and the Ultimate comics ‘Ultimate Mjølnir’.
11. Cap’s Original Comic Book Costume:
Although Captain America: The First Avenger gave us a pretty accurate version of Cap’s original comic book costume (even if it was only used as an outfit for Steve Roger’s stage performances). One thing it was clearly missing however is the classic ‘scales’ Cap has always sported.
With Steve Rogers on the run in Infinity War, and presumably without the infinite amount of resources, tech, ammo, and armour he’s used to it’s clear his current battle gear has seen better days. In the tears and rips in his latest uniform (which he’s had time to re-colour, but not repair) we can see a hint of the classic scales look underneath the surface of his armour.
10. The “White Wolf”:
First mentioned in the post credits scene of Black Panther, Infinity War sees Bucky Barnes fully take on the mantle of White Wolf. In the comics White Wolf is actually T’Challa’s adoptive brother Hunter, who survived a plane crash as a child in Wakanda and was raised by King T’Chaka. After T’Challa was born Hunter became jealous, knowing he would never be King, and instead pushed himself to become an elite warrior, eventually leading brutal Wakandan secret police, the Hatut Zeraze. Obviously Sebastian Stan’s White Wold has a very different origin, and only really shares a name with the original comic book character, but it’s a clever way to give him his own hero persona that fits in with Wakanda.
9. Tobias Fünke on Knowhere:
In what has to be my favourite reference in the entire movie (and maybe the whole of the MCU) we see a version of Tobias Funke from Arrested Development, covered in Blue paint wearing his cut off denim shorts (Tobias of course being a ‘Nevernude’). This easter egg follows suit of the Bluth looking stair cars in the airport scene in Captain America: Civil War, both of which are put there by directors the Russo brothers who worked on Arrested Development.
8. The Red Skull:
In a genuine shock cameo (that even if you expected it, was still done very well), we get the reappearance of Red Skull who is now played by Ross Marquand, rather than Hugo Weaving. The Skull disappeared at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, and looked to be transported off into space by the Tesseract. We now know this to be true, and see that he was in fact sent to the planet Vormir, and his punishment for his lust over the power that comes with the stones was to keep watch over the Soul Stone, but never be able to get it.
We see the skull as a spirit of sorts (who can float/fly) and is ‘cursed’ with knowledge, seemingly knowing everything about the people who come looking for the Soul Stone. Whether or nor the Red Skull will return to his more villainous ways following Infinity War, in which he did seem at peace, but could have change of heart and now may even be free after Thanos took the stone, is yet to be seen. If Cap does survive Infinity War Part 2, for even one more movie it would be great to see him face off against his arch-nemesis one last time.
7. “Welcome Thanos, son of A’lars”:
When Red Skull greets Thanos and Gamora, he notes that Thanos is the son of A’lars, and that Gamora is the daughter of Thanos. This first mention of Thanos’ father A’lars at first may seem like it’s simply a line for Red Skull to show off his new ‘I know everything now’ curse, but comic book fans will know that A’lars (also know as ‘Mentor’) is in fact an Eternal, super human beings that have a number of powers. Mentor lead the resistance against Thanos (the ‘mad Titan’) a number of times, but is presumably dead in the MCU.
6. “I Am Steve Rogers”:
In one of the movies best moments we see Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive from Nidavellir into the middle of the battle of Wakanda, and start to tonally change the tide of the battle. Thor introduces Steve Rogers to Groot, who of course says “I am Groot”, Steve being the overly polite and 1940’s gentleman he is, replies with “I am Steve Rogers”, mistaking the only thing Groot says, for broken english in a hilariously adorable scene. It’s also worth noting that he does introduce himself as Steve, and not Captain America, and in fact doesn’t respond to being called Captain at all in the movie.
5. “What if somebody had died? That’s on you. What if you had died? That’s on me”:
The line Tony says to Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming during one of his tough love talks on making sure Spider-Man is a better hero than he is, comes full circle here as we see Tony literally watch Peter fade from existence, with the look of pure pain and horror across Tony’s face the PTSD he already had (following the first Avengers movie) is sure to be a whole lot worse after Infinity War.
4. Rocket and Bucky’s Arm:
For the uninitiated Rocket taking a special interest in Bucky might seem a little odd, or that he simply likes the look of Bucky’s cool new appendage, but fans of Guardians of the Galaxy know that the racoon has a particular affinity for detachable body parts. In the first Guardians we see him make Peter Quill retrieve a robotic leg from prisoner during their breakout, and in Guardians Vol. 2 we see him laughing at Baby Groot having taken one of the sleeping Ravager’s eyes.This joke even continues into Infinity War, where we see Rocket give Thor a brand new eye, and of course claim that he will get Bucky’s arm.
3. Black and White Vision:
In yet another scene ripped straight from the comics we see Thanos destroying Vision, in the comics he rips out a number of wires, whereas here he takes the Soul Stone. After losing the stone, and presumably ‘dying’, given that Shuri didn’t seem to finish her replica or at least didn’t instal it, vision loses all of his greens, golds, and reds, reverting to a black and white version of his costume. This is a big reference his white Vision costume to the comics.
2. The Finger Snap:
In what may the biggest pull from the comics as Thanos’ victor draws in, and after he brutally takes out nearly all of the Avengers and even survives a direct hit from Thor’s Stormbreaker, Thanos finally snaps his fingers. After he does we see a brief scene (that look to take place in the ‘Soul World’) in which he tells the young Gamora it cost him ‘everything’ to finally achieve his goal. We then see it, and in one of Infinity War’s bigger twists we actually see the bad guy win. And half of all life in the universe is then erased from existence.
1. Post Credits Scene:
Before seeing the movie I thought the movie (given that it was no doubt going to end on a cliff hanger) that maybe the overall story would be better served without a mid or post credit scene, and definitely thought there was a decent chance we wouldn’t get one. That said, the scene we did get was awesome, and yet again shows us how good Marvel is at introducing new characters.
In the short scene we see the destruction half of humanity disappearing has on New York, with both Maria Hill and eventually Nick Fury himself fading from existence. Just before Fury goes however he runs to a small (beeper looking) device and sends a distress signal. Whilst the message is sent and camera slows zooms in on it, we see the confirmation of the message as a star comes up on the small screen and Captain Marvel’s comic book colours come in behind it. In short Fury called Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel who we’ll next see in 2019, only a few months before Infinity War Part 2.
The scene also cuts Samuel L. Jackson off right in the middle of one of his most famous lines “motherf*****”…