Easter is just around the corner which, for the chocaholics among you, can only mean one thing: Easter eggs! If you’re into a different kind of Easter egg though, Marvel are only too keen to join in on the fun with some cracking nods, winks, and downright outrageously obscure references. These are the absolute best of the best hidden MCU Easter eggs and, whether you’re a Marvel die-hard or a newcomer eager to feast on every morsel that the MCU is offering up to you over the long weekend, you’re bound to find something that you won’t have spotted before. Here are the 30 best Marvel Easter eggs you need to know about, and if you want to see them in action, be sure to pick up a Disney Plus bundle (opens in new tab).
30. Jack McGee and Jim Wilson
The movie: The Incredible Hulk (opens in new tab) (2008)
The Easter egg: Two students are interviewed in the news about having seen the Hulk and their names are Jack McGee and Jim Wilson. Jack McGee is a reference to a journalist who tracked down Bruce Banner and the Hulk in the original TV series, and Jim Wilson is the name of a young orphan who became the Hulk's friend.
How obscure is it? Frankly, you’d need to be a Hulkologist to get these references. Universities still do course in Hulkology, right?
29. Fin Fang Foom
The movie: Iron Man (opens in new tab) (2008)
The Easter egg: Famous Iron Man nemesis Fin Fang Foom - a giant alien dragon - is spotted in the movie. Well, on a billboard poster, that is.
How obscure is it? It only shows up for a brief moment as Iron Man zooms down a road. Even if you do spot it, the dragon isn’t immediately recognizable, so this is for trivia fans only.
28. Earth's Mightiest Heroes
The movie: The Avengers (2012)
The Easter egg: In his cozy chat with Loki towards the end, Tony Stark refers to the newly formed band of superheroes as “Earth’s mightiest heroes, that kind of thing”, directly quoting the comic book description of The Avengers that has appeared on front covers since 1963.
How obscure is it? Even if you weren’t familiar with the original Avengers tagline, the recent cartoon series The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will help you make the connection.
27. "A pioneer in gamma radiation"
The movie: Thor (opens in new tab) (2011)
The Easter egg: Dr. Selvig mentions that he knew a colleague who encountered S.H.I.E.L.D. and describes him as “a pioneer in gamma radiation." If that's not a clear reference to Bruce Banner, Marvel's jade giant, then I'll eat my hat.
How obscure is it? It's obvious to anyone listening to the dialogue. Surely any mention of gamma radiation automatically counts as a reference to Hulk?
26. James Gunn's Excelsior tribute
The movie: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The Easter egg: As confirmed by director James Gunn on Twitter, Stan Lee’s cameo is actually just a precursor for an even geekier Easter egg. As Rocket zooms in on the Marvel Comics king’s face, there’s a bunch of scrambled Skrull text. Someone (eventually) translated it: it spells out Excelsior, Stan Lee’s famous catchphrase.
How obscure is it? It took four years for anyone to even come close to spotting it so, yeah, pretty obscure. There’s still an even bigger one hidden in the first Guardians movie that’s yet to be found, so get looking, people!
25. Purple pants
The movie: The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Easter egg: Betty Ross hits the stores to buy new clothes for Bruce Banner, after it's made abundantly clear he's going to be a stretchy waistband man for the rest of his life. She returns with elasticated purple pants: an obvious reference to Hulk's wardrobe of choice in the comics.
How obscure is it? One of the easiest Easter eggs to spot. You only need to have seen an image of the Hulk to get this one.
24. Journey into Mystery
The movie: Thor (2011)
The Easter egg: For a brief couple of shots, a billboard in the background can be seen advertising New Mexico as a “Land of Enchantment – Journey into Mystery”. A poster bearing the same phrase also shows up in The Dark World when the gang is in London. It just so happens that Thor made his Marvel debut in a comic book titled Journey Into Mystery.
How obscure is it? It's a bit blink-and-you-miss it, so even if you do know your Thor-lore, you'd be forgiven for missing this one.
23. Dr. Reinstein
The movie: The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Easter egg: As General Ross dusts off his special serum to give to Blonsky, the label reads Dr Reinstein, who helped to administer Steve Rogers’ own formula, implying that this is a based on the original super-soldier serum. Just with the very different consequences.
How obscure is it? The very nature of this mysterious formula makes you want to get some information from the label, but its relevance is really only obvious to eagle-eyed comic book fanatics.
22. Tales to Astonish
The movie: Ant-Man (opens in new tab) (2015)
The Easter egg: After showing off old archival footage of Hank Pym's Ant-Man exploits to his investors, Darren Cross mentions that the idea of an actual working shrink suit is a bit hard to swallow, calling these accounts "tales to astonish." That line is a cleverly disguised reference to the Tales to Astonish comic series, where Ant-Man made his comic debut in 1962.
How obscure is it? Ant-Man fans undoubtedly caught this one in an instant, but those with less comic knowledge would have to go over the movie with a magnifying glass to spot it.
21. The Howling Commandos
The movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
The Easter egg: Even a coming-of-age high-school drama isn’t shy of putting in an Easter egg or two. Case in point, this wonderfully-obscure shot in Spidey’s MCU debut. As Peter Parker is getting chewed up by Principal Morita, a quick glimpse to the side will show you a shot of his ancestor Jim Morita, aka one of the Howling Commandos who fought alongside Cap in Captain America: The First Avenger. How cool is that?
How obscure is it? Not only do you need 20/20 vision just to spot the damn thing, you’re gonna need to put all of the pieces together and have an outstanding knowledge of bit-part characters from nearly a decade ago. A begrudging clap if you saw this one first time ‘round.