The 30 best Marvel Easter eggs you need to know about

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's an egg!

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. 

30. Jack McGee and Jim Wilson

The movie: The Incredible Hulk (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 (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 (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 (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.

20. Greenish-grey Hulk

The movie: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Easter egg: In one of the film's deleted scenes, Blonsky describes his first encounter with the Hulk and says "8 foot, 1500 pounds easy... and green. Or grey, sir. Greenish-grey. It was very dark, I couldn't tell." It's an obvious reference to the Hulk’s coloring problems in early versions of the comic, which saw his grey coloring come out green.

How obscure is it? A nice, easy nod to this well-known piece of comic book trivia. You just need to find the deleted scene first.

19. Bucky as the White Wolf

The movie: Black Panther (2018)

The Easter egg: In the second of Black Panther’s post-credit scenes, Bucky Barnes is shown recovering in Wakanda. So far, so pretty ordinary. However, some children nearby refer to him as the ‘White Wolf’, a figure of some importance in Black Panther lore who acts as an ally-turned-villain. Will we be seeing a bad Bucky anytime soon?

How obscure is it? Hardly a deep cut into Marvel Comics lore, but you’re gonna be scratching your head if you haven’t picked up a Black Panther issue.

18. The original Human Torch

The movie: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Easter egg: As Steve Rogers and Bucky enter the exhibition of future technologies, you can see a red figure in a bright red jumpsuit in a glass cage, a reference to the original Human Torch, the very first superhero ever created by Timely Comics which went on to become Marvel Comics.

How obscure is it? It’s an easy spot, but you’ll need a degree in comicology to get the reference.

17. The Collector's museum pieces

The movie: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The Easter egg: This is the moment when James Gunn turns into the directorial equivalent of a kid in a candy store. Throughout the Collector's impressive museum of living oddities, you can spot the gross slug creatures from Gunn's film Slither, Howard the Duck, and Cosmo the Spacedog, an actual member of the Guardians in the comics.

How obscure is it? There's a little something for everyone here, so most people will probably catch at least one of these references. Howard the Duck in particular is (unfortunately) hard to forget.

16. Jocasta

The movie: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The Easter egg: This one pulls from all over the MCU catalog. When selecting a new AI butler to replace the dearly departed Jarvis, Tony Stark ultimately picks Friday, and in the process passes up on another AI drive labeled 'Jocasta'. Fans of the wide world of Marvel comics will recognize Jocasta as an AI created by Ultron to be his bride (unwilling as she might be) based on the brainwaves of Janet van Dyne, the first Wasp and Hope van Dyne's mother from Ant-Man.

How obscure is it? You have to dig pretty deep into Marvel canon to drag this one out, so chances are it flew right by most viewers.

15. Howard Stark hearts Cap

The movie: Iron Man 2 (2010)

The Easter egg: As a sombre Tony Stark sorts through his father's belongings you can just about make out an original Captain America comic in among some other papers. It’s the first real hint at any sort of Cap/Iron Man connection. And we all know how that turned out…

How obscure is it? The Captain America comic looks immediately out of place, but, unless you’re on an Easter egg hunt, you’re probably not going to spot this first time around.

14. Dr Donald Blake

The movie: Thor (2011)

The Easter egg: This one's an homage to Thor's human alter-ego in the comics that he tends to adopt during his Earthbound skirmishes. He goes by the alias Donald Blake at several times throughout the original Thor movie, as evidenced by his nifty Driver's License. What a photo! 

How obscure is it? Anyone who has ever read a Thor comic will probably get this one.

13. Hitler punch

The movie: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Easter egg: While Captain America goes about his goodwill tour spreading positive messages throughout the country, he acts out a moment in which he punches out Adolf Hitler, recreating the cover of the very first Captain America comic.

How obscure is it? The image of Cap knocking out the Führer is well-known enough for anyone to easily make the connection.

12. The Leader

The movie: The Incredible Hulk

The Easter egg: Bruce Banner's anonymous online friend Samuel Sterns (a.k.a. Mr Blue) gets into an altercation and ends up with the Hulk's blood entering a head wound. We last see him on the floor, smiling while his head mutates, supposedly setting up famous villain The Leader for a sequel that never came.

How obscure is it? Even if you don't know who The Leader is, seeing someone smiling while their head mutates ALWAYS means 'possible sequel villain'.

11. The Champions of Sakaar

The movie: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The Easter egg: Hulk may be the Champion on Sakaar, but who came before him? In a moment you’ll need to squint to figure out, the previous Champions are all placed on the side of the Grandmaster’s Palace. There’s Beta Ray Bill, Ares, Bi-Beast and Man-Thing, some of Marvel’s most kooky and powerful warriors, plus a few other unidentified Champions.

How obscure is it? The shot was featured prominently in one of the first trailers for the movie, so had online detectives scrambling for their Easter egg sensors almost as soon as it flashed up. It’s still a really cool love letter to heroes past, however. 

10. Captain America's shield

The movies: Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010)

The Easter egg: A half-constructed Captain America shield can be seen just behind Tony Stark when Pepper walks in in him taking off his armour in Iron Man, and then again in Iron Man 2 when Agent Coulson hands it to him to balance out the equipment he uses to create a new element.

How obscure is it? Blatantly telegraphed in the second film - so much so that it hardly counts as an Easter egg - but a lot harder to spot in the first film.

9. Rhodey's ringtone

The movie: Iron Man (2008)

The Easter egg: When Rhodey has pilots chasing down a Tony Stark-shaped UFO, he gets a phone all from the man himself and his ringtone is a midi version of the 1966 Iron Man cartoon theme music.

How obscure is it? Easy to spot as long as you've actually SEEN the 1966 Iron Man cartoon.

8. The Infinity Gauntlet

The movie: Thor (2011)

The Easter egg: Ok, ok so it’s not the real Infinity Gauntlet, as Thor: Ragnarok was all too keen to point out, but, at the time, this was massive. The Infinity Gauntlet, essentially the only conceivable way to wield the universe-altering Infinity Stones, took pride of place in Asgard Odin’s vault is home to many a treasure and feared weapon, but, now, this fake’s appearance asks more questions than it answers. At least we know Thanos had the real thing in his possession all along.

How obscure is it? Even if you know all about the Infinity Gauntlet storyline from the comics and the many, many post-credit scenes leading to Avengers: Infinity War, this is still a blink-and-you'll-miss-it, wear-out-the-pause-button-on-the-DVD moment.

7. Selvig knows all

The movie: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The Easter egg: While the world of Marvel comics is a confusing and complex place, riddled with parallel universes and alternate realities, the MCU has kept mostly to a single world and timeline so audience members’ heads don't spin off into the sunset by Captain America 5. But it still hints at the concept of those many disparate timelines through Selvig. On a chalkboard in the mental institution where he's being held, you can spot a reference to 'Earth-616', the most robust and heavily-used Marvel reality, alongside mentions of 'The Crossroads' from Dr. Strange and 'The Fault' from Guardians of the Galaxy. 

How obscure is it? Even comic fans might not instantly know where these references came from, if they're eagle-eyed enough to spot them in the first place.

6. Lou Ferrigno cameo

The movies: The Incredible Hulk (2008), The Avengers (2012)

The Easter egg: Lou Ferrigno was the lean, green body builder, star of the original Hulk TV show and, at this point, likely to be the only person to ever officially play the character unaided by CGI. He has a cameo as a security guard in The Incredible Hulk. Not only that, but he also voices the Hulk in this film and in The Avengers.

How obscure is it? You're not likely to miss his appearance in The Incredible Hulk, even without the green body make-up, but his voice work in The Avengers? That's one for movie trivia fans only.

5. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s map

The movie: Iron Man 2 (2010)

The Easter egg: As Tony Stark meets Nick Fury at the end, a map can be seen in the background with red hotspots highlighted. From their positions, you can see that they seem to indicate the locations of superheroes, including one in Africa, which can only be the Black Panther in Wakanda, and one in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, presumably denoting Namor.

How obscure is it? You have to really know your superhero geography to get these references.

4. Captain Marvel's origin tale

The movie: Doctor Strange (2016) 

The Easter egg: As Doctor Strange speeds down the highway chatting to his assistant on the phone, he's told about an incoming case: a young woman recently struck by lightning.  

How obscure is it? Eagle-eared Marvel heads might have made the connection to Captain Marvel! Brie Larson is set to make her MCU debut as the character in the very near future, yet with screenwriter Nicole Perlman confirming plans to rework the Cap's origin tale from extra-terrestrial to something more earthly, it *might* have been missed. 

3. Hitchin' a ride

The movie: Captain America: Civil War (2016) 

The Easter egg: In the middle of the film's ultimate showdown, Ant-Man shrinks down and climbs aboard one of Hawkeye's arrows. The archer fires away, blasting Scott directly into Iron Man's suit, a visual directly nabbed from the comics.  

How obscure is it? You'd have to be a knowledgable reader to recognise the cover of The Avengers #223.  

2. I can do this all day

The movie: Captain America: Civil War (2016) 

The Easter egg: As Steve and Tony are beating the ever-loving crap out of each other, seemingly drawing on a never-ending energy reserve Cap wipes his bloodied lip. "I can do this all day," he says. It's a direct reference to his fight behind a movie theater in the first Cap film, when his scrawny physique didn't stop him from saying the exact same line to a circle of bullies. 

How obscure is it? If you've seen The First Avenger recently, or have a phenomenal memory, you should know this.  

1. My arm, my arm!

The movies: Thor: The Dark World (2013), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The Easter egg: Kevin Feige's love of Star Wars, and in particular, The Empire Strike Back knows no bounds: “I’m obsessed with Star Wars, and it didn’t start out as intentional, but it became intentional. Somebody gets their arm cut off in every Phase Two movie. Every single one.” All of the above movies feature a main character losing a limb, with The Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes being the most recent recipient in Civil War.  

How obscure is it? Any modern day movie fan should be able to recognise the obvious parallels.