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50 Greatest Movie In-Jokes

Captain America #2 (2011)

The In-Joke: At the exhibition Steve and Bucky attend, the original costume of the Human Torch can clearly be seen in one of the glass display units.

Why It’s Great: Not only does this hint at the existence of other superheroes during WW2, it also makes reference to Chris Evans’ previous on The Fantastic Four .

If It Was Reversed: The Human Torch makes a wisecrack about bullshit patriotism when hearing of the legendary Captain America.

The Mist (2007)

The In-Joke: Thomas Jane’s character is an artist, and the canvas we see him working on at the beginning of the film is a recreation of the cover art for another Stephen King property, The Dark Tower .

Why It’s Great: King’s stories are full of in-references (Shawshank Prison crops up in at least half a dozen) and it’s nice to see that tendency transferred to the big screen.

If It Was Reversed: No Dark Tower movie exists (as yet), but should it finally get made, we’ll be expecting in-jokes galore.

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991)

The In-Joke: Richard the Lionheart returns from the crusades just in time to catch Robin’s marriage to Marion. And look who’s playing him… it’s only Sean Connery!

Why It’s Great: Not only is their something very knowing about casting a proud scot as the King of England, Connery had also played Robin back in 1976 film Robin and Marion . Double in-joke? Yes please.

If It Was Reversed:
“Maybe one day I’ll be king,” muses Connery’s Robin wistfully…

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre pt 2 (1986)

The In-Joke: The poster art for the trashy horror flick inexplicably parodies the one-sheet for teen comedy The Breakfast Club .

Why It’s Great: It’s awesome because it’s so utterly random. Molly Ringwald’s counterpart isn’t quite so alluring, is he?

If It Was Reversed: Paul Gleason’s character is revealed to have a lamp made of human skin in his office.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

The In-Joke: Lensherr and Xavier look to add a feral recruit to their embryonic super-team, only to be rebuffed in the bluntest possible terms…

Why Iit’s Great: It’s a brilliant way to employ Wolverine’s handy non-ageing capabilities. And who better to deliver the movie’s only swear?

If It Was Reversed: Might we see a cameo from McAvoy or Fassbender in a future Wolverine film? We certainly hope so.

Wayne's World (1992)

The In-Joke: Wayne is pulled over by an angry-looking traffic cop who turns out to be the T-1000. Yikes.

Why It’s Great: It’s extremely daft, but Robert Patrick still plays it with all his trademark menace,

If It Was Reversed: The Terminator would be seen sporting a Crucial Taunt patch on his signature leather jacket.

Watchmen (2009)

The In-Joke: A well-heeled couple emerge from the back door of a theatre where Die Fleidermaus (the bat) is playing, only to be confronted by a crook with a gun. Sound familiar?

Why It’s Great: It’s a thinly veiled tribute to Batman, but an excellently well-layered one. Joe Chill wouldn’t have got away had the Watchmen been around in Gotham.

If It Was Reversed: “You aren’t the first man to appoint yourself a watchman,” comments Alfred to Bruce, “and you won’t be the last.”

Hot Fuzz (2006)

The In-Joke: A copy of Shaun Of The Dead can be spotted at the bottom of a DVD bargain bin, going by the name of Zombies Party .

Why It’s Great: Zombies Party was the actual name by which Shaun Of The Dead was released in several countries!

If It Was Reversed: A copy of Big Bad Coppers is spotted on Shaun and Ed’s DVD shelf.

X2 (2003)

The In-Joke: Mystique hacks into Stryker’s computer where a host of X-Men references await, including nods to Gambit, the Sentinels and Muir Island.

Why It’s Great: Less a “joke” and more a treasure trove of geek-pleasing in-references. Get the pause button ready!

If It Was Reversed: If this sequence happened in the comic books, Stryker’s database would contain a curious reference to one Keyser Soze…

Thor (2011)

The In-Joke: Natalie Portman’s character lends Thor a shirt that belonged to an ex-boyfriend, a man referred to as Donald Blake.

Why It’s Great: In the early comic-books, Donald Blake is Thor’s human alter-ego. One for the real fans, there…

If It Was Reversed: Maybe a future Thor comic-book could feature a billboard advertising the latest Chris Hemsworth movie…

George Wales
George is GR's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it.