50 Greatest Meta Movie Moments

On Her Majestys Secret Service (1969)

The Meta Moment: George Lazenby breaks the fourth wall, quipping that, “this never happened to the other fellow!”

Why It’s Great: Connery’s departure was hanging over Lazenby like a black cloud, so it’s nice to see the issue confronted right from the off. Alright so it’s a bit cheesy, but this is Bond we’re talking about…

Hitman (2007)

The Meta Moment: Agent 47 crashes into a hotel room, only to be confronted by a pair of children playing a videogame. The game in question? Hitman , of course!

Why It’s Great: Timothy Olyphant’s look of confusion sells the moment perfectly.

Maverick (1994)

The Meta Moment: Brett Maverick, as played by Mel Gibson, finds himself caught in the midst of a bank robbery being perpetrated by Danny Glover. As the two exchange glances, the theme from Lethal Weapon works its way into the score…

Why It’s Great:
Richard Donner puts a lot of love into this in-joke, even granting Danny Glover the chance to reel out an “I’m too old for this shit”.

Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

The Meta Moment: When asked how he’s been spending his retirement, Bruce Willis replies, “smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo” a reference to a lyric from Flowers On The Wall .

Why It’s Great: Willis can be seen singing those very words in Pulp Fiction , released the previous year!

Watchmen (2007)

The Meta Moment: A wealthy-looking couple emerge from the back doors of a theatre (showing a production of Die Fleidermaus ), only to see Night Owl taking out a gun-wielding crook.

Why It’s Great: We’re watching an alternative timeline in which Joe Chill is thwarted, the Waynes’ lives are spared and Bruce never has to become Batman. That’s taking things way beyond an in-joke, and it’s awesome!

Last Action Hero (1993)

The Meta Moment: Passing a video store, we see an advert for The Terminator , starring none other than… Sylvester Stallone.

Why It’s Great: Arnie gets to give his old rival a backhanded compliment. “He’s fantastic,” he says. “It’s his best performance ever”.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Meta Moment: Just before blowing the football stadium to high heaven, Bane listens to a choirboy belting out The Star Spangled Banner . “What a lovely, lovely voice,” he muses to himself.

Why It’s Great: It’s Nolan’s nod to the controversy surrounding Bane’s supposedly indistinct dialogue. A lovely voice, indeed…

Cedar Rapids (2011)

The Meta Moment: Isaiah Whitlock performs an impression of his Wire co-star Michael K. Williams (AKA Omar Little) in order to scare off some thugs. Indeeed.

Why It’s Great:
It would be too straightforward just to have Whitlock quote his Clay Davis catchphrase (“Sheeeeeeeit”, in case you were wondering), but having him quote Omar is an HBO fan’s wet dream.

Back To The Future Pt. 2 (1989)

The Meta Moment: Marty McFly is confronted by a massive holographic shark as part of a teaser for Jaws 19 . “Shark still looks fake,” he mutters snarkily.

Why It’s Great: It’s Robert Zemeckis having a little fun with his executive producer. We also like the fact that the film’s director is listed as Steven’s son, Max Spielberg.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)

The Meta Moment: Strolling past a room full of pink sheep, Wonka silences the group with a curt, “I’d rather not talk about this one.”

Why It’s Great: It’s a reference to Ed Wood, another Johnny Depp character, a cross-dresser with a preference for pink woollen sweaters.