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The 30 best movie Easter eggs

20. Godzilla (1998)

During the taxi-chase through New York, Matthew Broderick chucks the driver’s identification plate out of the window in order to get the attention of a nearby military man. The name on said ID card is “Armin Tamzarian”, the real name of The Simpsons’ Principal Skinner. Talk about obscure! Although there is a bit of a Simpsons theme running through the film, with Harry Shearer (who voices Skinner) playing a news reporter and Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson) as his secretary.

19. X-Men 2 (2003)

When Mystique is waiting to seduce Magneto’s prison guard at a dingy flyblown bar, a current affairs programme is airing on the TV. Giving his take on the mutant issue is one Hank McCoy, perhaps better known as Beast. It’s a gloriously knowing way of referencing one of the X-Men Bryan Singer couldn’t find room for in his movie. Another similar treat can be found when Mystique is trawling through the mutant database in Lady Deathstrike’s office and the birth names of Gambit, Silver Samurai and many more are clearly visible.

18. Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

When McClane is asked what he’s been doing since the last film, he answers, “Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo”. The same lyric from Flowers On The Wall is sung by Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, right before he sees Marsellus crossing the road. Given that Pulp Fiction was released in between Die Hard 2 and Die Hard With A Vengeance, the continuity works quite nicely. Not that we’re suggesting McClane and Coolidge are the same person. Don’t get too excited!

17. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

It had been rumoured for months, but it likely still took cinemagoers two viewings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to spot a certain 007. Yes, Daniel Craig swapped a sharp tuxedo for stormtrooper armour, appearing in a fairly key scene with Daisy Ridley’s Rey. It’s on Craig’s unwitting stormtrooper that Rey first uses a Jedi mind trick, getting him to remove her restraints and leave the cell open. Blofeld is already practising.

16. Lilo & Stitch (2002)

As Lilo looks out of her bedroom window, a Dumbo toy can be seen peeking out from her easel. Mickey always hogs the limelight when it comes to Disney easter eggs. But whilst the viewer might be looking out for those big round ears, the presence of another aurally-gifted character comes as a bit of a nice surprise.

15. Batman (1989)

When Alexander Knox walks into his office at the beginning of the movie, a sketch of The Batman is handed to him. The signature at the bottom is that of Bob Kane, the character’s original creator. It’s a really cool sketch on its own merits, but the signature is a nice tip of the hat from director Tim Burton. Unsurprisingly, Kane’s name is nowhere near the Joel Schumacher movies…

14. Zootropolis (2016)

With everything from baby elephants dressed up as Frozen’s Anna and Elsa, to bootleg Disney DVDs, Zootropolis is the animation giant as its most meta, and the subtlest nod comes in the form of minor character Duke Weaselton. The crooked weasel is voiced by Alan Tudyk, who just happened to voice the Duke of Weselton in Frozen. A character who constantly got irritated by people’s pronunciation of “Weselton” as “Weasel Town”.

13. Watchmen (2009)

The first scene in the superlative opening montage is crammed to the brim with Batman references. First of all, there are the old-school Batman posters on the wall. Then on the top-left of the theatre’s notice board, the word Gotham is clearly legible. Finally, the production showing at the theatre is shown to be Die Fledermaus. Translation? “The Bat.” It actually goes deeper than that. Supposedly, the goon that Night Owl is punching out is none other than Joe Chill. That startled-looking couple on the left are Mr. and Mrs. Wayne.

12. Deadpool (2016)

In a movie positively brimming with references, easter eggs and meta-gags, a scene involving Deadpool’s old colleague Bob is possibly the cheekiest. The two come face-to-face during the climax and is a reference to Deadpool comic book character Bob, Agent of HYDRA. The only problem? Marvel Studios owns the rights to HYDRA so he’s just a guy called Bob in the movie. But he’s definitely HYDRA Bob. Well, unless Marvel asks about him.

11. Wall-E (2008)

Hamm from Toy Story makes the briefest of appearances, but you can clearly see him within Wall-E’s truck, just to the left of Eve’s head in the picture above. Pixar movies are always riddled with in-references (Rex crops up in Monsters Inc., for example) but John Ratzenberger (who voices Hamm) is a particularly lucky mascot, having been given a voice part in every one of the studio’s films to date.

Ian Sandwell
Entertainment journalist who's an avid FrightFester and genre lover, as well as being a Marvel geek.