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The 30 best movie Easter eggs

10. Predator 2 (1990)

When Danny Glover discovers the Predator’s trophy room, one of the skulls on display has clearly been taken from a Xenomorph. So begins the cross-franchise tinkering that would run both Predator and Alien into the ground (for a while, anyway). It’s a fairly obvious one in that you won’t need freeze-frame to spot it, but it’s a nice tip of the hat from one sci-fi beastie to another. If only they had left it there…

9. Back to the Future (1985)

When Marty crashes into the 1950s, he ploughs into a family farmhouse. The irate farmer refers to his son as Sherman, before the mailbox he shoots reveals his name to be Peabody. Sherman and Peabody are a cartoon double-act with access to a time machine. It’s a knowing salute to a pair of fellow time travellers. A little more subtle than simply naming the dog “Einstein”.

8. Aladdin (1992)

As is the case in many Disney animations, Mickey Mouse makes a number of covert appearances in Aladdin. One such incident occurs when Jafar’s spell is broken and Aladdin’s enchanted pals are returned to normal. A quick bit of freeze-framing through that transformation reveals a pair of very Mickey-like ears on Rajah the tiger. Disney’s in-jokes always come across as fun rather than smug, particularly their hidden Mickeys. It’s like a bonus game of Where’s Wally thrown in free of charge!

7. Iron Man (2008)

As Tony Stark is removing his suit after his encounter with the F-22s, you’ll notice a workbench in the left-hand side of the frame upon which lies what appears to be a prototype version of Captain America’s shield! We always enjoy a bit of Marvel cross-referencing, particularly given that all the various threads eventually came together for Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie.

6. Tron (1982)

Look carefully at the schematics diagram on the bridge of Sark’s battlecruiser. On the right hand side you’ll find Pac-Man munching his way through a string of yellow dots. Not only is it wilfully silly, but it fits in with the general theme of the film. Given that Flynn is a video-game nut, why wouldn’t he work Pac-Man into one of his programmes?

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Possibly the hardest easter egg on this rundown to spot without prior knowledge comes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ scene on board the Eravana freighter. After Rey accidentally opens the wrong door, Han Solo and Chewbacca are forced to run away from a rathtar which is rolling down a hallway towards them. So what better musical cue to put in than the boulder roll sound from the iconic Raiders of the Lost Ark scene? Now there’s forever a lovely link between two of cinema’s greatest franchises. Well played.

4. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

You might think that we only learn The Bride’s real name in Kill Bill Vol. 2, but you’d be wrong. It’s actually displayed on the plane ticket she buys to Okinawa, revealing the moniker “Beatrix Kiddo” to anyone sad enough to have paused it at exactly the right moment. It isn’t the only time QT wafts the Bride’s real identity under his audience’s nose. Bill calls her “Kiddo” in one of the movie’s first scenes, but the obvious assumption is that this is just a term of endearment. Albeit rather an odd one, given that he’s just shot her!

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Hidden amongst the hieroglyphics of the well of souls, are a pair of familiar characters. Have a look at the picture above and see if you can spot them. Yes, it’s R2-D2 and C-3P0 of course. Those two get around, don’t they? Ancient chambers, far away galaxies, bargain-basement adverts for electrical retailers…

2. I Am Legend (2007)

Amongst the ruins of NYC, a movie poster can be spotted featuring the Superman logo within the bat symbol. Whilst the poster sent fanboys everywhere into a state of frenzy, it turned out not to be a canny piece of viral marketing but rather a throwaway gag from producer Akiva Goldsman, who was at one time involved with a Superman/Batman crossover film. Imagine a world where the only piece of marketing for Batman v Superman was a poster...

1. Iron Man 2 (2010)

In the post-credits scene with Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury, a SHIELD map is clearly visible, with several locations specifically circled. Each one refers to a different character from the Marvel universe, including New Mexico (landing point of Mjolnir’s hammer), New York (home to The Hulk), Antarctica (where a frozen Captain America is discovered), and Southwest Africa, home to the Black Panther. With one little scene, Marvel whipped their fans into a mouth-foaming frenzy, whilst promoting their upcoming releases at the same time. Very smart.

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