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The 25 best pop culture references in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home  - Spider-Man: Homecoming

Kirk R. Thatcher appeared in the 1986 sci-fi film as a boombox carrying punk and cameos in the Spidey film carrying a boombox too. He said that, “spiritually speaking”, he’s playing the same character, but we doubt Paramount would be OK with that crossover.

“Tell her she’s dreamin” - Thor: Ragnarok

Topaz says the above line to The Grandmaster when Valkyrie demands her price for delivering Thor, which is a nod to the 1997 comedy The Castle in which Michael Caton’s character Darryl repeats variations of the phrase in response to prices of random items for sale in the paper. Taika Waititi sure loves a niche reference.

“Is this Wakanda?” “No, it's Kansas” - Black Panther

We love it when Shuri (Letitia Wright) gets sarcastic. She drops this little Wizard of Oz retort to Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) right after calling him “Coloniser.” We stan a cheeky genius who knows her technicolour classics.

Get lost, Squidward” - Avengers: Infinity War

Another brilliant bit of name-calling from Tony Stark, this time against Ebony Maw, who looks a lot like the grumpy-looking Spongebob Squarepants cartoon character. This might be one of the most quotable lines of the movie and makes us chuckle every time.

“Have you ever seen that really old movie, Aliens?” - Avengers: Infinity War

Peter Parker loves referencing old movies he’s watched, especially when they come in handy, tactically speaking. In this case, they recreate the end airlock scene of Aliens to dispose of Ebony Maw. See, watching movies does come in handy. 

“Whazzup?!!" - Ant-Man & The Wasp

Luis (Michael Pena) pulls up alongside Scott (Paul Rudd), Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) and utters the infamous Budweiser advert line and, of course, his audience isn’t receptive. Janet’s life is on the line, Luis! No time for jovial ‘90s references, okay?

Mallrats - Captain Marvel

There are so many 90s references in Captain Marvel, for obvious reasons, but nothing beats seeing Stan Lee reading lines from Kevin Smith’s movie script. Mallrats was released in 1995, the same year Captain Marvel is set, and Stan Lee even appeared in the teen comedy as himself. Meta, meta cameo.

“So, Back to the Future's a bunch of bullshit?” - Avengers: Endgame

(Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

One of the funniest scenes in Avengers: Endgame comes when the team argue over how time travel works and are disappointed that Star Trek, Terminator, Timecop, Time After Time, Quantum Leap, A Wrinkle in Time, Somewhere in Time, Hot Tub Time Machine, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and basically any movie that deals with time travel, got it wrong. Or so the Marvel writers say.

"I got this. I got this. Okay, I don't got this!" - Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

This is a cute little nod to Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety. Spider-Man, trying to hold onto the Infinity Gauntlet, mimics the line delivered by Brophy in the 1977 comedy, where he tries to lift Thorndyke’s trunk and says “I got it, I got it, I got it, I ain’t got it!” before dropping it on the floor. He didn’t have any heroes to help him out.

“Oh, I love Led Zepplin!” - Spider-Man Far From Home

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Peter gets the band wrong when Happy puts on the AC/DC tune “Back to Black.” In a movie filled with Iron Man tributes and references, this is another, as it’s the same song used in the opening of the first Iron Man, which Jon Favreau directed. I’m not crying, YOU'RE crying. #LoveYou3000