As has become a holiday tradition, a man of indeterminate and possibly infinite age visited the homes of children of all ages all around the world on Christmas Day 2016.
We are of course talking about the Doctor, who made his first and only television appearance (not counting the brief short introducing Bill, his Season 10 companion) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special titled "The Return of Doctor Mysterio."
The episode saw Doctor Who fully engaging with the superhero genre and many of the tropes that go along with it. The episode also wasn't afraid to pay homage to the classic superheroes that inspired its plot and served as the archetype for the episode's own superhero, the Ghost.
Here are some of the best comic book Easter Eggs from "The Return of Doctor Mysterio."
Avengers and X-Men
Any Doctor Who fan who thought that "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" may shy away from directly referencing any Marvel Comics or DC Comics characters was quickly disabused of that notion within the span of the episode's cold open.
The Doctor finds himself in the room of a child named Grant. Grant clearly has an affection for superhero comics, and that love is literally spread across the walls of his room.
Marvel and DC Comics superheroes surround the entirety of young Grant's room. There's plenty there to pick apart, but the most noticeable are a 1990s X-Men poster on Grant's door, a poster of a Hulk cover, and what looks like Thor wallpaper.
Fans of comic books know that there's no shortage of Doctors running around in capes, tights and whatever else.
To name a few, there's Doctor Strange, Doctor Octopus, Doctor Doom, Doctor Fate, Doctor Manhattan, Doctor Light, Doctor Polaris, Doctor Phosphorus, Doctor Alchemy, Doctor Sivana, and Doctor Impossible.
Considering how few of those characters actually have a doctorate degree, one has to wonder where the reliance on the doctor title came from. According to the Doctor, he inspired them all.
When the Doctor introduces himself as simply "the Doctor," young Grant's obsession with comic books prompts him to wonder which Doctor he means. The Doctor simply tells him he's the one that inspired all of the others.
As an additional Easter egg, Grant tells the Doctor that he would be called "Doctor Mysterio" if he were a comic book character. "Doctor Misterio" is the title given to Doctor Who in Latin America.
No superhero inspired "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" more than Superman, and that's something that writer/executive producer Steven Moffat has been entirely upfront about. In interviews, Moffat has stated clearly that he hoped to bring some of the humor and charm of Superman: The Movie and Superman II to Doctor Who for "The Return of Doctor Mysterio."
There were plenty of homages to Superman and to those Christopher Reeve movies in "The Return of Doctor Mysterio." For starters, young Grant is reading a Superman comic when the Doctor first meets him in the cold open. Then, when the Doctor feels clever for piecing together that Superman and Clark Kent are the same person, Grant has to explain to him that everyone already knew that.
The Ghost's power set is loosely the same as Superman's, with "basic" flight, super strength, and x-ray vision. Grant's relationship with Lucy Lombard is also clearly meant to mirror Superman and Lois Lane's relationship from the original Superman movies. Lucy's name even mimics the alliteration of Lois's. Additionally, the couple's flight through the air and date/interview are very much in the same spirit of how Lois and Superman's relationship progressed in Superman: The Movie.
While Superman may be the major inspiration for "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" and the Ghost as a superhero, the Doctor's role in this episode seems to be more that of Uncle Ben, offering Grant guidance where he can.
In the opening scene, young Grant asks the Doctor if he knows what happened to Peter Parker when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. The Doctor, of course, makes the logical assumption that Peter suffered radiation poisoning, and not that he was given spider-themed superpowers.
Later, when the Doctor discovers that grown-up Grant is the Ghost and also a nanny to Lucy's daughter, the Doctor drops the classic "with great power comes great responsibility" line on him.
It wouldn't be a comic book Eater egg roundup without some reference to Batman, right?
Justin Chatwin, the actor played Grant/The Ghost, said in interviews that he was looking to infuse his character with the energy of both Christopher's Reeve's Superman and Michael Keaton's Batman.
The energy of Keaton's Batman is definitely present in how Chatwin delivers his lines while in the Ghost's costume. Its particular evident during the exchange when Lucy asks the Ghost if he has a car and the Ghost simply replies, "No," before sweeping her off of her feet and flying out the window.
Lucy also mentions the Bat Signal during her date/interview with the Ghost, unaware that the Ghost is actually looking at a baby monitor in his pocket.