Avengers: Endgame has made its way to theaters, loaded with payoff and Easter eggs for almost all 21 MCU movies before -- and we’re going to run through all of them!
Major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame follow. Major spoilers!
If you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame, this article and the video above are for you! If you have, let’s continue, and run through the dozens of eggs which the Russo Brothers cooked up, which range in size from Ant-Sized details like Hope van Dyne calling Captain America “Cap” after making fun of Scott Lang for doing that in Ant-Man and The Wasp -- or as massive as a potential reference to Namor, aka Marvel’s Aquaman.Let’s start there.
In a meeting between the remaining heroes, Okoye acknowledges that there was an earthquake underwater in the Atlantic Ocean. This isn’t the first time Wakanda and the Atlantic Ocean have come up in the MCU. Iron Man 2 showed some blips on the map, prompting speculation about both of them, but this underwater earthquake seems to be the second tease of Namor and his Atlantean Empire.
Could the Submariner be lurking?
Trying to keep this in chronological order, we’ll start at the beginning, where Tony Stark sent a message to Pepper Potts. His call out of not posting his message on social media might be a callback to his introductory scene in the first Iron Man movie where he tells a soldier not to post their photo on his MySpace page.
After the 5 year time jump, director Joe Russo makes a cameo, playing the first openly gay character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe during a therapy session with Captain America. Beside him was Thanos creator Jim Starlin.
The Russo Brothers also brought a couple of Community cast members into the mix again -- with Ken Jeong making a cameo as a security guard and Yvette Nicole Brown being an employee at Camp Lehigh.
Thor had been spending his time at New Asgard in Norway to start the movie, which is literally the New Asgard after the original was destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok. This town was formerly Tonsberg, the site of Odin’s army vs. the Frost Giants from the first Thor, and the same place where the Red Skull hunted the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger.
In New Asgard, we see Korg wearing a pineapple romper, the same one which Thor: Ragnarok director and Korg actor Taika Waititi has made famous in several appearances.
Meanwhile, Fortnite also made an appearance in the scene. Marvel and Fortnite have recently teamed up for licensed skins on the popular game and a Limited Time Mode themed around the characters and events of Avengers: Endgame.
When Scott Lang enters the movie, he does it in a storage space labeled Number 616, a reference to the 616 universe from Marvel Comics, which is where the main stories take place.
The rat which got Scott Lang out of the Quantum Realm does not yet have an origin story. But Ratatouille over there deserves some credit because if he hadn't freed Scott Lang, Thanos might have never been defeated.
After busting out of the Quantum Realm, Scott Lang sees how much time has passed when he reunites with his daughter Cassie Lang. Their encounter is shocking for both of them. For Cassie, she thought Scott was dead. For Scott, he last saw her as a little girl -- now she is a teenager.
The "You got so big," line from Scott Lang has a double meaning. In the comics, Cassie Lang takes on the Ant-Man persona for a while and eventually grows to Goliath sizes just as Scott Lang does.
Time travel made way for a lot of easter eggs and references to previous Marvel Studios movies.
Tony heads to 2012 and climbs Stark Tower, eventually jumping off of it in almost the exact same way as he did in the first Avengers movie, free-falling as his suit comes together. Meanwhile, Captain America enters an elevator with all the same HYDRA agents acting like SHIELD guys as he did in what became the epic fight scene from the Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This time around, he slips a “Hail Hydra” in instead of fighting them, nodding to Steve Rogers Captain America #1 where Cap used the same phrase.
In 2013, Thor is back in Thor: The Dark World, where he gets some more time with his mother Firgga, just before she is killed by the Dark Elves.
In 2014, Nebula and War Machine encounter the opening scene from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie where Peter Quill is dancing to the sounds of Come and Get Your Love.
When Tony Stark sees Thor having fallen out of shape and wearing a robe, he calls him "Lebowski" in reference to the titular character in The Big Lebowski who has a similar look.
Fittingly enough, the Big Lebowski was played by Jeff Bridges. The first Iron Man movie's villain Obediah Stane was also played by Jeff Bridges. This is like an Easter egg inside an Easter egg!
Going further back in time to April 4, 1970, the original Ant-Man helmet is seen in Hank Pym’s lab, along with a de-aged Michael Douglas. In the same sequence, Captain America’s soldier garb is labeled "Roscoe" -- paying homage to Roscoe Simons, a character who was once Captain America on the pages of Marvel Comics.
Plus, the Jarvis fans who watched Agent Carter got to know made an appearance as Howard Stark's driver, validating MArvel TV shows on the big screen for the first time.
The 70s scene opened with Stan Lee’s cameo, including a bumper sticker labeled “Nuff Said,” which is how Stan would often end his Soap Box messages which always encouraged people to better themselves.
“You wanna dislike someone? Be my guest. It’s a free country," Lee wrote in one of his most famous Soap Box efforts. "But do it because he or she has personally given you a reason to feel that way, not because of skin color, or religion, or foreign ancestry, or the shape of their toenails, or any other moronic, mixed-up, mindless motive! Because, if you justify your hatred by smearing everyone in any given group with the same brush, then you’re a bigot, Charlie!”
Before Black Widow voluntarily took the leap Gamora was forced to in Infinity War, the Red Skull, as portrayed by The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand in the Avengers movies rather than the original actor Hugo Weaving, tells her that her father’s name is Ivan. This is likely a reference to comic character Ivan Petrovich, a Russian man who adopts Natasha after rescuing her from a burning building.
It's possible David Harbour's role in the upcoming Black Widow movie could be that of Ivan Petrovich but doesn't seem likely given Natasha's claim of not knowing her father's name.
Once the fighting begins, Thanos breaks Captain America’s shield just as he did in the Infinity Gauntlet comics and as predicted in Tony’s dream sequence from Avengers: Age of Ultron. He then goes on to wield Thor’s hammer as he did in Thor #390, fulfilling another Age of Ultron moment where Cap made the hammer flinch when he tried to pick it up.
Just as the Vanished Avengers start to show up, Sam Wilson tells Steve “on your left” as Steve did to Sam when passing him while running around DC in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
And, finally, the dialogue fans have been waiting for, Captain America tells all of the Marvel heroes, “Avengers, Assemble,” which is the key comic book phrase from countless major issues. Such a line was teased in the final moments of Avengers: Age of Ultron but was cut short after Captain America said "Avengers" when the credits began to role.
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Tony's last words were a direct callback to his last words in the first Iron Man movie.
Just before snapping his fingers with a fully loaded Infinity Gauntlet of his own, Tony Stark responded to Thanos and his claim of "I am inevitable." Tony's rebuttal: "I am Iron Man."
In 2008's Iron Man, the first film in the MCU and the one which launched this Infinity Saga, Tony Stark hosted a press conference falling his feud with Bridges' Obediah Stane. Rather than sticking to the note cards, Tony went wrote and announced, "I am Iron Man."
When the fighting wraps up, Iron Man is dead, but he has a hologram of himself play for Morgan, Pepper, and Happy Hogan. This could end up being an A.I., or an essence, of Tony Stark in the future of the MCU, maintaining Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark's presence.
Marvel Comics saw an A.I. version of Tony Stark coaching Riri Williams as she became Iron Heart. This wouldn't be the first time Tony tinkered with artificial intelligence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Also, the heartbreaking moment where Happy Hogan tells Tony’s daughter Morgan that he’ll get her all the cheeseburgers she wants goes back to Tony’s return home in the first Iron Man movie, where all he wanted was a cheeseburger.
Thor’s next journey appears to be with the Guardians of the Galaxy characters.
He outright dropped a comic book title when he called the group the "Asgardians of the Galaxy" but for now the next movie is still called Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The original cast are expected to star in it under the direction of James Gunn. There is no word on whether or not Chris Hemsworth will be there.
Steve and Bucky’s last words were a call back to their first movie together.
Before heading back in time to return the Time Stones (and spend his remaining years with his love Peggy Carter), Steve tells his best friend, “Don’t do anything stupid until I get back.” Bucky responds, “How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you.”
This exchange is the reverse of their goodbye in Captain America: The First Avenger when Bucky was leaving for war.
Of course, there are the comic tributes.
Captain Marvel’s new haircut is consistent with that of the modern comics. Hawkeye becomes the Ronin character first introduced in New Avengers #11. The Hulk is smart as he first appeared to be in Hulk #377. Sam Wilson becomes Captain America as he first did in Captain America #25 before getting a comic series under the All-New Captain America title. The Hulk holds up an insane amount of weight to save other heroes as he does on Secret Wars #4’s cover. The A-Force appears with an all-female frame consisting of The Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Okoye, Nebula, Gamora, Pepper Potts as Rescue and more.
Be sure to stay tuned to ComicBook.com/Marvel for more exclusive MCU content and tune into ComicBook.com's Game Over: An Evening With Joe Russo for an exclusive look inside Avengers: Endgame from the director himself!