The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a series of superhero films and TV shows based on charterers from Marvel Comics. The characters exist in the same universe and have crossed over into each films. The MCU is one of the highest grossing franchises. The MCU features several very popular superheroes, such as Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, Black Panther and many more. So far, 14 films have been released with the first film in the series being Iron Man, released in 2008. The most recent film released was Doctor Strange in 2016. 11 more films are currently in the works. It also includes two TV shows and three Netflix series with several more on the way. The franchise has proved so successful that others, such as DC Comics, are attempting to create their own Universes. Several of the films and TV series have been critically and commercially acclaimed. However, there are several films that have been heavily criticized and didn’t do as well as some other films in the series.
The franchise is full of Easter eggs, hints and secret meanings that are sometimes hidden deep in the films. Some are clues to upcoming films and some were important plot threads tying the whole franchise together. Some other stuff is just fun. It’s possible that fans missed some of these clues. Here is a look at 20 things you never noticed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
20 Howard Stark’s Suitcase
Iron Man 2 is the third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jon Favreau returned as director for the sequel and it starred Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark. It also starred Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow. The plot revolved around Tony Stark’s health issues due to the arc reactor in his chest as he battles Ivan Vanko and business rival Justin Hammer. An intriguing scene in the film features Tony Stark looking through an old suitcase that belonged to his father Howard Stark. Captain America: The First Avenger is the fifth film in the MCU. Chris Evans currently portrays Captain America/Steve Rogers in the MCU. The film takes place during World War II and follows the weak and sick Steve Rogers as he transforms into Captain America to battle with Red Skull. It's shown in Captain America that Steve Rogers worked with Tony’s father. Turns out that Howard was not just friends with Roger, he was a fan, too. In the suitcase Tony finds a Captain America comic book and a map of the location to where Captain America’s plane crashed.
19 Hugin and Munin
Not only does the Marvel Cinematic Universe drop hints and clues that tie all the films together, they also love to make references to the Marvel Comics. Hugin and Munin are two ravens that appear in the Marvel comics. They belong to Odin and he sends them out everyday to find out what’s happening in the nine realms. Odin is Thor’s father and King of Asgard. Legendary actor Anthony Hopkins, plays the role of Odin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hugin and Munin also appear briefly in several MCU films. Many hardcore Thor fans and comic book fans may have noticed their appearances already. In 2011’s Thor, they are briefly seen during Thor’s coronation. In 2012’s The Avengers, they appear on top of a mountain when Thor takes Loki to Shield. They appear briefly and argue with each other on top of the mountains. Finally, they also appear in Thor: Dark World when one of the ravens is seated on Odin’s arm.
18 Professor Yinsen
In Iron Man, a terrorist group known as The Ten Rings holds Tony Stark captive. He suffers a life threatening injury but is saved by Professor Yinsen who attaches an electromagnet to Tony’s chest to keep the shrapnel shards for reaching his heart. While being held Tony and Yinsen create a prototype of the Iron Man suit in order to escape. In fact, Yinsen sacrifices his life to help Tony get away from the terrorists. However, it's later revealed that it wasn’t the first time Tony had met Yinsen but it appeared that Stark didn’t remember their first meeting. Iron Man 3 is the seventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The plot revolved around Tony Stark struggling with PTSD after the events from The Avengers film while he battles the Ten Rings. In a flashback from Iron Man 3, Tony attends a 1999 New Year’s Eve party. At this party it’s shown that Professor Yinsen tried to talk to Tony, however Tony blew him off. Luckily for Tony, Yinsen didn’t seem to hold a grudge.
17 Peter Quill’s T-shirt
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1 is the tenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Pratt plays the role of Peter Quill/Star Lord in the MCU. James Gunn directed and it also starred Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista. The plot revolved around Star Lord leading a group of misfits as they steal an Orb and try to sell it. Guardians of the Galaxy was released on August 1, 2014, and received critical acclaim for its cast, writing and humor. It also did very well at the box office and was one of the highest grossing films of 2014. In the beginning, we see a young Peter Quill before he’s abducted. Then we meet the grown up Peter Quill (Star Lord) and he appeared to spend the night with a purple alien, Bereet. She is wearing the same t-shirt that young Peter was wearing right before his abduction. A sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, will be released on May 5, 2017.
16 Name Dropping
In 2014’s Captain America: Winter Solider, Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon try to uncover the truth about S.H.I.E.L.D and the identity of the Winter Solider. In one scene, they interrogate Agent Jasper Sitwell on a rooftop. On the surface, Agent Sitwell was working for S.H.I.E.L.D but was actually an undercover Hydra agent. This was because Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D years earlier and had taken it over without anyone noticing. Sitwell mentions other superheroes that they’ve been tracking. He specifically mentions Bruce Banner and Stephen Strange. Bruce Banner and The Hulk had already been introduced but this is one of the first mentions of Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scott Derrickson directed the film, which was released on November 4, 2016. Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Stephen Strange/ Doctor Strange is the MCU. It also stars Chiwetle Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swinton.
15 News Report
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always found fun and interesting ways to connect their stories. They clearly kept this in mind from the very start of the MCU. Iron Man 2 is the third film in the MCU, which was released on May 7, 2010. As it turns out, Tony Stark keeps his eyes and ears open at all times. There is a news report that appears in The Incredible Hulk and also at the end of Iron Man 2. In The Incredible Hulk, Hulk gets into an epic battle with Colonel Ross and his army at Culver University. They nearly destroy everything in sight. Of course, because there is so much chaos and mayhem there was a news report. The reporter is live from Culver University, covering all the destruction and violence. Tony watches the same news report at the end of Iron Man 2. This is one of the early examples of the MCU establishing the characters in the same universe.
14 Donald Blake
There have been two Thor films, Thor and Thor: Dark World, so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A third film, Thor: Ragnarok is expected for release on November 3, 2017. Thor has also appeared in The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thor will appear in Avengers: Infinity War set for release on May 4, 2018 and will appear in the untitled Avengers sequel set for a May 3, 2019 release. Chris Hemsworth portrays Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor is a god from Asgard who is sent to earth to prove he is worthy to take his father, Obin’s place. When Thor lands on earth he meets Dr. Jane Foster, portrayed by Natalie Portman. She aids Thor is his quest to reclaim his hammer and return to Asgard. At one point, she gives Thor a t-shirt to wear and the name-tag reveals the name “Donald Blake”. For fans of the comic books, that name certainly jumped out at them. It’s actually a reference to the Thor comic books. Donald Blake is the alter ego of Thor in the comic books.
13 Doc Samson
The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t just about the popular and best known superheroes and comic book characters. They also add in several well-known and not so well known supporting characters. Doc Samson is a character and psychiatrist in the Marvel Comics. He often appears in stories featuring the Hulk. Doc Samson once appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. Ty Burrell played the role of Leonard Samson in the MCU. In The Incredible Hulk, Leonard Samson has a brief relationship with Betty Ross. However, she clearly still has lingering feelings for Hulk/Bruce Banner. Leonard eventually understands this and realizes that connection between Betty Ross and Bruce Banner. Ty Burrell is best known for his role on the massively popular sitcom Modern Family. Previously, Ty Burrell had expressed interest in his character evolving into the Doc Samson from the comics and noted that he’d love to return.
12 Bruce Banner’s Attempted Suicide
The Avengers was the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which was released on May 4, 2012. It featured several superheroes coming together, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow. The plot revolved around the formation of the super team The Avengers and their battle with Thor’s brother, Loki. It starred an ensemble cast that included Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson. Edward Norton was originally cast as Hulk in the MCU. He starred in The Incredible Hulk and was slated to appear in The Avengers film. However, actor Mark Ruffalo took over after Norton dropped out. In The Avengers, Bruce Banner references a time he tried to kill himself. He states “I tried to put a bullet in my mouth and the other guy spit it out.” This is a reference to a deleted scene from the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, in which Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) attempted suicide. Although, in the deleted scene Banner doesn’t actually spit the bullet out but destroys the gun before getting the chance to attempt suicide.
11 Original Human Torch
The Original Human Torch was an android that could surround himself with flames. He also went by the name Jim Hammond. He first debuted around 1939 and was one of Timely Comics' most popular characters along with Captain America and Namor the Sub-Mariner. However, the character appeared during the Golden Age of Comic books only and is one of the only ones not to be brought back later. Both Captain American and Namor would be updated and have continued to exist in the Marvel Universe. Instead, the name was given to an unrelated character, The Human Torch (Johnny Storm), who is a member of the Fantastic Four. However, The Original Human Torch made a cameo in Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011. It’s not hidden deep in the film but only a few hardcore comic book fans would have caught the reference. The Human Torch can be seen on display at the Stark Expo in a red jumpsuit in a pod.
10 Journey Into Mystery
Thor is the fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was released on May 6, 2011. Kenneth Branagh directed the film, which starred Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba. The plot revolved around Thor being stripped of his powers and sent to earth. He must prove himself and reclaim his hammer, Mjolnir. In the film, Loki sends the Destroyer to Earth to battle with Thor. They have an epic battle in the small town in New Mexico. There is an inside reference for comic book fans in the scene that some might have missed. A tourism poster can be seen in the background. It reads “Land of Enchantment… Journey into Mystery”. Journey into Mystery was a horror anthology comic book series first published by Atlas Comics and later Marvel Comics in the 1950s. Thor debuted as a character in Journey into Mystery in August 1962.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is the eleventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s also the sequel to the first Avengers film. Joss Whedon directed and it was released on May 1, 2015. It starred Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and James Spader. The plot revolved around Tony Stark and Bruce Banner creating and Artificial Intelligence known as Ultron, who takes on a life of its own and tries to eliminate the human race. In the process, Ultron destroyers Stark’s AI J.A.R.V.I.S. JARVIS is an interface that is basically Tony’s assistant. With JARVIS being eliminated Stark replaces it with a new AI. He ends up picking the AI Firday. However, fans of the MCU and Ant-Man might have noticed another name when choosing Friday. He passes by the name Jocasta, which is the name of the AI that Ultron creates to be his wife in the comics. In the comics, Ultron uses the brainwaves of Janet Van Dyne for Ultron. Janet Van Dyne is the First Wasp and mother of Hope Pym. Evangeline Lilly plays the role of Hope Pym in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in 2015s Ant-Man film. Paul Rudd currently plays the role of Ant-Man/Scott Lang in the MCU. Hope Pym will appear in the upcoming film, Ant-Man and the Wasp in 2018.
8 The Richest Superhero Is…
Most would probably assume that billionaire industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man is the richest superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, he’s probably one of the richest in all comic books and is ranked up their with DC’s billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne/Batman. Tony Stark does have a lot of money and is certainly rich. However, it turns out that he’s not the richest. The richest superhero is the Black Panther. He has 5 times the fortune then Stark and has roughly $500 Billion. Chadwick Boseman plays the role of T’Challa/Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Black Panther made his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Black Panther’s suit is made from vibranium, which is the same material used in Captain America’s shield. Vibranium is actually somewhat rare in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would take a lot of money to purchase it, especially the amount that is used for the suit. A solo Black Panther film will be released at some point in 2018.
7 The Collector’s Collection
The Collector (aka Taneleer Tivan) is a Marvel Character that has had minor but important roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Benicio Del Toro portrays The Collector and appears in Thor: Dark World and Guardians of The Galaxy. In Thor: Dark World he appears in the mid-credits scene where he is given an infinity stone in order to keep the infinity stones separate in Asgard. In Guardians of The Galaxy, he offers to buy an Orb that has an Infinity Stone in it as well. However, his slave Carina, touches it causing an explosion. The Collectors Collection contains many hidden secrets and references. Director James Gunn added some unique references and clues in the film. There are the creatures from another James Gunn film. There are also two famous comic book characters in his collection. There is Cosmo the Spacedog who is actually a member of the Guardians in the comic book series. Also, there is Howard The Duck who has a conversation with the Collector at the end.
6 Captain America’s Shield
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been dropping hints and clues hidden deep in their films since the beginning. Captain America/Steve Rogers is one of the most popular superheroes in comics. He was injected with a super-solider serum that gave him increased strength, speed and healing abilities. He usually wears a patriotic suit and carries his trusty shield. The shield is indestructible and is made from experimental alloy of steel and vibranium. The shield makes several cameos before Captain America emerged in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first film in the MCU is Iron Man, released in 2008. While Tony is working on his suit, a partial Captain American shield can be seen in his workshop in the background. It appeared that Tony was trying to resemble the shield. Additionally, in a deleted scene from The Incredible Hulk the shield has a very quick cameo. The Incredible Hulk is the second film in the MCU. The special feature on The Incredible Hulk DVD includes an alternate beginning. Bruce Banner walks along a snowy area surrounded by mountains and causes an avalanche. As the avalanche falls Captain America’s body and shield can briefly be seen. This also explains how after 70 years Captain America’s frozen body is finally discovered.
5 Incredible Cameos In Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk was the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was a re-telling of the Hulk’s origin story and revolved around Bruce Banner attempting to find a cure to his condition. Edward Norton starred as The Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner. It was released on June 13, 2008. Louis Leterrier directed and it also starred Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Ty Burrell and William Hurt. The film contains several interesting cameos. Lou Ferringo portrayed The Hulk in the 1978 series of the same name. He makes a brief appearance in this film as a security guard that Banner bribes with a pizza. Ferrgino also provides the voice of the Hulk in the MCU films. Additionally, the late Bill Bixby even got to make a brief cameo. He appears in the background when Norton watches The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, which starred Bixby. Bill Bixby played Bruce Banner in the 1978 series. Also, Paul Soles who voiced Bruce Banner in the 1960s Hulk cartoon appeared as a pizza restaurant owner who helps Banner.
4 Dr. Selving And His Chalkboard
Dr. Erik Selving is a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is an astrophysicist who has appeared in Thor, The Avengers, Thor: Dark World and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Stellan Skarsgard portrays Erik Selving in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Thor: Dark World, he is seen standing in front of a chalkboard that contains some interesting hidden Easter eggs. On that board is a note regarding the 616 universe, which is the universe that most Marvel Comics take place. There is a mention of the Nexus of all Reality, which is a cross-dimensional pathway from Marvel Comics. In the comics, Black Bolt causes a rift in the universe, which is known as The Fault (that also appears on the board). There is also a note about the alternate dimension in the Marvel comics called the Crossroads, which is where Hulk is banished too in the comics.
3 The Roxxon Energy Corporation
The first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Iron Man, which was released on April 14, 2008. The plot revolved around billionaire Tony Stark who builds a powered exoskeleton turning him into the powerful superhero Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. currently plays the role of Iron Man/Tony Stark in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed the film and it also starred Terrance Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow. Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 followed the first film, plus Iron Man has appeared in The Avengers films and other Marvel properties. In the comic books, the Roxxon Energy Corporation is responsible for Tony Stark’s parents' deaths. The Roxxon Logo has appeared a few times in the MCU. In Iron Man a Roxxon Logo is seen in the background during his battle with Iron Monger. In Iron Man 2, Roxxon sponsors one of the cars in the grand prix race. In Iron Man 3, a Roxxon Norco tanker is responsible for an oil spill. In Captain America: Civil War, the Roxxon Corporation is mentioned and is indirectly involved in Tony’s parents' deaths, which is caused be The Winter Solider.
2 The Punisher And The Penske Truck
Captain America: The Winter Solider is the ninth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger. Anthony and Joe Russo directed the film, which was released on April 4, 2014. It starred an ensemble cast, including, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie and Emily Van Camp. The film received praise for its writing, directing and special effects. The film features several cameos and Easter eggs hidden in the film. One popular theory surrounds a Penske Truck. At one point, Nick Fury is under attack and in danger when a yellow Penske truck comes to his rescue. Later, a yellow Penske truck runs over and kills Agent Sitwell. The theory suggests that anti-hero The Punisher/Frank Castle is driving the Penske truck in both cases. Joe Russo joked that The Punisher was the one driving the truck, which helped intensify the rumor. It’s still very possible that Punisher was involved and actually works with the storyline of the film and universe. The Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal, appears in the Netflix series Daredevil. The Punisher proved to be so popular that he will also star it his own sole Netflix series.
1 Stan Lee’s Cameos
Stan Lee is a comic-book writer, an occasional actor and former chairman and president of Marvel Comics. He was involved in the creation of several iconic superheroes, such as Hulk, Iron Man, Spiderman and the X-Men. He’s made several cameo appearances in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. In Iron Man, he appears with three blondes and Tony Stark mistakes him for Hugh Hefner. In The Incredible Hulk, he plays a citizen who drinks a soft drink with a drop of Bruce Banner's blood. In Iron Man 2, he’s seen wearing red suspenders and Tony mistakes him for Larry King. In Thor, he’s one of the many people who try to lift Thor’s hammer. In Captain America: First Avenger he plays a World War II general. In The Avengers, he’s asked about the Avengers saving New York and he states, “Superheroes in New York? Give me a break” and returns to playing chess. In Iron Man 3, he’s a judge in a beauty pageant. In Thor: Dark World he plays a mental patient. In Captain America: Winter Solider he plays a security guard. In Guardians of The Galaxy, Rocket notices him talking to pretty girl and calls him a pervert. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, he plays a military veteran who attends the Avengers party and gets drunk off of Asgardian liquor. In Ant Man, he plays a bartender in a story Luis tells Scott Lang. In Captain America: Civil War he played a postman who delivers a package to Rogers and Stark. In Doctor Strange, he read The Doors of Perception while riding the bus. He is slated to have cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming.