With such a vast and detailed comic book history, it’s hardly surprising that Marvel stuffs their films with as many callbacks and Easter eggs as possible. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is definitely accessible to those without a shred of comic knowledge, but the films also reward observant viewers who have more than a passing knowledge of Marvel lore. As one of Marvel’s oldest and most popular heroes, Captain America has more opportunity than most characters for obscure references and delightful visual callbacks. With three films dedicated to Cap’s adventures in the MCU released so far, it’s a good time to look back at each film in the series — The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier, and Civil War — and the various hidden details they contain. Only the most dedicated Cap fan would have noticed all of the following Easter eggs.
24. MCU Double Duty
In Civil War, after giving his M.I.T. presentation in, Tony Stark runs into a woman who’s been waiting for him backstage. The woman, who calls herself Miriam, accuses Tony of being responsible for her son’s death, as he perished in Sokovia during Ultron’s attack. What you may not have realized is that this woman is played by Alfre Woodard, who also plays a much more prominent role in Netflix’s Luke Cage as Mariah Dillard. In general, actors are not allowed to play two different characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it’s strange that an exception was made in this case. Perhaps Robert Downey Jr. was able to pull some strings, as the two actors go way back, having shared the screen in 1993’s Heart and Souls and 2003’s The Singing Detective.
23. Bucky Can’t Stop Falling In Water
It’s no secret that Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) appears in all three Captain America movies, but what you may not have noticed is that he has a repeated habit of falling in water. In fact, he does this in every Cap film and each time he does, it represents a significant change for him as a character. In The First Avenger, Bucky falls into a river to his apparent death, which we later learn signals his transformation into an assassin. In The Winter Soldier, the now-brainwashed Bucky falls into the Potomac and ends up rescuing his old friend Steve Rogers, marking the beginning of his recovery from memory loss. And in Civil War, Bucky again falls into a river, this time in Germany, and becomes aware that he is still susceptible to brainwashing. Assuming Bucky makes an appearance in Black Panther (it has yet to be confirmed), it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see him fall into a Wakandan river.
22. One Suit Iron Man
Surprisingly, Civil War is the only film in the MCU to date in which Tony Stark uses one Iron Man suit. In case you haven’t been keeping track, Tony uses three suits (Marks 1-3) in the first Iron Man, three different suits (Marks 4-6) in Iron Man 2, two (Marks 6 and 7) in The Avengers, four in Iron Man 3 (Mark 42, his silver centurion armor, Mark 40, and the “Heartbreaker” armor in the final battle), and three different sets in Avengers: Age of Ultron: the Mark 43 and 45, as well as the Hulkbuster armor. In Civil War, Tony only uses the Mark 46.
21. Steve Rogers Is A One Kiss Guy
In case you hadn’t noticed, Chris Evans is pretty much physical perfection in these Marvel movies and his Steve Rogers/Captain America would have no trouble winning most women’s affections. Of course, Steve isn’t that kind of guy and is an old-fashioned romantic at heart. Ignoring the kiss laid on him by Natalie Dormer’s character in Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve has shared just one kiss with a different woman in each of his three solo movies: Peggy Carter in The First Avengers, Natasha Romanoff in The Winter Soldier, and Sharon Carter in Civil War. It’s no surprise, really; after all, Captain America is married to his country!
20. Spider-Man: Homecoming Reference
While Captain America: Civil War ties into Spider-man: Homecoming in a pretty obvious way by introducing us to Tom Holland’s Spidey, there appears to be a direct reference to the film buried in a much earlier scene. Two of the words that come up in Winter Soldier’s Hydra brainwashing commands are “Homecoming” and “Seventeen,” which can be read as references to the title and date of release of the next Spider-Man film. Apparently, Hydra really does control everything, right down to the release date and title of a new Spider-Man movie!
19. Black Widow and Winter Soldier
During the Winter Soldier and Black Widow’s brief fight in Civil War, Scarlett Johannson’s character tells Bucky, “You could at least recognize me.” This could actually be a reference to several past events. Widow may be referencing the Soviet Scientist she was protecting the first time she encountered the Winter Soldier, who promptly shot her. It could also be a reference to a storyline in the comics in which the two characters were romantically involved. There’s also the possibility that she’s referencing a more recent event, like the scenes in The Winter Soldier where he again is trying to kill her.
When Bucky Barnes is hiding out in Bucharest, Romania, we see him buying plums at a fruit market. Bucky’s choice of food is interesting, as plums have been shown to be beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disease that affects memory. Given that Bucky has been brainwashed and struggles to remember his life before he became the Winter Soldier, it’s appropriate that he would seek out plums.
Another interesting bit of information about this scene is that Sebastian Stan, the actor who plays Bucky, was actually born in Romania and even speaks perfect Romanian briefly while talking to the fruit vendor.
17. The Bluth Stair Car
While the MCU probably isn’t set in the same universe as the sitcom Arrested Development, that didn’t stop the Russo Brothers from inserting a funny Easter egg into Civil War referencing the series. During the airport fight scene, a truck sporting the Bluth family logo can be spotted in the background. In fact, it’s the same “stair car” that was the subject of many running jokes in the show. As it turns out, this isn’t just a random Easter egg on the Russos’ part, as the brothers actually directed the pilot and many other episodes of Arrested Development.
During an exchange in Civil War between Steve and Bucky where they reminesne about going on a double date in Brooklyn when they were younger, Cap mentions that Bucky was dating a redhead names Dolores, who had the nickname Dot. While it likely isn’t meant as a canonical reference, that description actually fits one Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan), Peggy Carter’s nemesis from Agent Carter. This would actually be a fitting match for Bucky considering his long stint spent as a Soviet assassin, as Dottie is also revealed to be a Soviet agent.
15. Raiders of the Lost Ark
This one’s a little obvious but it’s just so good that it needs to be highlighted. In the opening moments of The First Avenger, the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) finds the Tesseract and comments, “Let the Fuhrer dig for trinkets in the desert.” Most cinephiles recognized this as a reference to the classic Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which follows the Nazis’ search for the Ark of the Covenant in the Egyptian desert. Wait a minute: Disney owns both the Indiana Jones franchise and Marvel … so clearly Indiana Jones is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! We can dream.
14. Thor: Ragnarok Reference
In the same scene where the Red Skull makes an Indy reference, there’s a hint of what’s to come in Thor: Ragnarok. The Tesseract is kept in a wall sculpture of Yggdrasil, “the world tree,” while the serpent is called Jormungandr. Jormungand is the serpent that Thor does battle with during the Asgardian end of days, a conflict that will likely be depicted in Thor: Ragnarok when it is released in 2017.
13. Arnim Zola’s Blueprints
While fleeing the Hydra fortress in The First Avenger, the Red Skull’s right-hand man Dr. Arnim Zola can be seen quickly stuffing files into a briefcase. If you look closely, you’ll notice that one of these files is in fact a blueprint for the robotic body the character inhabits in the comics. But that’s not the only reference to Robo Zola …
12. Zola Face Distortion
When Dr. Arnim Zola is first introduced in The First Avenger, his face is distorted through a lens or screen of some kind. This is actually a reference to the character in the comics, as his mind inhabits a robot body, with his face displayed on a screen on the robot’s torso. While we don’t get to see Zola in all his robot glory in the sequel, The Winter Soldier, having his consciousness inside a computer is a pretty good payoff to this neat Easter egg.
Although this scene doesn’t come from a Captain America movie, it very well could have been worked into The First Avenger. On the home video release of The Incredible Hulk, there’s an alternate beginning that shows Bruce Banner walking through a snowy landscape. Eventually, an avalanche is triggered and while the snow falls towards the camera, you can just make out Captain America’s frozen body buried in the ice. It’s very tough to spot, as it’s only there for a split-second, but it’s a cool detail that makes reference to a film that wouldn’t come out for three years after The Incredible Hulk’s release.
10. Steve and Bucky
The height dynamics of best buds Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in The First Avenger are rather interesting. At the beginning of the film, Bucky is much taller than Steve on account of the latter’s diminutive stature, but once Steve takes the super soldier serum and becomes Captain America, he is noticeably taller than his friend. One would surmise that Chris Evans is simply taller than Sebastian Stan, but the two actors are actually about the same height. Camera tricks were used to make Cap significantly taller than Bucky so as to reinforce his new found physical superiority.
9. Steve Rogers’ Various Ailments
Although Steve Rogers’ many physical and health problems are shown on screen, unless you paused the movie, you probably didn’t read all of them. Here are all Steve’s heath issues:
Asthma, Scarlet fever, Rheumatic fever, Epilepsy, Sinusitis, Chronic or frequent colds, High blood pressure, Palpitations or pounding in heart, Easy fatiguability, Heart Trouble, Nervous trouble of any sort, Has had household contact with tuberculosis patient, Parent/Sibling with diabetes, cancer, stroke or (?).
8. The First Comic
Captain America: The First Avenger is very much a celebration of the character’s comic history, to the point where the film makes a couple of references to Captain America #1, originally published in 1941. In the film, the comic actually shows up, the difference being that in real life the movie was inspired by the comic book, while the comic book shown in the film is inspired by the “real” Captain America. Additionally, we also see Cap punch a man dressed up as Adolf Hitler during the film’s stage show sequence, an imitation of the first issue’s cover.
7. The Story of Sgt. John Basilone
In The First Avenger, Captain America begins his career as the United States Army’s stateside symbol of patriotism in an effort to sell war bonds, much to his own personal frustration. This story actually mirrors the real life experience of World War II hero Sgt. John Basilone of the Marine Corps. Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor for his displays of heroism in combat at Guadalcanal, and was subsequently sent back to the States to help raise money for the war effort. Understandably frustrated that he was no longer fighting alongside his countrymen, Basilone requested that he be sent back overseas. Sadly, he was killed in action at Iwo Jima, but took out a sizable group of enemies in the process.
6. The Mandarin’s Tattoo
Another Easter egg from a non-Captain America film worth pointing out, if you look closely at The Mandarin’s neck as he takes off his hood in Iron Man 3, you’ll see a tattoo that looks a lot like Captain America’s shield. The shield is notably different though, as it sports the sign for anarchy at the center of it.
5. Steve’s Notebook
One of The Winter Soldier’s best visual gags occurs early on when Steve takes out his “catch-up” notebook to make note of a Marvin Gaye album recommendation from Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), but what you may not have realized is that Cap’s list is region-specific. For instance, the North American list contains cultural touchstones such as Steve Jobs and Rocky, while the Korean version of the film contains items that would be more familiar to Korean audiences, such as Chan-wook Park’s film Oldboy and Korean Football player Ji-Sung Park.
4. Ed Brubaker Cameo
Acclaimed comic book writer Ed Brubaker, who wrote the Winter Soldier arc in the Captain America comics, actually has a cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He turns up in the scene where Bucky has his memory wiped, but unless you’re quite familiar with what Brubaker looks like, you probably didn’t even notice him.
3. Nick Fury’s “Pulp” Grave
In The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury’s grave has the quote “The path of the righteous man…” on it, a line from Ezekiel 25:17. Pulp Fiction fans likely recognized this as a reference to Tarantino’s film, as Samuel L. Jackson’s character recites the same passage several times throughout the film.
2. The Lemurian Star
The fact that the freighter from the opening fight scene of The Winter Soldier is called the Lemurian Star was probably meaningless for most viewers, but hardcore Marvel fans likely picked up on its significance right away. In the comics, the Lemurians are a race of sea-people with ties to the Deviants, a race created alongside the Lemurians by the otherwordly beings known as Celestials. Is this a sign of future Marvel films featuring these creatures or is it just a cool Easter egg? Only time will tell.
1. Newman’s Own
Paul Newman and Robert Redford are often closely associated due to starring opposite one another in Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973). The two became lifelong friends afterwards until Newman’s death in 2008, so it’s unsurprising (and rather touching) that a jar of Newman’s Own (the charitable food company Newman founded in 1982) Balsamic Vinaigrette can be spotted in the refrigerator of Redford’s character Alexander Pierce in The Winter Soldier.