The X-Men film series has been going strong for the better part of two decades now and as with most comic book adaptations, each film in the series has been packed with a heap of callbacks and Easter eggs, some of which aren’t always evident upon an initial viewing (or even multiple viewings). This is by no means an exhaustive list of every hidden detail found in the X-Men films, but it would also be pretty incredible if you managed to notice every single of the following Easter eggs and references.
In celebration of the 19th anniversary of X-Men‘s release, join us as we highlight 24 hidden details found throughout the X-Men movie franchise. Enjoy!
24. The Once & Future King
When we first meet Charles Xavier in X-Men: Apocalypse, he’s reading a passage from T.H. White’s The Once and Future King to his class. This is the same book that Magneto is seen reading in his prison cell in X2: X-Men United and what’s more, it’s even mentioned by Xavier during another lesson in the same movie. The title of White’s book is a reference to the alleged headstone marking the grave of King Arthur and in the comics, it’s one of Xavier’s favorite books. In fact, Xavier sees himself as a Merlin figure as opposed to Arthur, given his relationship as trainer and mentor to his students. It’s safe to assume that Magneto probably sees himself in more of the “once and future king” variety.
23. Storm ‘The Goddess’
When Apocalypse first encounters Storm (Alexandra Shipp), he refers to her as a “goddess,” presumably tying into the film’s themes of having gods among mutants. However, this can also be read as a reference to Storm’s role in the comics, as she does actually end up being worshiped as a weather goddess at one point. Storm comes from a long line of mutants with mastery over the weather and they are all viewed as powerful sorcerers in their African homeland.
22. ‘The Third One’s Always The Worst’
At one point in X-Men: Apocalypse, Scott Summers, Jean Grey, and a few other young mutants spend the day at the mall and are seen exiting a screening of Return of the Jedi, commenting that “the third one’s always the worst.” This can be viewed as a dig at movie trilogies in general, but also as a not-so-thinly-veiled jab at X-Men: The Last Stand, the third film in the first X-Men movie trilogy and often cited as the worst entry in the franchise (it’s also the only film in that trilogy that Bryan Singer didn’t direct). Ironically, Apocalypse is widely considered to be the worst film in the latest trilogy that also includes First Class and Days of Future Past. Whoops!
21. The Four Horsemen
When Apocalypse and his followers go to recruit Angel, they find him drinking and hiding in his loft, yelling for them to go away. What’s notable about this scene is the not-so-subtle choice of music, as Angel is blaring the song “The Four Horsemen” from Metallica’s 1983 album “Kill ‘Em All.” It’s an era-appropriate music choice that, while maybe a little bit on the nose, is also kind of perfect.
20. Moria’s Son
To help reinforce how much time has passed between the events of First Class and Apocalypse (because it sure doesn’t look any of these characters have aged 20 years), Moira McTaggart tells a shocked Charles Xavier that she’s had a son since they last saw one another. This scene may be played for laughs, but comic fans will recognize the significance of Moira’s revelation. Moira’s son grows up to be Proteus, one of the X-Men’s most powerful enemies, so it’s possible that this could be a quiet bit of setup work for a sequel down the road.
19. Bryan Singer Cameo
Superhero movie directors have a habit of making cameos in their films and Bryan Singer makes a memorable one in X-Men: Apocalypse … if you can find him first. The filmmaker appears in full costume as one of Stryker’s armed guards at the Alkali Lake facility, who meets a grisly end at the hands of a rampaging Weapon X a.k.a. Wolverine. Singer’s the guard who fires a machine gun as the camera swings past him, leaving a blood splatter from his off-screen death.
18. Quicksilver’s Family Name
The whole cross-brand use of Quicksilver in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the X-Men films is one of the more interesting (and stranger) developments in superhero movie history. Basically, Quicksilver and his sister Scarlett Witch are both mutants and Avengers in the Marvel Comics universe, so the characters are technically both allowed to be used by Marvel Studios and Fox (who owns the X-Men movie rights), as long as they made no reference to elements from the other brand. Fox had a bit of an easier time with this, as they could actually stick closer to Quicksilver’s origins when they included him in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver, is the son of Magneto, a detail which is alluded to but never outright addressed in that film. However, if you look closely, you can see that the character’s home mailbox bears the Maximoff name, confirming that Quicksilver is, in fact, Magneto’s son in this X-Men film universe.
17. The Impact of Star Trek
In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) is seen watching an old episode of Star Trek on TV. The episode he’s watching is titled “The Naked Time,” and actually follows a similar story path as Days of Future Past. The episode has a heavy time travel bent, as Captain Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise are sent back in time by an explosion after they encounter a mind-altering infection. The crew’s journey is akin to Wolverine’s in the film, as they only have three days to change events and avoid their horrible fate.
16. Wolverine’s Choice of Color
Although Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has appeared in every X-Men film to date, he’s always had some key differences from his comic book counterpart. In addition to being much taller than Wolverine, Jackman’s Logan has never appeared in the traditional yellow and black outfit that the character frequently dons in the comics. That being said, the yellow and black aesthetic is still adopted by Jackman’s Wolverine in a few different ways throughout the series. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Logan dons a leather jacket combo at one point that has a subtle yellow and black aesthetic; while in Days of Future Past, the room that Logan awakens in upon traveling back to the 70s is very heavily imbued with yellow and black. It may not make up for the lack of a spandex suit, but it’s something at least!
Also, take note of the samurai swords and photo of Mount Fuji adorning Logan’s walls — an obvious callback to his time spent in Japan in 2013’s The Wolverine.
15. Fist Of the North Star
Soon after turning up in his 1973 body and apartment, Wolverine runs afoul of a group of gangsters, who proceed to riddle his chest with bullets. If you look closely, the bullet wounds appear to be aligned in the shape of the ‘Big Dipper.’ If you change the alignment around a bit, the bullets also look like an homage the Japanese manga Fist of the North Star, which follows a lone warrior, not unlike Logan in a post-apocalyptic world.
14. Logan’s Children
At one point in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Wolverine is asked if he has any children, to which he replies that he “sure as hell hopes not.” This can be read as an allusion to both his lack of parental instincts and his past sexual conquests but takes on more significant meaning when one considers the comic book fiction. Wolverine has actually fathered a number of children throughout the Marvel universe, with the most notable one being his son Daken. Daken possesses similar abilities as his father and has fought him on a number of occasions, which could be another reason why Logan doesn’t sound like he wants to meet his children if he has any!
13. Romantic Pairings
In the X-Men films, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) is romantically linked with Iceman (Shaun Ashmore), but the end of Days of Future Past seems to point towards a more canonical romance for both characters. In the closing scene at Xavier’s school set in the “right’ future timeline, Wolverine walks the halls and encounters a number of familiar faces, including the return of both Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Cyclops (James Marsden). We also see Rogue back together with Iceman, signaling that his relationship with Kitty Pride either hasn’t happened yet or doesn’t exist.
It’s okay though because it turns out that Kitty is matched with someone new as well, as we see a brief shot of her teaching a class alongside Colossus. This is in keeping with both characters’ comic origins, as Kitty Pryde and Piotr Rasputin are long-time lovers in the Marvel universe, to the point where the big Russian hero even has Kitty’s name tattooed on his chest.
12. Guardian and Vindicator in X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Given how forgettable the whole movie is, you’ve probably long forgotten about Wolverine’s brief encounter with a helpful elderly couple in the middle act of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Their names are Heather and James Hudson and as it turns out, they aren’t just any old married couple. In the comics, Heather and James are the names of the superheroes Guardian and Vindicator, members of Canadian super-team Alpha Flight. Ostensibly, the characters we see in the film are actually the older versions of Guardian and Vindicator.
11. Comic Book Issue Reference In X-Men: The Last Stand
Here’s the one you almost certainly forgot about (because who really wants to watch The Last Stand ever again?). In the film, there’s a scene where the government tries to test the mutant cure on Angel and in the midst of everything, someone grabs a tablet with the code XM-89248 on it. This is an obscure reference to Uncanny X-Men #248, which was published in 1989 (XM-89248, get it?). It’s not really clear why the filmmakers included a reference to this comic, although it may have something to do with it sharing similar plot elements with the film. In the comic, the X-Men engage in an intense conflict with an adversarial group of mutants called the Reavers, who capture members of the X-Men and force them to use their powers against the rest of their team. This fits in with the divided conflict depicted in The Last Stand.
10. Storm’s Accent Change
If you watch the X-Men films in sequence, you may be surprised by a particular audio change. In the first X-Men, Halle Berry uses a Kenyan accent for her character Storm, which is in keeping with the character’s nationality in the comics. For whatever reason, this is the only film in which Berry employs this accent, as she uses an American accent in all subsequent X-Men films in which she appears.
9. Character “Death” Reference
In X-Men (2000), Toad complains after failing to kill Storm, “Don’t you people ever die?” This seemingly throwaway line can be read as an allusion to the X-Men comics, which regularly kill off characters, only to have them come back to life through increasingly convoluted means. At this point, pretty much every major character in the X-Men series has “died” off at one point or another.
8. Stan Lee’s Absence
Stan Lee has become so well known for making cameos in every new Marvel film, that you would assume that he’s never missed the chance to do one. For whatever reason, Lee seems to sit out the majority of the X-Men series, as he’s only made cameos in X-Men and X-Men: The Last Stand. His excuse for not appearing in X-Men: First Class was that “they shot it too far away.” Considering Lee’s advanced age and a busy schedule, that sounds like a perfectly valid excuse to us!
7. No Accent Policy In First Class
If you’re wondering why no one has a distinct accent in X-Men: First Class, it’s because director Matthew Vaughn insisted on his actors doing away with any accents in their performances. This included James McAvoy not copying Patrick Stewart’s accent for Charles Xavier, something that McAvoy had been planning to do, and Rose Byrne being told not to do a Scottish accent for Moira MacTaggert (much to the Scottish McAvoy’s disappointment). Funnily enough, you can hear Michael Fassbender’s German accent slip out while he makes a speech during the film’s beach scene.
6. Oliver Platt’s FBI Agent
In X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier is initially helped by a mutant-friendly CIA agent played by Oliver Platt. The character is never actually named, but it’s all but confirmed that he is Agent Fred Duncan from the comics. Duncan is essentially the FBI’s mutant expert in the early X-Men comics, who strikes up a friendship with Professor X and generally opposes the government’s anti-mutant policies.
5. Kitty and Colossus
Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) may be matched up with Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) in the X-Men film series, but in the comics, she’s usually romantically paired up with Colossus. In the final sequence of Days of Future Past, where Wolverine awakens in a new timeline in the X-Mansion, you can briefly see Kitty and Colossus together, hinting that the two are a couple in this new timeline. It’s just too bad that Kitty Pryde isn’t in X-Men: Apocalypse so that we could see more of this relationship unfold.
4. Inscription on Wolverine’s Sword
There’s a moment in 2013’s much improved Wolverine solo film (aptly titled The Wolverine) where Logan’s ally Young Yashida gives him a samurai sword with six Kanji letters engraved on it. These letters translate to: “Never Died, Never Aged, Never Destroyed,” which is pretty much the perfect summation of Wolverine you’re ever going to find.
3. James Bond Reference
In The Wolverine, there’s a scene where Logan throws a guy over a balcony because he doesn’t like the cut of his jib (okay, so he actually does it because the guy in question has been cheating on his wife, but that’s still not a very good reason for throwing someone 30 stories to their apparent death). As it turns out, everything is okay because he lands in a pool, prompting Wolverine’s companion Yukio to ask: “How did you know there was a pool down there?” to which he replies “I didn’t.” Questionable morality aside, this scene is actually a reference to a similar scene from the Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971), in which a gangster quips “I didn’t know there was a pool down there!” after throwing Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood) out of a window.
2. Stryker’s Imprisoned Mutants
During the finale of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which, among other things, has the distinction of ruining Deadpool until Ryan Reynolds saved him earlier this year), we get to see that William Stryker has a fair number of mutants in confinement. Some of the ones you may not have noticed include a tongued boy named Mortimer Toynbee (Toad), a teenage girl with tornado powers (Wind Dancer), a boy vibrating in his cage (Quicksilver) and a boy with tape over his mouth (Banshee, who had a more substantial role in X-Men: First Class).
1. Joss Whedon’s Rejected X-Men Script
This doesn’t really qualify as an Easter egg, but it’s still an interesting bit of X-Men trivia all the same. Long before he would be tasked with bringing the Avengers together on-screen, Joss Whedon rewrote the screenplay for Bryan Singer’s X-Men. Unfortunately, Whedon’s draft ended up being rejected by the studio because it was too “quick-witted.” Ironically, Whedon’s penchant for witty dialogue would help land him the Avengers gig 12 years later. Superhero filmmaking really has come a long way since the year 2000, hasn’t it?