Ever since the original Iron Man, the films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been notorious for jam-packing Easter Eggs into every nook and cranny. From obscure comic book character references to hints of plot lines to come, analyzing each new film in the Marvel universe is a blast. You have the mandatory Stan Lee cameos and the post credits stingers, but those are obvious. Here are some of the coolest Marvel Cinematic Universe Easter eggs that you might have missed on your first viewing.
Avengers Map - Iron Man 2
Long before we knew Marvel's long term plan for their cinematic universe, eagle-eyed fans obsessed over this map seen in Iron Man 2. It depicts the locations of various Avengers, including ones we have yet to appear on screen. One located in central Africa seems to indicate Black Panther, while another in the middle of the Atlantic may be a reference to Namor.
Adam Warlock Cocoon - Thor: The Dark World/Guardians of the Galaxy
The post-credits scene at the end of Thor: The Dark World was weird. Meant to set up Guardians of the Galaxy and the Infinity Gauntlet, it was tonally very out of place and downright bizarre, as moviegoers are introduced to the Collector and his vast collection of intergalactic oddities. One of those oddities appears to be none other than Adam Warlock, the "perfect" human who eventually made his way to space and became a cosmic being of vast power. He plays a large role in Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet comic storyline. This is the character in his cocoon form, which also appears in Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, Adam Warlock has a cocoon form. Don't ask.
Black Widow's Necklace - Captain America: The Winter Soldier
It was plain to see Hawkeye and Black Widow had a special bond in the first Avengers film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier makes a nice little reference to this, as Black Widow can be seen wearing an arrow necklace. It's a nice nod to the relationship the two character's share, even if Joss Whedon is apparently tossing it out the window...
Lou Ferrigno - The Incredible Hulk
When you say the word "Hulk" to anybody over the age of 40, chances are an image of Lou Ferrigno will pop into their heads. The 1978 Hulk television show was one of Marvel's first live-action success stories, and turned bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno into an icon. He appears in The Incredible Hulk as a security guard.
Obadiah Stane's Chess Set - Iron Man
Jeff Bridges' character of Obadiah Stane, a.k.a. Iron Monger, has a dark secret he doesn't want you to know about. In the comics, he was once a member of a super villain team calling themselves the "Chessmen". A chess set seen in Stane's apartment in the film seems to allude to the fact.
The Lonely Man - The Incredible Hulk
Composer Craig Armstrong weaves the sad piano piece titled "Lonely Man", made famous by the original Hulk television series, into his score for The Incredible Hulk.
Project Pegasus - The Avengers
Several files Agent Coulson hands over to Tony Stark in Avengers allude to Project 42 and Project Pegasus. Later we get to see a glimpse of Project Pegasus facility. In Marvel's Civil War comic storyline, Project 42 is an extra-dimensional prison used to house superheroes who refuse to register themselves with the U.S. government, and is built on top of the Project Pegasus site.
1966 Iron Man Cartoon Song - Iron Man
The catchy theme for the 1966 Iron Man cartoon appears not once but twice in the original Iron Man film. The first is a jazz rendition of the song while Tony and Rhodey walk through a casino, and the second is actually Rhodey's ringtone for when Tony calls.
The Original Human Torch - Captain America: The First Avenger
When Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes enter the exhibition during the first Captain America film, you may notice a bright red suit encased in a glass capsule. It's a reference to the costume of the very first Human Torch, which also just so happened to be the first character created by Timely Comics, which went on to become the Marvel Comics we know and love. It's also a possible nod to the fact that Captain America actor Chris Evans first played the Human Torch in Fox's two Fantastic Four films.
Shawarma Palace - The Avengers
Everybody knows about the Shawarma scene at the end of the first Avengers. It's a classic piece of pop culture that post-credit stingers for years to come will have a hard time topping. But did you know that Whedon actually sets the scene up earlier in the film? The restaurant can actually be scene for a brief moment after Iron Man lands on the ground while fighting the Leviathan. So that's where he got the idea.
There are of course plenty more Easter Eggs where that came from, both in Marvel's films and in Marvel TV shows like Daredevil. You can check out some of those here, and be sure to check out our ranking of every Marvel Cinematic Universe film from worst to best.