Easter for most people means one thing – Easter eggs. And while there’s no denying the appeal of chocolate eggs, movie fans will know that cinematic easter eggs are just as good – and often quite a bit harder to find.
While many know about the beloved Stan Lee cameos and the hidden Mickeys in Disney movies, we’re going to highlight some of the more obscure pop culture references that filmmakers have sneaked into some of the world’s biggest movies.
So keep your eyes peeled next time you rewatch one of these classics – even die-hard fans may be surprised.
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Pulp Fiction in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
*Spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier ahead*
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of references to the comic books – but this easter egg alludes to one of the biggest films of the 90s. Following Nick Fury’s “death” at the hands of the Winter Soldier, when an alive and, well, Fury looks over his own grave at the end of the movie the quote “The Path of the righteous man…” is inscribed on the headstone. This is, of course, the start of the bible verse Samuel L. Jackson famously recites in Pulp Fiction – did Jules Winnfield go on to become a SHIELD agent?
Buy Captain America: The Winter Soldier on DVD here
Starbucks in Fight Club
Many fans interpret Fight Club as a criticism of consumer culture – but less know that director David Fincher really hammered the point home by including a Starbucks cup in *every* scene in the film. Have a look – it’s one of the great movie Easter egg hunts (or, indeed, Starbuck cup hunts).
It seems appropriate that one of the first video game films features a cameo from one of the most famous – and oldest – gaming icons. If you look closely while the characters look at the videogame map, a small Pac-man can be seen – he would later have a much more noticeable appearance in Pixels.
The Star Wars saga is full of Easter eggs, but even die-hard fans might miss this obscure reference to an early George Lucas film. The oddly-named THX 1138 was George Lucas’ first feature film, and in homage he has such the title into several Star Wars films – Luke claims Chewbacca is from cell block THX 1138 while disguised as a stormtrooper on the Death Star, and 1138 is the designation of the Naboo battle droids in The Phantom Menace. Several other filmmakers have referenced the Star Wars Easter egg – it is also on the licence plate of a car in Doug Liman and Jon Favreau’s Swingers.
One of the oldest and indeed well-known Easter eggs, oranges have long been known to foreshadow death in Francis Ford Coppola’s acclaimed trilogy. It’s a tad more obvious in Part Three, but holds true for the earlier installments – take a closer look at what Vito Corleone is slicing before his heart attack, or the billboard Sonny drives past prior to his ambush…
Real-life figures often cameo in their own biopics – a great example is Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can, who’s life was the inspiration for the Steven Spielberg crime caper. He is one of the police officers who arrests Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of the film – technically arresting himself…
Much like the oranges in The Godfather, Martin Scorcese subtly places an X on the frame next to characters doomed to die, for example on the carpet outside the apartment of Matt Damon’s Colin Sullivan. The one character who is never marked in such a way is *spoiler* – the only one makes it out alive – Mark Wahlberg’s Sgt. Dignam
The very first Indiana Jones adventure has a reference to the other famous work of George Lucas and Harrison Ford – when Indy first discovers the Ark of the Covenant, R2 D2 and C3PO can be seen as hieroglyphs on the wall – a detail that even made it to a Lego set. This has many shared universe implications – after all, Star Wars was supposedly set a long time ago…
Buy Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the lost Ark on DVD here
Star Wars in E.T.
Released only a few years after Star Wars by George Lucas’ good friend Steven Spielberg, E.T. is full of references to a galaxy far, far away. The most obvious is a Yoda Halloween costume – which is also accompanied by a rendition of John William’s Yoda’s Theme – and like most boys in the 80s, Elliot’s bedroom is full of Star Wars toys.
George Lucas returned the favour several years later by inserting several of E.T.’s species during the Senate meeting halfway through The Phantom Menace. Take a closer look after Queen Amidala proposes a vote of no confidence – their cute cheering lightens up a politics-heavy scene.
Disney’s original animated films are known to reference each other from time to time, with the most obvious being Rapunzel and Eugene from Tangled actually appearing in Frozen – take a closer look at the guests heading to Elsa’s coronation. The fan theory about Tarzan being Anna and Elsa’s secret brother might be a bit of a stretch though…
Long before Stan Lee Alfred Hitchcock was the king of cameos, making an appearance in 39 of his 52 feature films. For example in his critically-acclaimed horror classic The Birds he can be seen leaving the pet shop with two small dogs – his actual dogs in real life.
In one of his few animated films, Johnny Depp’s chameleon character Rango hits the windscreen of a very familiar convertible – it appears to be the same car and passengers from Depp’s earlier, less child-friendly movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
While Scream satirised much of the horror genre, Wes Craven’s breakout hit still paid homage to the classics. One way was through a very familiar reporter outside the school – it is none other than Linda Blair, the girl from the Exorcist.
Appropriately for a film focused on finding a golden Easter egg, Ready Player One is stuffed with references to everything from The Shining to Back to the Future to The Iron Giant. The climax sees the characters play the Atari 2600 game Adventure, widely believed to hold the first videogame Easter egg.
Actual Easter Eggs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
In a surprisingly meta twist, actual chocolate eggs can be found throughout The Rocky Horror Picture Show as the cast and crew had an Easter egg hunt on set and couldn’t find them all. For once, Easter eggs of the literal sense!