In just about every movie, small details gloss over the casual viewer: a poster in the fore-ground, an image in the background, a famous extra. But for the repeat viewer, these details become more and more apparent.
The so-called Easter eggs are prevalent in just about every movie and television show. But why do filmmakers put them in? Are they to foreshadow future sequels? Or are they to keep cult fans entertained? Or maybe – just maybe – directors and producers were just downright bored!
Regardless, filmmakers add their own hidden gems to movies, hoping their viewers and fans will notice. Fans take their findings to online forums and speculate on the filmmaker’s intentions. But what do these Easter eggs mean? Are they foreshadowing the next movie to come? Or are they completely accidental? This list takes a look at ten movie Easter eggs that may not be apparent to the viewer – but has a major impact on the movie, and possibly the sequels to come.
#10 – Aladdin
It’s hard to talk about anything Disney without talking about hidden Mickeys – animators and imagineers have been hiding the three circles that make up Mickey’s ears since the start of the company, and this 1992 Disney animated classic is no exception. The infamous Mickey ears make a few sneaky appearances in Disney’s animated movie, including a showing during the colorful transformation of the main characters at the end of the movie. When the genies’ spell, voiced by the late Robin Williams, is broken by Aladdin, and you hit the pause button at just the right time (it takes a bit of practice), you can catch some Mickey-esque ears on Rajah the tiger. Keep your eyes open for it, and try not to laugh at the irony of a mouse appearing on the head of an animated tiger.
#9 – Anchorman
The film is not known for its nuanced comedy –rather an in-your-face parody of the early (and still relevant) cable news dog fight for prime time Nielsen Ratings. But there are a few jokes that lie below the fairly black and white comedic plot of this film. Right before San Diego’s favorite anchor, Mr. Ron Burgundy, gets the boot for a vulgar sign off from the nightly news, Veronica Cornigston can be seen eating at a Mexican restaurant named “Escupimos en si Alimento,” which translates to “we spit in your food.” It could be worse – Mr. Burgandy finds himself eating cat poop at a bar that was once his stomping ground – and drinking milk on the streets of San Diego on a hot summer’s day. Spit in a burrito doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.
#8 – Godzilla (1998)
A radioactive – and enormous – lizard is making a path of destruction throughout Manhattan, New York. He leads our protagonist – Dr. Niko Tatopoulos – on a chase through the city in a taxi cab. Dr. Tatopoulos, played by Matthew Broderick, tossed the taxi cab drivers ID plate out the window to signal the attention of a nearby military soldier trying to stave off the attack. If you take a close look at the name, you’ll see ‘Armin Tamzaria’, and any Simpson fan will know that’s the real name of Principal Skinner in the animated series. Well, Skinner is voiced by Harry Shearer (among many other Simpsons characters), who plays a reporter in ‘Godzilla (1998)’. Simpson’s references run even more rampant than reptilian destruction, as Shearer’s character’s secretary is played by Nancy Cartright, who voices Bart in the television animated series.
#7 – Tron (1982)
In a movie that takes place inside a computer, expect nothing less than some geeky humor. When Sark, played by David Warner, is checking out the schematics of his battle cruiser, you can see yellow dots lining the right side of the screen, along with Pac Man gobbling up the points. It should be noted that Kevin Flyhnn, Tron’s programmer, played by Jeff Bridges, is a huge video game buff. It only helps the story to see some classic video game reference peppered into the movie. Warner, who played stark, went on to play other Hollywood villains, including Spicer Lovejoy – the Jack-hating antagonist in Titanic. Even scarier, Warner was the original choice for Nightmare On Elmstreet’s Freddie Krueger. Some may argue he played a creepier henchman on the RMS Titanic than on Elmstreet, but the jury is still out.
#6 – Iron Man (2008)
It is hard to deny that the Marvel universes are interconnected, but this Easter egg in Iran Man may have gone over the heads of a lot of comic book fans. Shortly after Tony Stark’s run in with the F-22s (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) if you look carefully, you can see what appears to be an early prototype of Captain America’s shield on Stark’s workbench. Stark is an inventor and tinkerer, so it’s no surprise he would be working on Captain America’s shield. It’s also no surprise when you think about a future move, The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon. Captain America and Iron Man, along with Bruce Banner and Thor join forces to battle evil together on the silver screen. Still, four years before that movie is some pretty ominous foreshadowing….
#5 – Iron Man 2
We just talked about how interconnected the Marvel comic universe is, but writers really took that to heart in the second installment of the Iron Man franchise. After the credits roll in the second Iron Man movie Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) and Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) are standing in front of a map, and clearly visible in the background is several locations highlighted. Each location is another universe hero’s origin: New Mexico (landing point of Mjolnir’s hammer), New York (The Hulk), Antarctica (where a frozen Captain America is discovered), and Southwest Africa (Black Panther’s home). In just a few seconds, movie-makers simultaneously excited Marvel fans across the globe and lined up their next decade of theatrical releases. Still, fans were upset that Japan wasn’t highlighted – no Wolverine storyline in the next few movies, folks…
#4 – Back To the Future
Even Huey Luis wouldn’t have picked up on this subtle Easter egg. In the original Back to the Future, Marty crashes into the 1950’s – and takes out a family farmhouse. The farmer refers to his son as Sherman – but when the camera pans out the viewer can see the mailbox in the scene reads ‘Peabodoy.’ Sherman and Peabody were a cartoon that time traveled – a staple of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. The duo went on to star in their own Pixar movie “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” with Modern Family’s Ty Burrell and The Amazing Spider Man’s Max Charles voicing the time traveling pair. I don’t think even Doc Brown could predicted the pair met in the 50’s would go on to be animated time travelers. Or did he know all along?
#3 – Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford is one kick-ass archeologist, but even someone that good misses an amazing archeological find like this: In the 1981 film, Indi finds himself in the wall of the souls. If the viewers look just to his right, you’ll see in hieroglyphics the makings of Star Wars’ R2-D2 and C-3PO.
Ford played Han Solo, a cynical smuggler that piloted the Millennium Falcon in the Star Wars movies. It’s no secret that Steven Spielberg, director of the Indian Jones film franchised, and George Lucas, the mind behind the Star Wars movies, are good friends. It’s also not a surprise Spielberg would leave an ode to his buddy in the Indian Jones films. The bigger question is what Easter egg relating to Indian Jones will be left in the soon to come Star Wars sequel?
#2 – Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Never mind the Will Ferrell, Jason Lee, Judd Nelson, George Carlin, Sean William Scott or Carrie Fisher cameos. This Kevin Smith movie is peppered with celeb cameos. But at the end of the film, Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly (played by Ferrell) is escorting Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) out of the cinema, and a poster resembling the ‘Clerks’ theatrical poster can be seen. The poster actually says ‘Busing’ and chronicles the life of restaurant bus-boys and their day to day life. The premise of the film was actually scripted out by ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’ writer and director Kevin Smith, and resembled the mundane premise of ‘Clerks’ – the black and white film that brought Smith to fame. However, the bus boy counterpart was scrapped when Smith couldn’t find any studio interested in the project.
#1 – Catch Me If You Can
Inspired by a true story, Frank Abagnale was a charming con man who made his fortunes as an imposter and check forger. He was best known as impersonating an airline pilot, physician and layer. In the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ Abagnale is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and perused on screen by FBI Agent Joe Shea, played by Tom Hanks.
Abagnale was eventually caught in France by French police. The real-life Frank Abagnale plays a French police-man in the movie. The real life Frank Abagnale helps Leonardo DiCaprio into a cop car during the climax of the movie. The real-life Abagnale is now a security consultant with the FBI. In interviews after the theatrical release, he applauds ‘Catch Me If You Can’ filmmaker Stephen Spielberg for the way he told Frank Apagnale’s story.