It may seem like forever ago, but it's only been eight years since Disney came to purchase Marvel Entertainment. At the time, it seemed like the news came out of nowhere and it rocked the entire pop-culture world, with everyone and anyone wondering what this would mean for both companies moving forward. As it turns out, not much would change except for a farther reach, with Marvel Studios working independently as its own movie production studio, releasing their own film away from the Disney banner. However, both companies have proven that there is a very real corporate synergy between its two divisions.
It's not just that you can now find Spider-Man and Captain America products at your local Disney store. It's also a true recognition that Marvel is now part of the House of Mouse. Things got taken even further when Disney later bought Lucasfilm. With the rights to both Marvel and Star Wars, mother company Disney became unstoppable, and Marvel never hesitated to show its appreciation in its movies. Today, CBR scours through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Iron Man to Spider-Man: Homecoming and everything in-between, to find 15 Disney Easter eggs and references you might have missed.
Disney's Big Hero 6 proved to be a very popular film, introducing a new brand of heroes like Go Go Tomago, Honey Lemon, Hiro Hamada and of course, everyone's favorite new inflatable care-giving robot, Baymax. In the movie, you might remember a scene that shows us that a programming, artificial intelligence chip marked “Tadashi” -- after Hiro's brother -- is what makes Baymax, well, Baymax.
The movie was released in late 2014 and Marvel's next big movie at the time, Avengers: Age of Ultron, just so happened to feature a particular Easter egg of Big Hero 6: Baymax's programming chip. In fact, after implanting JARVIS into the Vision, Tony Stark was left without an A.I. for his armor. So, sifting through his collection, he chose his next program, FRIDAY. However, two other program names can be seen, one of which is labeled "Tadashi."
To conclude its second phase of movies, Marvel gave us Ant-Man, a character whose power set very much set him apart from the rest of the Avengers pack. Able to shrink down to the size of an ant, Scott Lang was able to pull off the most daring heists. But he wouldn't have to do it alone, because he also had his trusty team of sidekicks to help him along, a team which included standout character Luis.
As Luis worked undercover as a guard inside the Cross Technologies building, he tried to play off his casual presence while whistling the famous Disney song "It's A Small World," as featured in the Fantasyland water ride in many Disney parks. That particular Easter egg was both a reference to Disney and Marvel now being under the same umbrella, as well as a nod Ant-Man's very small stature.
After its very successful first phase of movies, Marvel launched Phase 2, which started with Iron Man 3 and ended with Ant-Man. As a sequel phase, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige wanted to homage one scene of a very special sequel: The Empire Strikes Back – where Luke Skywalker loses his hand. To that end, every Phase 2 movie would feature a scene where a character loses an arm.
Aldrich Killian had his arm cut off by Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. Ulysses Klaue lost his arm thanks to Ultron. Nebula tore her own arm off in Guardians of the Galaxy. Bucky Barnes showed that he had lost an arm in a flashback in The Winter Solider. Both Thor and Malekith lost their hands briefly in Thor: The Dark World, and so on and so forth, the homage even reaching the first season of Daredevil and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s second season.
After Tony Stark and Bruce Banner used the knowledge locked inside the Mind Stone to try and create an artificial intelligence that could save the world, they inadvertently, and catastrophically, created Ultron. But Ultron, although made from broken spare parts of Stark's Iron Legion robots, is quite different than these other armor. He doesn't play by their rules. He's free.
After he makes his first assault on the Avengers, Ultron leaves their party to instantly transfer himself inside Strucker's base where he can take control of many new bodies. As he does so, he sings Pinocchio's "I've Got No Strings," effectively telling the audience that he has become a very real menace. Not only does Ultron sing the song, we also hear the original for a very brief instant before the scene ends.
Once Marvel became one of the leading brands that Disney owned, the studio started making more and more appearances at Disney's very big and famous cinematic expo, D23, a convention for everything Disney, from princesses to galactic warfare and superheroes. Through the years, Marvel has had an increasingly bigger presence at D23, helping it become an event all its own with movie panels and trailer reveals.
In Captain America: Civil War, much of the first half of the movie is focused on the hunt for Bucky Barnes. But once he is caught, Bucky is brought in and held prisoner in a specially designed cage, one marked with a very particular number: Deck 23. It's not the most obvious Easter egg to find, but one that continues to speak to the relationship between Marvel and Disney.
The airport battle between Iron Man and Captain America's respective Avengers teams was a sight to behold, a thrilling sequence featuring so many of our favorite characters battling each other. While the stakes were high, with neither team looking to take the other out permanently, the battle had an air of fun to it in some instances – mostly thanks to characters like Ant-Man and Spider-Man.
Scott Lang turned into a very big distraction when he grew to become Giant-Man, and he proved to be a massive opponent to take down. As it turns out, the answer to his defeat came from Spider-Man, referencing a scene from a “really old movie” called The Empire Strikes Back, and the “walking thingies.” Taking a cue from the planet Hoth battle, Iron Man's team was finally able to bring down Giant-Man.
This is a case where it's less an Easter egg and more of an exact reference. When their ship is destroyed, Peter Quill and his would-be father Yondu are both briefly thought dead. However, it is quickly revealed that both managed to make it out in time, Star-Lord by flying his jetpack, and Yondu thanks to his trusty yaka arrow, which he holds up to float down.
The imagery not lost on him, Quill is quick to point out that the hardened space-pirate looks like Mary Poppins, Disney's umbrella-flying magical nanny. To the hilarious delight of viewers everywhere, Yondu then boasted, for all to hear, that he, thinking “him” cool, was Mary Poppins. We later came to learn that director James Gunn in fact wrote this reference early on in his script, and we are all the more thankful for it.
In the pilot episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we were introduced to a new team of agents like Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons and Melinda May, all led by a back-from-the-dead Phil Coulson. Taking place not long after the events of The Avengers, we now saw S.H.I.E.L.D. track down alien weaponry and technologies as well as super-powered humans.
To help on their missions, these agents would have the most cutting edge gadgets, coming in all shapes and sizes. Key among them were small spy drones specially designed by Agent Fitz himself, drones that he affectionately referred to as D.W.A.R.F.s -- Drones Wirelessly Automated to Retrieve Forensics. The reference not lost on him, Fitz would send them off to work with a familiar chant: “heigh-ho, off to work we go.”
On the Netflix series Jessica Jones, viewers were introduced to Kilgrave, the Purple Man, a terrifying villain who had the ability to control people's minds with his words. Obsessed with Jessica, Kilgrave haunted her at every step in a cat-and-mouse game that saw them come face-to-face on multiple occasions. While the villain couldn't control Jessica anymore, he had no trouble with everyone else around her.
It's a power that could easily be compared to the famous Jedi mind trick, as introduced by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars. In fact, in the season one episode “AKA WWJD?,” Kilgrave borrows from the old Jedi's bag of tricks, telling police officers that he and Jessica can go about their business and move along -- a reference that isn't lost on Jessica, who didn't hesitate to point it out.
In order to rekindle hope for the world's future in the way of technology, Tony Stark brought back one of his father's company's biggest events in the form of the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2. The Expo was central to the story of the film, both as a location and as a way to illustrate the relationship Tony had with his father Howard. It just so happens that this Expo looked quite familiar to Disney fans.
It wasn't just that the Expo itself looked quite familiar to the Epcot theme park in Walt Disney World, it was also that the recordings that Howard Stark had made, the videos that Tony played for the audience and watched himself, were quite reminiscent of old videos of Walt Disney, the man, himself. Some viewers would even go on to point out that Howard even looked like Walt.
The first season of ABC's Agent Carter series followed the adventures of Peggy Carter after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. In this first season, viewers were also introduced to a character who would become a fan-favorite all her own, Dottie Underwoord. Although charming and unassuming at first, Dottie was later revealed to be a Russian spy agent. And not just any agent – a Black Widow.
The fifth episode of the series, "The Iron Ceiling," showed us a little of Dottie's formative years, when she was a child training in the Red Room to become a lethal assassin. In one of those flashbacks, we are shown a scene where the Russian children watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as part of their training to learn English and develop a flawless American accent.
As if Peter Parker hadn't proven himself a Star Wars fan enough already in Civil War, he would remind us once again in his very own solo movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming. In fact, with the help of his friend Ned, the two besties are building a Lego Death Star set. Ned even goes so far as using the Emperor figure to convince Peter to help him finish the construction of the Lego set.
Once completed, we finally got to see the Lego Death Star in all its glory, only to have it – and our hopes and dreams – smashed to pieces when, upon discovering that his best friend was in fact Spider-Man, Ned dropped the 4016 pieces set to the ground. It's actually something that, we came to learn, the actor had to do not once, but seven times.
ABC's Marvel series wouldn't stop its Disney references with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In fact, in the third episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “The Asset,” we were introduced to a very special driver who worked for the spy agency -- a trucker, who went by the name of Agent Mack. Tasked with driving Franklin Hall, the man who would later become Graviton, Mack's truck came under attack.
While this might not be the most obvious Easter egg, it still very much refers to another Disney property. As “Mack The Trucker,” the character is actually a reference to Disney and Pixar's amazing, anthropomorphic Cars movie, in which main character and famous car racer Lightning McQueen is chauffeured from race to race thanks to his trusty friend and transport truck driver, Mack.
One of the more famous lines to come out of The Avengers was Steve Rogers' “I understood that reference” when, for once, the time-displaced soldier was actually privy to the joke Nick Fury had made when Thor wasn't. The reference came in the form of flying monkeys, when Fury wondered how Loki was able to turn both Clint Barton and Erik Selvig into his very own lackeys.
If, unlike Steve Rogers, you are unfamiliar with the reference, it is actually a callback to The Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch's army of flying monkeys. Now sure, the 1939 film was released under the care of MGM studios, but in 1985 Disney would release Return To Oz and, in 2013, Oz The Great and Powerful, making the franchise a part of Disney.
After being woken up 70 years into the future, Steve Rogers had to adapt to a new world, and catch up with what he had missed. In order to do that, in The Winter Solider, we saw that he kept with him a very handy list of things he needed to watch, listen to or otherwise be aware of, a list he would keep up to date thanks to his friends and their suggestions.
Obviously, there was a very important movie trilogy on his list: Star Wars. It would make sense for anyone in the present to be told to watch Star Wars, a phenomenon of a saga that is loved the world over, even 40 years later. The fact that it's crossed off of Steve's list could be a small nod to the fact that both Marvel, Star Wars and Disney are now all part of the same whole.
Did you spot any other Disney references in the MCU? Let us know in the comments!