Marvel's newest film, Thor: Ragnarok (directed by Taika Waititi and written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost), is filled to the brim with references to Marvel Comics and, as it builds upon the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is also filled with references to other Marvel films. One of the major plots in the film is an adaptation of the famous Hulk storyline, "Planet Hulk." However, while plenty of references in the film are plain as day, there are others that are a bit more obscure.
Here, we will deliver a collection of 15 of the most interesting Easter Eggs within Thor: Ragnarok, from clever references to events (and notable character cameos) in comic book history, to in-jokes from other Marvel movies to some particularly obscure references put in the film just for Taika Waititi fans and other residents of Australia and New Zealand.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok, in theaters now.
15 A FAMILY OF ACTORS
One of the biggest standout scenes in the film is the play that "Odin" (secretly Loki in disguise) is putting on for the people of Asgard while Thor was away on a mission. The play is all about Loki's heroism as the real Loki (disguised as Odin) is trying to do some propaganda to make the Asgardians love him. The big takeaway from the scene is that they got one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Matt Damon, to play Loki in the play.
Veteran New Zealand actor, Sam Neill, plays Odin in the play (Neil was one of the stars of Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople) but the cleverest casting was Thor in the play, played by Luke Hemsworth, oldest brother of Thor star, Chris Hemsworth (in the photo, Luke is in the middle, between his two actor brothers, Chris and Liam).
14 FROG OF THUNDER
In Loki's play, there is a reference to Thor being turned into a frog by Loki. Naturally, this actually did happen in the comic books. In Thor #364 (during Walter Simonson's famed Thor run), Loki cast a spell to turn Thor into a frog while having a fake Thor on Asgard getting into mischief. Thor, though, quickly adapted to his frog body.
He managed to travel to where his hammer was and then, once he touched the hammer, he was transformed into Thor, Frog of Thunder! Later on, a new character took over the mantle of "Throg." Simon Walterson (a clever nod to Simonson) had been turned into a frog by a witch and he later got a sliver of Thor's hammer and it created his own mini-hammer as he fights crime alongside the other Pet Avengers (like Lockjaw of the Inhumans and Falcon's bird, Redwing).
13 CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS
As noted earlier, a good chunk of the film is adapted from the notable Hulk storyline, "Planet Hulk," where Hulk crashed on the planet Sakaar (just like in the film) and was forced to become a gladiator in the planet's epic gladiator competitions. However, in this film, rather than the evil Red King being in charge of the planet, it is the Grandmaster.
Naturally, then, the Grandmaster calls his gladiator combats the "contest of champions," a reference to a 1982 Marvel miniseries where Grandmaster and Death herself compete against each other with superheroes from around the world being their pawns (more recently, Grandmaster and his Elder brother, Collector, revived the Contest of Champions, now using alternate reality versions of characters and characters from different timelines to fight against each other for sport).
12 SOME MAJOR PAST CHAMPIONS
Possibly the coolest Easter Egg in the film (Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, noted that this is his favorite Easter Egg in the movie) is the shot of the outside of the gladiator arena on Sakaar. On the outside, there are giant busts of characters. These are past champions of the Contest of Champions from over the years, suggesting that the Grandmaster has been doing this for ages.
The characters represented are Beta Ray Bill (an alien worthy enough to wield Thor's hammer), the Greek god Ares, the Man-Thing and the bizarre old Hulk villain with two heads, the Bi-Beast. Ares, notably, was one of the participants in the most recent Contest of Champions series, making it a double Easter Egg, in a way.
11 "THE ASTONISHINGLY SAVAGE HULK!"
When Hulk is introduced during the big moment where Thor realizes that the Grandmaster's vaunted "champion" is actually his old Avengers teammate, he is given the lead-up description, "The Astonishingly savage...." This is a double reference to the Hulk's comic book past. After first having a short-lived ongoing series in 1962 that only lasted six issues, the Hulk saw his comic book comeback occur in the pages of Tales to Astonish.
There, he soon began to share the title with Giant-Man. Eventually, when Marvel dropped its dual anthology titles, Tales to Astonish became the second volume of Incredible Hulk. As for the savage part, Hulk has gone savage many times over the years, but he specifically had a comic book by that name in 2014, telling old stories set in the regular Marvel continuity.
10 TONY STARK IS MEAN
There were a number of callbacks in the film to the events of the Avengers film, with the most prominent ones being the Quinjet that Hulk was flying in at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, complete with a video message to the Hulk from the Black Widow (in addition, Thor makes the same "He's adopted" line about Loki that he made in The Avengers).
However, the funniest one was a callback to an exchange between Thor and Tony Stark in the original Avengers. Stark mocked Thor by calling him "Point Break," in reference to Patrick Swayze's long locks in that film. In this film, when Thor has to access the Quinjet, he tries a number of logical passwords until he has to give in and say "Point Break," and sure enough, that's the password that Stark used for him.
9 THE ORIGIN OF SCRAPPER 142'S NAME
In this film, Valkyrie had abandoned her Valkyrie name when she went to work for Grandmaster as a bounty hunter. She took on the name Scrapper 142. The 142 is a somewhat obscure reference to the complicated history of Valkyrie as a comic book character. The character of Valkyrie technically debuted in Avengers #83 (by Roy Thomas and John Buscema), as part of a team of female warriors. That Valkyrie, though, turned out to be a fake created by the Enchantress.
Thomas then fully introduced Valkyrie in Incredible Hulk #142 (art by Sal Buscema), when she merged with a human host, Samantha Parrington. That Valkyrie, though, was then revamped by Steve Englehart in Defenders by merging her with a different human, Barbara Norriss, and it is that Defenders version that became the best-known version of the character.
8 THAT OTHER VALKYRIE
Speaking of that other Valkyrie, obviously the version that Tessa Thompson plays in the film is different from the original Marvel version of the Valkyrie, as the Marvel version intentionally evoked the mythological version of the character, which is very much a Norse vision of what a woman would look like, complete with the name Brunhilde (Brunnhilde also was a major part of Richard Wagner's famous operatic "Ring" cycle).
However, Marvel has established that there are other, more diverse, Valkyries, so Thompson's character fits into the general history of Marvel's depiction of Valkyries. On top of that, the film also included a brief cameo of the more traditional Marvel version of Valkyrie, as one of the Valkyries killed by Hela in a flashback sequence to show why Valkyrie has turned her back on her Asgardian past.
7 TALK ABOUT A TOOTHACHE
While she is not the traditional version of Valkyrie, the version of Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok does pay tribute to the original version in another notable way. When she finally decides to re-embrace her heritage for the final battle against Hela, Valkyrie is wielding her famous sword, Dragonfang.
Dragonfang is just what it sounds like, it is a sword that is made out of the tooth of a dragon. The interesting thing about this sword (well, besides that it is the tooth of a freaking dragon!) is that it is not an Asgardian weapon. Instead, it was a weapon in the treasure trove of Doctor Strange, who made a notable appearance in Thor: Ragnarok. Strange was on the Defenders with Valkyrie in the comics and it was in that title that he gave her sword.
6 "HER NAME IS RIO"
After finally turning back into Bruce Banner after living as Hulk for two years, Banner needs some clothes. Thor helps him out by supplying him with some of Tony Stark's old clothes that were in the Quinjet. The clothes are obviously not Banner's style, which leads to a lot of humorous sequences in the film. In any event, the T-Shirt that Banner is wearing has the cover art of the 1982 Duran Duran album, Rio, on it.
The most famous track off of the album? "Hungry like the Wolf," a direct reference to the fact that Hulk later fights the Fenris Wolf in the film (you can tell that the album was an intentional choice because in early photos of Banner in T-Shirt, the shirt is blank, meaning that they either added the cover art in post-production or removed it for the photos).
5 A TOTALLY AWESOME REFERENCE
The Hulk taking control of the Banner/Hulk relationship for so long was naturally something that Banner struggled with, as he was essentially trapped in his own body and unable to affect anything. In the film, the specific description that Banner uses is that it is like he is trapped in the trunk of a car that someone else is driving.
That's the precise analogy that writer Greg Pak (who was also the writer on the "Planet Hulk" storyline) used in the pages of Totally Awesome Hulk, where Amadeus Cho spoke about the nature of how he was controlling his Hulk personality differently than Banner did. O course, just like Banner, Cho soon saw that the situation could sometimes be the reverse, where Cho was not the guy driving the car.
4 PAGING DOCTOR DONALD BLAKE
In the earliest days of the Thor character (back when he was just a feature in Journey Into Mystery), the character was a lot different. Rather than simply being Thor completely, he was two characters, a normal human doctor named Donald Blake and, of course, Thor, god of Thunder. Donald Blake simply came across an old walking stick while on vacation and when he tapped it on the ground, it turned into Mjolnir and transformed him into Thor!
He would continue to use the walking stick for many years, tapping it on the ground to transform whenever necessary. In Thor: Ragnarok, a disguised Thor disguises Mjolnir like an umbrella in precisely the same way that the walking stick was always used (including tapping the umbrella on the ground to kick in to transform back into his main Thor look).
3 THEY ARE NOT IN THE SHADOWS ANY MORE
Thor's gladiator friend in the film, Korg, is played by the director of the film, Taika Waititi. Korg, by the way, was among the aliens who fought Thor in his first comic book appearance in Journey Into Mystery #83 while also being one of Hulk's fellow gladiators in "Planet Hulk," so that is a fun way to tie both character's comic book history together. Korg makes a reference to one "giant fork" that is useless unless you're staking "three vampires huddled next to each other."
That, of course, is a reference to Taika Waititi's cult classic film, What We Do in the Shadows, where Waititi starred alongside fellow New Zealand actor, Jermaine Clement, as part of a group of vampires who share an apartment together (Clement co-wrote and co-directed the movie with Waititi).
2 WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Taika Waititi made sure to include as many references to his native New Zealand as he could, while also paying tribute to the neighboring Australia, which is where much of the film was shot. One of the most notable examples was by paying tribute to Holden, a now-shut down Australian car company (it was part of General Motors and they shut the branch down recently).
All of the spaceships in the film were named after cars produced by Holden, namely Statesman, Commodore (the ship shown in the featured image), Kingswood and Torana. In addition, Waititi paid tribute to both the Aborigines of Australia as well as the Maori of New Zealand by noting that the Commodore was "painted with the Aboriginal flag colours. No one else knows that but us.' And Valkyrie's spaceship has the colours of the Tino Rangatiratanga [Maori] flag.”
1 A TRUE GOD-KILLER
The film did a really great job translating Jack Kirby's original vision of Hela to the screen, including her iconic headdress. However, they made a couple of changes to the character. One was the revelation that she was Odin's daughter (this seems like it was adapting the Marvel storyline involving Angela, who was also revealed to be Odin's daughter recently) and the other was the sword that she wields in the film.
The sword in the comics is the "All-Black the Necrosword," an ancient weapon carved out of primordial darkness, which is used by Gorr, the God-Butcher, an alien who tried to destroy all gods because he believes that the universe is better off without them. Recently, Thor became unworthy of wielding his own hammer because he learned that Gorr was actually correct!
We're sure that we missed some, so let us know in the comments section what your favorite Easter Eggs were within the film!