Easter eggs are fickle little things. If they are too obvious for some viewers, they come off as trite and lazy. If they are too well hidden, they are pedantic or even worse, they are completely missed by the target audience. Finding the right balance can be difficult. But sometimes these little nods are hidden in plain sight, which is probably where they should remain: right in the peripheral of obvious. Close to the fans, but at arm’s length to the casual viewer. This makes them seem special to the audience members who love the characters fighting away up on the big screen beyond their theatrical iterations.
Movies have been littering the landscape with easter eggs for quite some time, (especially in genre films). Sometimes it’s as simple a company name that is featured in two seemingly unrelated films, helmed by the same director within the same genre (i.e. Blade Runner and Alien). But other times, these cinematic findings are used as nods to things that filmmakers couldn’t bring into the fold for one reason or another or clues hinting at what is to come from a long-standing series of films. In recent years, dropping easter eggs has become an artform. And the X-Men film franchise has mastered it.
15 HANK MCCOY IN X2: X-MEN UNITED
When the first X-Men film was announced in the late ‘90s there was a ton of speculation over what mutants would make up the first cinematic roster. Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey were all speculated to be shoo-ins, but outside of that it was anybody’s guess. One of the front runners, however, was Hank McCoy (aka Beast).
Sadly, everyone’s favorite blue fuzz-ball did not appear until the third entry in the X-Men film franchise, the much beleaguered X-Men: The Last Stand portrayed brilliantly by Kelsey Grammar. This did not keep Bryan Singer from sneaking Beast into the background of X2: X-Men United as a talking head in a televised news report. Most viewers with a keen eye caught Hank’s name on screen. The only real subtly was the fact that Hank wasn't a big furry fella.
14 THE "DEAD POOL" IN DEADPOOL
Filmmakers love sneaking in comic book creator names into their movies. Who could forget the boxing marquee in Daredevil which sported names like Romita, Miller, and Bendis, which, of course, are surnames of three very popular creators behind seminal story arcs of the Man Without Fear. Catching these little nods certainly validate your geek credibility, even on a superficial level.
The dead pool board hanging above the bar Wade Wilson frequents in the film Deadpool, is rife with tons of celebrity names including a little meta-nod to two of the stars of the film, Ryan Reynolds and TJ Miller. One name, however will be instantly recognized by comic fans: Deadpool co-creator and often maligned comic book artist, Rob Liefeld. It’s just too bad that the criminally underappreciated writer and co-creator the titular character, Fabian Nicieza didn’t make the cut.
13 A LITERAL WOLVERINE IN X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
This one is a one part Easter egg and one part heavy-handed foreshadowing. In the prologue of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, during which we spend a little time with young James Howlett and his family, the audiences gets a quick glimpse of a picture of an actual wolverine (you know, the small, carnivorous Canadian animal) hung up on the wall of their farmhouse. Blink, and you’ll miss it.
It’s a strange little bit of set dressing, one that is either extremely cleaver or exceedingly silly. Given the quality of the film surrounding this little tidbit, one would have to speculate that it’s the latter. But perhaps the Howletts just like wolverines. Maybe curating wolverine paraphernalia was the bee’s knees back in nineteenth century for affluent Canadians. Who knows?
12 A DEFEATED BLOB IN X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
Is Blob the lamest X-Men villain? Well no, that’d be Arcade, but Blob’s a close second. This might be why it took the X-Men film franchise nearly a decade before they brought Fred Duke to life in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Blob’s portrayal in the film was another rusty cog in a busted machine, which might be why Bryan Singer (the director of X2: X-Men United and Days of Future Past; you know, the best ones in the series) may have found it fun to have Angel kill him off screen in a caged fight match in X-Men Apocalypse.
We see Blob in his classic blue(?) and yellow costume, sprawled out on the mat after getting pummeled as if Singer was trying to right the wrongs of the previous films on more than a narrative and structural level. Dumb characters were not safe from the director’s wrath.
11 STRYKER'S NAUGHTY LIST IN X2: X-MEN UNITED
In X2: X-Men United, there is a scene in which the shape-shifting Mystique is sneaking through Stryker’s database of mutants, and boy-howdy, this guy has one heck of a little black book (so to speak). The names that scroll across the screen give massive amounts of hope for comic book fans.
We see names like Remy LeBeau, better known as the card throwing fan favorite Gambit, which is awesome. We also see the Maximoff twins, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver referenced (also cool). Dani Moonstar (aka Mirage), who will appear in the upcoming New Mutants film is listed, along with already established characters like Iceman, Storm and Sabretooth. Really the only name on the list doesn’t send chills down X-nerd’s spines is Fred Duke because…well, we’ve been over this.
10 MARROW IN DEADPOOL
A lot of X-Men are super weird and can be pretty tough to adapt to the big screen. Once such mutant is Marrow, a former Morlock who can control her own bone growth in order to create armor and weapons. While seeing a character with a power that’s basically a fantastical version of proteus syndrome might be unsettling on film, it’s pretty awesome in the comics.
For fans who grew up reading X-Men in the ‘90s, it was a treat to get a glimpse of her in Deadpool. Shortly after signing up for the film’s version of the Weapon X program, Wade Wilson is lead through a testing facility filled with mutants displaying their powers. Despite the fact we only see bones protruding from her back, one of these mutants is definitely Marrow. It was a moment that took ‘90s kids back to the Joe Madureira days of Uncanny X-Men.
9 AVALANCHE SHOUTOUT IN LOGAN
A cadre of young mutants were featured heavily in the final act of Logan. Each of them clones of already established characters. One such mutant was Julio Richter, better known as X-Force team member Rictor. While this, by itself, is somewhat of a cool nod to the character, seeing as how we do not see the version of him we’re familiar with, who Rictor is a clone of is an even deeper cut.
A file seen in the Alkali Transigen refers to Dominic Petros as Rictor’s genetic father. This name is one of the aliases of X-Men villain, Avalanche, a mutant who possess the ability to control seismic properties, a power that is very much like Rictor’s own. It’s a neat little callback to a character who hasn’t done much recently except be a literal puppet during Marvel Comic's “Fear Itself” event.
8 ESSEX CORP IN X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
If the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taught audiences anything, it’s that patience pays off. For the better part of a decade movie-goers have been trained to stay until after the final credits roll on most superhero films. Fox’s X-Men film franchise took a page out of this book, stinging their recent films with glimpses of what’s to come or cool little Easter eggs for diehard fans.
In the post credit scene of X-Men: Apocalypse, a group of shadowy government-types clean up the bloody mess left by a feral Weapon X at Alkali Lake. As these men gather incriminating evidence, we see they’re working for Essex Corp, as in Nathaniel Essex, better known as Mister Sinister. Hopefully this easter egg is a glimpse into things to come seeing as how Mister Sinister is probably the most popular X-Men villain who has not yet appeared in a film. Fingers crossed.
7 GEORGE BUZA IN X-MEN
X-Men: The Animated Series was a Saturday morning staple for kids growing up in the ‘90s. And while a lot of the dialogue, animation (especially in the latter seasons), and recycled material didn’t last the test of time regarding quality, so much of the series is iconic. Beside the awesome opening credits theme (which is probably playing in your head as you this), some of the more memorable aspects of X-Men: The Animated Series are the voices of our beloved mutant heroes.
When X-Men hit theaters in 2000, young audiences were fresh off the Saturday morning cartoon, which had ended three years earlier. Kids with a keen ear can catch one of the most familiar voices from the series in this first live action outing. George Buza who voiced Beast can be heard as a truck driver giving Rogue a lift in the film. Oh, my stars and garters, indeed.
6 JUBILEE IN X-MEN
From the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s, the X-Men universe hit a huge stride, becoming the best-selling comics on the newsstand, successful merchandising, and a hit animated television show, which led to the massive cast of mutants to finally pierce the veil for a wider audience. The franchise did this by incorporating a multi-cultural and young cast of new mutants in the comic series, some of whom are fan favorites to this day.
One such character is the spunky, Chinese-American teenage girl, Jubilation Lee (aka Jubilee). As a voice for a new generation of X-Men fans, Jubilee dominated both the pages of Uncanny X-Men and the stills of X-Men: The Animated Series, which makes her cameo appearance as a random student in X-Men (2000) shockingly diminutive. Luckily, we would see more of Jubilee in future films, but never in the forefront.
5 VINDICATOR & GUARDIAN IN X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
This one is a pretty deep cut: in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Logan finds himself naked and afraid, seeking shelter in a barn. He’s found by a kind elderly couple (portrayed by Max Cullen and Julia Blake) who own the barn and seem oddly okay harboring a naked man with dubious reasons for why he’s hiding out close go their residence (they’re Canadian, and their kind hospitality knows no bounds).
What makes this elderly folk interesting is their surname: Hudson. This is a direct reference to two members of the famous Canadian team of mutants, Alpha Flight. Vindicator and Guardian are married, sharing a surname. The only change is that Guardian is named James in the comic, while the old fellow is called Travis…that, and they are both much older than their comic counterparts. Also, they ain’t got powers. But other than that, they’re pretty much the same: protective, Canadian Hudsons.
4 TRASK INDUSTRIES REFERENCE IN THE WOLVERINE
Oh, Trasky Trasky Trasky, how you’ve been a bane to the very existence of mutants across the globe. It doesn’t matter if you’re Bill Duke or Peter Dinklage or Phil LaMarr or a guy who vaguely looks like Vincent Price, you’re are a constant scourge to all you are around, what with your disgusting prejudice and advanced sentinel weapon technology.
Look, there’s no moral reason to be excited over catching a reference to Bolivar Trask. Next to Cameron Hodge, he’s the most detestable X-Men villain in existence. But he does make for some excellent drama. Seeing Trask Industries air a commercial during the post-credit scene of The Wolverine might be the X-Men film franchise’s best attempt at laying down the groundwork for future films without being too heavy handed.
3 BEAST'S HAIR IN X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
This one is more of an inside joke/comic reference more so than an easter egg, but one could view it either way. When Dr. Hank McCoy, better known as Beast, visits to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in X-Men: The Last Stand, he is met with a warm greeting from Storm (who has since completely dropped her faux-Moroccan accent). As the two mutants embrace, Storm comments on how she loves what Beast has done with his hair.
This is a reference to the transition Hank McCoy underwent in Amazing Adventures. McCoy was working for the Brand Corporation as a genetic researcher when one of his experiments went awry, creating the iconic version of the character we all know. Since we saw a shot of Hank on TV in a X2: X-Men United, we can only assume that Storm was referring to the accident.
2 LEN WEIN & CHRIS CLAREMONT IN X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The greatest Easter egg to have popped up in the X-Men film franchise thus far has nothing to do with characters from other entries or random names popping up on a screen or a list somewhere in the frame. No, the most fascinating bit of pop culture accoutrement within these films is the appearance of not one, but two X-Men creators who revolution the franchise and introduced some of its greatest stories and characters.
During board meeting/government interrogation of Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past, two of the people at the table scrutinizing Bolivar’s Sentinel Program are no other than “Days of Future Past” writer and X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont and the late, great Len Wein, who co-created the X-Men Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and, most famously Wolverine. For kids who grew up reading the stories told by these men, it was great to see them on screen.
1 DAZZLER IN X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
Sometimes you must dig deep to find certain easter eggs. You have search beyond the theatrical release, promotional material, and behind the scenes featurettes, forcing inquiring fans to voyage into the forbidden realm of deleted scenes. It’s in what was left on the cutting room floor that can give certain insight regarding what the filmmakers originally had intended, and sometimes those intents are cool little winks and nods.
One such nod (or wink) came in the form of a deleted scene from X-Men: Apocalypse in which Jean Grey and Scott Summers are perusing records. During their exchange Scott holds up a copy of the disco record “Sounds of Light and Fury” but mutant pop diva, Dazzler, who was somewhat of the divisive character during the ‘90s and early aughts but has since been remembered fondly, which might be why she is slated to appear in the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Did you catch any of these when you saw the movies? Let us know in the comments section!