Avengers: Endgame is a Russian nesting doll of Easter eggs. The grand conclusion to the first epic saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a towering monument to the franchise’s own history, as the heroes who survived the events of Infinity War literally have to revisit the series’s past in order to save the day. With so many winks and references, it can be a little tricky to spot all the Easter eggs, or tell which references are concealed little callbacks to the comics and which are just elemental aspects of the film’s core plot. An Easter egg isn’t really an Easter egg unless it’s hidden, after all.
So, here are all of the comic book references, Marvel callbacks, and Easter eggs (plus a few pop culture nods we couldn’t resist) that you might have missed amid all of the spectacle of Endgame.
Warning: This post contains huge spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
The Core Plot
While not necessarily an Easter egg, the general premise of Avengers: Endgame should be hugely familiar to any comic book reader. As with Infinity War before it, Endgame is loosely based on the 1991 comic series Infinity Gauntlet, which saw Thanos collect the Infinity Stones (Infinity Gems in the comics) and destroy half of all life, with the Avengers fighting to stop him, and then undo the damage.
Endgame deviates pretty wildly from Infinity Gauntlet. In Gauntlet, the victims of Thanos’s snap are missing for about a day, while Endgame might as well be HBO’s The Leftovers given its dire five-year time jump. What Endgame does bring to the table are time travel and alternate universes, both core tropes of big comic events. This is the first time the MCU has dabbled in either, but several Marvel comics involve traveling back in time and/or going to alternate dimensions, including Age of Ultron, Secret Wars, Days of Future Past, and House of M, to name a few.
Notably, the parallel universes the Avengers visit when they create new timelines appear to be identical to the main MCU, rather than being slightly different. Traditionally, playing off those differences and alternate versions of familiar characters is where Marvel has gotten a lot of storytelling mileage — look to Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for a big-screen example. For now, the MCU seems to be trying to keep time travel and parallel worlds fairly self-contained, though if Phase 4 wants to get weird, Endgame has laid out the groundwork for a multiverse.
Hawkeye’s House Arrest
Endgame begins with Hawkeye — who was absent from Avengers: Infinity War — spending some quality time with his family right before the snap turns them all into dust. If you look closely, you can see that Clint Barton is wearing an ankle monitor, just like Scott Lang had to wear as part of his deal in Ant-Man and the Wasp after he, Hawkeye, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch violated the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War. Given that Scott’s house arrest had him confined to a little San Francisco apartment, and Clint apparently had acres of farmland, he got the better end of the deal. On the other hand, Scott’s house arrest had ended by the time the snap happened, so Clint must have had a longer sentence.
After his daughter nails a bull’s-eye (and before she’s destined to dust), Clint says “good job, Hawkeye.” In the comics, there is another Hawkeye — a young woman named Kate Bishop. The Disney+ Hawkeye series will reportedly introduce Kate to the MCU, rather than give Clint’s daughter the mantle, but it’s still a nice little nod.
The Marvel Studios Logo
Clint’s family the dust settles, the familiar Marvel Studios logo flashes onscreen. However, only the characters who didn’t die from Thanos’s snap appear in the logo. It’s not the first time Marvel has played around with the logo; Captain Marvel’s sequence features all the Stan Lee cameos, in honor of the recently departed comics legend.
Blue Meanie Back There
While stranded in space with Nebula, Tony Stark refers to his cyborg companion as “the Blue Meanie back there,” a reference to the villains of the Beatles’ animated film Yellow Submarine. This is not the only reference Endgame makes to the trippy music culture of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Upon arriving back on Earth, Tony cracks that he legitimately thought Rocket Raccoon was a Build-a-Bear stuffed animal. In the real world, Marvel made a deal with Build-a-Bear, and at one point you could actually get a Rocket stuffed animal from the store.
Don’t bother searching through your longboxes. The name of the planet that Thanos retreats to does not appear to have any significance in Marvel comics.
Aim for the Head
This callback is as hard to miss as Thanos’s thick neck when he’s being restrained. In Infinity War, Thor throws his hammer-ax at Thanos’s chest just as the dust-happy villain obtains the last Infinity Stone. “You should’ve aimed for the head,” he tells Thor, before snapping his fingers and ending half of humanity as we know it. In Endgame, a deeply regretful Thor makes sure to decapitate the Mad Titan, though it doesn’t make him feel much better.
Director Joe Russo Makes a Cameo
After a five-year time jump, Steve Rogers is moonlighting as a grief counselor, helping people deal with life in the wake of the snap. (It’s worth noting that this is what Sam Wilson, the Falcon, was doing when we met him in The Winter Soldier). Among the people Steve is counseling is Joe Russo, one of the directors of Endgame, who also directed Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Infinity War along with his brother. In the scene, Russo’s character discusses going on his first romantic outing since the snap, nothing that his date started crying by the time his salad arrived. After 22 movies, this would seem to imply that Russo’s character is the MCU’s first canonically openly gay character in the entire franchise.
Jim Starlin Makes a Cameo
There’s another familiar face in the therapy group: comics legend Jim Starlin. Starlin created Thanos and the Infinity Stones when he wrote the Infinity Gauntlet event series, though his relationship with Marvel has been strained in recent years, as Vulture reported. Apparently things are cool enough that he was down for a cameo.
An Underwater Earthquake
It’s hard to say if this is legitimately an Easter egg or just wishful thinking, but when Okoye mentions an “underwater earthquake,” some Marvel fans wondered if this nod to aquatic chaos is an attempt to introduce one of Marvel’s oldest heroes, Namor the Sub-Mariner. Namor, who first appeared in comics in 1939 and was later retconned to be the world’s first mutant, has had conflicts with Wakanda in the Marvel universe. However, despite Disney’s purchase of Fox, Namor’s film rights are still somewhat up in the air, as Universal Pictures has owned the rights to his story since 2001. It’s unlikely that a Namor movie is coming soon, barring any unexpected deals, so this possible, vague allusion might be all fans get for a while.
Rocket’s New Uniform
After the five-year time jump, Rocket sports a new costume with a jaunty red scarf that’s similar to his outfit from the recent Guardians of the Galaxy comics.
Scott’s X-Con Van Is in Vault 616
In Endgame’s year 2023, we learn that the van containing the entrance to the Quantum Realm — and by extension, Scott Lang — has been locked in storage for five years. Specifically, it was kept in vault 616, a reference to the “prime” Marvel continuity from the comics, Earth-616. The number has shown up before in Marvel movies: In Thor: The Dark World, Erik Selvig scrawls the words “616 universe” on his blackboard at the psychiatric hospital. And in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we see a visualization of Earth-616 among a series of other Earths. (We know that Peter B. Parker ends up on Earth-1610 after the interdimensional machine malfunctions.)
Two Community Actors Make Cameos
Ken Jeong plays the (rightfully) suspicious security guard at the storage unit Scott finds himself in. Later on in the film, Yvette Nicole Brown plays a (rightfully) suspicious employee at the military base who notices something off about Tony and Steve. Both Jeong and Brown were stars of the sitcom Community, of which Joe and Anthony Russo directed several episodes. It’s not the first time a Community alum has made an appearance in a Russo-directed Marvel movie; Danny Pudi cameoed in Winter Soldier and Jim Rash appeared in Civil War.
When Scott reemerges five years after the 2018 snap, he reunites with his aged-up daughter, Cassie. Abby Ryder Fortson played the character in Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp, but 17-year-old Emma Fuhrmann took over in Endgame. In the comics, Cassie becomes a shrinking and growing superhero known as Stinger (or Stature). Should the MCU ever introduce a version of Young Avengers, the now older Cassie could be a player.
The Time Heist
As is befitting Ant-Man, this is a very small but fun callback. In the first Ant-Man, Corey Stoll’s villain Yellowjacket exclaims, “Did you think you could stop the future with a heist?” When Scott reunites with the Avengers in 2023 and suggests they use Hank Pym’s Quantum Realm technology to execute a “time heist,” it turns out the answer is yes.
Morgan H. Stark
Tony and Pepper Potts’s adorable daughter takes her name from the obscure comics character Morgan Stark, who was Tony’s disreputable cousin. That Morgan first made his debut in a 1965 issue of Tales of Suspense, though he isn’t nearly as important or precious as Tony’s daughter.
Prior to Thor: Ragnarok’s release, Mark Ruffalo said that the film was the start of a three-movie story arc for Bruce Banner and the Hulk. That arc certainly culminated in Endgame, where the two literally became one — Hulk is still big and green, but now he wears clothes and dabs with his young fans. The concept of a Hulk with the green guy’s strength and Banner’s smarts (and ability to refrain from smashing things) has plenty of precedent in comics: enter Professor Hulk, who made his debut in 1991’s The Incredible Hulk No. 377. In the comics, however, this idealized version of Banner-cum-Hulk is only a temporary fix for the superhero’s warring identities.
In Endgame, a now overweight and perpetually drunk Thor has managed to make good on his promise to set up a new Asgard with his few surviving people on Earth, located in Tonsberg, the same Norwegian village where the Tesseract was hidden in the opening scene of Captain America: The First Avenger. This isn’t the first time that Asgard has been on Earth. In the comics in the late aughts, Thor has to rebuild Asgard on Earth, but this version of New Asgard floated above Broxton, Oklahoma. The earthbound Asgard was also the subject of the 2010 event series Siege.
After his opening sequence, Clint — now acting under the Ronin identity, a mantle that several Marvel superheroes have adopted over the years — apparently travels to Japan to brutally exterminate some Yakuza members. Why? In the comics, Hawkeye becomes Ronin after a personal tragedy, which tracks with the fact that he lost his entire family in the Infinity War snap. What is his connection to the Yakuza though? Basically, Ronin believes the Yakuza, led by a man named Akihiko, are the type of bad guys who should have succumbed to the snap, rather than his innocent family. In the five years since Thanos’s dustup, we’re meant to understand that Hawkeye has become an unhinged vigilante for justice, executing criminals like Akihiko left and right. Is Akihiko, played by Westworld’s Hiroyuki Sanada, someone we should know otherwise? Well, he seems to be a pretty normal gangster, but in some 2017 comics, Akihiko had badass robotic samurai armor and was building a cannon on the moon that the Yakuza could use to trigger earthquakes. Comics, y’all.
Tony calls the drunken, tubby Thor “Lebowski,” an extremely accurate and cutting reference to the Dude from The Big Lebowski. But here’s the nested reference: Jeff Bridges — who famously played the Dude in the 1998 film — was the first-ever MCU villain in Iron Man.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
During one of the time heist planning sessions, the Hulk is eating a jumbo-size carton of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Presumably, it’s one of the two flavors mentioned in Infinity War, Hulk-a-Hulk-a-Burning-Fudge and Stark Raving Hazelnuts.
Mr. Rogers’s Suit and America’s Ass
Upon traveling back in time to the events of the climactic battle in 2012’s The Avengers, Tony remarks that Cap’s Mr. Rogers suit of the era did nothing for his ass (which is later declared “America’s Ass”). This is a little dig at the extremely bright suit from the original Avengers, widely regarded as one of Captain America’s worst looks. (For more evidence of Evans’s great butt, please see Captain America’s Infinity War poster, which knew what was up.)
While undercover at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility with Tony Stark in the year 1970, Steve wears a maintenance uniform with the name “Roscoe” on it, which is possibly a reference to Roscoe Simons, a minor character who briefly adopted the Captain America mantle back in a ’70s comic story line.
Loki Turns Into Captain America Once Again
When Iron Man & Co. travel back to the events of the 2012 Battle of New York, as seen in The Avengers, we learn that Loki used his illusion magic to disguise himself as Captain America while the heroes escorted him down from the top of Stark Tower, so as not to draw unwanted attention. This means that when Loki mockingly transforms into Cap in Thor: The Dark World, it’s not the first time he’s impersonated Steve Rogers.
The Elevator Fight Redux
The elevator fight in The Winter Soldier is widely considered to be the best fight scene in the entire MCU, and Endgame makes a pretty overt reference to this when Cap steps into an elevator with the secret Hydra agents Jasper Sitwell and Brock Rumlow. The setup is the same, with all of the agents surrounding Cap bristling as they prepare for a fight — a fight that doesn’t happen this time, because …
… Cap, knowing that they’re all secretly loyal to Hydra, says the two magic words that convince the baddies to abandon the Infinity Stone case without a struggle: hail Hydra. Cap has said these words in the comics before, but in the infamous Secret Empire event series from 2017, Steve Rogers actually was loyal to Hydra, a supernatural villainous cabal, thanks to some changes in the timeline that turned him into what’s essentially a Nazi. Endgame’s elevator scene was much, much better than Secret Empire.
“I can do this all day.”
During the glorious Captain America vs. Captain America fight in New York, the 2012-era Cap gets up after a gnarly hit and delivers a catchphrase we knew was coming: “I can do this all day.” The 2023 Cap replies, with enough groan-age to satisfy theaters full of fans: “Yeah, I know.” Endgame is very self-aware, if you hadn’t noticed.
Dumb Indiana Jones
While watching Peter Quill dance his way to the Power Stone (as he did in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie), War Machine calls him “dumb Indiana Jones,” which is less an Easter egg and more an honestly good description of Star-Lord.
Another Budapest Reference
As Black Widow and Hawkeye fly through space, Clint jokes that they’re “a long way from Budapest,” a reference to the mission that brought them so close together, that we initially heard about in 2012’s The Avengers. Now that Nat is dead, it means the upcoming Black Widow movie will likely be a prequel. So will we finally figure out what happened in Budapest then?
Stan Lee’s Cameo
The late Stan Lee makes what’s confirmed to be his final MCU cameo in Endgame, when he appears as an antiwar hippie in 1970’s New Jersey. “Hey man, make love not war!” Stan yells as he drives by, in a car sporting a “‘nuff said” bumper sticker, one of his catchphrases. His license plate also says 420 on it. Considering that Thor yells at a gamer with the handle “n00bmaster69” earlier in the movie, this might be the first Disney film to reference both weed and oral sex. What a time to be alive.
Golden-Age Ant-Man Helmet
When Tony and Cap travel back to 1970, we catch a glimpse of what looks like a prototype Ant-Man helmet on Hank Pym’s desk. This shiny, solid-metal helm looks remarkably similar to the hero’s original helmet, back when Ant-Man first debuted in the comics in the 1960s.
Howard Stark, played once again by Mad Men’s John Slattery, mentions he’s looking for Arnim Zola. As fans learned in The Winter Soldier, the Hydra defect would eventually upload his consciousness into a computer to help Hydra secretly grow within S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ranks, though he hasn’t done that yet in 1970.
The Bee Gees and Mungo Jerry
While discussing Tony’s and Steve’s appearances, Yvette Nicole Brown complains about Tony’s hippie beard, and is asked whether it more resembles the Bee Gees or Mungo Jerry, both pop-rock bands from the era.
Jarvis the Butler Appears
After Tony and his dad, Howard, run into each other and share a tender moment, the elder Stark approaches a town car and addresses his chauffeur, Jarvis, by name. Jarvis first appeared in the MCU as Tony’s AI assistant, before that AI evolved into Vision. But, originally, Jarvis was indeed a butler in the comics. The canceled-too-soon Agent Carter TV series revealed that there was a human Jarvis first, and the Jarvis in Endgame is played by James D’arcy, who portrayed him in both seasons of the ABC show.
Hulk Holds Up a Mountain
In Secret Wars No. 4, the Hulk holds up a 150-billion-ton mountain in order to prevent his fellow Avengers from being crushed. The ruins of the Avengers HQ in Endgame can’t possibly weigh that much, but the scene in the movie is still quite similar to the scene on the cover of that 1984 comic.
Captain America Wields Mjölnir
When Cap finally wields Mjölnir, Thor responds, “I knew it.” It’s a reference to the moment in Age of Ultron when the only person other than Thor who was able to make the hammer budge was Steve. The scene in Endgame is a fist-pumping moment, but Captain America has lifted Thor’s hammer before in the comics. He first lifted the hammer in 1988’s The Mighty Thor No. 390, and then again in the 2011 event series Fear Itself. He lifts it again in Secret Empire, that bad comic series where Captain America was essentially a Nazi but yet somehow worthy of lifting Mjölnir. (Fun fact, Superman has also wielded Mjölnir and Captain America’s shield in the early aughts DC and Marvel crossover JLA/Avengers.)
Captain America’s Shield Breaks
Just as Captain America has a history of lifting Mjölnir during big climatic moments, so, too, does he have a history of getting his shield broken. Thanos broke the nigh unbreakable shield in the Infinity Gauntlet comics, just as he broke it in Endgame. Other villains have shattered or cracked the shield, too, including Molecule Man, the Fear Itself villain the Serpent, and Ultron, to name a few.
Nebula Picks Up the Gauntlet
Nebula plays a big, big role in Endgame, but she arguably plays a bigger role in the Infinity Gauntlet comics the film is based on. In that comic, Thanos tortures Nebula, but she manages to escape and get her hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, essentially turning herself into a god and temporarily defeating Thanos. That doesn’t happen in Endgame, but Nebula does pick up the Gauntlet, and she is instrumental in defeating Thanos.
“On your left.”
Just when everything seems lost, Steve hears a familiar voice and a familiar phrase. Sam Wilson, the Falcon, has come back to life and is ready to fight with all the previously dusted heroes. When he arrives, Sam tells Steve “on your left,” a nod to their first meeting when Steve kept lapping Sam while jogging.
Howard the Duck
One of Marvel’s most infamous characters makes his third MCU appearance, briefly showing up behind the Wasp in the scene where all of the dusted Avengers come through magical portals to join the fight.
After a decade of teases, most cruelly when Age of Ultron cuts to black right before Captain America can finish saying this iconic catchphrase, the MCU finally let fans hear the “Avengers Assemble” line, which Steve says as a truly gigantic number of Avengers assemble for the final battle against Thanos’s forces.
The Arrival of Rescue
Pepper Potts first adopted the superhero identity Rescue in the comics back in 2009, but the blue-colored armor she wears in Endgame seems to be modeled after the character’s appearance in the Iron Man: Animated Adventures cartoon.
When pretty much all of the women of the MCU (minus the deceased Black Widow) line up to battle Thanos, it’s a tantalizing glimpse at what an A-Force movie might look like. The all-women Avengers team made its debut in the comics in 2015, but there are some indications that a big-picture version might just happen. Valkyrie actress Tessa Thompson reportedly had a discussion with Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige about the possibility of an A-Force movie, and she was joined by several fellow MCU actresses. Nothing has been confirmed though.
After being so unwilling to hug Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony readily embraces the kid in Endgame. It’s a much better hug than the previous time they embraced, when Peter turned into dust in Tony’s arms.
Black Panther Remembers Clint’s Name
When T’Challa and Clint Barton face off in Civil War, Clint tries to introduce himself, but Black Panther responds with an unabashed “I don’t care.” Yet, in Endgame, while they’re playing keep-away with the gauntlet, T’Challa calls Clint by name.
Peter did not want to turn on his Spidey suit’s “instant-kill mode” back in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it came in handy in Endgame as he risked being overrun. “Instant-kill mode” turned his eyes red and the extra limbs on his suit into deadly spears. It’s still unclear what would’ve happened had he turned it on in Homecoming, since he was wearing an earlier version of the suit back then.
“I am Iron Man.”
Tony Stark’s last words as a superhero were also his first, as he responded to Thanos’s false claim that he was “inevitable” by proclaiming, “and I am Iron Man,” before snapping his Infinity Gauntlet–clad fingers.
Proof Tony Has a Heart
Tony’s first-ever arc reactor, the one that Pepper turned into a life-saving memento in the first Iron Man, features in Tony’s funeral, still inscribed with the words “Proof Tony has a heart.”
The Kid From Iron Man 3
All sorts of heroes and allies appear at Tony’s funeral, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Ant-Man family, and Nick Fury, but there’s one kind of random-looking teen there. That teen is actually Harley Keener, the kid who helped Tony out when he was stranded in Tennessee during Iron Man 3. Presumably, this means he and Tony kept in touch, which is sweet. In Endgame, actor Ty Simpkins reprises the role, though he’s obviously grown a lot since 2013.
When Tony first returned to the United States after his captivity in Iron Man, the first thing he wants his chauffeur Happy Hogan to do is to take him to get a cheeseburger. As his funeral ends, little Morgan Stark tells Happy that she wants cheeseburgers. Like father, like daughter.
“You’re taking all the stupid with you.”
Before Steve goes back in time to return the Infinity Stones (and Mjölnir) to their original timelines, he has a familiar exchange with his best friend, Bucky Barnes. “Don’t do anything stupid until I get back,” Steve says, prompting Bucky to respond with, “How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you.” It’s the exact conversation the two had way back in the ’40s, when Bucky went off to serve in World War II, only here the roles are reversed. These two old friends have been through a lot.
Old Captain America
Despite Banner’s confidence in him, Steve Rogers does not return five seconds after he departs the year 2023 to return the Infinity Stones. Instead, he stays in the past and lives a full life with Peggy Carter, his true love. Ignoring the possible time paradoxes and plot holes this creates, it’s a very sweet moment, but there’s comics precedent for Steve Rogers actually looking his age. In 2014’s Captain America No. 22, a fight with a supervillain neutralizes the super-serum in Steve’s blood, causing him to rapidly age so that he actually looked and felt like the 90-year-old he really was. Eventually, this was reversed, but for a time Steve Rogers was too old to serve as Captain America. This leads to one of the film’s last Easter eggs, which is …
Falcon Becomes Captain America
In that 2014 story arc, Steve bequeaths the Captain America shield and name to Sam Wilson, just as he does in Endgame. Bucky, who nods in approval, has also acted as Captain America in the comics, though he picked up the shield during a period when Steve was dead, rather than being chosen as a successor. Perhaps that Falcon & Winter Soldier Disney+ series will actually be titled Captain America & Winter Soldier, eh?
Iron Man Hammering
Finally, Endgame does not end with a post-credits scene, though there is one final Easter egg. As the credits wrap up, there’s a hammering sound mixed into the score, and that hammering gradually gets clearer. It’s the sound of Tony forging his very first Iron Man armor in a cave (with a box of scraps) back in the very first Iron Man movie. This likely isn’t some hint that Tony is still alive and making armor somewhere, so much as it’s just a sentimental reminder of where this franchise began.