Avengers: Infinity War brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe full-circle with a host of throwbacks to previous films.
What is a superhero film without a throwback or 10? Avengers: Infinity War is out in theatres now and fans are going to be on the look out for any familiar nods to the 18 films that have preceded it. We can already tell you that there are quite a few!
Take a look at our list of the best throwbacks to past Marvel Cinematic Universe films in Avengers: Infinity War. Spoilers ahead so proceed with caution or watch the film first!
1 – “We have a Hulk.”
Remember when The Avengers was released in 2012 and it was the cinematic event of the century? Well, Infinity War sort of leaves that in the dust but, not in a mean way. In fact, in the opening scene, we get a brilliant throwback to the first film.
Faced with the unstoppable Thanos, who seems hell-bent on killing all the Asgardians, Loki insists on antagonising the Mad Titan, proclaiming that they will not lose because the Asgardians have a Hulk. Cue Hulk going on a rampage against Thanos. Applause!
This proclamation is particularly amusing coming from Loki, who was at the receiving end of the same words in The Avengers, then said by an unflappable Tony Stark. How the tables have turned now that Hulk and Loki have fought side by side!
2 – Tony and Pepper Never Finish Their Conversations
As in The Avengers, we are reintroduced to Tony Stark while he and Pepper Potts, his fiancé and CEO of Stark Industries, are enjoying a normal conversation about their life and future, when they are unceremoniously interrupted by someone who needs Tony to drop what he’s doing and save the world.
In The Avengers, it was Phil Coulson who was sent by Nick Fury to recruit Tony Stark, even though Tony had actually been deemed ineligible for the Avengers. In Infinity War, it is Dr. Strange and Wong who seek out Tony on the advice of Dr. Bruce Banner, recently returned from space bearing news of the arrival of Thanos.
Either way, it seems Tony and Pepper can never get a moment to themselves!
3 – Phones don’t work in Space
Tony Stark should stay on Earth. The first time he went into space was with a nuke on his back in an effort to save New York and its citizens. He almost died in the process but, fortunately, got better. The last thing he did before the lights went out? Call Pepper Potts, except the call didn’t go through. Space doesn’t have great cell service, it seems.
Tony makes another ill-advised trip into space in Infinity War and once again is on the phone with Pepper, she calls this time. Wise woman that she is, Pepper realises that he is on the alien spaceship. She tries to talk him out of his plan of following Dr. Strange but before she can make a thoroughly impassioned plea, the signal cuts out again. Not that Tony would have listened anyway. Well, you can’t fault her for trying.
4 – That Really Old Movie
Back in Captain America: Civil War, Team Iron Man were getting a beating from Team Cap, who had a giant-sized Ant-Man on their side. Iron Man was open to suggestions to bring down Ant-Man.
When all hope was lost, it was new recruit and youngster Spider-Man who decided to use his extensive knowledge of pop-culture to score a win for his side. In the midst of battle, Spider-Man suggested the team recreate the scene from “that really old movie, The Empire Strikes Back”.
In Infinity War, Iron Man and Spider-Man find themselves on an alien spaceship trying to save the kidnapped Dr. Strange, who is being horribly tortured by Thanos’ son Ebony Maw. When Iron Man asks Spidey for ideas, Spidey in turn asks him, “Have you seen that really old movie, Alien?” We know where this is going.
5 – Thor’s Affinity for Glass Surfaces
There is something inherently funny about a muscular Asgardian god always landing face-down on glass surfaces, his face hilariously contorted. We’ve seen it happen to Thor since his first solo outing, when he got shoved against a hospital door by overzealous doctors. Since then, he has been acquainted with the side of a building in London, Valkyrie’s spaceship and now, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s spaceship, the Milano 2.0.
When the Guardians pick up a distress call from the Asgardian refugee ship, they arrive at the designated coordinates only to find debris and floating bodies. One of those bodies lands on the Milano causing Rocket Raccoon to immediately demand the corpse be pushed away with the windshield wipers.
Fortunately, before Star-Lord can do so, the corpse opens his one good eye, prompting the Guardians to bring the man on board, only to discover that he is Thor, god of thunder. Thank goodness!
6 – Nobody Believes Dr. Strange’s Name is his Name
There will come a day when Dr. Stephen Strange’s name will not seem… err… strange to anyone hearing it, but today is not that day.
Back in Doctor Strange, when the eponymous wizard met dark wizard and antagonist Kaecilius, they exchanged pleasantries like gentlemen (gentle-wizards?) but Kaecilius didn’t quite get Dr. Strange’s name right.
The exchange went thus:
Kaecilius: How long have you been at Kamar-Taj, Mister…
Dr. Stephen Strange: Doctor!
Kaecilius: Mr. Doctor?
Dr. Stephen Strange: It’s Strange.
Kaecilius: Maybe. Who am I to judge?
Cut to Infinity War where Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, meets Dr. Strange. An enthusiastic Peter shares his real name with the wizard who in turn replies with: “I’m Dr. Strange”. Peter’s response: “Oh, we’re using our made-up names? In that case,” putting on a grave voice, “I am Spider-Man.”
The look on Dr. Strange’s face, priceless!
7 – Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
The Guardians of the Galaxy’s Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, was kidnapped from Earth in the 80s, thus his interest in pop culture is restricted to that decade. Star-Lord is a big fan of Footloose, which was all the rage when it was released. Thanks to the film, Kevin Bacon is Star-Lord’s idea of the epitome of cool.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy had Star-Lord using Footloose and Kevin Bacon’s amazing dance moves as a way to not only entice Gamora’s interest but also as inspiration to fight against the Kree warrior, Ronan. Since the Guardians came out of that fight victorious, Kevin Bacon became the team’s honorary mascot.
Once Thor is awake after being rescued by the Guardians, he tries to convince them that the infinity stones on Earth are safe because the Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes, are protecting the planet. The Guardians, never having heard of the Avengers, ask Thor if these heroic Avengers are like, you guessed it, Kevin Bacon!
What makes this interaction even more hilarious is Thor’s reaction: “I’m not sure. It’s been a while since I was there; he may be part of the team.” Make this happen, Marvel!
8 – James Rhodes’ Prosthetic
The Civil War airport fight scene was devastating to watch for fans – heroes fighting against heroes. But the worst thing to come out of that fight was Col. James Rhodes, aka War Machine, plummeting to his death after being accidentally struck by Vision.
Fortunately, Rhodey, as Tony affectionately calls him, survived – but not without massive injuries. The last we saw of him, Tony had kitted him out in a mechanised prosthetic, which he was still trying to get used to.
When we next see Rhodey, it’s in Infinity War. He is still wearing that prosthetic we saw from Civil War, only now he seems much more comfortable in it. In fact, he dons the War Machine suit to join the team for their fight against Thanos’ Black Order in Wakanda. It’s good to see that the MCU didn’t go with the disability-erasure route so many other films and TV shows go down.
9 – Hulk/ Widow
Look, Avengers: Age of Ultron was not as good as it should have been. For all director Joss Whedon’s complaining about the difficult Marvel machine, the one thing he did not have to do was give Natasha Romanoff, the sole female character at the time, a romantic sub-plot. That too, a romance with Dr. Bruce Banner, which was never on the cards and nowhere near canon.
Fans were up in arms and subsequent films have, fortunately, only alluded to the pair but not progressed it any further. For example, in Civil War, Tony asked Natasha whether she knew where Hulk was and, with a smile of acknowledgement on her face, she told him she didn’t. In Thor: Ragnarok, Black Widow’s transmission to Hulk on the quinjet transforms him back into Banner. But, apart from these two instances, the films have been blissfully free of this romance.
However, the pairing could not be ignored forever and we get an inkling of its return in a surprisingly touching scene in Infinity War. As Rhodey is arguing with Thaddeus Ross (can’t he ever get off his high horse?) about the alien invasion situation, Team Cap arrive with an injured Vision in tow.
But they aren’t the only surprise arrival at Avengers HQ – out of the shadows comes Bruce Banner. Black Widow looks thrilled but Banner is incredibly embarrassed. As he should be; it has been two years since he disappeared without a word.
The scene may be brief but it is actually quite sweet and will give fans hope for the romance that, once upon a time, many could not stand the thought of.
10 – Rocket Raccoon really likes prosthetics
In the first Guardians of the Galaxy, the yet-to-be-named Guardians hatch a plan to break out of a hellish prison. Rocket Raccoon tasks Star-Lord with stealing a fellow prisoner’s prosthetic leg. Star-Lord does as asked, with great risk to himself, only to find out that Rocket was pretty much playing a prank on him. Star-Lord isn’t pleased but Rocket gets a hell of a laugh out of it.
And it looks like Rocket’s prosthetic-stealing ways are yet to be mended. In Infinity War, he presents Thor with a prosthetic eye, which he stole from an unhappy camper. Thor is grateful even though the eye does take a while to settle.
Now, since the idea for Infinity War was first announced, many fans have been surmising the possibility of Rocket Raccoon and Bucky Barnes interacting with each other. As everyone knows, Bucky has a prosthetic arm. What would Rocket make of it?
Well, Marvel answered fans’ calls, including a scene where said interaction could take place. In the midst of fighting Thanos’ hordes in Wakanda, Rocket and Bucky find themselves fighting back to back. Rocket, noticing Bucky’s metal arm, immediately asks: “How much for the arm?”. Bucky has no reply but Rocket is going to have his eye on that prize.