Any fictional universe should have its own pop culture, and that includes the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Moreover, as the greatest film saga of all time, Star Wars is impossible to ignore within any fictional, terrestrial culture. Even before Lucasfilm joined Marvel Studios underneath the Disney umbrella (in other words, the Empire of Disney), Marvel’s films have begun sneaking in Easter eggs about Star Wars. Here’s a look at some of the best references to Star Wars within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Phase Two (A.K.A. the Phase of Dismemberment)
Marvel Studios’ head honcho, Kevin Feige, surprised some fans when he compared Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the Star Wars original trilogy‘s second installment, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. It turned out that Feige’s comparison was purely as an Easter egg, as he pointed out that in every Phase Two film, someone loses an arm. Much like in the most famous scene of Episode V, when Darth Vader chopped off Luke Skywalker‘s dueling arm during their confrontation on Cloud City.
Here’s a rundown of the Phase Two films. In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark cuts off the forearm of Aldrich Killian using a concealed blade in his armor, but Killian simply uses his Extremis regrowth abilities to regain his missing limb. Thor: The Dark World has Loki cut off Thor‘s arm in an illusion to deceive Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes became the first character in Phase Two to permanently lose his arm, since it was partly dismembered when he fell from a HYDRA train during World War II, with HYDRA later removing the arm and replacing it with a prosthetic one as part of Bucky’s Winter Soldier getup. (He’ll lose the cybernetic arm completely when he gets to Phase Three, but that’s another story.)
Guardians of the Galaxy has a double whammy of arm loss: First, Gamora cuts off both of Groot‘s arms during their brawl on Xandar, though he regrows them without much hassle. Later, Nebula severs her own cybernetic hand to escape from Ronan‘s Dark Aster, rather than accept Gamora’s help. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron lets his temper get the best of him when he slices off the arm of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (pun intended), after Klaue likens Ultron to his creator, Tony Stark. Finally, Ant-Man‘s villain, Darren Cross, essentially loses his right arm when it becomes the first part of his body to shrink, before he implodes into the subatomic Quantum Realm.
Although they’re not officially part of the cinematic Phase Two, Marvel’s two TV shows that are set during Phase Two have both unofficially paid their dues to the Phase of Dismemberment. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has two agents get their arms cut off after coming into contact with Inhuman technology: Lance Hunter cuts off Isabelle Hartley‘s arm after the Diviner begins to petrify it (“Shadows“), and then Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie uses his trademark axe to chop off Director Phil Coulson‘s arm after the latter touches a Terrigen Crystal (“S.O.S. Part Two“). Lastly, Daredevil‘s Stick severs the hand of Aito, an affiliate of Nobu Yoshioka‘s Hand, as part of his interrogation.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Returning to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the production staff tried to prevent the film from being too Americentric, by letting international viewers pick which elements of pop culture would be listed in Steve Rogers‘ notebook. Each region then received a unique list of Steve’s notebook items in its printing of the film. For example, the United Kingdom got the 1966 World Cup Final, Korea got Dance Dance Revolution, Italy got character actor Robert Benigni, Australia and New Zealand got the late Steve Irwin, Brazil got singer/songwriter Xuxa, Russia got disco, Spain got tennis player Rafa Nadal, Latin America got pop star Shakira, and Germany got Oktoberfest.
Present in every version of Steve’s notebook was the item “Star Wars / Trek.” Directors Joe and Anthony Russo had some fun with self-referentiality by including Star Wars in the list, since actor Samuel L. Jackson, who of course plays Nick Fury at Marvel, also portrayed Jedi Master Mace Windu in Star Wars‘ prequel trilogy. Does that mean that a fictional actor named Samuel L. Jackson lives in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or is it just a coincidence that Nick Fury looks like the fictional Samuel L. Jackson of within the MCU? As Honest Trailers pointed out, this probably blew Steve’s mind.
Captain America: Civil War
One of the most recent (and overt) references to Star Wars was sneaked into Captain America: Civil War. When Cap’s and Tony Stark’s factions of the Avengers go head-to-head at a German airport, Ant-Man provides a distraction for Cap and Bucky by reversing his suit’s size. As Tony and his allies battle the so-called Giant-Man, Spider-Man quips, “Hey guys, you ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?”
In true teenage fashion, Spidey forgets what All-Terrain Armored Transports are called, but he’s obviously referencing the Battle of Hoth, when Luke Skywalker and Rogue Squadron used their harpoon cannons to take down the enemy AT-ATs. Once Spidey wraps his webbing around Giant-Man’s legs, Tony and War Machine follow Spidey’s lead, tripping Giant-Man and causing him to loose balance. Evidently, watching classic movies can save your life sometimes.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the TV series’ second season, some of the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been spotted with Star Wars garb. Bobbi Morse sports a blue Star Wars T-shirt during a scene in “A Fractured House,” while Sam Koenig flaunts his inner fanboy with a full Star Wars comforter set at the beginning of “Scars.” In season three, Director Phil Coulson, who prides himself as an antique collector of sorts, confirmed himself as a Star Wars nerd, since he’s responsible for the show’s other two references to Star Wars.
First, when Coulson wakes up on the planet Maveth in the similarly titled episode, he exclaims, “I’ll be damned. Tatooine.” It’s not an entirely valid comparison, since Maveth has two moons, while Tatooine has twin suns, Tatoo I and II. Still, props to Coulson for knowing his Star Wars astronomy.
Finally, when Coulson distracts Hive with a hologram in the season three finale “Ascension,” he takes the opportunity to reenact one of his favorite scenes from Episode IV: A New Hope. Right before Hive cuts him off, Coulson crouches down and says, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only—” Not everyone gets the chance to be Princess Leia Organa, so Coulson makes the most of his moment.
So, does this mean that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is gearing up for some sort of crossover with Star Wars? Let’s hope not. Still, the MCU gets points for acknowledging the existence of the greatest saga of all time.