4 Sneaky References Movies And Shows Slipped Under Our Noses
As we’ve mentioned before, a lot of Hollywood filmmakers are also giant movie nerds themselves – which is why so many of their projects end up becoming veritable Russian nesting dolls of random pop-culture references. Sometimes, said homages are more overt – like how Stranger Things is pretty much a hot dog wiener packed full of the assorted meats of famous ‘80s horror plots – but occasionally, these movie and TV shout-outs are subtle enough that we don’t always notice them right away. SPOILERS for movies and shows such as …
The Batman Is A (Darker) Version Of The 1960s Adam West Series
This year’s The Batman is obviously a super-dark take on the comic book icon; one in which half of Gotham is addicted to some kind of mysterious street drug, The Riddler is a Zodiac-style serial killer, and Bruce Wayne looks less like a billionaire playboy and more like frontman for a Cure cover band who was bitten by Tim Burton on a full moon. But weirdly, this gritty adaptation, not unlike the Christopher Nolan trilogy, is full of references to the delightfully goofy 1960s Batman series starring Adam West, Burt Ward, and Burt Ward’s giant un-TV-friendly dong.
One Bat-fan made headlines for editing West into the trailer for The Batman, which makes sense because the whole movie is arguably a gloomier take on the classic series, which director Matt Reeves is reportedly a big fan of. For instance, The Batman is one of the few movies where Batman, as in the show, is just a dude in a costume casually hanging around with the cops.
And occasionally visiting nightclubs, entering via the front door (Pattinson’s Batman, sadly, doesn’t pause his investigation to invent a new dance). Not to mention that this movie gives Bruce Wayne an older female presence at home; the housekeeper, Dory, who functions not unlike the character of Aunt Harriet (albeit with a tad less gay panic).
Even more specifically, Reeves put a bust of Shakespeare (like the one that revealed the secret Batcave entrance in the TV show) in Bruce Wayne’s apartment, and from a visual standpoint, both Batman’s cowl and the design of the Batmobile were modeled off of their ‘60s counterparts. If this trend continues, we can all look forward to The Batman II climaxing with a Batman-Joker surfing contest.
House Of The Dragon – One Family Is Named Entirely After Muppets
With all of its gratuitous sex, brutal violence, and camera angles that reveal the actors from below the waist, the Game of Thrones franchise doesn’t seem particularly Muppet-friendly — that is, with the exception of that time Elmo visited King’s Landing to make peace between Cersei and Tyrion, brought to you by the letters W, T, and F.
But in a recent episode of the new spin-off/endurance test, House of the Dragon, the Muppets were casually referenced in a way that most audiences didn’t even notice. During a council meeting, Queen Alicent mentions a Lord Grover Tully – who we’re pretty sure is named after everyone’s favorite Muppet superhero and incompetant member of the service industry.
How do we know that Grover Tully is named after Grover the furry blue monster, and not, say, the decidedly non-furry blue former President Grover Cleveland? Because in the show’s source material, George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, we learn a bit more detail about this Lord and his kin. While Grover’s family members weren't named in House of the Dragon, in the book, Martin goes on to describe how Lord Grover Tully has a grandson named … Ser Elmo Tully. And Elmo later had two children named Oscar and Kermit – the latter of which is described as being as “green as summer grass.” And, to be honest, if this show were to randomly add a bunch of Muppets in the second season, not a single goddamn person would complain.
Prey Features More Than One Shout-Out To The Neverending Story
A prequel to a movie about (and starring) a bunch of testosterone-addled maniacs, the recent Prey stars Amber Midthunder as Naru, a Comanche warrior who does battle against the famous alien monster known as the Predator, like so many Xenomorphs and Schwarzeneggers before her (or technically, after her). You might expect that a gore-soaked sci-fi horror movie wouldn’t feature multiple homages to a classic ‘80s family movie, but you’d be wrong …
Director Dan Trachtenberg inserted several allusions to 1984’s The Neverending Story into Prey. No, we don’t get any scenes where the Predator faces off against Falkor the Luck Dragon, but remember the scene in which Naru becomes stuck in the mud pit?
According to Trachtenberg, this was consciously inspired by the scene where Atreyu’s horse gets sucked into the Swamp of Sadness – which we’re guessing you either remember vividly or repressed as a small child and are just now realizing why you’ve had nightmares about losing a faithful steed to a pool of inky black mud for decades.
Trachtenberg also intended the ominous clouds that hide the alien spacecraft during the opening credits to resemble the clouds that represent The Nothing, that mysterious evil force in The Neverending Story. And speaking of sinister-looking clouds …
Nope Is More Like Jaws Than You Might Realize
Jordan Peele’s Nope clearly owes much to the films of Steven Spielberg; from the UFOs of Close Encounters of the Third Kind to the aliens of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to … the UFOs and aliens of all of those other Spielberg movies. But mostly, Nope takes its cues from Jaws, the classic movie about shark attacks/sexual impotence. This is pretty evident at the end of the film, which finds our gang of heroes desperately trying to best a killer beast – but, in retrospect, pretty much the entire movie is patterned off of Jaws.
For starters, OJ and Emerald are our heroes in Nope, and like Chief Brody in Jaws, they’re soon joined by an awkward dude with a bunch of fancy equipment; Angel and Hooper, respectively.
Both sets of protagonists are dealing with a natural predator in their communities and also a neighbor whose interests are strictly commercial. In Jaws, Mayor Vaughn’s only interest is keeping the beaches open for tourism, despite the obvious danger to people, and in Nope, Jupe attempts to turn the alien creature into part of his tourist trap. In both cases, their actions have deadly consequences – and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how both characters have a penchant for wearing suits that are louder than AC/DC.
And specific story beats are replicated, like how OJ and Brody both get spooked by kids pulling a dumb prank.
Then, in the end, they have to turn to a grizzled loner to help them kill/photograph the beast (and they end up being eaten as a result).
Eventually, the beast is defeated thanks to old-fashioned gas in the form of a compressed air tank in Jaws and a helium-filled cowboy in Nope.
All of which could indicate that we’ll one day get a sequel where yet another UFO shows up, this time controlled by a vengeful witch doctor …
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Thumbnail: Warner Bros./HBO