5 Clever References In Famous Movies And Shows
Why do we watch movies and TV shows? Why, for interesting characters, engaging stories, and enough background noise to fend off the saddies as we prepare another instant ramen for one in the pot that we bought together, Linda! But if you were to ask some of the biggest filmmakers out there that question, they'd probably say we want to spot all the sneaky references they've hidden in their work. That's the only answer that makes sense, considering how much effort some of them put into their cinematic Easter egg hunts. They might also ask who Linda is, but that is a question for another time ...
The Downton Abbey Clip In Iron Man 3 Points To One Of The Saddest Parts Of The Whole MCU
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has action, comedy, and some really cool characters, but not a lot of drama. Occasionally they will try to trick you into thinking that they do by seemingly killing off a major character like Loki, only for them to jump out from behind the curtain later and go "Ha ha, made you cry, you big dumb idiots!" It kind of makes it hard to get emotionally invested in these movies. Unless you pay attention to the franchise's most secretly depressing character: Happy Hogan.
Happy (played by Iron Man director/producer Jon Favreau) was Tony Stark's valet until Iron Man 3, in which he gets seriously injured in an attack by the Mandarin. Thankfully, by the end of the movie, he's recuperating, even enjoying some Downton Abbey in the hospital. And that's when some comic book / British TV fans went "Oh COME THE FUCK ON! Hasn't he suffered enough?!"
Downton Abbey is a historical drama about the rigors of Britain's class-based society, best exemplified by the relationship between the aristocratic Lady Sybil and Tom Branson, who initially works as her family's chauffeur. They eventually fall in love and get married, defying the norms of their time and resulting in the Great Monocle Drop of 1919. And Happy is watching a scene between those two characters from his hospital bed.
He even gets really emotional over it. That's because, like Tom, Happy is a driver for a rich guy and in love with someone way out of his league: Tony's assistant turned executive turned girlfriend Pepper Potts.
There were tiny signs of Happy's true feelings in the previous movies, but this scene confirmed it to geeks in the know. In the original comics, Happy and Pepper were married. They fell in love after Happy was almost killed by one of Iron Man's enemies -- like what happens in Iron Man 3, except without the upside. So the Downton Abbey clip is a clever nod to how Happy feels about Pepper, a kind of reward for fans of the comics. Or a kind of punishment, because the MCU Pepper and Happy never get together. While she's with Tony, Happy gets to watch and cry into his whiskey every night. Still think reading is cool?
There Are References To TWO Kubrick Movies In Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin might be one of the worst movies ever made, while Stanley Kubrick is widely considered one of the greatest directors of all time. Basically any one of his movies could be described as the exact opposite of Joel Schumacher's 1997 flop. Yet Schumacher saw fit to pay tribute to the master regardless. When Robin discovers that Alfred's niece Barbara is sneaking out of the house, he follows her and learns that she's been participating in illegal drag races with some of Gotham's gangs. Here's one of them:
Although they have about a second of screen time, you can clearly tell from the bowler hats, white suits, and massive codpieces that these guys are a nod to Alex and his droogs from A Clockwork Orange. You know, the movie about rape, teen violence, rape, the nature of good and evil and the minds of men, etc. Also rape. This reference is in a movie wherein Arnold Schwarzenegger says "Let's kick some ice!" Appropriate!
And right before we see the Clockwork gang, we get a shot of these guys:
Who the hell are they, and why are they wearing eye patches and powdered wigs? Well, they're also a reference to a Kubrick movie -- Barry Lyndon, and specifically its character the Chevalier de Balibari.
And if anyone out there still doesn't believe that watching Batman & Robin counts as serious film research, tell them that Batman's suit nipples are a clear reference to these massive headlights from Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
Hairspray Has A Pretty Clever Joke About Race And Poetry
Hairspray is way smarter than we give it credit for (the 1988 John Waters version, not the 2007 one with a cross-dressing John Travolta in a fat suit, although I feel like I shouldn't have to clarify that). The movie sort of looks like "Mean Girls, but with worse hair and dancing," but it's actually a smart take on race relations in '60s America. You just have to know Allen Ginsberg to fully get it.
During one scene, the four main characters, one of whom is black, are on the run and take refuge in the apartment of two beatniks. One beatnik is over in a corner, wired as fuck, painting nonsense as a way to pass the time until crack is invented, while the other sits there and pretends she's black because she listens to Odetta Holmes and burns more pot than a drunken kiln operator.
Finally, the girl proposes that everyone get naked, which is when the group retreats. But as they do, she starts reading Ginsberg's famous poem "Howl" at them, pointedly directing it at the black guy. She gets as far as "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through-" and then the scene ends. Here's how the full line goes: "dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix."
Yeah, so, if you've read "Howl," you would get that this scene is actually about a white girl looking for an excuse to yell "negro streets" at a black man trying to escape her house in the middle of the Civil Rights era.
Adventure Time Gave Away The Plot Of One Episode With Some Random Background Props
Adventure Time scans like animated improv -- it's light, fun, often a bit nonsensical -- which is why so few of us noticed that the show knew what it was doing all along. As just one example, it foreshadows the plot of the Season 5 episode " Betty" right from the jump. The episode starts with a bunch of wizards wanting to unlock "the tightest of wiz-biz" magics by bringing a bunch of magical items to Bella Noche, a mystical wax head in a box. Specifically, they offer it a magic staff, an orb, a chalice, and a sword.
Although the specific names change, swords, staffs/wands, chalices, and orbs/disks are all suits in the Minor Arcanaof the tarot. They're the equivalents of clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades, only they have very specific meaningsin tarot divination. Chalices represent love, swords reason and action, wands energy and passion, and orbs/disks material possessions. These are also the main themes of the episode.
Bella Noche turns out to be a being of "anti-magic," and he sucks the magic out of everyone in the room. When Ice King is stripped of his powers, he regains his memories and sanity as a human. He then seeks to open a portal to the past so he can apologize to his girlfriend Betty, whom he scared off after becoming the Ice King a thousand years ago. To do this, he uses his friend's cherished material possession (orb) to create the portal. Then, not wanting to go through life without the man she loves (chalice), Betty makes an on-the-spot decision to jump through the portal into the future.
Sadly, the Ice King is dying without his insanity-inducing magical powers, but Betty assures him that she will use all of her reason (sword) to help him. But first she has to defeat Bella Noche. And because this is Adventure Time, she takes him down by sucker-punching him straight in his stupid mouth (wand.) The day is saved, we laugh, Ice King goes back to being one of the most secretly tragic cartoon characters ever, and tarot geeks get to feel smug for the first (and only) time in their lives.
There's A Whole Maze Of Hidden References To Brave New World In Serenity
One of the biggest mysteries of the show Firefly is WHY IT WAS CANCELED? GOD, WHY? It's been 16 years and I'm still heartbroken. Bring it back as an animated series, dammit! Anyway, one of the other big mysteries was the exact nature of the Reavers, the crazed space cannibals who serve as a recurring threat. Well, we finally got an answer in the show's sequel film, Serenity.
In the movie, our lovable gang discovers the planet Miranda, where the government dosed the atmosphere with a drug meant to turn the citizenry docile. It worked so well that most of the population just stopped doing anything and laid down to die without a fuss. But a small percentage had a slightly different, more ... volatile reaction.
It turns out the Reavers were the result of this hugely unethical experiment. How in all that's shiny was anyone supposed to have guessed that? Well, it's not exactly a straight line of reference, but "Miranda" is also the name of the main character in Shakespeare's The Tempest. This is the same play in which the Duke of Milan gives us the phrase "brave new world." Centuries later, that line inspired the title of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. In this dystopian novel, a totalitarian government keeps its citizenry docile by constantly drugging them. Hmmm.
But wait, there's more! On Miranda, the crew comes across a ship with the designation C57D on it:
C-57D is also the number of the United Planets Cruiser from the movie Forbidden Planet, notable for two things: 1) featuring Leslie Nielsen in a serious role before he realized his calling as a comedy god, and 2) being loosely based on The Tempest. So ... wait, is reading cool or not? I don't know anymore.
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