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Major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War ahead. Are you still reeling from Avengers: Infinity War? Of course you are, because that movie was bananas. However, in addition to emotionally compromising moviegoers, Avengers: Infinity War also included pop culture references to keep fans paying attention throughout. In fact, some of them were so sneaky that you may have missed them while you were sobbing over Gamora — and that’s totally understandable.
It’s not easy to catch every pop culture reference in the average Marvel movie, never mind one as sprawling as Infinity War. In between all of the heartbreak and action scenes, there were nods to everything from Doctor Who to Hamilton. Who would expect anything less from a movie that included Peter Quill and Peter Parker? Those two pop culture lovers were a match made in cinematic heaven. At one point, Iron Man even resorts to threatening Spider-Man just to make the constant referencing stop.
Not that Tony’s tactics work, because come on, when the world is being threatened by a giant purple alien wielding the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet, you have to find laughs where you can. Avengers: Infinity War is a dark film with quite a few losses (half of the population to be exact), which means little moments like the clever Arrested Development Easter egg were much appreciated. From the funny to the clever, these are some of the sneakiest pop culture references in Avengers: Infinity War.
1. The Leftovers
When Thanos snapped his fingers and murdered half of the world’s population, it was hard not to be reminded of HBO’s critically-acclaimed series The Leftovers. The entire premise of the show focuses on what happens to the people left behind after a rapture like event causes much of the population to disappear in an instant. Having The Leftovers star Carrie Coon in the film as Proxima Midnight only made the reference seem all the more apparent.
Spider-Man gives Aliens a shout-out when he hatches a plan to blow a hole in the side of the spaceship in order to get rid of Ebony Maw. As Inverse points out, that technique was actually used in Alien, not Aliens, but, hey, that "really old movie" pre-dates Peter by more than two decades.
3. Arrested Development
Anthony and Joe Russo worked on Arrested Development long before they were directing the biggest superhero movie ever made, and they paid tribute to their roots in the best way possible. A visit to the Collector reveals that the eccentric man from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies has a blue man with a mustache, glasses, and cut-offs in his collection. Arrested Development fans will know that the person was none other than Tobias Funke — the "characters of Arrested Development" even get a thank you in the credits.
No one drops ’80s references quite like Star-Lord, and he came through yet again when he called Thanos "Grimace." For those who missed out on the glory days of McDonald’s commercials, Grimmace is Ronald McDonald’s purple, milkshake-stealing frenemy.
5. Doctor Who
After Iron Man tells Spider-Man not to make any more pop culture references, it seems he slipped in one more anyway. As Bleeding Cool points out, Peter’s last words as Tony holds him in his arms are, "I don’t want to go." These are also the last words spoken by the 10th Doctor before he regenerates, and you know that Peter has to be a Doctor Who fan.
Is Steve Rogers secretly a Hamilton fan? It looks like he might be, considering he dropped the line "eyes up" in the movie. The line is famously part of the Hamilton song "The World Was Wide Enough," where it’s somewhat worryingly preceded by, "I’m running out of time, I’m running, and my time’s up."
6. The Return Of The Zune
In a callback to Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Star-Lord’s new Zune made a return, and this time it was playing "The Rubberband Man."
7. Footloose & Kevin Bacon
Clearly, Star-Lord is keeping the legend of Kevin Bacon alive, because Mantis refers to him as one of Earth’s greatest heroes. Meanwhile, Star-Lord fills Spider-Man in on how he saved the universe by dancing, just like in Footloose (more or less).
8. SpongeBob SquarePants
It seems Doctor Strange makes time to watch Nickelodeon in between time-hopping adventures because the first time he sees Ebony Maw, Thanos’ herald, he calls him Squidward.
9. Flash Gordon
Tony isn’t pleased with the Peters constant pop culture-referencing ways, but that doesn’t stop him from using a nostalgic diss when he meets Star-Lord. He calls Star-Lord "Flash Gordon," which was super appropriate since the ’80s hero was also abruptly sent to space.
Teenage Groot spends most of the movie playing the classic video game Defender instead of actually helping save the universe.
11. Die Hard
When Tony tries to send Spider-Man home in order to keep him safe, he borrows a lesser known line from Die Hard‘s hero, John McClane. As What Culture noted, Tony tells Peter "happy trails," which is the same goodbye John uses in the film.
These are just some of the pop culture references in Avengers: Infinity War. If you want to catch them all, you may have to see the movie another five times, at least.
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