A very clever honorable reference can be found in 1989’s “Batman” movie. At the beginning of the movie, Alexander Knox walks into his office and receives a sketch of what Batman might look like. The sketch has a signature. This signature is the name of character’s creator, Bob Kane.
In the beginning of “Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom,” the famous adventurer meets a crime lord by the name of Lao Che. The aim of this meeting is to trade ashes for a diamond. But it’s the place where the meeting takes place that is worth mentioning – Club Obi Wan. The name of this club is clearly a Star Wars reference, and it is certainly not the only one, in Indiana Jones movies.
Here is a very good example of subtle advertising in movies. Did you notice that a Starbucks cup is visible in almost every scene of the iconic “Fight Club” movie? Although this might have been done for a different purpose like highlighting the idea of how corporations trick us into buying the same things.
Kill Bill Vol. 1
If you think that one has to sit through all the Kill Bill movies to learn the actual name of the Bride, think again. There’s actually an easier way to learn what the character’s name is – Beatrix Kiddo, the name, is displayed on the plane ticket the character buys to Okinawa.
Return of the Jedi
Only a few hardcore fans of science fiction might know this one. In a scene in Star War’s Return of the Jedi, there are three aliens working on Jabba’s sail barge. Their names are Klaatu, Barada and Nikto. Well, it’s a reference to the code words in the famous “The Day the Earth Stood Still” movie. However, this is not the 2008 one starring Keanu Reeves, but the black and white 1951 one.
Stephen King’s prolific output is full of interesting crossovers between various stories. In the movie “The Mist” one of these crossovers is featured. In a scene where Thomas Jane is working on a painting, what he’s trying to paint is actually a picture of Roland Deschain. Deschain is the main character in Stephen King’s “Dark Tower.”
This reference is really a very funny one. The schematics diagram on the bridge of Sark’s battlecruiser has a little Easter egg hidden in it. On the right side of a diagram there’s the famous Pac-Man character struggling to fight his way through a string of yellow dots.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
In “Die Hard with a Vengeance” when McClane is asked what he’s been doing since the last movie, his answer might seem rather usual, but it has a lot of subtly in it. The character’s answer is “smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo.” Oddly enough, the famous actor repeats the very same phrase in “Pulp Fiction.”
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
If you watched this movie carefully, you might have noticed that one of the bearded chaps waiting in line to be healed by Brian looks suspiciously like George Harrison. In fact, it really is George Harrison. The famous musician was a Python fan and invested as much as a couple million dollars in this movie.
The fact that Disney animators include subtle images of Mickey Mouse in various cartoons is well known. With this being said, it might not surprise you that much that Mickey Mouse was also featured in Aladdin, a fairy tale where he clearly does not belong. He makes one of his appearances in a scene where Jafar’s spell is broken and the enchanted friends of Aladdin are brought back to normal.
This is a very clever cross-referencing that some fans of the “Avengers” might have noticed. After Tony Stark’s encounter with the F-22s, he removes his suit, and very attentive movie fans can see on a workbench to his left what appears to be a prototype of Captain America’s shield.
Sometimes directors use very ingenious ways to add subtlety to their movies. In the case with “Death Proof” the references can be found in car numbers. Stuntman Mike’s Cherry Nova has a registration number that reads JJZ-109, which is the same number as that of a Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in “Bullitt.”
I Am Legend
It’s not hard to miss the Superman logo within the bat symbol in “I Am Legend,” a movie where neither Batman nor Superman is supposed to appear. Many fans theorized it to be an example of viral marketing, but it appeared that it was nothing but a throwaway gag from Akiva Goldsman. The producer of “I Am Legend” was once involved with a Superman/Batman crossover movie.
King Kong (2005)
If you know how to read the Morse code and paid close attention while watching “King Kong,” you probably know this fact. In this movie, when the ship approaches Skull Island, it receives a coded message. The message in Morse code supposedly announces a warrant for Jack Black’s arrest, but what it actually translates to is “Show me the monkey.”
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover starred in both “Maverick” and “Lethal Weapon.” In the middle of the bank robbery scene in Maverick, the director decided to capitalize on this fact and included a prolonged double take when the robber is revealed to be Glover.