(Note, if you haven't seen Avengers: Age of Ultron yet, then there's a GIANT PILE OF SPOILERS below - so proceed with caution...)
Now, one of the most intriguing things about Avengers: Age of Ultron (aside from the general awesomeness) is the fact that, despite being rammed full of hints and teases of what's to come in the MCU's future, there aren't a whole lot of actual, factual Easter eggs hiding within it.
As director Joss Whedon revealed to Collider a while back:
"Yeah, there aren’t a ton of Easter eggs. It’s so hard for me to make a movie, especially this movie, I don’t spend a lot of time going, ‘You know what else would be hilarious?!’ I’m more like, ‘Was the gun in the frame? Oh my God, I’m so tired.’ I mean, I would leave set every day and go home and write because it wasn’t quite right; it wasn’t quite finished. It needed to be better. So not a ton."
Which was...kind of a surprise, to be honest.
What is Hiding in There, Though, Tells Us A WHOLE LOT...And is Awesome
Y'see, not all Easter eggs have to be a reference to an obscure 70's comic-book hero, or the director's old car. Some of them, for instance, reveal:
12. Exactly Why Thanos Will End Up Involved With the Avengers
Y'see, remember that whole 'magical gem in Vision's forehead that brings him to life' dealio?
Well, that's definitely going to be a problem for Thanos, who's going to need that particular gem to complete his Infinity Gauntlet-based collection...
Which, in turn, is going to set him on a collision course with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Not least because:
11. We Now Know Thanos WILL Kill an Avenger
Specifically, The Vision.
Yup, that's right. That Infinity Gem that's a key part of him being, y'know, alive? Thanos is 100% going to have to remove that in order for Infinity War's plot to really get going. Which means The Vision IS going to die...at least for a little while.
The worst part? It's totally (a little bit) Thor's fault - seeing as he was the one who ultimately brought The Vision to life...
10. There Was a HUGE Call-Back to The Avengers
And by huge, I mean the incredibly large Leviathan hiding in Baron Strucker's Hydra lair. Which, while almost impossible to miss, is still a neat reference back to the events of the previous Avengers movie.
9. Banksy Gets a Name Check - and a Visual Cameo
Specifically, we get a straight up line referencing the artist - but also what looks an awful lot like a Banksy version of Iron Man in the background in Sokovia...
8. Wakanda is Heavily Teased
There's more about just how much Age of Ultron teased the Black Panther's MCU future right here, but even on the surface, all of the talk about Wakanda and its Vibranium reserves was a cool nod to the comics...which'll soon be so much more.
7. Bucky Gets a (Brief) Reference
So, no cameo for the Buckster this time around - but he did get a subtle mention when Falcon and Cap discuss their 'Missing Persons Case' during the big party scene. So he's out there - but very much in the wind...
Speaking of party scenes:
6. Stan Lee May Have Has His Best Cameo Yet
Yup, even better than that Amazing Spider-Man library sequence. After all, his Spidey-Cameo didn't see him getting hammered with Thor...
5. Ultron Gets Old-School
Now, we actually already saw this in some of the trailers, but Ultron's odd get-up during his first meeting with the twins?
That's a direct reference to his first comic-book appearance, as...The Crimson Cowl...
Because not even Joss Whedon can resist a few visual Easter eggs...
4. Meanwhile, Agent Carter Did Well For Itself
Not only did Peggy Carter get a cameo - and, arguably, the show's Edwin Jarvis, too - but Black Widow's nightmarish vision was in many ways a callback to Agent Carter's Russian Black Widow academy:
Which may well not do its chances of being picked up for another season any harm...
Wondering why Tony's Hulk-battling space-assistant is called Veronica?
Well, that's either a reference to Archie comics' very-much-not-Betty Veronica, hinting at Bruce's love of Betty Ross, or to Marvel comics' Veronica Benning, who - much like Age of Ultron's Veronica - once helped Tony Stark regain the use of his hand.
then, there's my personal favorite...
2. The (Subtle) Firefly Reference
Firefly fans will of course recall the line in the show's theme tune:
"Burn the land, and boil the sea - you can't take the sky from me..."
Well, so, it seems, does Ultron:
"People have looked to the sky and seen hope. I’ll take that from them first."
And, of course...
1. The Ending
In which we almost - but don't quite - get to hear Cap reprise his classic line from way back in Avengers #16, when the Avengers line-up was first rebooted...
What do you reckon, though?