Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist make up Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now that we’ve met all four of the heroes we can look forward to them assembling as The Defenders later this year. But as well as their respective shows being linked together by countless references to one another and recurring characters such as Rosario Dawson’s ever-present Claire Temple, because they’re based on Marvel comic books there’s a whole extra layer of nerdy references, clue and hints to be uncovered. We’ve taken a look back over the five seasons we’ve seen so far and picked out some of our favourite MCU Easter eggs that filled our geeky hearts with joy.
We know Marvel’s four Netflix shows are all linked, but connections to their other flagship show, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, are few and far between. One of the best connections, however, is the fact that Daredevil himself, Matt Murdock, was brought to Saint Agnes Orphanage after the death of his father, which happens to be the same orphanage that SHIELD’s Daisy Johnson (aka Skye) was taken to after the attack on her native Chinese village. Sadly, Matt’s around ten years older than Daisy, so they wouldn’t have been there at the same time, but perhaps Daisy heard inspirational tales about the blind boy who used to live there and went on to make it as a New York City lawyer.
If you’re looking for other links to Agents of SHIELD on the Netflix shows, Daredevil is definitely your best bet. Carl Crusher Creel is referenced as the boxer who Matt’s dad faces off against in the show’s early flashback scenes, and that’s the very same Creel who was better known as the Absorbing Man over on SHIELD. And when the nefarious Dogs of Hell biker gang turned up on Daredevil as cannon fodder for Frank Castle, SHIELD fans will have recognised them as members of the same group who were enthralled by the evil Asgardian Lorelei, before being defeated by Lady Sif.
Ever since the first season of Daredevil we’ve been teased with references to the Steel Serpent, a major Iron Fist villain whose symbol shows up on the heroin sold by Madame Gao. Now that we’ve seen Iron Fist we know the heroin isn’t directly linked the Steel Serpent character, and simply bears his name and symbol due to Gao’s connections with K’un-Lun, but we did also meet the man who will go on to become Steel Serpent. That’s Davos, Danny’s training partner from back in K’un-Lun, who turns against his former friend by the end of the season. But don’t be surprised if Davos takes on the name and symbol of the heroin for himself when he inevitably returns to take on Danny in future seasons.
In the incredible comic book that inspired the first season of Jessica Jones, Alias, Jessica began her superhero career under the pseudonym of Jewel. While Jessica never takes up that identity on the show, there is a fun nod to her comic book heritage during a flashback where Trish tries to talk her into becoming a bona fide costumed superhero. Not only does Trish have a comics-accurate version of the costume ready for Jessica to try on, but she even suggests the name Jewel. Of course, Jessica quickly writes Jewel off as a stripper name, and sticks to her trademark jeans and leather jacket instead.
Back when Luke Cage still went by the name of Carl Lucas, he was an inmate at Seagate prison. In fact, that’s where he gained his superpowers, which we saw on the show via extensive flashbacks. But Luke isn’t the first character we’ve seen spend time in Seagate, as it’s the same prison that Iron Man villains Justin Hammer and Trevor Slattery were sent to after their their respective encounters with Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3. You can see the pair inside Seagate on the excellent Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King, which was included on the Thor: The Dark World Blu-Ray.
There aren’t many actors who have appeared in multiple roles across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the Netflix shows boast at least three of them. Tony Curran played the Asgardian King Bor (father of Odin and grandfather of Thor) in Thor: The Dark World, before starring in Daredevil as an Irish mobster who comes to New York looking for The Punisher. Perhaps most notably Alfre Woodard starred as Luke Cage’s Mariah Dillard just months after stealing a scene opposite Robert Downey Jr as a bereaved mother in Captain America: Civil War. And then there’s Matt Gerald, who popped up as White Power Dave in the aforementioned All Hail the King before starring as Melvin Potter in Daredevil.
Speaking of Melvin Potter, when it comes to Easter Eggs, he’s Netflix’s answer to the Easter Bunny. In the comics Melvin Potter is also known as Gladiator, and if you look closely during scenes in his workshop you’ll see the symbol used on his costume in the comics, as well as designs for his trademark body armour. But even better than that, Potter appears to be constructing the costume for the probably-too-ridiculous-to-ever-actually-appear-on-screen Daredevil/Spider-Man villain Stilt-Man. That’s right, Stilt-Man! But who knows, maybe we’re wrong and these shows are all building towards a dark and gritty Stilt-Man spin-off that we didn’t know we needed until right now.
Marvel loves to fill its shows with characters whose comic book counterparts become costumed heroes and villains. For example, Jessica Jones’ best friend Trish Walker is better known as Hellcat in the comics, Daredevil antagonist Leland Owlsley becomes The Owl, and Luke Cage’s Misty Knight and Iron Fist’s Colleen Wing go on to form a superhero team known as The Daughters of the Dragon. But even more fun are the occasional references the shows drop to some more obscure comic book characters. Listen closely and you’ll hear hints at characters such as Taurus, White Tiger, Killdozer, Micro and Nighthawk. And most recently we even got an unexpected appearance from the Ringmaster in Iron Fist.
No Marvel project would be complete without a Stan Lee cameo, and the Netflix shows are no different. But if you can’t remember him turning up, don’t worry, your memory isn’t failing you, Stan has so far only popped up in picture form on posters in the background of scenes. He always seems to be playing the same character, though, an NYPD cop. So here’s hoping we finally get to meet that particular law enforcer in person when we finally get to The Defenders.