All the Times Marvel and DC Referenced Each Other in Their Movies


DC and Marvel. The big two comic book publishers. Both have weathered the storms of their industry and have survived to see their characters become icons known around the world, dominating the box-office and the television screen. Theirs is a friendly rivalry, with each referencing the other’s work in the pages of their comics, like Robin telling a J.Jonah Jameson-type to look up “a guy named Peter Parker” in the pages of Batman #229 from February 1971, or when Thor accidentally knocks Clark Kent over at a press conference in Thor #341. Heck, they each even have a universe within their own multiverse that contains each other’s characters. It is no less true of their film histories, where the MCU has hinted at DC properties and vice-versa. Here are some of the more prevalent instances where Marvel and DC have referenced each other in film:

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Iron Man 3 (2013): Happy Hogan Calls the Avengers “Super Friends”

Happy (Jon Favreau) is giving Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) a bit of a berating for not being more present in both his life and Pepper’s (Gwyneth Paltrow). He tells Tony that he should be taking more of an interest in what’s going o, and laments the relationship they used to have. Happy wraps up their conversation with, “Yeah, I miss you too. But the way it used to be. Now you’re off with the Super Friends.” It’s a very quick quip that references the DC Super Friends cartoon that ran from 1973 to 1986.

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Eternals (2021): Phastos’ Kid Calls Ikaris “Superman”

Image Via Disney

Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sersi (Gemma Chan) are at Phastos’ (Brian Tyree Henry) home, when his boy Jack (Esai Daniel Cross) recognizes Ikaris from the news on TV, having seen him fight a Deviant. He points at Ikaris and says, “Dad, that’s Superman! With the cape, and you were shooting laser beams out of your eyes!” In fairness, it is a pretty good comparable, except Ikaris points out that he doesn’t wear a cape. Splitting hairs, really. It’s not the first time the big blue Boy Scout is referenced in a Marvel film either, with Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) telling Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), “You do too much — college, a job, all this time with me — you’re not Superman, you know,” in Spider-Man (2002).

Eternals (2021): Karun, Kingo’s “Alfred”

Not only is Superman referenced in Eternals, but there’s another quip that references Batman, or at least his butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Upon meeting Kuran (Harish Patel), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) describes him to the others as being his valet, only to be asked, “Like Alfred?” Good company to be in, honestly.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017): The Parking Lot Bale-Batman Voice

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) tracks local criminal Aaron Davis (Donald Glover) to a parking lot in order to elicit information about Adrian Toomes’ (Michael Keaton) plans. Obviously, it would work in Parker’s favor to activate his suit’s “Enhanced Interrogation Protocol.” While his interrogations skills are weak at best, which Davis points out frequently, but the application distorts Parker’s voice to a deep growl, eerily familiar to those who have heard Christian Bale‘s Batman voice in The Dark Knight trilogy. One of the funnier moments in the film.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): Flash Thompson’s Book

Never one to back down from an opportunity to promote himself, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) jumps at the chance to bank off of the news that Parker is Spider-Man by writing a book about himself. That book? Flashpoint: A Memoir — My Life as Peter Parker’s Best Friend, where he claims to be Parker’s best bud and even came up with the name Spider-Man himself. The title of his book, Flashpoint, is a reference to the famed DC comic book crossover story arc from 2011 that sees the Flash alter the future by saving his mother in the past.

DC League of Super-Pets (2022): Clark Kent Drops a Marvel-ous Dad Joke

dc league of super pets krypto
Image via Warner Bros.

The animated feature DC League of Super-Pets is pretty funny, even if it does share a truly awful dad joke. It goes like this: Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) drags Superman (John Krasinski) out of bed to face the day. He readies himself as his alter ego Clark Kent but notices a wrinkle in his dress shirt. You can see where this is going. To remove the wrinkle, Superman bounces his heat vision off a mirror to quickly iron the shirt. He then quips … yes, you already know … that he should be called “Iron Man.”

DC League of Super-Pets (2022): The Super-Pets Make Marvel-ous Names

It doesn’t end there. PB (Vanessa Bayer), a potbellied pig, reminds Krypto that he isn’t alone and has a whole super team by his side! Droolo! Shell-On-Wheels! And two names that spoof characters well-known to any Marvel fan — “The Mighty Oink” and “Squirrelverine”!

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies (2018): The Marvel Studios Open

The first of three Marvel references in the animated feature arrives at the 20-second mark. You read that correctly. The movie hasn’t even begun and the irreverence starts. You know how the Marvel film logo kicks off with pages from the comics being flipped through? (The current Marvel Studios logo adjusts it to images from the film.) After the animated DC opener, the same comic-book flipping starts, but instead of Marvel comics, it’s from Teen Titans comics … that a seagull is flipping through.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies (2018): An Iconic Cameo

stan-lee-teen-titans-go-to-the-movies
Image via Warner Bros Animation

What’s an MCU movie without a cameo from the one and only Stan Lee? For that matter, what’s a DC movie without a cameo from the one and only Stan Lee? In a hilarious extended bit that takes a shot at the legend’s frequent cameos in the MCU, an animated Stan Lee is seen in the background staring directly at the screen and smiling. When a Teen Titan blocks the view of him, he simply moves around, so he can be seen again. Then Lee really amps things up by grabbing the camera, dancing and saying, “Hey, I’m Stan Lee, doing my subtle Stan Lee cameo! I don’t care if it’s a DC movie … I love cameos!” It’s a testament to the late Lee that he could have fun with his own legacy.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies (2018): I’m Not Deadpool

Finally, there’s a running joke throughout the film on the similarity of DC’s Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, to Marvel’s Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson. Deathstroke is largely a Teen Titans villain, and is the main antagonist of the film, where he’s known as Slade (Will Arnett). Unfortunately, the Teen Titans consistently call him “Deadpool,” and despite his numerous calls to correct them, they simply carry on, either not listening or, more likely, not caring.

Spider-Man (2002): How Does This Work?

Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2 (2004)

After getting his powers, Peter Parker is trying to understand how it all works. Climbing on the walls is easy enough, but how does he get his organic webs to work? In trying to figure it out, Parker calls upon the forces he knows have been successful for others by shouting both “Up, up and away, web!” (a la Superman) and “Shazam!” Hey, if it works for Billy Batson, surely it should work for Parker, right?

Deadpool 2 (2018): We’re Gonna Need Another Reynolds

Deadpool 2‘s post-credit scene is hysterical, with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) time traveling to the past to right some wrongs, including saving Vanessa’s (Morena Baccarin) life and (in the extended cut) nearly bringing himself to killing a baby Adolf Hitler. The funniest meta bit is seeing Reynolds pick up the script for DC’s Green Lantern, clearly excited about starring in the film, before being killed by Deadpool, thus preventing this DC stinker from ever being made. (If only!)

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022): Kevin Bacon is Bats

To restore Quill’s (Chris Pratt) Christmas spirit, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) head to Earth to bring him a present: actor Kevin Bacon. After successfully getting Bacon to accompany them back to Knowhere, Mantis uses her mind powers to prompt him to act like a real hero. Bacon then decides he’s Batman (or, as he clarifies … Bruce Wayne). So clearly the character is well known in the MCU, and, as we would discover, his reference here is a fun nod to James Gunn‘s new role with DC Studios.

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