A Salute To The Best Inside Joke In AVENGERS: ENDGAME

Spoilers inside. You've been warned.

FINAL WARNING: This post contains Avengers: Endgame spoilers.

The Russo Brothers' Avengers: Endgame is positively overflowing with cool easter eggs, inside jokes and fan-service nods that are sure to keep the internet busy for many, many months (at some point in the near future, some poor sod's gonna volunteer to write the definitive post documenting all those inside jokes and easter eggs, and I wish that lunatic well), but today we're gonna focus on just one of them.

The gag arrives maybe midway through the film: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) have traveled back into the not-too-distant past to obtain the Space and Mind Gems, two of the six Infinity Stones that need to be collected before the Avengers can build their own Infinty Gauntlet and un-do the damage Thanos caused at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. When Rogers finally tracks down the Mind Gem, it's still safely housed within a briefcase being escorted out of the old Avengers HQ...by a number of operatives we now know, with the benefit of hindsight, to be low-down, dirty agents of Hydra. 

The way the scene's set up, Endgame primes its audience for a repeat of Captain America: Winter Soldier's legendary elevator fight scene, but this turns out to be a bit of misdirection: just when you think Cap's gonna lay into the goons around him in order to obtain that case, he instead leans into the ear of the guy holding it and whispers: "Hail, Hydra." In the very next shot, we see Cap casually strolling out of the elevator, case in hand. It's a great beat, one which subverts expectations while cleverly trading on the film's time travel element. It's also something of an inside joke, one many audience members might not have the context for.

Y'all probably do, though.

Remember this? 

That's the infamous final page from 2016's Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, written by Nick Spencer. That issue - and, more specifically, that page, which has Captain America revealing himself to be in league with the rest of the Nazi-esque Hydra organization - went off like a bomb when it was published, infuriating longtime fans of the character and kicking off a seemingly endless parade of think pieces (it also resulted in Spencer receiving death threats, the online world's preferred method for voicing a difference in opinion with a content creator). Despite all that sturm und drang, the moment wasn't undone by the folks at Marvel. Indeed, it was just the beginning of a series of events that eventually led to Marvel's Secret Empire crossover, which found Cap ushering in a complete Hydra takeover of the United States. It was kind of a big deal!

And now the line's been given a second life via Avengers: Endgame, one where the meaning's been flipped on its head. It's a clever bit of reclamation work from the Russos, quite possibly my favorite bit of fan service in the entire movie (which is saying something, given the number of options there are to choose from), and the one moment I really wanted to throw a spotlight on immediately upon seeing the film.

Anyway, now that you've seen Avengers: Endgame, what were some of your favorite easter eggs/callbacks/fan nods? Sound off in the comments below, and stay tuned for more on Avengers: Endgame as the film continues to dominate the discussion for, I dunno, at least the next few weeks.