Defenders Easter eggs you missed

Since Netflix and Marvel Television joined forces in late 2013 to develop a small-screen branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've been treated to two seasons of Daredevil as well as solo outings for Jessica JonesLuke Cage and Iron Fist—and now the wait for their team-up series is finally over. The Defenders season 1 is live on Netflix, and the early critical consensus is that the show doesn't disappoint, bringing the four characters together in what amounts to a satisfying payoff. 

Of course, Easter eggs are a prerequisite with Marvel, and The Defenders is no exception. The series is full of subtle nods and references not only to the team members' solo shows and the wider MCU, but to the original comics, too. Here are all the Easter eggs you might have missed.

New Harlem renaissance

After turning himself over to the law at the end of his first solo series, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is fresh out of prison and ready to get back to protecting Harlem in The Defenders. That doesn't mean the events of Luke Cage season 1 aren't still running alongside the first team-up series, however. When Cage is set free with some help from Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) in episode 1, he thanks the Daredevil attorney and tells him he has a bus to catch.

When we see him next, Power Man is admiring the city as the bus takes him towards his "coffee" catch-up with Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), but you probably didn't catch what was written on the side of that bus. Just for a moment, you see an advertisement for the New Harlem Renaissance, which is the campaign being run by Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), otherwise known as Black Mariah. She and Shades Alvarez inherited Harlem's crime syndicate by the end of Luke Cage season 1.

Long Live the Chief

When Cage's reunion with Temple is interrupted by former flame Misty Knight (Simone Missick), she tells him somebody has been using the youth of Harlem for dangerous late-night work and seven have been murdered in the last few months alone. One of the dead is the brother of Candace (Deborah Ayorinde), the waitress from Luke Cage season 1 who was killed before she could testify against Black Mariah. They have a third sibling, however, who Cage visits to pay his respects.

When Cage finds Cole (J. Mallory McCree), he begins to believe he's doing the same work that got his brother killed. During their conversation, a poster for Jidenna's "Long Live the Chief" can be seen on Cole's wall. The rapper was one of many artists who performed at Cottonmouth's club in Luke Cage season 1, and downloads of the track skyrocketed as a result.

Istanbul, not Constantinople

As leader of the Hand, Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) has clearly lived an awfully long time. Her age is subtly hinted at throughout the series, first in episode 2 during the scene in which she gets a private performance of some Brahms. When her host comments on the influence of Beethoven in that particular piece, Alexandra responds as if she knew the composer personally. "It's not influence, it was a direct response," she says. "All Brahms wanted to prove was that he could do it to. He was petty like that."

Brahms died in 1897, however, and Alexandra has been around a lot longer than that. In the opening scene of episode 3, we see her sitting alone in a Turkish restaurant. She gives her compliments to the chef, telling the waiter that the dish is even better than she tasted in Constantinople, the ancient name for the city of Istanbul. The waiter corrects her, but Alexandra's rueful smile tells us she really meant Constantinople, which fell in 1453 after an invasion from the Ottoman Empire.

Yellow shirt Luke

Slowly but surely, we're getting closer to seeing the Defenders decked out in their traditional comics garb, but full-on superhero outfits are still a little ways off. Claire Temple compliments Misty Knight's look after she turns up at Luke Cage's door wearing a leather jacket that kind of resembles her comics costume (more on her future in the Netflix MCU later), and Danny Rand (Finn Jones) is starting to wear Iron Fist's traditional green and yellow colors more regularly, most noticeably in the bloody K'un-Lun nightmare scene and the closing moments of the final episode. The most clear-cut fashion influence from the comics comes in Luke Cage's wardrobe, however. Before it gets all shot up in a scrape with Hand henchmen, the bulletproof hero wears the plain yellow t-shirt he's rocked on countless occasions.

The Incident

For whatever reason, the Marvel Netflix shows refuse to refer to the Avengers by name. Instead, they get called things like "the big green dude" (Jessica Jones, season 1 episode 3), "the big blond dude with the hammer" and "the old dude with the shield" (Luke Cage, season 1 episode 1). They even take a hush-hush approach to discussing the time the Avengers saved the planet from a Chitauri invasion, referring to the extraterrestrial attack as the "Incident."

In episode 2 of The Defenders, we see Jessica Jones' (Krysten Ritter) best friend Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) hosting her radio show, Trish Talk. Walker is digging into the cause of the earthquake that rocked the city at the end of the first episode, and when she takes her first caller, the worried man references the events of 2012's The Avengers. "It's really scary when something like this happens—what do I tell my kids?" the caller says. "After everything we've been through, we can't help but think it's the Incident or terrorism."

Matt Murdock to the rescue

The final scene of the second episode is one of the biggest nods to the source material in the whole season—in fact, it's nigh-on identical to a page in Alias #3. Jessica Jones is being questioned about a murder she didn't commit when, to her surprise, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) turns up and announces himself as her attorney.

The officer interrogating Jones in the comic isn't Misty Knight, and it was Luke Cage who sent Murdock to her aid, not Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) by way of Foggy, but this is still an unmistakable nod to Alias. The five-part series was the main inspiration for Jessica Jones season 1, which was a good move, according to star Krysten Ritter. "Alias was my first time reading a comic book," she told Time," and I loved them."

Stan the man

The obligatory Stan Lee cameo comes 26 minutes into episode 3, when the Marvel mainstay can be seen in a few consecutive shots. As Jessica Jones follows Matt Murdock down a busy New York street hoping to learn a little more about him, both pass by a kiosk adorned with Lee's grinning face. Since the release of the first X-Men movie in 2000, he's popped up in practically every single Marvel project.

Lee told CinemaBlend that his favorite cameo was in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, because he actually appeared twice. "The thing I loved about that cameo is, if you think about it, that is the only cameo I've done that had two scenes. It was more than a cameo. It was almost like a role in the movie! So now I'm shooting for cameos that have three scenes, four scenes. Eventually I hope to be the co-star."

What's Matt playing on the piano?

Jones manages to catch up with Murdock and snaps some photos of him skipping up a fire escape like a Russian gymnast in his efforts to escape her. She digs into his story, realizes he's the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, and casually drops everything she knows about his late father into a conversation with a girl they're tapping for information on Midland Circle, the epicenter of Hand-related activity in NYC.

During this scene, Murdock sits down at a piano and starts playing, stopping only when he realizes one of the keys sounds dull. They pop the lid and find a set of blueprints for the Midland Circle building, which this girl's father (the architect who built the Hand's headquarters) had planned on blowing up. It's an interesting plot development, but equally as interesting is the tune Murdock was playing: The Defenders theme song.

92 percent

This is either a crazy coincidence or an example of the writers behind The Defenders getting super meta, and we prefer to believe it's the latter. During the scene in which Murdock and Jones are trying to find the architect's house, their conversation about the Hand's evil intentions comes to an end when the heavy-drinking private investigator recognizes the door they need—at least, she thinks she does.

When Murdock asks her if she's certain they're at the right house, she responds by saying she's "99 percent" sure. As she passes Daredevil and walks up the stoop, however, she adds: "92 percent. But that's still a lot." It seems like a throwaway piece of dialogue, but that wasn't just a random number. 92 percent is the score the Jessica Jones solo series has on Rotten Tomatoes, which (while not as good as Daredevil season 1) is indeed a lot. 

White privilege

Iron Fist has the unfortunate distinction of being the only Marvel Cinematic Universe offering to fall short of "Fresh" status on Rotten Tomatoes, where a disappointing 17 percent of critics have offered positive reviews. Some of the criticism was aimed at the fight scenes and lead man Finn Jones himself, but what really ruined Iron Fist in the eyes of many detractors was its worn-out story of a privileged young white man. The powers that be decided to address the issue with a moment of pure fan service in The Defenders.

In episode 3, Danny Rand has his privilege well and truly checked by Luke Cage. "I'm not some billionaire white boy who takes justice into his own hands and slams a black kid against a wall because of his personal vendetta," Cage tells him upon their first meeting in Colleen Wing's dojo. "You're not thinking about anyone but yourself… I know privilege when I see it. You may think you earned your strength, but you had power the day you were born." You tell him, Luke.

Super friends

Another episode 3 Easter egg involving Luke Cage takes place in the Chinese restaurant the Defenders retreat to in order to discuss how to approach their separate beefs with the Hand. It isn't a Marvel reference, however—call it a nod or call it a swipe. Cage tells the gang he isn't "looking for Super Friends," which was the name of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon featuring DC Comics' flagship team the Justice League of America. The show ran for nine seasons over 13 years before coming to an end in 1986, though in the years since it's been parodied countless times.

South Park episode "Super Best Friends" replaced the JLA with various religious figures, and the show has appeared in Family Guy several times, from mock opening credits to cutaway skits featuring the Super Friends' accountant and games of strip poker at the Hall of Justice.

The Battle of New York

Another name for the Incident is the Battle of New York, which was what it was called by New York Bulletin reporter Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis Hall). The dogged investigative journalist was killed by the Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) in Daredevil season 1, leaving protégé and friend Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) to pick up where he left off. She took over his office in Daredevil season 2 and hasn't done much redecorating since, as two of Urich's framed front pages are still on display.

"The Battle of New York" splash sits proudly alongside another Easter egg headline, "Harlem Terror." This is a story about the Duel of Harlem, the confrontation between the Hulk and Abomination that took place in 2008's The Incredible Hulk. The film, which starred Ed Norton as Bruce Banner, not Mark Ruffalo, is a bit of black sheep in the MCU family, though it's clearly still canon.

Misty's arm

After constantly being told she wouldn't believe what was going on even if the Defenders told her, Misty Knight decides to go see for herself. She stalls her fellow officers at Midland Circle as the heroes do their thing inside, but can't resist the urge to lend a hand—quite literally. The sassy cop stumbles across Colleen Wing and Claire Temple trying to take out Bakuto, and when the Hand man is about to take off Temple's head, Knight pushes her out of harm's way, losing her arm in the process.

For those unfamiliar with Misty Knight's story in the comics, it must have seemed like a pretty horrific way for the character to finish the series, but those in the know were already thinking about what was to come. In the comics, Knight loses her arm during a terrorist attack but is fitted with a new bionic one by none other than Tony Stark, after which she starts the Nightwing Restorations Ltd. detective agency with her new friend and ally Colleen Wing.

The Night Nurse

The seeds of this budding friendship between Knight and Wing were sown at the end of The Defenders, with Colleen waiting by Knight's hospital bed for her to wake up. There's another subtle but brilliant comic book Easter egg in this scene, referencing a classic Marvel character with connections to more than one Defender. When Knight wakes and Wing stands up, a white board with patient information can be seen over her shoulder, and on it is the name of the nurse on duty—L. Carter.

This is a nod to nurse Linda Carter, a.k.a. the Night Nurse. Carter was once rescued by a superhero and decided to open up her own clinic in Manhattan to treat heroes in need of medical attention. She often helped Daredevil in the comics, and treated Luke Cage after he was injured during the Secret Wars. Her role of caregiver has been passed on to Claire Temple in the show, but it's still a pretty cool reference.

Rand Enterprises

With Danny Rand AWOL, the rest of the Defenders find themselves unable to leave the police station in episode 7, with Misty Knight and her superiors demanding answers about the secret group they claim to be chasing. With all their loved ones safe from harm in the station, Murdock, Cage and Jones decide to break out so they can take the final fight to the Hand and rescue Iron Fist. The problem is, the cops took their wallets.

Jones has a Metro card, however, so the heroes hit the subway. All three sit together in front of a poster featuring a silhouetted family holding hands with the words "We're here for you" above them. You can't see what the poster is for from this angle, but when it cuts to a random passenger (reacting to Jones taking a can of beer from a sleeping homeless guy) we see the poster again, and it's for Rand Enterprises.

Sister Maggie

Like Knight, Matt Murdock wakes up in a strange bed after the Defenders blow up Midland Circle to stop the Hand, but he isn't in a hospital. Having somehow survived the collapse of the skyscraper, Daredevil is being cared for in what seems to be a nunnery of some kind, and those familiar with his backstory know where this is likely going. In the show, all we know of Murdock's mother is that she wasn't around to raise him after his dad Jack was killed and Matt was sent to an orphanage as a result, but comics readers know she left the family after falling mentally ill and wound up being taken in by the church.

She took on the name Margaret, and would later come back into Murdock's life after Wilson Fisk discovered her identity and targeted her. In the final scene of The Defenders, a nun perched on the edge of Murdock's bed instructs her sisters to "get Maggie" when she sees the battered blind man start to stir, meaning a family reunion is on the horizon for Daredevil season 3.

A new Daredevil?

With Murdock MIA and presumed dead by his friends, super and otherwise, New York is vulnerable. One of the overriding arcs of The Defenders for Danny Rand was that NYC didn't feel like home to him, with nothing able to match up to K'un Lun in his eyes. By the time the final credits roll, however, he's had a change of heart, inspired by Daredevil's love of the city and the way he was willing to sacrifice himself for it.

In the comics, Rand actually became Daredevil for a period and even joined Captain America's side during the Civil War crossover event while still posing as him. Obviously this isn't possible in the MCU timeline, but it's interesting that the last time we see Rand, the showrunners very deliberately have him perched on a building ledge mimicking Daredevil. Could the Iron Fist become the new Devil of Hell's Kitchen? They're certainly hinting at it, but Rand is probably more likely to simply take over Daredevil duties in Murdock's absence rather than assume his identity.