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Note #103: Easter in May (2016.5.18)

Hey, internet. It’s me. We need to talk. Yes, I know that our conversations often tend to seem rather one-sided, but I do listen to what you say. Really. It’s just that I’ve been really busy lately, and it’s kind of hard to keep up with you. By the time I’ve thought of something to say, you’re usually on to the next topic. But every now and then I feel like I just have to say something. This is one of those times.

So this past weekend HJ and I went to see Captain America: Civil War. It was fun, and I enjoyed it. Yeah, there were some plot holes big enough for Giant Man to walk through without stooping over, but I guess that’s kind of par for the course for these films. HJ and I talked about it afterward, but when I got home I really wanted to hear what you had to say. I had been studiously avoiding your many suggestions that we discuss it, but now I could drink in all those juicy tidbits you had for me.

Scrolling through page after page of those tidbits, though, I quickly noticed something: a proliferation of pages trying to lure me in with discussions of “Easter eggs.” Look, I get it. You like buzzwords and catchphrases, and you think you’ve got to be hip and trendy or people will stop listening to you. But the vast majority of those things you’re labeling as Easter eggs are not actually Easter eggs.

I can’t believe that I have to be the one to tell you this—after all, it was you who told me what Easter eggs were in the first place! I’m just going to assume that you took a sharp blow to the head or went on one of your epic benders and somehow erased that memory. It’s pretty simple, though. You remember Easter, right? That holiday celebrating a bunny who craps out colored eggs and then hides them around houses for children to find? Yes, yes, there’s that bit about the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, but that’s not the point right now. We’re talking about the eggs at the moment, and there are three important things to note about them: 1) They’re little, 2) they bring joy when found, and 3) they’re hidden.

Back to these things in Civil War that you keep calling Easter eggs. Are they little? Well, they can be little moments or scenes that sometimes might pass you by if you’re not paying attention, so we’ll say “yes” (even though some of them are decidedly not little) Do they bring joy when found? Sure—viewers get that little thrill of recognition when they make the connection. But are they hidden? No, they are not. They are right out there in plain sight for anyone to see. And being hidden is probably the most important characteristic of an Easter egg (which is why we have Easter egg “hunts” and not simply Easter egg “collections”), so these little tidbits you are so excited about are not Easter eggs.

What are they, then? They are references, of course. I know that you know this, because in addition to calling them Easter eggs, you also call them references. The two terms are not interchangeable, though. Like references, Easter eggs can require some background knowledge to understand, but only an Easter egg requires you to go beyond the surface and search for it. You want an actual Easter egg? Try the jokey allusions to the New England Patriots in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Now that’s an Easter egg, because nobody is going to notice that without some searching. But the fact that the Civil War recreates iconic scenes from the comic books, or that Cap says “I can do this all day” in each of his films? Yeah, those are just references, and not even obscure ones at that.

Here’s a good one that I already shared with Kevin. You know that scene where Tony Stark meets Aunt May and they’re flirting with each other? Well, did you know that the two actors, Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei, starred opposite each other in the 1994 romantic comedy Only You, and afterward dated in real life? Holy Easter eggs, Batman! Yeah, no, that’s just a reference—a very obscure reference, since (as I said to Kevin) the Venn diagram of Marvel Comic Universe fans and Only You fans probably does not have a very big overlap, but still just a reference.

So, anyway, that was what I wanted to talk about. Don’t take it too personally or anything. It just makes me cringe every time I see you call what is clearly just a reference an Easter egg. But I’m glad we could clear that up. Wow, I feel a lot better already. Don’t you? Cool. Great. So, uh, I’ll catch you next time. Later!

Send me your thoughts.

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