Movie fans have been waiting for this weekend since May 2, 2008. That’s the day Jon Favreau’s Iron Man was released and, after the credits, Samuel L. Jackson showed up as Nick Fury, asking Tony Stark about The Avengers. Four movies of set up and introduction later, The Avengers is finally out on Friday. It’s the culmination of four year’s worth of intricate layering by all the people who made the Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Just how intricate are we talking? We won’t get into major spoilers for The Avengers just yet but it’s not a spoiler that the Cosmic Cube, referred to as the Tesseract, is the centerpiece of the movie. While most of us believe it first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger as the object of the Red Skull’s desires, it actually first appeared in Iron Man 2 as Tony Stark flipped through his father’s journal. His father, of course, was a major character in Captain America, which took place before Iron Man 2 even though Iron Man 2 was released first. Make sense? It will when you click below.

While many fans had already figured this out, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed and explained the Cube’s placement in an interview with Wired (via Nerd Basterds).

In Iron Man II there’s a scene where Tony is flipping through his father’s old notebook. I told Jon that we thought the young version of Howard Stark was going to be a character in Captain America, because we need a gadget guy, sort of a Q for SHIELD. I said, “What if the prop guy just draws a little cube on this page of this notebook? You never have to mention it, never even talk about it, it’s just there.” Jon said, “Sure, whatever.” The trick is, the Easter eggs have to enhance the experience for those who know what they are, but not detract from the experience for those who don’t.

Here’s a screenshot:

So Howard Stark (played by Dominic Cooper in Captain America and John Slattery in Iron Man 2) becomes aware of the Cube in 1940s, studied it, drew it, left the Cube with S.H.I.E.L.D (we see this at the end of Thor) and his notes to his son, who happens to see it in Iron Man 2. However, Iron Man 2 was released first so Feige was setting this up beforehand. It gives the header image above of Tony Stark in The Avengers new meaning, doesn’t it?

And, as expected, there are easter eggs in the current Marvel movies that will affect movies that come after The Avengers, but you’ll have to check back on Monday for more on that. What other things have you noticed?

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