The topic of fan service in superhero films is a difficult one to navigate. When people criticize franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe for plot-irrelevant moments or plot-hole-inducing easter eggs that serve only to please their most dedicated supporters, they assume that these moments are a bad thing. For many, it’s quite the contrary - some fans appreciate being catered to every now and then.
The aforementioned folks at Marvel Studios have consistently gone out of their way to deliver what they know their diehard fans want the most, cramming Avengers: Endgame full of deep-cut comic book references and peppering the entire franchise with copious shirtless scenes. Few walk out of a Marvel movie unsatisfied, and the unabashed fan service probably has something to do with that - which is why we keep asking for more!
Captain America Lifts Thor’s Hammer - Twice
From the moment both Steve Rogers and the mythical mallet Mjolnir exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s practically destined that he will one day lift it. After all, Captain America has hefted Thor’s hammer multiple times in the pages of Marvel Comics - and there’s really no one worthier than he.
The first time Cap lifts Mjolnir, it’s nearly imperceptible - a brief moment in Avengers: Age of Ultron that only Thor and some eagle-eyed viewers notice. When Rogers takes a firmer grip of it in Endgame, it’s definitely too crucial of a plot event to be considered true “fan service” - but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a moment designed to thrill those fans who had been waiting a decade to see it.Is this satisfying fan service?
Iron Man And Captain America Recreate An Iconic ‘Civil War’ Cover
The Civil War that takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is much, much different than the event that inspires it in Marvel Comics. In actuality, the only main similarity is that both conflicts center around Captain America and Iron Man - and it’s only fitting that those two combine to recreate one of the series’ most iconic covers from Civil War #7.
In the film’s vicious final battle, Tony Stark fires both of his repulsors directly into Steve Rogers’s shield, creating a massive flash as they impressively pose. It’s a pose that is held just a moment too long to be a realistic part of the brawl taking place, and that makes it perfectly clear why it was put in the movie: as a tribute to those fans who have the source material sitting on their shelves at home.Is this satisfying fan service?
Stan Lee Is Revealed As Watcher Informant
In a sense, every single Stan Lee cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an instance of fan service, as the cameos don’t serve much purpose to the plot and are mostly there as a wink to the audience. Marvel Studios doubles down on the idea in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, however, when they seemingly confirm that Lee is in fact an informant of the Watchers - cosmic beings from Marvel Comics lore that observe, but are sworn to never interfere with, the happenings of the multiverse.
Fans had long speculated that all of Lee’s cameo characters were one-and-the-same, but by having him hang out with the Watchers and make specific references to old cameos, Marvel Studios appears to have confirmed the theory - or at the very least heavily lampshaded it. It’s probably not something that will ever be referenced again, meaning it's nothing more than an intentional nod to those fans who are so dedicated to the franchise that they can’t help but to speculate about it.Is this satisfying fan service?
Spidey's Older Theme Music Plays
Sometimes, fan service happens before the first scene of a film has even begun. Marvel Studios regaining the rights to use Spider-Man in their films was reason enough for celebration among dedicated Marvel-ites, but their joy was likely doubled by a particular bit of music that plays during the opening credits of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
As the Marvel Studios logo flickers by, a quick and revamped section of Danny Elfman’s musical theme from the original Spider-Man trilogy - itself inspired by the themes of the classic animated series - is heard. In just a matter of seconds, the tune sends a clear message to those watching that the rebooted Spidey will pay homage to versions past, and that this movie is coming from people who truly understand the character.Is this satisfying fan service?