Marvel is no stranger to including references to DC in Phase 4. Eternals featured a surprise confirmation that both Batman and Superman exist in the MCU, with director Chloe Zhao sharing that Marvel Studios Kevin Feige was appreciative of the reference by simply saying, "Oh, that's cool."
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special director, and newly appointed DC Studios co-CEO, James Gunn has been a large proponent of a proper Marvel and DC joint-venture, previously revealing that there have been discussions about crossover possibilities between the two franchises, noting that he doesn't think that "it’s an impossibility."
Now, as Gunn's transition from Marvel to DC continues to be a major subject in the past weeks, it seems that the veteran filmmaker still managed to include at least one notable DC Easter egg in his latest MCU project.
James Gunn's Clever Batman Easter Egg Explained
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special followed Drax and Mantis' quest to Earth to find the perfect gift for Chris Pratt's Peter Quill, leading them to Quill's childhood hero, Kevin Bacon.
After tons of convincing and dangerous pursuit, the Mantis managed to successfully retrieve Bacon, leading to a hilarious conversation inside their spaceship.
When Mantis realizes that Kevin Bacon is just an actor on Earth, she promptly tells him to "pretend" that he's an actual hero:
Mantis: "Kevin Bacon, you have to pretend you’re an actual hero, or else Christmas is doomed."
Bacon: [in British accent] "Blimey, mate. I can’t wait to storm them Nazis on the beach."
Confused as to why Bacon is speaking funny, Mantis tells him to simply use his "regular voice:"
Mantis: "What are you doing?"
Bacon: "I’m a hero, ain’t I then? I’m a private in the British Army during World War II."
Mantis: "No, just your regular voice."
Bacon then jokingly introduces himself as Batman to Mantis and Drax:
Bacon: "Oh. Okay. Yeah, sure, fine. Hello. I’m the Batman. I mean, hello. I’m Bruce Wayne."
This leads to Drax questioning who Bruce Wayne even is, before being cut off by Mantis telling Bacon to not be someone else:
Drax: "Who is Bruce Wayne?"
Mantis: "No! Don’t be someone else. Be Kevin Bacon, but, like, if you didn’t suck!"
The Batman mention in the Holiday Special marks the second time that the DC's Dark Knight has been referenced in the MCU.
In Eternals, the Caped Crusader was included as an Easter egg when Harish Patel's Karun introduces himself as a valet of Kingo, prompting Gilgamesh to say “Oh, valet. Like Alfred in Batman.”
While addressing this DC reference, Eternals director Chloé Zhao previously made it clear that the MCU has the ability to "pay tribute" to other heroes that don't exist in their real world:
"It doesn't mean we can't pay tribute and have a good time with these iconic ones that we all love to so much. I mean, who doesn't love Superman and Batman? Clearly our Eternals like them."
Will DC Ever Reference the MCU?
James Gunn was yet to become the DC head during the special's production, so it's likely this reference was made as an act of paying tribute to his love of DC lore.
Gunn has been clearly an advocate for a Marvel and DC crossover in the past. The Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker previously shared his crossover idea between DC's Harley Quinn and the MCU's Groot, describing it as an "exciting" prospect.
However, the DCU, formerly the DCEU, has yet to include a reference to the MCU (yet). The closest DC has come is a sly reference to Iron Man in The Lego Batman Movie, where the Dark Knight's password to the Batcave is "Iron Man sucks!"
Despite that, with Gunn leading the charge, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before a subtle reference to the Avengers will make its way to a DC project, especially now that a new slate is expected to be announced in 2023.
Hopefully, these little references between the two franchises could eventually lead to something bigger down the line.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is now streaming on Disney+.