The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for its rabid fanbase, and part of what keeps these hardcore devotees onside is just how well Marvel Studios manages to work fan service moments into its films. The term “fan service” – which refers to creators including moments designed specifically to please fans – is often used in a derogatory sense by pop culture aficionados, and not without cause.
When done poorly, these attempts to give fans exactly what they want can come across as forced and actually harm the narrative flow of a story. However, when done right, instances of fan service can actually enhance proceedings, creating memorable scenes that work in service to the wider plot and appeal to veteran fans and newbies alike.
Granted, the MCU hasn’t always gotten it right when it comes to fan service (for instance, Captain America’s shield in Iron Man 2 is glaring example of the studio trying too hard). But generally speaking, the films have a strong track record of working in shout-outs to the source material that add to (rather than detract from) the audience’s viewing pleasure.
With this in mind, I’ve assembled this rundown of the 15 best moments of fan service in the MCU.