Perusing films and shows frame by frame is a practice I often find myself engaging in lately, especially when it pertains to Marvel Studios projects. Not for any need to find the undoubtedly countless easter eggs and comic book references that are hidden and scattered about their immense catalogue, but because I enjoy trying to piece each title as succinctly as I can onto the ever-growing MCU Timeline, and there are usually clues and/or indicative subtexts to be found in blink-and-you-miss-it moments that help with that. But occasionally an easter egg or two does present itself to me that I deem worth sharing. One such easter egg has now appeared at least twice in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, which sparked in me the need to take a deep dive to find out exactly how deep it went.
The easter egg in question is most commonly attributed to Pixar, though whether anyone in the production of She-Hulk has any direct ties to Pixar isn’t clear. That said, in the first episode we got our most overt Pixar callback in the MCU to date, as Jennifer attempts to coax herself into Hulk form by playing a sad scene from Inside Out. She says “ooh! Put on a Pixar movie. When Bing Bong jumps out of the wagon in ‘Inside Out’–,” but she’s quickly cut off as Bruce says “Bing Bong. No. No. Stop.” It’s an excellent reference to one of Pixar’s greatest and most heartbreaking moments. But the easter egg we’ll be dissecting today is none other than A113.
A113, pronounced “ay-one-thirteen,” is an easter egg that can most famously be found hidden in nearly every Pixar film to date (save for Monsters Inc.; nobody has yet found it), though it does appear in other media too, both animated and live action. ‘A113’ is a reference to the graphic design classroom in the California Institute of the Arts, and was adopted as ‘an inside joke’ by some of the classes alumni, which include John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Michael Peraza, and Brad Bird. The first usage of A113 was in Bird’s Family Dog episode of Amazing Stories, where he used the classroom number on a license plate. Outside of Pixar, the easter egg has since been used in a number of Disney titles as well.
Suffice it to say, I was deeply surprised to find the A113 easter egg a few weeks back in the second episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. As Jen enters the Department of Damage Control prison cells on her way to visit Emil Blonsky, she looks out at a window labeled none other than A113! But it wasn’t until I found the easter egg in another episode of the series that I chose to dig into whether it was a common thing in Marvel or not. That said, this particular hidden secret in episode 2 is unique, as it’s the only instance of A113 (that I’m aware of) where it appears to be attached to a set piece, and not some overhead display or digital file name.
The infamous easter egg showed up again at the end of the 6th episode, Just Jen, as we pull back from security footage of Jen sharing a plate of fries. It’s a far more sinister screen as we pull back from that to a room full of individuals who are working towards the goal of either harming Jennifer or stealing her blood for their own nefarious gain. Still, the A113 hidden in the corner of the computer screen is a fun find. Now, I haven’t been actively searching for these easter eggs, so it’s possible there are even more that I’m missing from this show, or other titles, but rest assured I’m on the hunt now.
The first known plug of A113 in a Marvel project can be found at the tail end of Avengers, as Loki is sent up to Asgard in chains. On the top left of a series of 4 computer screens we see the file name “A113” prominently. The Avengers was the first Marvel film produced fully under Disney’s distribution since they acquired Marvel Studios in 2009, so this may have been a subtle nod to that fact, as Disney also purchased Pixar in 2006.
James Gunn’s now-classic MCU debut, Guardians of the Galaxy was another film to drop an A113 reference. After the group’s arrest by the Nova Corps. we find an onscreen chyron listing part of Groot’s DNA(?) or makeup as A113.
Spider-Man: Homecoming features the easter egg quite prominently a few times, namely whenever he uses the camera located in his detachable suit camera/Spider-logo. The particular instance featured above is when the camera is scanning the Staten Island Ferry, and you’ll notice the A113 is the specific camera feed name in the top left. Another instance can be found when the camera is aimed above the Washington Monument later in the film.
On Wanda Maximoff’s rap sheet, featured prominently in episode 5 of WandaVision, you can find the easter egg just left of the box that incorrectly lists her year of birth as 1988.
While it ultimately doesn’t mean anything beyond being a fun feature to hunt down, it’s curious that so many titles outside of Pixar have jumped on the opportunity. It’s unclear if there are any particular alumni of Cal Arts in any of these projects, or it’s just a way of passing on a fun tradition. Whether there are any other instances in the MCU where we see the A113 easter egg featured isn’t known, but please let me know if you find any in the future!
One thought on “The Easter Egg That Keeps Popping Up in the MCU”
Oh cool! I didn’t catch that or it’s meaning once you pointed it out. Thanks for sharing! I was wondering if they were making a commentary that they were A89 better than studio A24.