It's only really since the advent of home media, i.e. VHS, DVD, and streaming, that people have begun to notice the smaller details in movies.
Oftentimes, they're left in as an in-joke for people working on the movie or even just a way to lighten the mood on set. In some cases, these details are done to accentuate an element in the story or to draw focus to a character or event in a more subtle way. More recently, they work as Easter eggs and fan references.
Here's some of the best examples of small details in movies found throughout the years.
14. The Dark Knight and 1966's Batman are connected
When Heath Ledger first appears on screen, he's wearing a white mask with blue paint surrounding the sad mouth of a clown. It's then pulled back to reveal a horribly scarred Joker, chuckling as he puts a smoke grenade in a victim's mouth. As it turns out, the mask that Heath Ledger wore in that scene was almost identical to a mask worn by Cesar Romero in the very television appearance of The Joker in 1966's Batman. There, Joker was dressed as Pagliacci the clown and wore a mask - which he removed to reveal his face.
13. Steve Buscemi plays the same character in Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs
There's been a theory doing the rounds for years that Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are set in the same universe, and it has some measure of truth to it. Originally, the mysterious suitcase in Pulp Fiction was supposed to contain diamonds, and what did they steal in Reservoir Dogs? Diamonds. For Steve Buscemi however, there's a far more pointed detail. In Reservoir Dogs, he discusses why he doesn't tip waitresses - and specifically mentions that he used to work a job that society didn't deem to be worth tipping. In the very next movie that Quentin Tarantino directs, what's Steve Buscemi's character doing? Working as a waiter.
12. The shopping mall in Back To The Future
This is an easy one to spot, if you know to look out for it. In Back To The Future, the fateful scene where Doc Brown is (gulp) shot by Libyan terrorists take places in the Twin Pines Mall. When McFly accelerates to 88MPH and jumps back in time, the first time he drives over is a pine tree. The film continues on, and when McFly returns to 1985, where does the same scene with Doc and the Libyans play out? At the Lone Pine Mall.
11. Robert DeNiro's thirty-second rule in Heat
One of Robert DeNiro's mantras in Heat is that "if you want to be making moves on the street, allow nothing into your life that you are not prepared to walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you spot the heat coming 'round the corner." Later on in the film, after DeNiro is fleeing the hotel after shooting dead a former associate, he sees Al Pacino coming towards him. DeNiro looks at Amy Brenneman, the woman he's fallen in love with, back at Al Pacino, back at her, and then starts running away - all in thirty seconds flat.
10. The Millennium Falcon's Holochess desk is exactly the same in A New Hope as it is in The Force Awakens
In fact, the pieces are left in the exact same place. Here's a video to explain it better.
9. Tir na nÓg and Titanic
In one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Titanic, an Irish immigrant tries to comfort her children as the ship is sinking by telling them about Tir na nÓg. There's a bit at the start of scene where she mentions 300 years, which is a reference to the tale of Oisin and Niamh, who fell in love and travelled to Tir na nÓg on a beautiful white horse and lived there for what seemed like three years, but was actually 300 years back in Ireland. The part that works for this, however, is that the myth was that in order to reach Tir na nÓg, Oisin and Niamh travelled to Tir na nÓg by riding their horse under the waves of the sea. The Irish mother tells this story as the ship is going down beneath the sea. Additional trivia! The Irish mother in the scene was Vasquez in Aliens and John Connor's foster mother in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
8. Elasti-Girl in The Incredibles used completely realistic radio chatter in the missile scene
Taken from the YouTube description for the video - "VFR on top" indicates she is flying in the regime of Visual Flight Rules 'on top' of a cloud cover. She then requests vectors to the "initial", the initial landing approach. "Angels 10" is her altitude call - ten thousand feet. "Track east" is her current direction of travel from her current position. Her "buddy-spiked" mayday is US Air Force code, as a warning not to fire, given to an aircraft who has radar lock on a friendly - in this case, Helen was referring to the missiles she thought were fired by friendlies. "Transmitting in the Blind Guard" is a call on the emergency frequency where 2-way communication has not been established. Elastigirl's pilot call sign is India-Golf-Niner-Niner, or IG99. This is a reference to Brad Bird's The Iron Giant (1999): [I]ron [G]iant released in 19.
7. Get Out and bucks
At the start of Get Out, as Daniel Kaluuya and Alison Williams are heading to the country, the car hits a wild deer as it passes them. Later on in the film, in the room where Daniel Kaluuya's character is being prepped for surgery, we see the preserved head of a male deer on the wall. A male deer is often referred to a stag, but in the US, it's also known as a buck. In post-Reconstruction America, a racial slur for a black man who refused white authority was to call them "a black buck."
6. HAL's name from 2001: A Space Odyssey
There's been tons of rumours through the years about Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and, more specifically, HAL. Considering it's in the title, many believe that HAL was essentially the Cyclops from Homer's Odyssey to 2001: A Space Odyssey. While Kubrick has never confirmed anything, there is one detail that's particularly interesting about HAL's name. If you move the first letter of his name forward by one step (I), move the second letter forward one (B), and move the final letter forward (M), you get IBM. For anyone under the age of 30, IBM is a massive conglomerate that made some of the first computers and were involved as consultants in the film. You also see their logo dotted around the film. HAL was essentially the next step from IBM. Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote the source novel and the sequel that followed, denied it was a joke and even inserted a passage in the sequel to correct it.
5. The Thing would have ended a lot differently if people spoke Norwegian
In the opening scene of John Carpenter's The Thing, we see a helicopter chasing a husky dog through the tundra before he reaches the US camp and happily licks the face of one of the occupants. The Norwegian's dialogue, translated, is as follows - "Get the hell away from that thing. That's not a dog, it's some sort of thing! It's imitating a dog, it isn't real! GET AWAY, YOU IDIOTS!"
4. T2: Trainspotting and Star Wars
When Renton returns to Scotland, one of the first places he visits is his old family home. As he walks towards the house, there's children outside playing - one of them with a blue lightsaber. Ewan McGregor played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels, and his lightsaber colour was blue.
3. The Goonies = Jurassic Park's Dennis Nedry
— Shawn Robare (@ShawnRobare) November 2, 2017
2. Professor X's hideout in Logan was a visual metaphor for...
Well, a lot of things. For one, the world's mutants were dying out and the fact that he was living inside the wreckage meant that he felt it all more acutely. Not only that, the rusted holes in the water tank looked very similar to Cerebro, the device Professor X used to communicate with and identify other mutants. Not only that, the holes themselves represent the missing mutants - they're just holes now.
1. Tyler Durden was on Facebook in The Social Network
In one scene in The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg - played by Jesse Eisenberg - is talking about getting his art history assignment done via Facebook by simply posting a few pictures and jumping back in every so often to stir the pot. The scene then shows Zuckerberg's computer screen - and whose Facebook account is he looking at? Tyler Durden's. Here's a full-size image of the screenshot below.