The First Marvel Movie Had The Best Easter Egg Ever

In Iron Man, Jeff Bridges played a piano piece by Antonio Salieri to reveal he was Iron Man's secret enemy.

By Nathan Kamal | Updated

iron man jeff bridges

Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are known for burying Easter Eggs in every project, to the point where whole books could be (and probably have been) written to list them. As time goes on and the 32nd movie of the franchise (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) rolls around, the Easter Eggs have only gotten denser and more obscure, but it turns out the best one was in the very first movie. 2008’s Iron Man had Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) reveal that he was the secret enemy of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) by playing a piece of classical music associated with Antonio Salieri, often considered to be the arch-rival of the genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The very first Marvel movie was the origin story of Iron Man, with Jeff Bridges playing Tony Stark’s older business partner and mentor Obadiah Stane. Over the course of the film, it is revealed that Bridges was the one behind the terrorist attack that resulted in RDJ developing the first Iron Man armor (in a cave, using a box of scraps), all the while masquerading as his friend. Deep in the film’s second act, Jeff Bridges plays a classical piano piece that well-trained listeners eventually identified as Salieri’s “Piano Concerto in C Major.”

Iron Man showing Jeff Bridges playing this particular piano piece is so significant because of the 1984 film Amadeus (which itself was based on the 1979 Peter Shaffer play of the same name), which depicted Salieri as a frustrated mediocrity of a composer who poses as a friend to the younger, more brilliant Mozart while working to undermine and destroy him at every turn. In the film version, F. Murray Abraham (most recently of The White Lotus) is seen as a figure who is deeply aware of his own limitations and both admires and hates Mozart for his own greatness and talent. 

F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus

It does not take much of a stretch to connect Iron Man’s Jeff Bridges to Amadeus’ Antonio Salieri in terms of their hidden plans against a younger, more talented creative genius. In real life, all reputable historical documents indicate that Mozart and Salieri appear to have had something of a rivalry in life, but not nearly to the extent as has become fixed in pop culture. On the other hand, it seems pretty definite that Obadiah Stane had it out for Tony Stark.

Unlike some Marvel Easter Eggs, which require knowing who Cosmo the Spacedog is or noticing that Steve Ditko’s name is graffitied on a wall (keep your eyes peeled in Spider-Man: No Way Home), Iron Man and Jeff Bridges demanded you know some pretty deep-cut classical piano concertos. But the quality of an Easter Egg can often be seen in how closely you have to look (or in this case, listen) to notice it, which makes this one a doozy.