That Exploding Building: As pointed out by Bleeding Cool, as Peterson climbed up the building in the opening minutes of the show, the words “Pharmacy” and “Prescriptions” were painted on the wall as part of an old advertisement, hinting at the later revelation that the building was being used for medical experiments.
Chitauri: The Chitauri, the villains of the The Avengers whose tech continues to vex S.H.I.E.L.D., were originally conceived as alternate versions of the Skrulls, an alien race of shapeshifters, for the Ultimate Universe. The Chitauri appeared in the mainstream Marvel universe for the first time in 2013′s Nova series, where they closely resemble their movie counterparts.
Agent Coulson: Yup, Coulson lives. While theories range about how Coulson came back to life (the Life Model Decoy theory gained some points after he Matrixed that flying car door), don’t look to the comics for answers. Coulson was brought into the comic universe in 2010 during Battle Scars, a miniseries follow up to Fear Itself, a 2010 event. Coulson, like his movie/tv counterpart, works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and currently appears in Nick Spencer’s Secret Avengers series.
Coulson also appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man television series, voiced by Clark Gregg. He’ll also voice the character in the upcoming Lego Marvel Super Heroes game.
Maria Hill: Cobie Smulders cameos as Agent Maria Hill, Nick Fury’s right hand. Hill played a large role in the Avengers movie, and is currently the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comic book universe. Hill first appeared in 2005′s New Avengers #4, and was created by Brian Bendis and David Finch. With Smulder’s other television show, How I Met Your Mother, wrapping up this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see her return to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at some point.
Travis McGee Novels - During his alleged time in Tahiti, Coulson read some Travis McGee novels. Travis McGee appeared in 21 mystery novels written by John D. Macdonald. McGee was a “salvage consultant”, who recovers missing/stolen objects for half their volume. Is that a clue as to what really happened to Coulson? We’ll see in coming weeks.
Dr. Streiten: While the good doctor is a television creation, Whedon fans will recognize him as Ron Glass, who played Shepherd Book in Firefly and Serenity.
Agent Melinda May: While Agent May is a new character, actress Ming-Na Wen is an established actress with plenty of ties to the various nerd franchises. Ming-Na voiced Detective Ellen Yin in The Batman cartoon show, played Chun-Li in the Street Fightermovie, was a regular in Stargate Universe, and was the voice of the title character in Disney’s Mulan.
“With Great Power…“: A reference to the well known “With great power comes great responsibility” quote, a key motivator in Spider-Man’s life. Don’t expect Spider-Man to pop up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., though. His rights (and the rights of his support cast and rogue’s gallery) are owned by Sony.
Journey into Mystery: Journey Into Mystery is a longrunning Marvel horror/science fiction series. The series was started in 1952 and was published by Marvel predecessor Atlas Comics. In 1962, it featured the first appearance of Thor, and subsequent issues introduced the rest of Asgard and Thor’s supporting casts. Eventually, the series became known as The Mighty Thor, although theJourney into Mystery title has been used for several other series. Journey into Mystery #69was the second comic to be labelled as a “Marvel Comic”, the first being Patsy Walker #95, released one week earlier.
Project Pegasus: Project Pegasus, the S.H.I.E.L.D base attacked by Loki in the opening scene of The Avengers is mentioned by Skye. Project Pegasus is a Marvel staple, an upstate New York facility used to research various types of energy and house dangerous criminals. Project Pegasus first appeared in Marvel Two-in-One #42 and was created by Ralph Macchio.
Extremis: Peterson’s powers are revealed to be a result of Chituari enhanced Extremis. You’ll recall that Extremis played heavily into the plot of Iron Man 3, which featured the virus being used to grant various users superpowers and/or turn them into living bombs. Extremis was originally conceived as a way to heal disabled persons, which is probably how Peterson got mixed up in the Centipede program to begin with (he was hurt on the job, which led to him getting laid off). Extremis was conceived by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov. The President of the United States in Iron Man 3 was named after Ellis.
Union Station: If Los Angeles’ Union Station looks familiar, you might recognize it fromThe Dark Knight Rises, where the Scarecrow’s courtroom scenes were filmed.
Lola: Yup, that’s a functional model of the flying car prototype featured in Captain America. Flying cars were first introduced as the S.H.I.E.L.D vehicle of choice inStrange Tales #159, written by Jim Steranko. Nick Fury’s original flying car was a Porsche 904, although Lola is a 1962 Corvette.