Last week, Zootopia hit theaters, and while many were expecting it to be a solid, fun time, few could anticipate just how good it was. In addition to being a timely social commentary, the film also managed to succeed on a purely emotional level, giving us well-rounded characters in a fully-realized world. Though while the story and the message was serious, the film was still a Disney film, meaning that the animators and storytellers made sure to have a lot of fun along the way.
The studio is well-known for planting little Easter eggs in their films–either as little nuggets for older fans, or as references to other Disney animated films–and Zootopia was no exception.
Here are five Easter eggs you may have missed in Zootopia.
These Animals Are Breaking Bad
I knew we struck some serious gold when I saw an animal walking around a lab with a yellow jump suit and an oxygen mask. Considering how iconic Breaking Bad is, there’s no way that piece of imagery was an accident. This idea was only reinforced when the animal proceeded to make a blue drug substance. There was no denying that this was a clear reference to the AMC series, which followed Walter White, a high school teacher who turned to cooking meth to earn money for his family. In the series, Walter, along with his former student Jesse Pinkman, become well known in the underworld for the blue tint in their crystal meth.
That wasn’t enough for Zootopia, however. The animal in the jump suit proceeded to call offscreen to “Walter” and “Jesse,” pretty much confirming its nod to the decidedly more adult show. If only they’d gotten actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul to play those characters, then the reference would have been complete.
It’s Pronounced “Wessleton!”
If you somehow missed watching Frozen in the past couple years, then you’re likely not to understand this next one. Folks who have seen the film, however, may remember the scrawny, “weasle-y” man, whose plot to exploit Arendelle and all its riches never truly comes to fruition. This was the Duke of Weaselton, and the duke went to great lengths to tell people that the kingdom’s name was, in fact, pronounced Wesselton.
What some may not know is that the man who plays the Duke in Frozen is Alan Tudyk, a fan-favorite actor among sci-fi nerds, and a go-to guy for Disney (he also played the villain in Wreck-It Ralph). Taking advantage of this relationship, Disney planted a little inside joke, casting Tudyk as a weasel named Duke Weaselton, which is a clear reference to his role in Frozen. Gotta love the little things!
It’s no real secret that actress Kristen Bell has a lot of love for sloths. This fact was shown on full display when she appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show a few years back. You can check out that video below!
Given the actress’ relationship with Disney (she did voice Anna in Frozen, after all), it’s no surprise that in an animal-based film like Zootopia that she’d get a bit role as a sloth. In what is perhaps one of the more well-known scenes of the film, Bell plays the role of Priscilla, who works with another sloth named Flash at the DMV. She only says two words in the film, but it still managed to make our day.
In a roundtable interview with Slash Film, the writers Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, along with producer Clark Spencer, explained how they decided to cast Bell as Priscilla.
“We were sitting there thinking, we have two words. What are we going to do? We’re probably going to have someone internal do it and someone said “have you seen Kristen Bell on Ellen, because not all of us had seen that before. So we all watched it and said, ‘thats the funniest thing we’ve seen in our entire life.’ “
Bambi Never Gets a Break
In one of the more pivotal scenes near the end of the film, the character Nick Wilde goes on a bit of a savage rampage, ripping up everything in sight. As he makes his way through the museum, he clenches his jaws around a taxidermied fawn that looks an awful lot like Bambi.
Nick proceeds to rip the deer to shreds, proving once and for all that Bambi can never get a break, not even decades after the release of his film.
Robin Hood and Lionheart, Running Through the Forest
It’s no surprise that Nick Wilde looks an awful lot like Robin Hood from the 1973 film of the same name. After all, both characters are foxes, so it’s a given that they’d look similar on some level. However, the coincidences feel a bit more contrived when you realize that the mayor of Zootopia is named Lionheart.
That particular connection isn’t as obvious, but it becomes clear once you realize that in Robin Hood, King Richard is portrayed as a lion, a clear reference to the real King Richard’s epithet, The Lionheart. In naming the mayor of Zootopia Lionheart, it seems like the filmmakers are really doubling down on the reference.
If that’s not enough to convince you of the nods to Robin Hood, then perhaps this will sway you. Back in January of this year, voice actor Brian Bedford–who is perhaps best known for voicing Robin Hood in the 1973 Disney flick–unfortunately passed away. Upon his passing, Zootopia co-director Byron Howard tweeted the following:
“Brian Bedford voice of Robin Hood passed away. #RobinHood is my inspiration for creating #Zootopia.He will be missed.”
He will indeed.