Part Two can be viewed here.
The Avengers were originally established in the 1960s as a response to DC's Justice League of America. In their first adventure, they assemble to battle Thor's mischievous arch-enemy Loki. While this is interesting, we might be better served by looking at the variation of the Avengers featured in Marvel's Ultimate Universe. Here they are known as the Ultimates, and they were assembled by Nick Fury of SHIELD.
It is through the government organization known as SHIELD that we first encounter hints of the Avengers in Iron Man. Prior to Tony Stark's press conference that he calls upon returning from Afghanistan, Pepper Potts is pulled aside by Agent Phil Coleson with the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division. Pepper says, "That's quite a mouth full." Coleson replies, "I know. We're working on it." This is the first of many references to this lengthy division title that is just dying for an acronym. It is not until Pepper Potts feels threatened by Obadiah Stane that we see some SHIELD agents in action. Agent Coleson and four other agents unflinchingly take on Stane in his Ironmonger armor despite the fact that this villain is so far out of their league.
During the credits, there is a full picture of the SHIELD logo.
Of course, the existence of SHIELD does not necessarily prove the future existence of the Avengers. Maybe SHIELD is just an organization in this universe, and maybe they will even have their own movie. The only way I could believe that is if I didn't watch the clip following the credits of Iron Man. After the credits, Tony Stark returns to his house only to find that the security alarm is going off and JARVIS is malfunctioning. A shadowy figure stands facing his picture windows. He says, "I am Iron Man. You think you're the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet." He comes into the light and reveals himself as Nick Fury, the Director of SHIELD. He finishes by saying, "I'm here to talk to you about the Avengers initiative."
Fin Fang Foom is an ancient Chinese dragon and also an alien from Maklu IV. But most importantly, he is one of Iron Man's most powerful adversaries.
You're probably saying to yourself, "I didn't see any dragons in the film Iron Man and I most certainly didn't see any giant aliens." Honestly, I didn't see Fin Fang Foom in the film for the first couple of times I watched it. I owe IMDB for pointing it out to me. You see, after Tony Stark recovers from the Iron Man Mark II suit freezing at high altitude, he flies past a poster featuring Fin Fang Foom in the downtown area.
In case you can't see it there in the background, I was able to find a blown up version of this artwork on the internet.
Whiplash is yet another of the villains who make up Iron Man's gallery of rogues. (Are we only allowed to call Batman's villains the gallery of rogues or is that term applicable to all groups of villains?) Don't worry: It's not just a clever name. You see, Whiplash attached whips to his arms, and becomes an enforcer for Justin Hammer.
This easter egg was hard to find. In fact, if you blinked - or rather, if you did the ear equivalent of blinking - you might have missed it. When two jets engage Tony Stark under James Rhodes's command, their call names are Whiplash 1 and Whiplash 2. Yeah, that's it.
Die-hard Marvel fans will recognize Roxxon as a massive corporation in the Marvel Universe. I'll admit, I recognize it more from the Ultimate Universe than the regular Marvel Universe, but then again, I've read every Ultimate comic and I'm pretty far from reading every Marvel comic.
Well, die-hard Iron Man viewers will recognize the Roxxon Corporation building that can be seen in the background of the highway scene where Iron Man and Ironmonger do battle.
This concludes my exploration of Marvel Cinematic Universe Easter eggs in the 2008 film Iron Man. Will we see Mandarin, Fin Fang Foom, and Roxxon in the future of the Iron Man franchise? I don't know. But I do know that the Easter egg hunt will continue soon in Easter Egg Hunt: The Incredible Hulk. Stick around.