SINGAPORE - After a photo from what appears to be the set of Marvel's upcoming television series The Falcon And The Winter Soldier for the Disney+ streaming service was leaked on Twitter last month, fans quickly identified an emblem in the picture with Singaporean elements.
The set photo has an emblem on a wall that has a stylised lion head, a star and a crescent. While the crescent and star could refer to many other things, the lion head bears a striking resemblance to the Singapore lion head symbol.
Comic book fans pointed out that the emblem belongs to the flag of the fictional state of Madripoor, which has been widely established to be based off Singapore.
Madripoor is a modern port city located in the Strait of Malacca in the Marvel comics.
It was formerly home to pirates, and in a 2012 issue of the Hawkeye comic, the Madripoor Pearl hotel featured in it bears a close resemblance to Marina Bay Sands.
Madripoor has also made appearances in other Marvel comics, particularly in the X-Men series including X-Men spin-off New Mutants and super hero Wolverine's solo series.
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, set to release in 2020, is itself a spin-off TV series from the successful Avenger movies. It will see actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reuniting to reprise their roles as super heroes the Falcon and the Winter Solider respectively.
The series is but one of several TV shows set to expand the wildly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe on the Disney+ streaming service.
Among them are WandaVision (2021), which stars Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, and Loki (2021), with Tom Hiddleston playing the titular anti-hero.
Here are 10 other times Singapore has been referenced in pop culture, specifically in shows and video games.
1. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
In arguably the most famous reference, Singapore was used as the setting of the romantic comedy, based off the 2013 book of the same name by Singapore-born author Kevin Kwan.
The Hollywood film, with a rare majority-Asian cast, netted US$238.5 million (S$330 million) worldwide, making it the highest grossing romantic comedy in a decade.
Landmarks featured in the film include: CHIJMES, Newton Food Centre, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa, Raffles Hotel and Ann Siang Hill.
2. Westworld Season 3 (2020)
Shots of the Singapore Central Business District featured in the trailer of the hit science-fiction television series, which is set to air this year.
Rumours of Singapore making an appearance in the latest instalment were confirmed when casting calls were made, and actors Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Aaron Paul were spotted in various spots around the island over the 10-day shoot.
The cast reportedly filmed in locations such as Chinatown, Orchard Road, the National Gallery, Esplanade Park, the School of The Arts, Helix Bridge, Marina One, Parkroyal on Pickering, Lasalle College of the Arts, and Oasia Hotel Singapore.
3. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
The Falcon And The Winter Soldier will not be Marvel's first reference to Singapore onscreen as the visual effects team of the first Guardians' film took inspiration from Gardens by the Bay for the construction of the fictional world of Xandar in the movie.
FXguide reported then that overall visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti said: "There's a place there called Gardens by the Bay which has that lush, kind of futuristic feel in terms of architecture and a very lush tropical feel. We did an extensive stills shoot and took some helicopter plates, although we didn't end up using them in particular as our shots were slightly different."
Xandar is one of the fictional planets in the Tranta system in the Andromeda galaxy of the Marvel comics universe, where hero Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, attempts to sell off a mysterious orb he stole.
4. Equals (2015)
Drake Doremus' futuristic dystopian film featuring Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart showcases several Singapore landmarks including Henderson Waves, one-north MRT station, Marina Barrage and Reflections at Keppel Bay condominium.
Hoult and Stewart, who were spotted filming in Singapore in 2014, play two citizens, known as "members" who live under the Collective.
They are diagnosed with a disease that restores their human compassion and emotions in a world where emotions do not exist.
5. Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
A stunning way to showcase one of Singapore's architectural marvels might be to obliterate it, as Independence Day: Resurgence proved.
In this science-fiction blockbuster, the iconic triple towers of Marina Bay Sands are completely destroyed as Earth battles an alien invasion.
Later in the movie, which also stars Singaporean actor Chin Han, parts of London are shown destroyed in the battle.
6. Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
More than 1,000 people attended the premiere of Hitman: Agent 47 in 2015 in Singapore. Not surprising, given that numerous scenes from the flick were shot on the island and featured landmarks, as well as other familiar scenes here.
According to the Infocomm Media Development Authority, in an unprecedented move, Robinson Road was sealed off for 2½ days to allow the crew to film.
The resulting footage highlighted an adrenaline-filled car chase that screeched to a halt at the intersection of Robinson Road and McCallum Street. In this scene, an MPH Bookstore outlet can clearly be seen.
Other locations where filming took place included Gardens by the Bay, Marina Barrage and the aerospace hangar of the Institute of Technical Education College Central, where a thrilling fight scene was recorded.
7. Detective Conan: The Fist Of Blue Sapphire (2019)
This animated film was the first time a movie in the popular Detective Conan series was set outside Japan.
The 23rd feature film in the series about the titular genius boy detective takes place mainly in Singapore, and the plot centres on sunken treasure found off the Republic's coast.
The idea to base the movie here came after Gosho Aoyama, creator of Detective Conan, visited Singapore as a guest at the Singapore Writers Festival in 2016 and was impressed by his stay.
Fans will spot much of Singapore's well-known landmarks in the movie. Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion, Maxwell Food Centre and Suntec City's Fountain Of Wealth all appear in the film, which attracted over six million moviegoers in its home country and dethroned Marvel's Avengers: Endgame at the box office.
8. Call Of Duty: Black Ops II and III (2012, 2015)
Singapore made its debut as a side mission in the second edition of the popular video game released in 2012.
Set in 2025 with the island overrun by Chinese forces, the player is tasked with performing a surgical strike on a freighter containing a deadly weapon docked at Keppel Terminal.
Upon completing the mission, the player is rewarded with an achievement called the Singapore Sling.
Singapore is also one of the settings for the main campaign in 2015's Call Of Duty: Black Ops III. The game frames Singapore in Chernobyl-like fashion set in 2060 following what is called the most lethal chemical leak in history.
9. Battlefield 4 (2013)
Singapore's Changi Airport is the setting for the fourth mission in the combat warfare game.
The objective of the attack is to destroy Changi Airport - which has been taken over by China - using missiles to prevent the enemy from using it to launch aircraft that would wipe out the remaining United States Naval fleet based in the South China Sea.
In the game, players can see the three towers of Marina Bay Sands in a distance, and also signs pointing to Changi Airport. Alas, everything else about Singapore featured in the game is highly fictionalised. For example, the vehicles in the game sport licence plates with Chinese characters.
10. Mass Effect games (2007, 2012)
Singapore might be known for banning the first Mass Effect science-fiction game briefly in 2007 over a short love scene between a human woman and a female alien. But the country features in background lore in the game series that now spans four main titles.
An entry in the first game's encyclopedia-like Codex says that the population density and cost of living in the wards of an inter-galactic space station called the Citadel "are extremely high, akin to Earth cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore".
Then in an entry in 2012's Mass Effect 3, Singapore in the far future is said to have an international spaceport where a shipping accident happened, exposing people to a material used for space travel.
A year later, about 30 per cent of the children born in Singapore suffered from cancerous growths, and five years after the accident, some children in the Republic exhibited minor telekinetic abilities, dubbed biotics.
- Additional reporting by Kenny Chee
Sources: The Straits Times, The New Paper, FXguide, YouTube