- The many references to Superman, all of which are actually plot-relevant.
- Hogarth and Annie's last name is Hughes in honor of Ted Hughes, the author of the original book.
- The movie contains at least one nod to The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming - the two boys with the binoculars falling off the balcony is straight from the movie.
- Hogarth also mentions The Spirit as one of his comic books. Brad Bird is a huge Spirit fan and tried to get it made into an animated feature in The '80s.
- The scene where the Giant is chasing Rogard & Mansley's jeep is reminiscent of the Tyrannosaurus rex chase scene in Jurassic Park, complete with Mansley demanding the driver go faster.
- "Hogarth? That's an embarrassing name. She might as well have called him Zeppo or something."
- The Western that General Rogard was watching when Mansley was contacting him was the exact same one that Pongo, Perdita, and the puppies were watching.
- The "scary movie" that Hogarth was watching was a shout out to the cheesy sci-fi movies of The '50s (more specifically, The Brain from Planet Arous).
- Likewise, one of the weapons on the Iron Giant when he goes berserk in vengeance for the apparent death of Hogarth heavily resembles the cannons used by the Martian war machines in The War of the Worlds (1953).
- The Signature Edition has a moment where the Giant's hand appears to watch Disneyland.note
- Many fans of classic Toku and Television have noted the Giant's Heroic Sacrifice seems almost identical to Giant Robo's in the Tokusatsu version aka Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot though in this case the Giant had to destroy a nuclear missile and Giant Robo had to stop Big Bad Emperor Guillotine from causing a Suicide Bombing and a oncoming Meteor.
- Dean describes espresso as Coffeezilla.
- The man selling the tractor that the Giant took a bite out of is based on Floyd R. Turbo from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He's listed in the credits as "Floyd Turbeaux".
- A Bugs Bunny doll is visible in Hogart's toy box when he arms himself to go out to look for the "invaders from Mars". The same scene shows a Forbidden Planet poster on his bedroom wall.
- The newspaper Dean is reading at the lake has the headline "Disaster Seen as Catastrophe Looms" is the same one seen in Fun and Fancy Free and Lady and the Tramp.
- The cartoon showing at Hogart's school is a parody of Duck and Cover.
- The scene where the Giant encounters a deer is a nod to Bambi.
- When Kent is calling General Rogard at the Hughes home, there's an oven mitt that resembles the title character of the "Family Dog" episode of Amazing Stories, which was also directed by Brad Bird.
- A shot of the Giant disintegrating a tank as two soldiers jump out of the way is a recreation of a shot from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
Shout Out / The Iron Giant