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Into the OASIS
Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One is the story of a pop-culture treasure hunt through a virtual reality world, where '80s nostalgia has saturated everything. Fittingly, the first image from the March 30 movie, released as part of EW's Comic-Con preview, is filled with hidden clues. Let's look closer...
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In the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline, the actual world three decades from now is a grim, impoverished wreck, but the digital realm of the OASIS is a fun, empowering escape. It'll stay that way if the right people win this treasure hunt.
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Wade's Secret Hideout
One of the treasure seekers is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan, of Mud and X-Men: Apocalypse), an orphan who lives in the overcrowded "Stacks," a Jenga-tower of old trailers. He's also one of the world's foremost aficionados on all-things-'80s, operating under the online name Parzival (a variation on the Arthurian knight Percival.) His OASIS rig — a virtual reality visor and haptic gloves — is kept in an abandoned van at a junkyard. He calls the hideout "My refuge. My Batcave. My Fortress of Solitude."
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Mysterious James Halliday
His hero is James Halliday, the Gregarious Games founder who created the OASIS simulated world and infused it with his love of cartoons, comics, video games, and movies from his childhood. The walls of Wade's hideout are adorned with newspaper and magazine stories about this man — a cross between Steve Jobs and Willy Wonka. "Since 2021 More Then 20 Million VR Headsets Sold," reads one vintage headline. (Note: In the future, copy editors will be an endangered species.)
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Halliday will be played by Spielberg's Bridge of Spies Oscar-winner Mark Rylance (pictured here in that earlier film). Halliday is deceased, but lives on through messages he left behind, setting up a final game that would allow any user to search through the OASIS for a series of Easter eggs. The winner will become the new owner. If a corporation like IOI succeeds in the hunt, the virtual reality world will be accessible only to those who can afford it.
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Pedal to the Metal
You can see another glimpse of what Rylance will look like as Halliday on this cover of Wired magazine. Very rock star. This detail also shows a specific reference from Cline's novel: Parzival powers his OASIS rig by charging old car batteries with a stationary bike. "It was usually the only physical exercise I got each day," the character says.
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Another book reference: Wade tries to soundproof his junkyard hideout by covering the walls with egg cartons. (He doesn't want anyone knowing where he stashes his valuable OASIS gear.) He also hides some pop culture collectibles here, like a vintage Star Trek lunchbox. The movie presents a different one, though...
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I Have the POWER!
This eBay listing shows the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe tin lunchbox that’s in Wade’s hideout. The filmmakers haven’t revealed many of the pop-culture references that will turn up in the film, but you can take this as a nod toward one of them. (Maybe we’ll also see his twin sister, She-ra, too.)
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Graffiti and stickers cover almost every surface in the future, with Halliday's '80s obsession seeping into the real world via these markings left behind by his followers. It's hard to see, but we identified a few of old-school decorations...
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Gross-out and Garfield
Wade has a love for the Garbage Pail Kids, which have been morbidly delighting kids (and alarming parents) since 1985. Specifically, I spotted "Bony Tony" on the wall of the hideout. On the tamer side, the lasagna-loving, Monday-hating orange cat Garfield is also a favorite, with this "Guess Who?" sticker plainly visible on the van window that's blacked out with aluminum foil.
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More to Come ...
Ready Player One will have a presence at San Diego Comic-Con next week, and EW will bring fans more details on Spielberg's latest in the months ahead. (For the full, hi-res image of this first-look photo, click here.)