Ready Player One
The new trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One dropped Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con, and like Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel it is Packed. With. Pop-culture. Easter eggs. Let’s walk through them…
Here is Tye Sheridan’s character Wade Watts, who goes by the name Parzival (a variation on Percival, a knight of the round table) in the digital realm of the OASIS.
As you can see from this amateur stripper who lives in the impoverished Stacks alongside Watts, people plug into the virtual reality world of the OASIS to escape the grim reality of their actual existence.
Eye of the beholder
Access to the OASIS is threatened after the death of its creator, James Halliday (played by Bridge of Spies Oscar-winner Mark Rylance). He has left behind a pop-culture Easter egg hunt, and whoever solves the puzzle wins ownership of his company.
The plot itself is an homage to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only instead of winning a candy factory, Parzival hopes to win the digital OASIS. In the trailer, the haunting score is actually a variation on Gene Wilder’s song “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Harley Quinn and Deadshot
When Parzival enters the OASIS, his first stop is an electric-purple nightclub, and the first iconic characters he encounters are DC Comics villains Harley Quinn and Deadshot, who are either enjoying a night out or are on a mission for the Suicide Squad.
The swirling, floating ballroom dancers are all characters from the Warner Bros. universe of films. Ernest Cline says at the bottom, just right of center, Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings is dancing away his troubles.
The Iron Giant replaces Ultraman
In the book, the climactic battle of Castle Anorak features the heroes battling while in control of the gargantuan Japanese character Ultraman — who clashes with Mechagodzilla. For the film, the robot from Brad Bird’s 1999 animated movie The Iron Giant will fulfill that role.
Back to the Future's DeLorean
Here is Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean from Back to the Future, which is one of the few references to his own movies that Steven Spielberg agreed to allow. (He executive produced Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 film.) This is part of a race through virtual Manhattan in the OASIS, with the DeLorean drifting around the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.
The hat on this caped figure looks like it has points. Is this … Batman? No, it’s just the angle on the bicorn hat worn by Napoleon, riding atop a mecha-scorpion in a virtual reality version of the 1982 video game Joust, complete with giant attacking warrior ostriches.
Freddy Krueger and Duke Nukem
Here you see another of our heroes, Parzival’s friend Aech, leaping into the air, extending his cyborg midsection, and blasting apart Freddy Krueger and Duke Nukem.
Here’s a close-up of Aech, who is played by Lena Waithe (Master of None). The actress looks nothing like this in real life, but her character is an extreme example of the wish-fulfilment that the OASIS allows.
This is one of the Sixers, the army of virtual warriors hired by IOI and its chief egg-hunter Nolan Sorrento (Rogue One‘s Ben Mendelsohn) to help the corporate overlord gain ownership of the OASIS by winning the game.
The A-Team and Stephen King's Christine
IOI has countless competitors in the race through virtual New York, all driving similar company cars. In the background, you can see the van from the 1983-87 TV series The A-Team as well as the self-aware killer Plymouth Fury from Stephen King’s Christine.
To the left, it’s the Interceptor — the modified Ford Falcon driven by Mel Gibson in 1979’s Mad Max.
Bigfoot rolls out
Also in the New York race: the original 1980s monster truck Bigfoot, hauling the American flag in its bed.
Art3mis and Akira
This is Olivia Cooke’s character Art3mis, an ally of Parzival’s who is driving the red cycle that belonged to the character Shotaro Kaneda from the 1988 anime film Akira.
Smash and grab
Wrecking balls add a complication to the New York street race. The DeLorean is in deep trouble, but unlike the movie Back to the Future, where it’s going, it does need roads.
Out of the OASIS
The Crystal Key
Finally, we see the ultimate goal in Ready Player One — the crystal key that will unlock ownership of the OASIS. We’ll see who gets their hands on it first when the film opens on March 30.