If you are a big fan of ’80s pop culture, Ready Player One is a fun movie to watch. Based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 of the same name which famously contains many ’80s pop culture references, Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction adventure film is a delightful homage to everything ’80s – movies, music, video games, TV shows, etc – with over 120 Easter eggs (and counting) for fans to spot and cherish.
Starring Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel), the film is set in 2045 against a dystopian backdrop in which disillusioned citizens seek amusement and refuge in a virtual reality world called The Oasis. The thrill factor is heightened when Oasis creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies but not before offering all rights to the Oasis and a massive fortune to the player who can break the code to his hidden game, Anorak’s Quest.
According to eagle-eyed fans on Ready Player One’s social media platforms, as well as news sites from the Chicago Tribune to Screen Rant to Den of Geek!, there are said to be at least 120 Easter eggs for moviegoers to look out in the film, with a good few hundred more to be found after a few more viewings.
In an interview with RTÉ Entertainment, author and screenwriter Ernest Cline revealed that even he and director Spielberg aren’t quite sure about all the Easter eggs hidden in the film!
“Even Steven and I aren’t aware of all the Easter eggs in the film because the special effects artists at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) and Digital Domain both snuck their own things in the background, knowing that we wouldn’t spot them! I know Steven in his last run-through spotted a Gremlin that he didn’t even know was in the movie!”
It is hence a tall order to list every Easter egg that can be found in Ready Player One unless one goes through it frame by frame when it comes out on DVD or digital. Below is thus a very selective list of what you can expect to find.
Movie buffs will have a field day as there are many, many references to films from various decades: from iconic figures such as the original RoboCop (1987) and Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) to famous vehicles such as Marty McFly’s DeLorean from Back to the Future (1985) and the fiery red motorbike from Japanese anime classic, Akira (1988).
Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining (1980) gets much love as does John Cusack’s memorable pose with a boombox from the 1989 hit romance Say Anything. Beloved movies from the ’90s also got in, such as animation cult classic The Iron Giant (1999), of which its titular character has quite a significant role in Ready Player One, as does the T-Rex from Spielberg’s 1993 classic Jurassic Park.
And contrary to some reports, Star Wars (1977-1983) – a very important entity in modern pop culture – does get a few mentions, albeit verbally. Once when Tye Sheridan’s character Parzival (a.k.a Z) was referred to as a “Padawan” and in another scene, the Millennium Falcon gets a shout-out. And though he may not qualify as an Easter egg, Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the baddie in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, plays the baddie, IOI CEO Nolan Sorrento, in this film.
Video Game References
Where do we start? Just to name a few, gaming fans will recognize Lara Croft from Tomb Raider as well as characters from Street Fighter, Halo, and Minecraft appearing in various scenes, while classic games such as Pac-Man, Super Mario, and Mortal Kombat are also referenced. In the virtual library scene, look out for a cool Space Invaders T-shirt that Oasis creator Halliday is wearing.
Already touted as arguably the film with the most Easter eggs, Ready Player One also pays tribute to the very first video game Easter egg, which was invented by Warren Robinett and placed in Adventure (1979-1980), an Atari 2600 video game.
TV Show References
From Star Trek (1966-1969) to Battlestar Galactica (1979-1980) and Masters of the Universe (1987) to Looney Tunes (represented by Marvin the Martian), classic TV is well-referenced in Ready Player One as well. Parzival’s Back to the Future-inspired car, for one, is retrofitted with the famous red light grill scanner from Knight Rider (1982-1986).
Music Icons References
Next to a vibrant Saturday Night Fever homage (1977) in the nightclub scene, there are shout-outs to ’80s music icons the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, and Duran Duran as Parzival tries out various outfit options before his date with Olivia Cooke’s character Artemis. There are also a number of big chart hits from the era on the soundtrack such as Van Halen’s “Jump” (1983) and Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You” (1988).
Comics And Superheroes References
Batman can’t be missed and neither is Superman, but keep a sharp eye for the likes of Catwoman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Wonder Woman, Deathstroke, and Hello Kitty, which the viewing team from the Chicago Tribune claimed they spotted.
Even if you are not a fan of pop culture from the last millennium, Reader Player One is a visual feast that provides great popcorn entertainment. The Warner Bros film made $53 million over the Easter weekend, with an additional $128 million from overseas markets.
Currently playing in theaters, check out the trailer below.