[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Warcraft]
Given that there are over ten million people who have walked through the World of Warcraft as part of the gaming universe’s MMO, and countless others who first became acquainted with the heroes of the Alliance and Horde, the makers of Warcraft had plenty of fans to pay service to – and boy, did they. Honestly, moviegoers paying attention only to the actual story and action were likely to miss out on the easter eggs and nods to the video game that seemed to be introduced every minute.
Luckily, we’re here to help solve that problem. We’ve run down the best easter eggs, cameos, background details fans will miss, and the insanely small touches the filmmakers made sure to complete on the off chance a fan would look that direction. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate the time it took to include each one, but it will definitely have movie fans wishing their own favorite adaptations would stay just as faithful to the source material.
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS in our list of Warcraft Easter Eggs and Game References.
25. The Blizzard Logo
Even before the movie begins, fans have a few extra details to watch out for. The launch of Blizzard Entertainment’s first feature film means a need to roll out a film-quality logo. It just so happens that the added detail in crafting the solid ice ‘Blizzard’ logo allowed the team to plant a few cameos of their own. look closely at the changing facets, and you’ll be able to spot Kerrigan, from the company’s Starcraft series, Arthas from Warcraft, and Tracer from the newly-released Overwatch.
24. Familiar Opening…
The movie begins with a memorable introduction: a human and Orc soldier stand opposed on the battlefield, circling eachother before charging into combat, as an unknown voice speaks about the feud’s history, and how things have changed. It should seem familiar to longtime fans, since that’s also exactly how Warcraft 3‘s opening cinematic began, too (although it’s an overcast scene, not sun-baked). As an added bonus, viewers have a split second to notice that the unknown human warrior is played by actor Callan Mulvey (Batman V Superman, Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Since this footage was filmed as an initial teaser, his casting suggested he would play a large role… but he meets his presumed end fairly quickly. Who knows – perhaps the scene’s nature as a flash forward, as is suggested, means he could play a bigger role in the future…?
23. The Dark Portal
The massive gateway constructed under the watch of Gul’dan (with some guidance from Medivh) is a sight to behold, but it has the digital artists at Blizzard to thanks as much as the film’s. The Dark Portal is a perfect recreation of the one from the game, down to the statues holding swords, the massive dragon head perched on top, and even the effects used when the portal begins to actually open to Azeroth.The Portal is still able to handle dozens of Orc soldiers passing through at a time, but in the games, it was only possible for a single Orc scout to pass through at once (which we’re willing to forgive).
22. The Draenei
It’s certainly not mysterious or hidden to existing Warcraft fans, but the fact that the prisoners caged alongside the Portal are never named or described means we can offer some insight. The blue, horned people are known as the Draenei, the descendants of an ancient magically-gifted race known as the Eredar. The Eredar were the species sought out by the dark Titan Sargeras (the entity corrupting Medivh, the Guardian) and seduced by power. Those who joined the demonic force became the Man’ari, but those who resisted were exiled as the Draenei. The fact that Garona is reached out to for help by them is no coincidence, either: although Garona seems to believe (as her original counterpart did) that she was half-Orc and half-human, she is actually an Orc/Draenei hybrid.
21. Kilrogg Deadeye
As evidence that we’ll have no way of knowing just how many characters from the original games, novels and comics were hidden in the film by digital artists, one other key Orc makes a cameo just as the first soldiers pass through the portal to Azeroth. As Draka, Durotan’s mate goes into labor, Gul’dan hands his staff off to a nearby soldier so he can aid her. But take a closer look at the soldier: his hairstyle could be a coincidence, but the blacked out eye makes it clear this is Kilrogg Deadeye. Named for the sacrifice of his left eye, Kilrogg played a divisive part in the First War himself (before Blackhand took over the Horde). He would have also appeared in the game Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans if it hadn’t been canceled, but we suppose this is a nice consolation prize.
20. The Boy Who Will Be King
The average movie fan probably won’t recognize the significance of Durotan’s son, aside from the work done to make his father and mother’s story a truly tragic one. But even casual Warcraft fans may not recognize the boy by his name – Go’el – instead knowing him by the name that he is given by humans: Thrall. The man seen discovering the boy at the end of the film is Aedelas Blackmoore, who (in the original story) named the boy Thrall (“slave”) and trained him to be as brutal as would be expected from an Orc, but the intellect and strategy of a human. When the boy sought out his own people, it wasn’t long before Orgrim found him, and he began his ascent to becoming the greatest leader the Orc Horde had known.
19. Harvest Golem
In the world of Azeroth, it isn’t just simple scarecrows that humble farmers use in their fields. Well, if we’re being accurate, the Harvest Golems – like the one clearly visible in a field as the Orcs round up human prisoners once they ravage Westfall – are actually trained to look like scarecrows, but murder humans when they get too close. Why would goblins create these horrors, known to charge innocent bystanders and kill them without remorse? Who knows – but it’s clear that even if the Orcs hadn’t arrived to set fire to the farms, the farmers’ days were numbered, anyway.
18. Durotan’s Axe
Viewers will have to look fast to catch a glimpse of Durotan’s axe in the movie itself, but thanks to some marketing, fans got a clearer idea of the weapon’s appearance (and bite). That helped them distinguish that the axe is actually the in-game item known as the Betrayer of Humanity, a powerful weapon dropped in World of Warcraft (the 25-player Naxxramas Raid). It also happens to be the axe being wielded by the mounted Orc statue outside of the headquarters of Blizzard Entertainment.
17. The Lion’s Pride Inn
When Lothar first crosses paths with Khadgar, the soldier brings the young mage to meet King Lllane, found in an Inn. But it’s no random in, but the first one that nearly every World of Warcraft player encounters first. The Lion’s Pride Inn is recreated exactly as it appears in the game, and we mean exactly. From the table locations, the paintings on the wall, and the lighting, it genuinely is a recreation of the game location in the best way possible. And it’s a good sign at the level of commitment and enjoyment the filmmakers obviously embodied while making the world a reality.
16. Moroes Works Magic
It isn’t Mediovh, but Moroes who welcomes both Lothar and Khadgar to Karazhan, and escorts the former up a winding staircase to see the Guardian. Lothar comments that Moroes hasn’t aged a day in the many years since he has seen him, and the servant is clearly unfazed by the colossal trek that leaves Lothar gasping for air. Both of those facts might be related, in a subtle gag that most viewers won’t even notice. When Moroes and Lothar arrive in Medivh’s chamber, Lothar continues to pant as Moroes steps aside to pour him an elixir. The glass isn’t marked “Super Healing Potion,” but it is red – and when the camera next cuts to Lothar, he’s returned to a perfectly composed soldier.
15. Murloc Cameo
This one may have been spoiled in marketing, but keep your eyes peeled when Khadgar and Lothar’s son make their way to the Lion’s Pride Inn to meet with King llane. As they cross a stone bridge, notice the small, finned creature doing some nighttime fishing. It’s no random creature, but a Murloc – an amphibious, bipedal troublemaker. Even the creature’s signature murmuring can be heard.
14. Summoning Stone
The movie doesn’t make the same kind of obvious video game references, appealing to players who used to experiences there stories and heroes by clicking a mouse, but it does indulge every so often. For instance, when Lothar’s party is first headed into the forest on a mission to intercept Orc raiding parties, a Summoning Stone (or Meeting Stone) is visible – the World of Warcraft item allowing members of a party to join together (think fast travel). It’s not used for the same purpose here, but keep your eyes peeled on the glowing blue glyph behind the prisoner carriage in the very first shot and you can’t miss it.
13. Wilhelm Scream
When Blackhand has Anduin Lothar dead to rights in the Elwynn Forest ambush – just moments before he learns what a Dwarven ‘Boom Stick’ can do when you close your hand over its muzzle – the telltale inside joke of the movie industry can be heard. The “Wilhelm Scream” should be known to just about every movie fan, since it was first pulled from the archives by sound designer Ben Burtt and used in both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series. Since then, the pained shriek/shout meant to punctuate an action scene has become possibly the most overused sound effect in filmmaking, but it appears here for those who enjoy spotting it.
12. Grom Hellscream
It isn’t just the protagonist Orcs who fans should be paying attention to, since the background characters are often just as important (or will be, eventually). Throughout Durotan’s story, another key player can be seen – and no, we’re not referring to his best friend, Orgrim Doomhammer – but Grom Hellscream, the Orc who will one day become the chief advisor and friend to Durotan’s son (and a main character in the Warcraft 3 video game). You should note the importance, since the filmmakers obviously did: his costume is recreated down to the smallest detail, entrusting the role to actor Terry Notary (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). as well.
11. The Stormwind Mailbox
As further proof that not only is no detail too small to be lovingly crafted, but that there are some serious World of Warcraft fans constructing and decorating the film’s sets, look no farther than the mailboxes placed on the sets of Stormwind. You may be focusing on more important features of the film, but the fact that the human mailboxes from the video game version of Stormwind are lovingly recreated for the live-action streets speaks volumes – and it isn’t the only detail fans might miss entirely.
10. Potions For Sale
You would need to be MORE than eagle-eyed to catch the labels affixed to the potion bottles for sale in Stormwind’s market, but make no mistake: they, too, are an inside joke among the set decorators. Labeled with names like “Insane Health Potion,” “Destruction Potion,” or “Frost Protection,” each bottle is created with an analogue in the actual game, adding unique abilities or buffs (though the same can’t be said for the live-action version).
9. Stormwind Quest Board
Fans can also keep their eyes peeled for this recreation of a Stormwind Quest Board (tweeted out by director Duncan Jones). It’s hard to make out each and every posting, but a few should ring familiar to WoW players. There’s a brightly-colored ad for the Darkmoon Faire, a flyer for the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza, a ‘Beware of Kobolds’ warning sign, and Wanted poster for Hogger – a creature players really could track down in the wilds of the game. Not to be left out, the board also includes a poster for the Dwarvish Brewfest, showing not everyone in the movie is dealing with matters of grave importance.
When Khadgar heads to meet the Council of Six in the floating city of Dalaran, he winds up talking mainly to Antonidas. He, too, is a character lifted from the video game universe, but is just as important due to the man playing him. You wouldn’t recognize actor Toby Kebbell beneath the incredibly-detailed CG work turning him into Durotan, chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan, but here you can see him clearly… hidden behind almost the same amount of old age makeup and digital wizardy.
7. “Ask Alodi”
Khadgar establishes himself as someone to watch (eventually becoming the most powerful mage in the kingdom in the original story) when he approaches a strange artifact alongside Antonidas. Sensing Khadgar’s presence, the rotating cube opens up, allowing him access and the chance to – as the hidden page he carries demands – ask Alodi. Alodi is played by actress Glenn Close in an uncredited role (yet another cameo to earn some nerd cred after playing Nova Prime in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy). That means fans might be looking at an attempted crossover with the World of Warcraft: Legion expansion, since that happens to bear some similarities to events from the film. A quest requires players to seek out a book on the Pillar of Creation from Karazhan, and use to to summon Alodi (as Khadgar essentially does).
6. Stormwind Arrival
Stormwind is created, like most locations in the film, to a painstaking level of accuracy (even down to the different in-game districts being represented on film with differently-colored rooftops). But the best easter egg comes when Khadgar heads to the city on the back of his gryphon. Taking a sweeping route into his landing area, fans of WoW will immediately get a sense of deja vu, since the building’s architecture, the flightmaster’s location, and the exact arch Khadgar passes through to land is the same one gryphon travelers in the game experience firsthand.
5. Sheep Spell
After Lothar’s attempts to convince his prison guard to release him fail, he is stunned to see the man reduced to a sheep before his very eyes. A moment later, it’s revealed to have been a spell cast by Khadgar that “only works on simple minds). It’s a gag that will delight Warcraft fans, since the spell in question is the Polymorph Spell, a simple one to cast that – just as in the movie – turns an enemy into a harmless sheep. The joke goes a step further when Khadgar informs Anduin that they must still hurry, since the spell “lasts about a minute.” In the game, the spell’s effects wear off after a maximum of 50 seconds.
4. Titan Sargeras
It becomes clear just how far Medivh has strayed from the path of goodness, and been seduced by the Fel when his physical form falls away, revealing him to be a massive, spiked, horned demon. You only get a few glimpses of his new form before he’s crushed by a clay Golem, but it’s enough for fans to realize they’re likely looking at the Titan Sargeras (at least the filmmakers’ version of him, anyway). In the source material, it’s Sargeras who pulls the strings behind the portals being opened, the Fel corrupting the Orcs, and so on. He never got the chance to consume Medivh and return to Azeroth in the original story, but did possess him.
3. Khadgar Levels Up
It’s Khadgar who finally saves the day, purifying Medivh and his chamber of the Fel with the lesson learned by Alodi (we think… that part’s pretty unclear). But in the process, he’s surrounded by beams of yellow light signifying his ascension. It’s a bit of an inside joke, since Khadgar is most definitely “leveling up” in that moment, figuratively and literally. So it makes sense that the film should surround him in the same effect that surrounds a game character when leveling up in the Warcraft game series.
2. “Zug Zug”
Fans of the very first Warcraft games probably knew to check their expectations at the door, since hearing Orcs mutter the phrase “Zug Zug” as they did in the game seems like a poor fit for a live-action film portraying them as proud warriors. But a few times in the film, the saying can be heard. Especially when Garona is honored as she is welcomed to the Horde, and her new family begins the chant of “Zug! Zug!” making her, and we can only assume players around the globe, were reduced to tears.
1. Fishing Bobber
Why not leave audiences with one last, completely meaningless, but no less hilarious easter egg? As the baby Go’el drifts down the river to an uncertain fate, pay attention to the fishing line running overhead – running all the way to the surface of the water, and an unmistakable bobber. Yes, that’s the same bobber WoW players will come equipped with, sporting a single red feather, and a single blue one. We have yet to confirm if the other river scenes feature the tugboat or rubber ducky variations, but that’s what repeat viewings are for.
Those are the easter eggs, secrets and tiny touches we spotted in Warcraft, but be sure to let us know which ones we’ve overlooked, and we’ll keep updating the list as more and more secrets are uncovered.
Warcraft runs 123 minutes and is Rated PG – 13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence. Now playing in regular and 3D theaters.
Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Warcraft Spoilers Discussion.
For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check back soon for our Warcraft episode of the Total Geekall podcast.