Ready Player One sets a new record for movie Easter Eggs and cameos, and our list is the only guide you need. Those who read the book upon which the film is based knew ahead of time that it would re-define pop culture references and homages for movie fans – assuming the makers of Ready Player One could get the rights to the characters and franchises referenced. The final movie doesn’t disappoint, with over 120 Easter Eggs and Cameos to look for – and that’s just the ones we’ve spotted so far.
The number of Easter Eggs in Ready Player One could rise into the thousands when all is said and done, filled with more fictional character cameos, video game references and secrets, and superhero tributes than can ever be spotted in theaters. But fans have to start their hunt somewhere.
With one last massive spoiler warning, let’s get started in counting down the 120+ Ready Player One Easter Eggs, References & Cameos.
120. Climb Everest With (Michael Keaton’s?) Batman
The movie wastes no time embracing the historic popularity of DC’s characters, proposing that Oasis users would want to spend time with superheroes regardless of context. Why make your dream of climbing Mt. Everest come true if just as easily one can “climb Mt. Everest… with Batman.” The scene depicted alongside the first namedrop of a Justice League member may demonstrate exactly why, showing Batman’s climbing partner dangling dangerously below him, supported only by the grip of the Dark Knight.
The first appearance is more clever than it appears, since younger viewers may not make the link between Batman and his effortless ability to climb a sheer surface. While that gag was a regular one on the Batman ’66 TV series – showing Batman and Robin “walking up” the side of a building – the actual Batman shown isn’t a match for Adam West. True to the 1980s nostalgia of the film, the Batman appears to be wearing the black and yellow-insignia-ed suit of Michael Keaton’s portrayal (not the only Tim Burton nod in the movie, either).
119. The Flash Cameo
The sheer volume of possible cameos is made instantly clear when Wade’s narration of the opening sequence swoops from isolated recreation or vacation planet to the first ‘entrance’ point. As users stream into the Oasis, viewers realize how James Halliday designed the Avatar system to make dreams come true. As Wade explains, people stay in the Oasis “because of all the things they can be. Tall, beautiful, scary, a different sex, a different species, live action, cartoon– it’s all your call.”
Superheroes rise to the top of that fantasy list for obvious reasons, but keep your eyes peeled on one user as they slide into, then out of the left side of the camera’s view. Their regular appearance is replaced by the red and yellow bodysuit of The Flash just as they disappear from sight – perhaps an inside joke about the speedster’s ability. It’s a memorable look, but it’s probably better off not thinking too deeply about how a person could use Flash’s powers in a shared virtual world.
118. Robocop Cameo
If the underlying message of Ready Player One is to warn against the blurring line between humans technology, then it shares more DNA with RoboCop than might appear on the surface. Sure, the tech in the film is simply worn as opposed to infused cybernetically, but… you get the idea. Still, the playing with reality inherent to the Oasis isn’t lost on one particular user, seen entering the virtual world in the same sweeping shot of the ‘entrance’ plaza. They’ve embraced an existence as RoboCop himself.
Considering how a character like Alex Murphy – or someone role-playing as Alex Murphy – would actually view the sometimes-wireframe world of the Oasis proves this is a criminally small cameo. But any nod to Paul Verhoeven’s classic action film is a welcome one. And we have some terrific news for fans of the future Detroit police force and their experiments with robotics: there are even more RoboCop nods coming soon.
117. Marvin the Martian Cameo
Another cameo in a field of what is certain to be dozens more characters in this shot is nearly impossible to miss. Well, for fans of the original Looney Tunes, anyway. As Wade’s narration points out, it’s possible for people entering the Oasis to choose an avatar that is “live action or cartoon.” To drive home that point, a miniature space man comes scooting out of the incoming portals unmistakable in his helmet, green skirt, and featureless black orb of a head. In hindsight, of course somebody was going to transform into Marvin the Martian as part of their ultimate wish fulfillment.
It’s a curious detail, since the rest of the movie doesn’t actually feature many, if any, cartoon Oasis Avatars. In fact, given the technology used to simulate physical presence in the Oasis, it’s a bit difficult to comprehend the kind of translations needed to turn an actual body into a cartoonish, animated one. Not to mention one that stand only two or three feet tall…
116. The Ready Player One Logo Easter Egg
It should probably be called out, since many, if not most movie fans are likely to miss the film’s most subtle and silently brilliant hidden prize. The movie Ready Player One may be filled to the limits with Easter Eggs… but the logo for Ready Player One is hiding one in plain sight. While giving viewers a hint at the many mazes waiting ahead for those movie characers hoping to claim the same prize.
The logo for the movie is actually one massive maze, with the desired Easter Egg concealed in the circle of the ‘O’. The real wit of this detail is that it is guaranteed to go unnoticed by almost everyone who isn’t outright told to look for it. Seeing how many movies put nowhere near as much time or creativity into their marketing materials or text title cards, that’s a call-out that we can’t possibly forget.
115. Halliday Buried in Spock’s Coffin
The entire invention of the Oasis demonstrates just how much of a “geek” James Halliday really was in his life, and his unspoken love of all things 1980s science fiction film fandom is shown in references throughout all his recreated memories. But perhaps the best goes unexplained, appearing in the video he recorded before his death (to be played to the world once he had finally passed away). His funeral, surrounded by floral arrangements in the shape of Star Trek insignia – and even a scale model of the Enterprise.
Most in the audience will chuckle at his choice of flowers, emphasizing his dedication to Starfleet even in death, but the greatest touch is the coffin itself. The black pod’s “Mark VI” label can just be seen in red, revealing that it is the exact same coffin in which Spock’s remains were placed at the end of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (a photon torpedo, to be more accurate). Ammunition for those who hope that Halliday, like Spock, was destined to return…?
114. Jason Voorhees Cameo on Planet DOOM
Once Wade starts to make his way from introducing the worlds of the Oasis to actually entering the simulation, he makes contact with his best friend, Aech. The pair meet up for the race later on, but Aech is currently busy earning coin on the apparent Deathmatch world, Planet DOOM (seemingly a nod to the video game that defined blood-and-guts badassery for more than one generation). The planet plays host to several cameos, including the infamous slasher Jason Voorhees.
The horror icon is visible when the perspective shifts from Aech to their fellow allies Sho and Daito, as the two team up to overwhelm and, for a welcome change, slash Jason to pieces. An extra bit of trivia? The pair of in-game “brothers” Daito and Shoto’s names combine to form daishō, which literally means “big-little,” and refers to the long and short sword worn by samurai.
113. Duke Nukem Battle Cameo
The loud-mouthed first person shooter hero Duke Nukem may have wound up doing as much harm as good to the video game industry… and its perception by outsiders. But that doesn’t lessen the love felt for his crude, macho brand of humor – either in the real world, or the simulated one of the Oasis. Fans can catch not one glimpse of the brash badass during Aech’s initial string of kills, first visible in the background of the shot trying to take aim at the hero’s best friend with an oversized rocket launcher.
Aech is on a tear, and when the action jumps away and back to his kill chain he finally drops Duke, revealing an even clearer close-up of everyone’s favorite modern American gunslinger – shades and all. Everything considered, being blasted into coins by an Orc/Terminator on a literal Hell planet is actually a pretty tame day, buy Nukem standards.
112. Freddy Kreuger Battle Cameo
In the entire running length of the movie, there may be no better encapsulation of the style and tone of modern action shooter games, and the total irreverence of its players than Aech’s run on Planet DOOM. From the actual camera path down to its surface, it seems like the end of the world made real (more befitting the opening of a grand epic fantasy or nightmare of a Lord of the Rings movie). The characters are just as terrfiying… or they would be, if Aech weren’t blasting them all into gold coins with a grin on her face.
The most recognizable of her targets is probably Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Kreuger, leaping into the air with signature striped shirt, hat, and two clawed hands. It’s a small moment, but return to it after learning that Aech isn’t a fan of horror movies, and this sequence takes on added meaning.
111. Halo’s MA5B Assault Rifle Easter Egg
Most audience members may be so concerned with spotting and identifying each and every pop culture character cameo, they may never even stop to think of examining the guns that the heroes are using to eliminate them. It’s a good lesson to be carried throughout the rest of the movie – since the choice of weapons is guaranteed to be as un-random as the characters. And for Aech’s kill-tacular run on Planet Doom, only the Master Chief’s favorite assault rifle will do.
That’s the MA5B Individual Combat Weapon System, the standard machine gun used by most military characters in the Halo series of video games. We’ll let fans decide on repeat viewing just how well the movie’s effects team captured the look and feel of the MA5B in action, but the design itself is actually impossible to miss, once Halo fans know to look for it in the first place.
110. Eraser’s Rail Gun Easter Egg
The presence of a Halo weapon should tip every viewer off to the idea that no weapon is chosen at random either (and some incredible cameos are coming in that department, so stay tuned). In the moments that follow the flurry of kills, Aech even lands a famous weapon from one of her victims. She doesn’t hesistate to loot it, since it’s about as memorable as a movie rifle can get… even if the actual movie it’s from has a stronger legacy than it may rightly deserve.
We’re not complaining, since we cheered along with every other Eraser fan when the EM-1 Railgun is displayed on Aech’s inventory screen. The weapon that allowed Arnold Schwarzenegger (and his enemies) to see through walls, follow human skeletons, and target their hearts directly is put to immediate use by Aech. Unfortunately, the signature ripples left behind by the weapon are nowhere to be found. Still, it’s nice to see the actual impact the EM-1 had on sci-fi weaponry is alluded to at all.
109. StarCraft’s Jim Raynor Cameo
The movie makes it clear that Wade’s aunt’s boyfriend ‘Rick’ isn’t a character to be liked – even when he’s blown up inside their trailer. But the man has taste when it comes to the world of the Oasis, as demonstrated with his own character selection in the Planet Doom bloodbath. The massive, blue armor may appear generic to the non-gamer, but it’s a dead ringer for both the armor and appearance of Jim Raynor, the Terran hero of Blizzard’s StarCraft video game series.
The classic console games may get the spotlight in the film’s plot, but this callout to PC greats is sure to be appreciated. Rick has added a large American flag to one of the suit’s shoulder pieces, but the powered combat armor worn by Raynor and other members of the Heaven’s Devils and Terran shock troops is clear. Since Rick appears to be emulating Jim’s brand of “worn out, washed out survivor” in his civilian life, his Avatar actually makes sense in retrospect.
108. Doc Brown Cameo
Ready Player One may be a dream come true for every fan of the Back to the Future movies, but they’re also guaranteed to kick themselves over missing one of the most painfully glaring cameos on second viewing. When Parzival’s chat with Aech shifts into other Avatars being slain, included that belonging to a businessman who runs for the nearest window, keep focused when the shot returns to our hero.
As he walks along sporting his new hairstyle, just look past Parzival’s holographic projection screen, and it’s downright impossible to miss Dr. Emmet Brown, Marty McFly’s other half in the Back to the Future trilogy. He’s dressed in the long yellow coat, the red shirt, tie, and even the opaque metallic glasses he’s wearing when he appears at the end of the first film/start of the second. Sometimes, Gunters miss the references planted right in front of their very eyes.
107. Parzival’s Han Solo Holster Easter Egg
Despite some early claims to the contrary, fans will be pleaed to discover that Ready Player One does feature Star Wars Easter Eggs. Even if they aren’t as numerous as some will hope, a few do go a long way. And one of the best nods to the classic may never even be noticed swinging on Parzival’s in-game hip. That is, a recreation of Han Solo’s iconic blaster holster… with some added geek touches to show Parzival can’t even keep one Easter Egg pure without doubling down on the nostalgia.
In the case of his holster, the brown straps and metal buckle are obvious once spotted. What may take another look to confirm is his own addition: the placement of a Thundercats logo, cut out of the holster’s buckle. If you’re thinking of getting a Ready Player One souvenir to show your love for the film, it’s hard to think of one better.
106. Hello Kitty Cameos
If Marvin the Martian’s small scale raises questions about the physics of the Oasis, then the presence of more than one Hello Kitty character completely shatters them. But instead of obsessing over the logistics, let’s just appreciate the cameo – or cameos, since Hello Kitty can be spotted more than once surrounding Parzival’s journey. The first coming shortly after he enters the Oasis, taking a stroll along a sunny boardwalk. Look to the left, and you’ll spot Hello Kitty, along with her fellow Sanrio characters Badtz-Maru and Kerokerokeroppi.
Later on, after Parzival loses the race and heads into the Halliday Journals for a missing clue, Hello Kitty can also be seen sitting one the far side of one of the tables in the entrance atrium. Also on the left of the screen, she’s hard to miss if Hello Kitty fans know what they are looking for.
105. Battleborn’s Attikus Cameo
The classic video games of the 1970s and 1908s may really be the stars of the nostalgia-rich Oasis (and life’s story of James Halliday in particular), but it seems that modern games carry as much affection into the future of Ready Player One. Few games may make out better than Battleborn, interestingly enough, with not one, but several cameos from its roster of fighters visible on first viewing. The first of which comes on the same boardwalk, walking in the opposite direction to Parzival.
The massive, lopsided silhouette is hard to make out since it’s drenched in sunlight. And for those who don’t know the game, the design is just one of several similar heroes seen throughout the movie’s crowd scenes. But for Battleborn fans, the oversized, mechanized arm of Attikus and his equally impressive horns are as clear as day. His friends are scattered throughout the Oasis, too.
104. StarCraft’s Protoss Zealot Cameo
It’s still worth keeping your focus, and not getting distracted by either Parzival, the lumbering Battleborn cameo, or even Hello Kitty and her friends when the camera swoops up to the overhead walkway. To the left of the screen (behind the gaggle of Hello Kitty characters) can be seen a tall, armored, bipedal character walking nex to an unidentified IOI operative, judging by their silhouette.
The reason why an employee of IOI is involved with this mystery warrior is a bit unclear, but the golden design of the character makes its own origins clear. The towering figure is a Protoss Zealot from the StarCraft series of PC video games. Hailed as one of the most lethal front line troopers for the Protoss faction and the keystone around which the overall army is based, their reputation precedes them. Which means this small cameo teases a far bigger role in the final fight… once we manage to spot it (fan art courtesy of Duong Nguyen).
103. The ’66 Batmobile Easter Egg
It’s not exactly fair that Batman should get mentioned in the opening sequence AND follow it up with a race challenge featuring some of the most iconic fictional vehicles. After all, signature vehicles are kind of Batman’s thing. For every iconic or less-than-memorable version of Batman there is a Batmobile to match. As much as fans of the 1980s would love to see Tim Burton’s Batmobile blast the competition away with its jet engine, it’s the ’66 version of the car that can be seen in the race’s starting grid.
Considering how fresh the loss of Adam West is for Batfans, the extra love shown to George Barris’ invention makes sense (and the paint job and bubble windshields make it impossible to miss). But the size of the driver’s cowl – particularly the volume of its ears – and the rubber-looking shoulders and cape suggest it is, once again, a version close to Keaton’s. It’s possible that Spielberg’s effects team stopped short of placing West into the film out of respect. Either that, or the user figured that Batmobile’s Emergency Tire Inflators, Bat-tering Ram, and Bat-Beam were made for a race this crazy.
102. Mad Max Interceptor Race Cameo
For fans of the new Mad Max: Fury Road, the idea of Max Rockatansky having any “signature vehicle” at all may seem strange. But in the original films, the Road Warrior was just as iconic as his Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe 1973 “V8 Interceptor” – otherwise known as Mad Max‘s “Pursuit Special.” When it debuts in the first film it’s a polished black beauty, but by the start of The Road Warrior a few years later, it’s been twisted just as much as Max himself. The version making its cameo in Ready Player One is the perfect combination of both… with some improvements.
The V8 Interceptor can be spotted as Parzival picks his way through the cars, easy to spot thanks to the massive tanks inside the trunk of the Falcon, rendering its trunk lid unusable. In The Road Warrior those tanks were positioned exactly the same, and used to provide extra fuel in the Wasteland. In this film, they’re equipped with nozzles rendering them rocket engines of some kind.
101. Stephen King’s Christine Cameo
The Oasis truly does make any style of play or personality feasible, as demonstrated by somebody’s decision to use Freddy Kreuger’s bladed hands in a battle arena against machine guns and rocket launchers. In the race, the same thinking is shown in one driver’s decision to forego a rocket-powered vehicle, or even a car famous for its fictional speed. No, they’ve gone with a 1958 Plymouth Fury – better known to her friends as Christine.
The eponymous ‘killer car’ of Stephen King’s original novel was immortalized in posters and artwork for John Carpenter’s film adaptation, and that carries to this film: the Fury is a two-door, like the movie (it was a four-door in the book). Since Stephen King chose the 1958 Plymouth because he felt it had been forgotten by car enthusiasts, which means its cameo alongside some of Hollywood’s most iconic cars in this race scene is more than a little poetic.
100. Ryu & The Mach 5 Race Cameos
The entire racing sequence of the movie is guaranteed to be a particular treasure trove of cameos and Easter Eggs, due to the sheer speed and violence of it all (making it hard to even notice details, let alone inspect and analyze them for inspiration). But two that are hard to miss for children of the 1980s are found together in a single shot: the famous Mach 5 driven by Speed Racer, and the Street Fighter poster boy standing alongside it.
The vehicular star of the Speed Racer series is clearly driven by a devoted, but not foolish fan. The white paint scheme and big, circled “5” show it’s obviously a nod to the original, but the actual lines, rear bodywork, and brake lights are all of a far more modern supercar styling – more McLaren than manga. Ryu from the Street Fighter series appears alongside it, doubling down on its red and white color scheme.
99. A-Team Van Cameo
As evidence that there is no age limit to using the Oasis, some of the cars and cameos may be based in the 1980s setting of other nostalgia-driven properties, but don’t quite have the same pull among younger, or retro-loving pop culture enthusiasts. That fact is summed up in the mere presence of the A-Team van, the famously-painted vehicle of the TV heroes for which it was named.
Officially, the “van” is a 1983 GMC Vandura cargo van – and don’t let the year worry you, since Ford made few changes over the next two decades. It’s that lack of change that’s responsible for many even seeing one in person, given the same black-on-grey paintjob (separated by the thick red pinstripe leading up into the rear spoiler). For all its pop culture cred among fans of the 1980s TV show, the van does about as well as you might expect it to alongside certified supercars.
98. The DeLorean’s Time Circuit Easter Egg
You couldn’t call Parzival’s decision to drive a 1982 DeLorean DMC-12 an “Easter Egg” per se, since his affection for the Back to the Future and its iconic time machine is never really intended to be missed (such is the success of that original trilogy). And the movie’s animators deserve extra credit for making the movie’s DeLorean move exactly the same as it did in its most famous movie role. But the best Easter Egg is inside the car.
A number of looks into the interior of the DeLorean are offered as Parzival slides with a door raised to collect coins of defeated racers, so fans should make good use of them. The digital speedometer added by Doc is visible, and the LED “time circuits” are all illuminated. The center date – the one used for “today’s date” in the movies matching the film’s setting of 2045 – and those on either side copying the 1955 and 1985 destination years traveled to in the original film.
97. The DeLorean’s Knight Rider Easter Egg
For all the skepticism that was hurled at Ready Player One prior to release, Spielberg and his team deserve some credit for simplifying – and thereby improving – one of the Ready Player One novel’s most divisive cases of overflowing nerd customization. It’s also to do with Parzival’s DeLorean, equipped in the book with the ability to phase through solid matter, bearing the Ghostbusters logo on each door, and sporting the mash-up license plate “ECTO-88.”
In the movie, none of that is featured. But it does make one upgrade that Parzival also made in the book. That’s the addition of the artificial intelligence from the Knight Rider TV series. The AI partner doesn’t speak at any point in the film, but is still given a nod for fans of the book. Look closely at the front end of the DeLorean when possible, and you can spot the red light bar in Parzival’s grill.
96. Tomb Raider & Gears of War Cameo
Characters don’t need to be headliners to get a shout-out in Ready Player One, or even recognizable to anyone who hasn’t played through their respective video games. That’s not a concern for Lara Croft, the heroine of the Tomb Raider video game series who can also be spotted in the race’s starting grid. Since she’s leaning on Christine, it can also be theorized that Lady Croft prefers a vehicle just as deadly as herself (and far less evil or malevolent).
The person Lara is talking to is less of a household name or icon, but no less beloved among his fans. That’s Dizzy Wallin, the former Stranded soldier introduced in Gears of War 2. We would like to think that his presence here means that his Assault Derrick, “Betty” is among the challenger vehicles. But as sweet as she is, something tells us even dizzy knows: this just ain’t her race.
95. Pole Position Formula One Car Cameo
Considering how strange or out of place many of the race’s vehicles may seem, the presence of a Formula One car – two of them, actually – may seem strangely obvious. But if you don’t immediately grasp the reference being made, it shouldn’t be missed by any video game enthusiast, or amateur historian. Because given the setting and era being pulled from for the rest of Ready Player One, it could only really be on car.
That’s the cars seen in the classic Namco arcade game Pole Position, debuting in 1983 and brought to the world with help from Atari. It’s hard to communicate how popular the game was, instantly becoming the most successful game of its debut year 1983, and selling over $60 million worth of units for the company. Not to mention establishing the entire racing genre that would follow. If there was a race in Ready Player One, this game simply had to be represented.
94. Akira’s Kaneda Motorcycle Cameo
Most of the Oasis users competing in the race for the Copper Key rely on vehicles with four wheels, whether it’s a racecar, a monster truck, or any iconic hero car or van from a pop culture touchstone. It takes a special kind of racer to rely on just two, but Art3mis is nothing if not a cut above the rest of the competition. She’s still a lover of the classic icons of geek culture – and we don’t just mean the TRON-tastic touches making her bike resemble a Light Cycle, or even the geeky decals decorating it.
The bike itself is pulled from the anime Akira, and for those who have witnessed Shotaro Kaneda’s red motorcycle, the connection is hard to miss (the bike is prominently featured in most Akira posters and artwork). The manga that preceded the animated film is where the bike – which doesn’t actually have any standalone name – originally appeared. As a bit of nerd culture coming full circle, Kaneda’s bike was actually inspired by the Light Cycles of the original TRON (only sliced in half down the middle for a slimmer profile).
93. Aech’s BIGFOOT Monster Truck
Since she is introduced in the form of a gigantic, mechanized, and brute strength beauty Avatar, it makes perfect sense that Aech would select a vehicle like Bigfoot to tackle Halliday’s challenge. While others choose speed or style, Aech uses the bulk and height of the monster truck to drive over (and through) her fellow racers. But the level of detail on display in her truck simply has to be called out.
For those who may not know, Bigfoot was actually the very first ‘monster truck’ which spawned the entire craze and entertainment spectacle. The truck pictured in the film looks to be a dead ringer for Bigfoot 8, specifically, designed in 1989 by Bob Chandler and Bigfoot 4X4. Even if you’re not a fan of Bigfoot history, the truck may be familiar: it’s the one used for the 1991 Bigfoot Champions Crunch Arena playset from Hot Wheels.
92. The Easter Eggs on Art3mis’ Bike
The skill and speed with which Art3mis runs Halliday’s unwinnable race means audiences don’t actually get much time to examine her vehicle of choice. The design is torn right out of Akira, but the decorations she’s made show that the popularity of Wonder Woman doesn’t slip as we move into the future. Try to catch a good look at her motorcycle, and you can spot an obvious Wonder Woman logo located on the front right fairing.
A bit lower is a logo just as recognizable to older audiences: the insignia of The Greatest American Hero, yet another superhero series from the early 1980s. As a reminder that this film still have video games at heart, the bike is also decorated with an image of Ms. Pac-Man, which took North American arcades by storm in 1982. And to drive home how much of an old school gamer this mystery rider is, the corporate logo the Taito can be seen on the opposite side – the manufacturer of games like Elevator Action, Bubble Bobble, and Space Invaders , which launched the arcade sensation to begin with (throw in a SEGA logo for good measure).
91. Jurassic Park’s T. Rex Cameo
There are some devious threats cooked up by James Halliday in his race challenge – all apparently intended to keep racers distracted from the real nature of his Easter Egg hunt. The rising obstacles, and swinging wrecking balls may pose a serious threat, but there’s none more terrifying than the Tyrannosaurus rex that emerges to swallow entire cars and their racers without a moment’s notice.
The inspiration is clear since the design and look of the T-rex is a perfect match for even the memory of its counterpart in Jurassic Park. It’s curious, since Steven Spielberg was adamant about keeping homages and references to his own films out of Ready Player One. Perhaps he felt that the presence of a dinosaur wasn’t necessarily a reference to “his dinosaur” from the movie. Either way, it’s a terrific cameo proving that there’s no movie villain quite like the surviving star of the Jurassic franchise.
90. Arnold Schwarzenegger Last Action Hero Easter Egg
Of all the movies fans expected to see get a nod of approval or affection in the big screen adaptation of Ready Player One, a tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role-within-a-role in Last Action Hero was most certainly NOT one of them. Not a knock against the movie, but the type of references aren’t exactly a match. But nevertheless, Jack Slater gets a shout-out during the same race challenge scene.
It’s hard to make out given the speed of the cars, but a movie theater marquee clearly advertises the Austrian actor appearing in Jack Slater III, a film that came to pass in the fictional world of the Oasis, at least. It’s not the only nod to Schwarzenegger in the film, but the premise of the movie may explain its presence here. Last Action Hero is, after all, a look back that the fame and swagger of yesterday’s action heroes.
89. Delta City Robocop Easter Egg
We promised that the early cameo from Alex Murphy wasn’t going to be the only nod to RoboCop, and the second comes not long after, in the final stages of the race challenge. When the roads are destroyed by Kong’s onslaught, Aech barely manages to stop before sliding off of the broken roadway. But where Aech is too big to proceed, Art3mis is equipped to leap without looking. Which means she probably missed this Easter Egg, too.
Behind Art3mis as she takes off is a large billboard affixed to a nearby building, advertising the futuristic metropolis of “Delta City.” For those who know their classic action movies, that’s the name given to Detroit in America’s bleak future – and the very same city patrolled by the RoboCop. So for anyone wondering, the film is implying that Halliday was a BIG fan of Peter Weller and Paul Verhoeven’s twisted examination of militarized police.
88. ACE Chemicals
The race beginning on New York City’s Liberty Island may work its way through a largely artificial version of the city and its streets and landmarks, but the most well-known fictionalized version of The Big Apple is, without question, the Gotham City of DC’s Universe. The connection was obviously intended from the start, but the filmmakers take things a step further – to make sure that Easter Egg hunters in the audience would also jump out of their seats. Specifically, after Wade has prevented Art3mis from being caught by Kong… directly in front of the ACE Chemicals factory.
Famous for being the birthplace of The Joker, ACE Chemicals appeared in Batman v Superman, and again when Joker helped ‘create’ Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. In Ready Player One the company’s logo can be seen for a split second behind Art3mis, painted on a brick building set back from the racetrack. In the middle of the day, it’s not anywhere near as ominous. In fact, it’s mainly a tease of both those criminals’ coming cameos.
87. Peter Jackson’s King Kong
All is fair game when it comes to the pop culture buffet that is Ready Player One, which doesn’t just include geek movies of the 1980s, or video games from the 1970s to present day. That point is driven home when the above image is dropped into the race, signalling the start of the final and unbeatable phase of the race. It shows what looks to be King Kong atop his usual New York skyscraper – and as is usually the case in depictions of the gargantuan ape, he’s got a few biplanes driving him into a rage.
This seems to be a departure from the book, where such an overt nod to King Kong never happens (although the entire race sequence was also cooked up for the film adaptation). Some might mistake it for a version of Donkey Kong, but the skyscraper, the planes, and both their presence in the King Kong movie directed by friend of Spielberg Peter Jackson makes the allusion even clearer.
86. Sorrento’s Evil Superman Avatar
Over the course of the movie corporate antagonist Nolan Sorrento makes a few efforts at seeming cool, geeky, or in any way ‘hip’ to the entire idea of fun and fantasy that shaped the Oasis. And there is nothing that sums up the idea of an over-aged, out of touch businessman trying to seem ‘with it’ than his choice of Avatar. From the sheer size and bulk of the Avatar, right down to the clean-shaven jaw and iconic curl of hair, there’s no mistaking it: Nolan Sorrento chose Superman himself as his idea of a hero.
He loses points for imagination right from the start, and even more for not using any special powers. But then, he may actually earn some back by ditching what makes Superman so iconic, dressing him in a dark, generic suit of body armor. The design may fall closer to Shrek’s human form than Henry Cavill’s, but some inspiration from artist Alex Ross’ version of the Man of Steel is visible in the hair and facial features. The point is, Nolan’s attempt at being an ‘evil Superman’ just makes the Injustice version even better by comparison.
85. War of The Worlds Tripod Cameo
The introduction scene of I-R0k may also seem far more villainous, ominous, and fantastical then the rest of the movie’s nostalgic tone (at least until T.J. Miller’s voice is used to undercut the Oasis fixer). That’s largelu due to the setting, taking place in large piles of burned out wreckage, with only the steampunk pirate king’s skull remaining behind as a sign of who once held the Orb Sorrento seeks.
But sticking out of the wreckage as the shot begins is a nod to a former Spielberg work that might also have been missed. The long metallic neck could be anything, but the bulbous head with its mechanized “Eye” turned red and lifeless is a pretty clear nod to the Martian Tripods of War of the Worlds. The design is a more direct match to the version seen before Spielberg and Tom Cruise’s version, so perhaps Spielberg appreciated the chance to pay homage once more.
84. I-R0k’s Hamlet Skull Reference
As predictively evil in a Saturday morning cartoon sort of way as I-R0k might be, don’t let his attempts to seem intimidating distract from his clear love of literature. Alright, so we can’t say that he’s a strong reader, but he does exhibit a more clever deduction and detective routine than the rest of Sorrento’s men. And based on his introduction scene, he’s read enough of William Shakespeare’s plays to be able to make a witty (and totally unappreciated) quip.
After finding the skull of the pirate king amidst the wreckage next to the Orb, I-R0k raises the skull in his hand, and delivers a line to the villain who has arrived to meet with him: “The Steampunk Pirate King. I knew him well, Sorrento.” The skull and line is a clear nod to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which the Danish prince raises the skull of his former jester and states that he “knew him, Horatio.” The movie line also replicates the unexplained misquoting “I knew him well,” but better thespians than i-R0k have made the same mistake.
83. The Gremlins Treasure Chest Easter Egg
The mysterious object that Sorrento has paid I-R0k to seek out and claim from its previously-living owner is ultimately revealed to be The Orb of Osuvox, an artifact that has several Easter Eggs associated with it alone. For starters, the magic contained inside of the Orb is shown to be a glowing, spinning, 20-sided die (made famous in the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game).
The incantation used to activate it is a geek-tastic reference of its own that we’ll get to later. But for fans of 1980s movies aimed squarely at young audiences, it isn’t just the Orb you should be focused on. When I-R0k first uncovers the Orb beneath some rubble, he leaves Sorrento to open the box containing it. The box is quickly forgotten, but note the details, and you’ll see it’s the same box once used to house a dangerous – but adorable – prize in Gremlins. It’s the box the original Mogwai, ‘Gizmo’ is delivered home in.
82. Spaceballs: Lonestar’s Winnebago Easter Egg
Now it’s time for the real motherload of science fiction Easter Eggs and cameos to begin, once the action shifts to Aech’s garage (a famous spot in the Oasis due to Aech’s proficiency with mending machines of all kinds). The scene is an important one between Parzival and Art3mis, so audiences can be forgiven for not shifting their eyes to the background – and the cult classics Aech is working on repairing.
The easiest to spot among the group is without a doubt the Eagle 5, also known as the flying 1986 Winnebago Chieftain 33 piloted by Bill Pullman’s “Lone Starr” in the comedy Spaceballs. It can be seen on a raised lift to the rear and left of where Aech, Parzival, and Art3mis first gather around his work station. There are other gems to spot in the parade of spaceships headed to The Distracted Globe, but this particular cameo is going to be difficult to beat for plenty of comedy fans.
81. Aech’s Fraggle Rock Lunchbox
After spotting a glimpse of some of the coming treasures in Aech’s garage, Parzival tries to convince Art3mis that he’s somebody worth knowing (and not getting ahead of himself in the process). In the end, he turns to demonstrating just how cool Aech is, beginning with the collection of spaceships and vehicles contained (in miniature) in a box on his work table.
Even before he gets to what’s inside the box, it’s important to catch the details about the box itself. By cutting to the overhead shot just a split second before the image on the top of the metal lunchbox can be seen, audiences are meant to realize they just missed a potential reference. But wonder no more: the lunchbox is adorned with a group photo of the Fraggle Rock gang from the children’s TV show. It may be criminally underused in the movie, but this is better than nothing.
80. Battlestar Galactica Model Ship
It really can’t be overstated just how of a target-rich environment Aech’s garage is for dedicated Gunters. Not only for the client vehicles being repaired by Aech, but the ones that the gearhead already has in her collection. In the real world, it would make up the contents of an entire sci-fi museum. But in the world of the Oasis, the ships can all be miniaturized until needed – small enough to fit into a metal box on Aech’s workbench.
The first to be pointed out by Parzival is the “Galactica,” which isn’t actually elaborated on any further. For the uninitiated, that’s a nod to the Battlestar-class ship at the heart of, you guessed it, Battlestar Galactica. And the best part of that beat is that it’s not the only one to look for in the room, either (or in that stream of ships headed to The Distracted Globe).
79. Aliens’ USS Sulaco Model Ship
Parzival follows his rush of adrenaline at pointing out Aech’s collection by setting aside the Galactica and picking up another unsung hero of the science fiction action genre: the USS Sulaco, a Conestoga-class troop transport ship. Or as Parzival puts it, “the Sulaco from Aliens.” As if anyone who has seen the movie could ever miss the ugly, utilitarian ship or its many front-facing metallic spires.
The moment is small, but intended to be caught by those in the know. The real added bonus is that Art3mis seems completely unaffected by his fanboy-ing… but may not be. Judging by her choice of weapon later on at The Distracted Globe, she has more than a little love for James Cameron’s follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Alien, too. Not that such affection is exactly rare in the world of geek culture, but… referring to the Sulaco by name has to have earned Parzival at least part of their date.
78. Dune Movie Easter Eggs
Hey, looks like it isn’t just great movies that get cameos or references in Ready Player One! That’s an easy shot to take, but the truth is that for all its shortcomings or downright baffling decisions by director David Lynch, the 1984 Dune movie is filled with unforgettable science fiction ideas and villains. But given the legacy of Frank Herbert’s original novels, fans might think that’s the real reference being made… but they would be wrong.
As Parzival explains as he’s rummaging through Aech’s other miniaturized ships, he’s looking for “the Harkonnen Drop-Ship,” which he claims can fold space to make the trip from Incipio to Arakkis in a presumably short amount of time. Its the only overt mention of Incipio, the starter planet in Sector 1 of the Oasis where new Avatars are spawned into the simulation. Arakkis is the famous desert planet – also known as “Dune” – upon which the action of the first novel hinges. But the Harkonnen Drop-Ship? That’s purely an invention for the film, meaning the critical and commercial failure gets an even larger cult following in the movie’s future.
77. PO-024 Field Repair E-Frame
Take a look through most Ready Player One Easter Egg lists or online discussions, and you’re likely to see at least one fan convinced that the cargo loader from Aliens is also included in the movie (the one piloted by Ripley in her final fight against the Xenomorph Queen). With good reason, too: it wouldn’t be the only nod to the movie, and the large yellow exo-skeleton seen in Aech’s garage and the final battle bears more than a passing resemblance.
But the size is all wrong. the real culprit is the one pictured here. It’s not a cargo loader, but a PO-024 Field Repair E-Frame from the animated series Exo-Squad. It’s the one piloted by Lieutenant Maggie Weston, for those who either watched the show or played with the accompanying line of toys. Whoever Aech was repairing it for, it’s nice to know they came through in the final fight.
76. Robocop’s ED-209 Easter Egg
Along with a few other loaders and spacecraft in Aech’s garage, and a bit harder to see due to its shorter stature and grey color (blending into the background of the workshop) is a small, two-legged mech. To unfamiliar viewers, it might be a generic walker of any post-Star Wars sci-fi property. But to those who love RoboCop…
That’s right, the nods to the film continue with the cameo from an ED-209 (Enforcement Droid Series 209). One might think that the walker – the future, better, less human solution to urban pacification – would be best remembered for its battle with the titular RoboCop. But given that the ED’s most iconic scenes involve it falling down a flight of stairs and ruthlessly machine-gunning an executive to death in a ludicrous workplace incident… the garage may actually be exactly where this droid needs to be. Fortunately, Aech destroys the garage before ED can.
75. Cowboy Bebop’s Swordfish II Easter Egg
It isn’t just beloved, geek-worshiped science fiction of western Europe or America being honored in the film, or Aech’s garage specifically. There are too many acclaimed anime to say are deserving of a cameo, or even to say that they aren’t represented in secret corners of Ready Player One‘s world. But at least one such cameo is in plain sight for all to see.
The ship in question is the large, red one on a lift behind the heroes (alongside the EVA pod, closer than the Ed-209). The ship is hard to make out in smaller shots, but it is clearly the Swordfish II from the universally lauded anime Cowboy Bebop. Beginning as a Machine Operation Navigation of Outer space (or MONO) racer, the ship got some serious urpgrades inckeeping with the show’s style. Now the only question is whether the creators are giving the biggest nod to the TV series, the movie, the manga, the toys…
74. 2001 Space Odyssey Pod Easter Egg
The tone of Ready Player One isn’t what you would call particularly “deep” or even “introspective” about mankind’s place in the universe, its reliance on technology, or how technological breakthroughs can be turned against us (it’s not really trying to be, so that’s not exactly a criticism). Those elements are all there, but… RPO is not a follow-up to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Still, Spielberg made sure to include it in the list of science fiction tales on display in Aech’s garage. The Discovery One would be far too big to fit, so fans should instead look for one of the EVA Pods used in a number of pivotal scenes in the movie. it’s impossible to tell if Aech is repairing Alice, Betty, or clara, so viewers will have to speculate on exactly which one the effects team decided to recreate (by this point, it’s clear they don’t make any decision randomly).
73. Battlestar Galactica: Viper Easter Egg
We promised that the scale model Galactica wouldn’t be the only nod to the famous sci-fi series (the original one, sorry fans of the Ronald D. Moore revival), and fans fortunately don’t have to look very far to spot the next one. The triangular, white space fighter on a lift in the background may seem somewhat generic – and can therefore be missed in the previously mentioned space shot – but it’s guaranteed to quicken the pulse of hardcore fans.
That ship is no ordinary vessel, but one of the Colonial Vipers from the TV series. The good news is that fans of either show can enjoy the nod, since the only real difference between the two is a line of exposed machinery forward of the wing. The lack of it here confirms it’s a throwback to the original, but if you want to believe it’s a nod to Kara Thrace’s modern Starbuck… we won’t tell anyone.
72. Buck Rogers’ Thunderfighter Easter Egg
By this point, there is a very good chance that most audiences members out to see Ready Player One will not have ever heard of, let alone recognize a hero vehicle from Buck Rogers, but the filmmakers clearly do. It’s a nice sign that as hip or futuristic as the Oasis may be, it’s welcome to all ages – or those whose depths of nostalgia run much, much further into history.
For those eager to know the ship making its cameo in the garage, even if unfamiliar with the source material, its twin nose cone design is a match for the Thunderfight in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, a TV series debuting in 1979 and running until 1981. That means it qualifies for Ready Player One‘s general period of pop culture nostalgia, even if Buck hasn’t proven as versatile or long-lasting a sci-fi hero as some of his colleagues in the movie.
71. Ferris Bueller’s 1961 Ferrari GT California Easter Egg
Not every Easter Egg in Aech’s garage is tied to space, or even cutting-edge technology. In the case of the classic red roadster tucked in alongside the ships (hard to miss, for all of those reasons), the nod is being given to a hit now synonymous with the 1980s. yes, that really is the 1961 Ferrari GT California which plays so central a role to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
It’s the first suggestion that Aech has a special place in her heart for the Matthew Broderick comedy, but not the last. For those who may need a bit more detail, it was this Ferrario that Cameron reluctantly allowed Ferris to “borrow” on his infamous day of cutting classes (and supplied a few parking garage employees with one heck of a joyride). The same car that ended up smashing through a glass window and down several dozen feet out of Cameron’s garage. Luckily, there is always Aech to restore it to pristine condition.
70. Lex Luthor’s Superman Movie Quotes
When Parzival finally gets the chance to spend some time with Art3mis while Aech rebuilds her bike, he relies on his knowledge of Halliday to prove he’s a true Gunter. The best example he can give? By reciting Halliday’s favorite movie quote, which Art3mis helps complete: “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe. A line from Lex Luthor delivered in Superman (1978), the first modern blockbuster to make audiences believe in the impossibility of superheroes.
There’s a bit more to this reference viewers should know in order to appreciate it. On a literal level, the line resonates with the plot of Ready Player One quite well: the key to solving Halliday’s challenge is to look through a grand adventure or idea to the core, and see the grand meaning in small details of his life. In the film the line is delivered by Gene Hackman to his less intellectual peers, showing Halliday may have empathized with Luthor. The scene also makes a joke on the meaning and delivery of “voilà” which is picked up by I-R0k later.
69. “There’s Something About Mary Hair”
Part of the reason Parzival may seem such a fresh protagonist is the fact that he doesn’t resemble the usual leads in modern science fiction stories. Or even worse, the usual protagonist in a modern video game story. His skin texture and tattoos are clearly a choice, but it’s his hairstyle – changed in his entrance into the Oasis – that stands out the most. A style described by Aech as a clear connection to actress Cameron Diaz, as “There’s Something About Mary Hair.”
Funny enough, Art3mis seems to approve of the look… with one slight tweak. She uses her hand to alter Parzival’s hair by removing the constant waving animation. The moment most might miss is when she runs her fingers through his hair, pulling a wide strip of it vertically – effectively recreating Diaz’s best known look from one memorable section of the film – before zapping it into place. Aech wins.
68. The Breakfast Club Easter Eggs
The truth is that no matter how many of these subtle Easter Eggs or pup culture cameos we manage to spot, it is entirely possible that more exist than can ever be deciphered without the filmmakers and studio artists calling out themselves. Case in point: the entry space to the Halliday Journals, decorated with a number of tables and chairs to allow Gunters to explore the life and memories of the Oasis’ inventor.
Tables, chairs, stairways, railings, and fluorescent lighting all pulled directly out of the John Hughes movie The Breakfast Club. The odds that most viewers will catch this carbon copy is low, since few would even think to look for it. But the photo evidence above doesn’t lie, meaning we may need to launch a special investigation specifically into architecture and interorior design-based Easter Eggs and references. The good news is this confirms Halliday had a sense of humor, knowing how many young Oasis users would spend their weekends in a hopeless search for purpose and meaning.
67. Smokey & The Bandit’s Trans-Am Easter Egg
Once Parzival unlocks the secret of the initial race challenge, a few other Gunters follow in his footsteps. As he explains through narration, Art3mis witnessed him stopping at the starting line of the race, and it didn’t take her long to decipher the real secret he had uncovered. After informing Aech how to achieve the same task, but only on an oath of secrecy… Aech spilled the beans to Daito, and Shoto soon followed.
The short clip of Daito arriving at the Bethesda Fountain finish line is also memorable for the damage he took to get there. Upon arrival, Daito’s car (and part of Daito) is engulfed in flame – completely exploding once the key is claimed. But that’s no ordinary car. It’s harder to make out once the flames have consumed it, but upon arrival, it’s a dead ringer for the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. That’s the car made famous by Burt Reynolds in Smokey and The Bandit (1977).
66. Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade Easter Egg
Enough time has passed to make it acceptable, if still a tragedy, that many Ready Player One viewers won’t be familiar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The classic comedy from the Python troupe is paid homage in the film through one of its most memorable weapons: the holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. In the film, the explosive is used to take out a vicious were-rabbit, after an extended explanation of the holiest of holy grenades.
The grenade is purchased instantly when Parzival spots it in the marketplace after receiving his cash prize for beating the race… sadly, he never speaks the words of devotion, even once: “O LORD, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.” The grenade comes through in the final act, and while Parzival doesn’t count to three like the Mony Python stars were instructed to, the chorus of angelic voices returns to keep the fans happy.
65. The “Zemeckis” Cube Easter Egg
There is no shortage of pivotal movie, TV, video game, fantasy, or science fiction creators being paid tribute throughout Ready Player One, and not all of them are tied to the heroes of the film, either. But if there is one film director who gets the most love, Robert Zemeckis may be it. With good reason, too: as writer and director of the Back to the Future movies, he’s a pop culture icon for more than one generation (and his DeLorean is every bit the hero of the movie as Parzival). As director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, he also preceded Ready Player One in dreaming up the idea of people interacting with beloved pop culture icons (to a level of studio cooperation few believed would ever happen again… before Spielberg signed on for this film).
So it’s no coincidence that the secret weapon revered by Parzival in the Oasis marketplace is the Zemeckis Cube – a Rubik’s Cube that, once deployed, turns back time in the Oasis an entire minute (all players included). If the homage wasn’t clear enough already, the musical theme of Back to the Future blasting as the Zemeckis Cube takes effect is impossible to miss. The director gave Parzival his signature ride, AND saved his skin when all seemed lost.
64. The Arkham Knight Cameo
Not every cameo tied to DC’s Universe comes from the movies or TV shows. In the end, the video game adaptations of the Batman universe – specifically those dreamed up by the developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum at Rocksteady Studios – prove just as popular. The popularity of a game series from the 200s alongside classic gaming are controversial, but considering how big a splash the Arkham designs made on the geek community, it’s understandable. And as far as ‘painfully cool’ designs taken to the extreme go, the poster boy is undoubtedly the Arkham Knight himself.
The villain of the third Rocksteady Arkham game made a splash with his perversion of Batman’s cowl and body armor when he made his debut. If you never played the games, just take a look at the Halliday Journals patron exiting the building just as Parzival enters after winning the first race. And credit to the animators: the Arkham Knight’s scanning of Parzival is pitch-perfect for the character.
63. Beetlejuice Cameo
When Parzival the nobody becomes Parzival “first to the key” he realizes his celebrity is a curse as much as a blessing. But even before Art3mis can intervene and offer a new disguise, Parzival is met with what has to be the most distressing possible superfan to ever encounter in a public space. The answer is Beetlejuice. Well, his name is technically “Betelgeuse,” and just sounds like Beetlejuice.
Even as hard to miss as Beetlejuice’s look may be, his appearance is short enough for some to miss (shortly after noticing Parzival has arrived, the swarm of Gunters surrounds him). It has to be one of the most uncanny Avatars in the Oasis, looking more like an actual human in full Beetlejuice costume than a CG rendition. Thankfully, this gohst specializing in the removal of living pests exits the story just as quickly. At least until the sequel.
62. Injustice Supergirl Cameo
Beetlejuice is obviously the person who makes themselves known in the most overt fashion, but the receiving group in the Halliday Journals is populated with several notable names. Lara Croft returns, as do several other Avatars seen earlier and later in the film (the Arkham Knight, for instance, returns to the front of the crowd when Parzival broadcasts his speech later on).
But as soon as Beetlejuice announces Parzival’s presence, quickly look to the blonde woman jumping up from the nearest table. If the cape, tights, and red boots and gloves don’t give it away, the ‘S’ on her chest should. Supergirl’s presence adds another dose of DC Comics lore to the movie, albeit in a subtler fashion than others. For clarity, this is actually a perfect replica of the Supergirl introduced as part of the Injustice comic series and fighting games. She’s not the only Injustice cameo coming, either.
61. Mortal Kombat’s Goro Cameo
Parzival isn’t pestered by the group of Gunters in the Halliday Journals entryway for more than a few second until an Avatar intervenes – one too big to disagree with, too. The four-armed, pony-tailed clobberer scoops Parzival up and ushers him into an isolated space behind a nearby wall. They reveal themselves to be Art3mis in disguise, but it doesn’t seem like an uncommon one judging by the final battle scene.
The character is hard to miss as Goro, the former champion of the Mortal Kombat tournament when the first game released. Famed for being the champion for half a millennium, players would need to defeat goro before moving on to beat Shang Tsung. In the shot of Gunter allies cresting a hill next to Parzival in the final fight, it seems a different Oasis user decided to adopt the Avatar for themselves (probably not just a costume to surround them).
60. Christopher Reeve Superman Reference
Parzival isn’t ready for the instant fame he receives for being “first to the key,” but gets a crash course when a mob of fans surrounds him upon his return to the Halliday Journals. He’s saved by Art3mis who explains that from here on out, his research may need to be conducted in disguise. Luckily, she has just the item he needs: Clark Kent Glasses. Able to instantly change the appearance of Parzival into an unassuming, mild-mannered reporter (without altering his appearance choices underneath).
While that name is a broad one, and a clever play on the idea that Superman has only ever needed a pair of spectacles to hide his superhuman frame, the homage is clearer. From the hairstyle to the suit, right down to the exact same frames, Spielberg gets Parzival as close to Christopher Reeve’s rendition of Clark Kent as possible.
59. Battleborn’s Miko Cameo
The walk from the isolated, concealed area where Art3mis helps equip Parzival with his new lark Kent disguise is a flurry of cameos. Thankfully, the character designs of the cameos in question make it easy to decipher, and they are almost guaranteed to show up elsewhere in the movie. Let’s begin with the figure behind Parzival distinguished by the large, red, cap-like top to their head.
That mushroom-like top is actually the biggest giveaway that the character is Miko, also from the Battleborn video game. It has a reason for resembling the common fungus, too: Miko is the name of the fighter, but the fighter doesn’t distinguish itself as an individual. As the last functioning member of “a conce planet-sized fungal colony” Miko is one fraction of a hive mind. We don’t know how that fiction would change if another Avatar chose to become a Miko, but… well, the cameo is a nice treat for fans of the game.
58. Battleborn’s Benedict Cameo
Add yet another Battleborn cameo to the list, which is starting to suggest some kind of fan event or group study session was taking place at Halliday’s Journals immediately before Parzival arrived. This time around, it’s Benedict, who is just as easy to spot thanks to the fact that he is a person-sized, human-eagle hybrid species from the faction known as Peacekeepers.
He may be better known for his personality and Southern accent, neither of which are highlighted here. But the visual design makes him an easy spot in the grand scheme of Ready Player One Easter Eggs. As easy as it would be to spot a giant bird-warrior, Benedict’s missing wing makes it even more obvious. The left wing (lost during a battle for his homeworld) was replaced by a mechanical one matching his green armor, and both the original and tech upgrade are visible as he passes behind Parzival in this same tracking shot.
57. Cocktails & Dreams Neon Sign Easter Egg
The pop culture reference continue from Aech’s garage to the living quarters in the same space. But before Parzival puts on his fashion show in preparation for his date, there are some terrific nods to lesser-loved films of the 1980s (that show a bit more of Aech’s particular tastes and pop culture faves). The first being the neon sign hanging outside of Aechs’s office/living quarters.
The sign advertising “Cocktails & Dreams” may seem appropriate for the kind of sign one might find in a laid back setting, but the callback is more specific. That’s the name that Tom Cruise’s character intends to one day call his own lounge and bar in the movie Cocktail (1988). It’s fitting, since Aech seems to be living her dream as well. But the neon sign being a perfect match for the one hanging in Cruise’s bar by the end of the movie is a beautiful touch.
56. Back To The Future’s Goldie Wilson Poster
If the assumption made by Parzival’s choice of vehicle – and Art3mis taking a playful shot at his choice by calling him “McFly” as a nod to the movie’s hero – is that the Back to the Future films aren’t as universally praised in the Oasis as the real world, let’s set it straight. Because as far as Easter Eggs and subtle references go, Aech may have the best one guaranteed to go over the head of anyone who isn’t a dedicated fan of McFly.
While Parzival is getting dressed for his date, there are a few obvious pop culture callouts behind him on the wall. There’s a vintage poster for the first Mad Max and hit bands of the 1980s, but the real prize is placed up and to the left of Parzival. it isn’t advertising a movie, but a mayor. Mayor Goldie Wilson’s re-election campaign for the city of Hill Valley, California, to be exact. The 1950s floorsweep who grew up to be mayor of the whole town in the first movie.
55. Firefly’s Serenity Cameo
We’ve mentioned the shot of the spaceships making their way to the nightclub ahead of Parzival’s date, and those with a keen eye can spot nods to Battlestar Galactica and too many other sci-fi properties to count. But the ship swooping into the shot is the real star for many sci-fi fans, unmistakable thanks to its silhouette and engine placement. It’s an Allied Spacecraft mid-bulk transport, Firefly Class. Since the users of the Oasis base their looks and transportation around beloved pop culture properties, it’s safe to assume that’s a replica of Serenity herself, piloted by at least one superfan of the short-lived TV show.
The iconic ship can also be spotted during the final battle sequence of the movie, deploying Daito’s Gundam (it’s from directly underneath, which may not be the most recognizable angle). Eagle-eyed fans will want to keep their peepers peeled for Serenity’s official markings (and maybe even a cameo from Mal?).
54. Star Wars’ X-Wing Cameo
From comments made by Spielberg himself, it seems that there may be more than a few subtle Star Wars Easter Eggs and cameos to hunt for in the coming months, specifically given the number of places an R2 unit could hide among generic sci-fi backdrops. But that’s for future Gunters: we’re here to narrow down the famous spacecraft that every viewer can look out for. Its famous Jedi pilot… that may be a harder cameo to look for.
Yes, it can be confirmed that a Rebel X-Wing can be spotted in the same convoy of spaceships and massive space juggernauts that the Serenity slides into on the way to The Distracted Globe. The four engine lights visible from the rear of the ship will stand out immediately. Once those have been spotted, noting the S-foils in attack position is downright impossible. Containg your excitement… that may be the real challenge.
53. Deathstroke Cameo
The line of spaceships outside The Distracted Globe nightclub will need further examination to spot any potential DC Comics nods, but the nightclub scene offers plenty. The parade begins when Parzival makes his entry into the club, and the bright purple lights may conceal the first cameo that’s hard to miss (provided you have an eye for silhouettes). The figure walking by is accompanied by a mystery woman, but his double bandoleers, guns, and swords suggest one answer. Even before his eyehole-less mask is discernible, he’s a lock for Deathstroke The Terminator.
Famous as the deadliest contract killer in the DC Universe (a title he shares with several killers, and at least one more on our list), Slade Wilson has sported a lot of looks and costumes. The high collar of his suit here calls back to the period between his two most iconic looks. First, the chainmail and cuffed boots of the 1980s, and later the more heavily armored look of the Arkham games, Injustice, and even Joe Manganiello’s appearance as Deathstroke in Justice League.
52. Conan the Barbarian Cameo
The low light of The Distracted Globe means that potentially dozens, if not hundreds of tiny cameos will need to remain a mystery (only a handful can be confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt). But considering the love for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie roles on full display in Ready Player One, we can tentatively confirm another. As Parzival walks into the club past Deathstroke, keep an eye on the biggest figure in the recessed lounge are to his front and left.
The large, shirtless, musclebound back may not be enough to confirm a Schwarzenegger cameo on its own. But the long brown hair, the faint glimpse of a studded headband, and the short leather cloths about his waist leave little doubt. We can add Conan the Barbarian to the list of the fantasy movie icons Oasis users bring to life. Something tells us Arnie isn’t hurting for tributes in the Oasis.
51. Devo Hat Bartender Easter Egg
Hunting for Easter Eggs means scanning every single on-screen character (including silhouettes, color schemes, and surrounding crowd). Which means the shots of the nightclub visited by Parzival are a spoil of riches… and a serious responsibility. With all the scanning of the bar patrons (we’ll get the standouts, don’t worry) it’s easy to miss the bartender: a robot sporting the red “energy dome” hats made famous by the 1980s band Devo.
It’s a good reminder that it isn’t just the video games, movies, and TV shows of the 1980s being parodied or amplified in the fictional world of Ready Player One, but all aspects of culture in that time period – and well beyond, judging by the rest of the footage. Music plays largely the same role in the movie as it did in the book, and even if other bands get more audio play than Devo, it’s nice to see such an odd encapsulation of 1980s pop make an appearance keeping the visitors of the club drinking and dancing.
50. Chun-Li & Blanka’s Cameo
As mentioned before, the characters of the Street Fighter series are turned to several times throughout the film, and some more than once, but not all of them are used for instant recognition (as is the case with Chun Li in the final battle assault on anorak’s castle. When Parzival arrives for his date with Art3mis and heads to the nearest bar, two Street Fighter stars make a cameo appearance directly behind them.
The shadows may hide the details, but the silhouette is unmistakable: that’s Blanka, the towering green behemoth from the series, completely with his otherworldly head of orange spikes. He’s sharing a quiet moment with Chun Li, one of the game franchise’s most recognizable faces… and hairstyles… and outfits. Now we have to wonder if the two are about to fight, have already, or are simply appearances of two people who felt Blanka and Chun Li have earned some time away from the ring.
49. Mass Effect’s Shepard Cameo
As one prominent cameo in the final seconds of the movie’s first trailer revealed, it isn’t just the video games of the 1980s, or even the 1990s being used to populate Ready Player One‘s world. But if fans had been keeping their eyes peeled on the crowds from the very start of the trailer, that fact becomes clear immediately. Look to the left of the Parzival/Art3mis meeting in the final film, and modern gamers will notice the N7 Armor reserved for the best of Earth’s SpecOps soldiers… in the Mass Effect game series.
Beyond the black and grey armor accented by the red and white stripes down the armored arm plates, the entire silhouette matches that of BioWare’s original sci-fi series. The close-cropped hair is also a match for Commander Shepard, but it’s the location that drives home the reference. As seasoned fans of Mass Effect know, it’s hard to keep Shepard out of neon drinking spots with throbbing bass. He’s even acting out his in-game dance.
48. Harley Quinn & The Joker Cameo
Considering her popularity after both a) the Arkham series of games, and b) her big screen debut in Suicide Squad, it’s not surprising to see Harley Quinn make not one, but two cameo appearances (at least). First, she can be spotted with two other women in a Distracted Globe booth – until I-R0k intrudes, sits, and tells them to beat it. Harley is impossible to miss in her identical Arkham look, even if we’re deprived of hearing any lines of dialogue that are recognizable in her Brooklyn accent.
Harley apparently left that rude encounter and sought out the man of her dreams (nightmares?) since both she and The Joker can be seen on the dance non-floor when Parzival and Arty3mis dance. The black eye make-up on this version of Joker draws the strongest connection to Heath Ledger’s version from The Dark Knight, and the hat isn’t a match for his most iconic seen in The Killing Joker. Most likely solution is that the filmmakers weren’t pointing to any ONE Joker.
47. Aliens: Ripley’s M41A Pulse Rifle Easter Egg
There is simply no way to pay homage to Alien, Aliens, or 1980s science fiction action in general without giving a specific shout out to Ellen Ripley, one of the most iconic woman warriors of movie history. Sigourney Weaver doesn’t appear, and neither does Ripley (that we’re aware of), but the film’s heroes still find a way to pay tribute when the IOI troops invade The Distracted Globe nightclub.
Art3mis is the one who’s ready for action, wasting no time grabbing Parzival and heading for cover on the zero-gravity dance floor(?). Once ready to return fire, she relies on an assault rifle to get it done – and not just any rifle. That’s the famous M41A Pulse Rifle wielded by the space marines charged with protecting Ripley. The same gun she later uses to defend herself and take the fight to the Xenomorphs. The best part? When Art3mis relies on the under-slung grenade launcher to deal with IOI enemies just as easily.
46. Parzival’s Lazer Tag Pistol Easter Egg
The Aliens rifle used by Art3mis would be the kind of surprise treat for fans thatwould stand on its own in most films. Give the diehard sci-fi geeks a cheer, and move right along. But then, this is Ready Player One, with a reputation to maintain. Which is why that is just the beginning, and the weapon revealed to be in Parzival’s holster is a downright incredible throwback to 1980s kid culture.
Parzival doesn’t do much close-up shooting in the movie (his pistsol used later is also a fantastic geek Easter Egg), but when he does, he turns not to a gun, phaser, or blaster. No, he pulls from his holster a weaponized version of the Starlyte pistol from the 1986 Lazer Tag game. Released by Worlds of Wonder, their brand of laser tag toys contributed to its surge in popularity – even inspiring a children’s animated series called Lazer Tag Academy.
45. Art3mis’ Judge Dredd Pistol Easter Egg
Not to be outdone, Art3mis ditches her Aliens pulse rifle after using its second grenade charge to propel her and Parzival towards cover (taking a hit from I-R0k in the process). Once they see the incoming fire from the skull-torsoed griefer, Art3mis returns it with a pair of pistols. Pistols that are not a match, but two completely different references to beloved pop culture badassery.
The pistol in her right hand is none other than the Lawgiver, the standard issue handgun of all Judges in Mega-City One. It’s a replice of the version seen in Sylvester Stallone’s version of Judge Dredd, to be more exact. The lights and channel running the length of the barrel and rectangular shape make it stand out easily for any Dredd fan. Sadly, Art3mis only relies on the standard ammunition for this particular firefight. Who knows, maybe if Parzival’s Zemeckis Cube didn’t save the day, she would have shown off the Lawgiver’s more… versatile firing modes.
44. Art3mis’ Halo Pistol Easter Egg
As promised, the left hand of Art3mis is carrying its own pistol – one that happens to be tired to its own tale of futuristic super soldiers, created in labs with no parental figures to speak of… probably just a coincidence. The franchise being alluded to this time is the Halo video game series. The weapon? The Magnum Pistol that confirmed the deadliest things come in small packages when Halo: Combat Evolved was released into the world.
The gun is easy enough to identify, with its front-heavy profile, forward-positioned trigger and guard, and channels near the back of the slide. The weapon is a bit of a joke for gamers, who instantly know why Art3mis would rely on such a gun as opposed to a larger, louder assault rifle. The fact that the Magnum was capable of landing devastating headshots from across multiplayer maps became Halo legend within days of release. It wasn’t until much later that the developers confirmed the cause: one programmer grew concerned that the handgun would feel slight in multiplayer arenas… and doubled the damage dealt shortly before the game shipped. The rest is history, and the reason such a small firearm made its way into Art3mis’ hand.
43. The Dark Side of The Moon Prism Easter Egg
The main streams of pop culture being used to populate the world of Ready Player One are certainly movies, TV shows, and video games, but there are a handful of music references to show that’s just as important. Interestingly enough, one of the most psychedelic of such references is delivered by Nolan Sorrento – and in a context completely devoid of any Oasis fantasies.
When I-R0k overhears Parzival reveal his real name to be “Wade,” it’s only a matter of time before he narrows down the true identity. Passing the information along to Sorrento, the IOI boss sends Wade a message asking him to meet. To do it, all he must do is don his goggles, and “touch the prism.” The prism is just that, hovering in place before his eyes. Until Wade touches it, and it refracts light in a rainbow, making the allusion to the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon complete.
42. The Answer To The Third Clue
Fans of the actual problem-solving may be a bit disappointed to see only two of the three challenges truly deciphered. The third clue, gained by Art3mis in ‘The Shining Game’ is quickly stated once she and Wade return to the Rebel Base. It’s hard to make out in the movie, but it goes like so:
If you know the answer ultimate
Divide it by the number magic
And what you need, want, and desire
Will be found in the fortress tragic
Before the heroes even have the chance to solve the riddle though, the base is ambushed, and Wade learns from Aech that Sorrento’s men beat them to it. They decoded the first lines of the puzzle… which actually isn’t that hard. Fans of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will recall that the answer to all life in the universe is given in that novel as “42.” Divide that by 3, the “magic number” as made famous by Schoolhouse Rock, and you get 14.
41. The Blade Runner Replicant Easter Egg
There’s no way to put this lightly: there are nowhere near as many Blade Runner Easter Eggs in Ready Player One as there could have been. Fans can hope to see Ridley Scott’s formative science fiction detective story referenced in the fringes of the film once it’s available for closer scrutiny. In the meantime, the good news is: of all the movie referenced, the Blade Runner nod may be the least caught.
For those who don’t know, Scott’s use of reflecting orange-white light in the pupils of his Replicants (artificial people) is a major feature of the Blade Runner conversation. Not just for style, but as fuel for speculation that Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a Replicant as well – thank largely to the above image. Ready Player One doesn’t offer an answer, but when Parzival and Daito trick Sorrento into thinking they have him at gunpoint in the real world, their trick only lasts so long.
40. “The Gold Mines of Gygax”
Parzival’s speech is the kind of Steven Spielberg hero moment that fans have come to love and often expect. All things considered, Parzival doesn’t have that difficult a challenge ahead of him: everybody seems to hate Nolan Sorrento, and most Oasis users have also been curiously following the Halliday Easter Egg drama. Put one between them and the other, and it’s no wonder the troops arrive en masse to take the fight to IOI.
But in all the excitement and impassioned words, gamers shouldn’t miss one of the subtlest references in Parzival’s speech. As part of his gathering of the Oasis residents, Parzival mentions locations where Halliday fans like himself have been spread, and must now reunite. The location? “The Gunter Clans in the Gold Mines of Gygax.” That’s a nod to Gary Gygax, who created the original Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game with Dave Arneson. Gygax passed in 2008, but is immortalized among the gaming legends by Parzival.
39. Ultrabots Scorpion Tank Cameo
As most fans who previously dissected the Ready Player One trailers have no doubt noticed, the epic shot of Napoleon piloting a massive, mechanized, weaponized scorpion doesn’t feature as prominently in the finished film at all. That’s a shame for obvious reasons, as the scorpion tank is shown to reduce countless Joust ostriches to eggs in a flurry of cannon fire. But the scorpions remain… and we don’t think they’re just any generic conveyance.
The scorpion tanks can still be seen along the line of friendly forces joining Parzival, primarily while still a great distance away from the action. They can later be seen in the thick of fighting, where they really do seem like updated, upgraded versions of the scorpions seen in Ultrabots, the MS-DOS game putting pilots of giant robots against, you guess it, other giant robots. The scorpions weren’t as polished, but the resemblance is hard to ignore.
38. The Battle Toads Cameo
The next wave of cameos will all be coming from the massive army assembled to fight for Parzival, running across a snowscape that is instantly plunged into explosions and gunfire. And the humanoid amphibians leading the charge are a gamer of the 1990s’ dream come true. Forget ’80s nostalgia: we’ve got Battletoads.
The video game trio created as a tongue-in-cheek shot at the Ninja Turtles earned fame instantly, with their rad attitudes and stretchable punches and kicks. Their appearance here – Zitz, Pimple, and Rash from left to right – will do wonders to encourage fans around the world to demand a modern Battletoads reboot… more than they already are, obviously.
37. Ninja Turtles 2: Tokka Cameo
Alongside the Battletoads in the first assault shot is another reptilian, humanoid fighter that could be mistaken for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. But, in a far more… literal sense. That is, the figure looks like an angry turtle running into battle with weapons ready. It may be a nod to the actual source material of the origin Turtles, which emphasized that part of their anatomy over the “mutated into humans” part.
But the more likely answer, given the emphasis on nostalgia – often regardless of objective quality – is one of the villains of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze. That film saw Shredder dose two new creatures with the same mutagen, creating two baby soldiers, Tokka and Rahzar. The character here bears a stronger resemblance to the original animated version of Tokka, so we’ll assume it’s the Turtles cartoon getting the real shout out.
36. Battleborn’s El Dragon Battle Cameo
The Battleborn cameos keep coming in the grand battle scenes, and are somewhat easier to pick out thanks to the exaggerated size and proportions of the fighters. One of the easiest to spot in the first wave of coming allies responding to Parzival’s call can be identified by the large, golden arms swinging on either side of his flesh-toned body. Look even closer, and the purple luchador mask on the mystery fighter’s face leaves no doubt.
The character is El Dragón of Battleborn, the famed wrestler who lost his title and upper appendages in a bout. The solution was to have them cybernetically replaced, resulting in his shiny, and far too large arms. Some of the crowd cameos in Ready Player One are educated guesses at best, but enough is shown of El Dragón in this shot and larger crowd scenes to confirm it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
35. Joust Ostrich Cameo
In the onslaught of fictional characters beginning the same charge, it can be easy to spot the above… creature, and assume it’s a placeholder dinosaur. But the truth is a reference to the video game Joust, released to arcades in 1982 before being ported to multiple home consoles. One of, if not the first game to truly popularize cooperative gameplay in North America, the game put players in the role of a brave knight riding into combat against powerful enemies… on the back of a large, flying ostrich.
The game is a notable on in video game history, but also features prominently in Ready Player One as a key hurdle to the hero’s progress. To claim one of the keys to Halliday’s hidden Egg in the novel, players need to beat a Joust enemy in two out of three rounds. Judging by this shot in the trailer, the filmmakers decided to keep the character relevant to the plot, but this time helping Wade’s cause after being defeated.
34. Optimus Prime Cameo
Fans of the Transformers universe may have a hard time keeping track of Optimus Prime’s current look – especially in the movies, where his initial look for the first Michael Bay film was seen as seen as a blasphemous, unrecognizable re-imagining by some at the time. After this many sequels, those first looks seem downright nostalgic. His design in Ready Player One‘s infantry charge is harder to discern.
Amidst the charging Battletoads and ostrich jousters can clearly be seen the shoulders and head of the Autobot leader, painted in their classic blue and red paint scheme. That’s all that’s visible due to the incline the troops are mounting, but it’s more than enough. It’s not the only nod to the Hasbro toys, either. When Sorrento is scrolling through his heavy weaponry before landing on MechaGodzilla, one selection looks an awful lot like Megatron. We were this close to the leaders duking it out.
33. Tracer From Overwatch
It isn’t just classic heroines who get a lead role in the battle, since Tracer from Blizzard’s Overwatch is downright impossible to miss with her orange goggles, glowing blue chest light and hairstyle all recreated perfectly in the movie’s world. She’s seen immediately after Parzival issues his call of “first to the key, first to the egg” to the gathered masses.
Tracer actually makes two other appearances in the movie, that we know of so far. The first comes when Parzival is first introducing the structure and locations of the Oasis, walking on a pathway over top of several lines of Avatars waiting to leap into the portals of their choice. Tracer can be spotted lining up her path, and dashing forward into the gateway. The second cameo comes when Parzival and Aech are in the Avatar marketplace, featured prominently in a booth advertising weapons, gear, and presumable outfits for Overwatch-branded characters.
32. FemShep is Fighting, Too
Yes, it’s not just the male Commander Shepard who’s looking to finish the fight, but the fan-favorite ‘FemShep’ as well. Take a look past Tracer – and Chun Li, making a far more visible return in this scene as well – to spot Shepard letting loose a war cry of her own. Her flaming red hair is a bit more subdued than usual in this sequence than in Mass Effect 3, but the same red and white stripe down the arm of her armor makes her inclusion impossible to miss.
Now the only question is if she can also be spotted earlier in the movie. Perhaps the filmmakers are also conceding that FemShep was the superior of the two options, showing her in the heat of battle, and her male (default) compatriot dancing his signature two-step in The Distracted Globe? The competition between the two previously made a top pick clear: one, the default that many never actually saw beyond marketing. The other, a visual design chosen by fan vote, and graced with a vocal performance ruled superior by many. Who’s your pick?
31. Don’t Forget Bloodrayne
It’s entirely possible that each and every figure in this war scene is a direct cameo or reference to some property or brand, but we won’t know until the finished film can be analyzed in its full, HD resolution, frame by frame. What we do know is that tiny glimpses into the background are already offering rewards. There’s a second appearance from Lara Croft to the left of the central fighters, shouting a war cry while raising her pistol, and perhaps even a Na’avi of the Avatar universe behind her (hard to blooconfirm). But don’t miss the shock of blood-red hair beside her.
The crimson-haired woman with the black top (and plunging neckline) is actually Rayne, the semi-titular heroine of the BloodRayne game series. The half-vampire hack-and-slasher has earned a cult following, as well as a series of largely unsuccessful films. But fans are out there, and at least one chose to have their avatar reflect it. Here’s hoping she’s as deadly against non-vampires.
30. The Catwoman Cameo
It wouldn’t be right for Batman to get a handful of appearances in the movie (along with the Joker, Harley Quinn, Batgirl, and the Arkham Knight) without also showing some love to the only Gothamite to actually show some love to the Dark Knight. We’re speaking, of course, about the one and only Selina Kyle: the Gotham City cat burglar who has remained a constant source of romantic interest and torture over Batman’s half-century career. Viewers of Ready Player One were robbed of an opportunity to finally see Batman and Catwoman together in the Oasis, but she is on hand as one of the Avatars joining Parzival without hesitation (thrill-seeking always was her addiction).
Her cameo comes during Parzival’s speech, when it’s shown projected on a canopy in the public plaza seen in the films opening. The Arkham Knight is easy to spot stepping into the frame to observe the call to arms, but it’s Catwoman who steps in before. It’s a view from behind so the black silhouette and tiny cat ears on her cowl are the details to spot. She can later be seen from the front in the infantry charge (to the far left of frame alongside the rest of the female furies (Rayne, Shepard, Lara Croft, and Cassie Cage).
29. Battleborn’s Ambra Cameo
Add another Battleborn character in this same crowd charge (seriously, how popular is this game with special effects studios?). This time around the culprit is a bit harder to spot than El Dragón, but most are. To spot her, you’ll need to look through the screaming Chun-Li and charging Tracer, past FemShep, and… well, she really is difficult to spot. But her large white and red headdress makes her easy to confirm, along with her staff.
The character is Ambra, the support fighter famous for her magical spells (learned among the silent sisters of the Battleborn mythology). We can assume that future slow motion looks at the battle scenes that follow will show Ambra using her sunspots or healing other fighters, just as other Battleborn juggernauts are visible through the fight. For now, a look at her headgear and weapon will have to be good enough.
28. Mortal Kombat’s Cassie Cage Cameo
Another beloved cameo hidden away in the front line of charging soldiers, and this list is guaranteed to only get longer. The heroine Lara Croft returns in the charging shot, and may draw the eye due to her fame, and color of wardrobe. But fans of the Mortal Kombat franchises should look one inch to the right, and see the daughter of two of the franchise’s greatest heroes joining in on the action.
The character, for those who don’t know, is the Sergeant Cassandra Carlton Cage of Earthrealm Special Forces. She’s better known to game fans as Cassie, the daughter of MK greats Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade. The character was introduced more recently in Mortal Kombat X, but instantly showed off her father’s wit, and her mother’s lethality. Which means the audience might not know her from her blonde undercut and black bodysuit, but her fellow Oasis gamers definitely do.
27. Army of Darkness Deadites Cameo
It isn’t just video game heroes, musclebound warriors, or femme fatales who make up the player population of the Oasis – a fact our list has clearly shown to this point. But for a special subcommunity, there appears to be nothing more courageous than shedding one’s weapons, armor, clothing, flesh, and muscle, and standing as nothing but a proud skeleton… and then picking those weapons and armor back up and charging into combat.
Yes, we’re referring to the skeleton soldiers letting a war cry loose alongside the rest of these gaming icons. At first it seemed that they were stand-ins for almost any fantasy skeleton or draugr. But on closer inspection, it’s getting harder and harder to claim these aren’t the infamous Deadites of the Evil Dead series – particularly the comedic skeletons from Army of Darkness. At least we hope, they are, since this shows they finally got a chance to be led by a true hero. Hail to the new king, baby?
26. Master Chief & Arbiter Battle Cameo
After the first wave of heroes seen prominently in the trailers is shown, the action shifts to a new set of soldiers. At first viewers may think that it’s a simple field of Avatars all copying the Mjolnir armor worn by Master Chief and the Spartans in the Halo video game series. That shot comes later in the battle, when a squadron of Spartna is shown running with weapons raised and firing – and the shot reveals the same players in the real world, a team of online friends actually playing next to one another.
In this first shot though, a look to the left of the screen reveals other Halo heroes get some attention, too. There is one Avatar appearing as the Arbiter, the Elite Covenant warrior who went from villain to deuteragonist in Halo 2. To round out the group, there’s also a Grunt running to keep up, weapon raised, cheering right along.
25. Spawn Battle Cameo
It might seem a little unfair for the 1980s world of pop culture to take up all of the spotlight. It might seem even MORE unfair for it to share the limelight with the main modern gaming heroes and comic book villains on our lisst. What about the 1990s? Sure, it was a time of over-the-top violence, intentionally grimdark antiheroes and demons wherever you looked. But… that’s what makes a character like Spawn so beloved.
The creation of Todd McFarlane shaped by everything undeniably ‘cool’ about the ’90s can also be seen popping up in the front lines of the later stages of battle, fairly impossible to miss if you know you’re looking for a muscular, black-and-white painted, red-caped demonic avenger charging into battle like it’s his job. Which it is. It may be some time before that long-rumored Spawn movie becomes a reality, but these split seconds of live action goodness are a great appetizer.
24. DC’s Injustice Heroes Team Up With Joker
Once Art3mis succeeds in dropping the magical ball of protective energy around Anorak’s castle, the real fight finally begins. As Parzival raises his stero high over his head to the tune of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” shots of rampaging heroes come a mile a minute. Which means it may be hard to see the Joker (spotted earlier dancing with Harley) actually team up with a few other DC Comics heroes in the infantry charge.
Joker is to the right of the screen, but the real cameos for DC fans is to the left. Batgirl makes her first brief appearance before getting a shot to herself later on, but behind her on either side are two more Injustice heroes that shouldn’t be missed. The heroes are Aquaman – whose shoulder armor is visible on the extreme left of the screen – and The Flash, in his instantly-recognizable Injustice bodysuit (which could even be mistaken for a version of the TV version of The Flash in a glance).
23. He-Man Battle Cameo
When you consider what’s really at stake with Halliday’s challenge – half a trillion dollars, and total control over the Oasis – you could argue that to win the prize is to, in a sense, become a ‘master of the universe.’ With such an incredible prize to be claimed, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see He-Man appear on the actual battlefield, sword raised to take down Nolan Sorrento and his obviously unworthy army.
The character shouldn’t be too hard to spot. After the magical shield drops, and the first rushes of Avatars is shown, He-Man can be seen running a few steps behind Joker and Spawn. The entire battle may be filled with Easter Eggs and callbacks to beloved childhood properties, but as far as a single shot can go, this is among the most potent with nostalgia. Where else do you have to look past the Justice League to spot a Master of the Universe?
22. The Gremlins Battle Cameo(s)
Director Steven Spielberg was determined to prove that he wasn’t being tainted by the draw of nostalgia himself, making it known that no references to his own films of the 1980s were to be slipped into the story. Or the set design, or the effects artists. Of course, with all of the beloved properties that Spielberg’s production company Amblin Entertainment was associated with… they couldn’t resist.
One of the few clear references or cameos to Spielberg productions comes in the form of the Gremlins, the nasty troublemakers of the movie sharing their name. There was the box containing the Orb of Osuvox, but a cameo of a full-screen Gremlin also comes directly after the Masters Chief recite the “first to the egg!” chant. Don’t be distracted by Spawn, look down to the middle of the bottom of the frame, an you’ll spot one Gremlin, fist raised, cheering right along. Keep your eyes peeled as Art3mis flees the castle to track down Parzival, and you can also see a group of Gremlins swarm one IOI Sixer, too.
21. Marvel’s Proxima Midnight Battle Cameo
Most comic book fans will recognize that while there are over a dozen DC Easter Eggs to look for, or get outright stated in the movie, it seems Marvel Studios was less forthcoming with its own properties and characters. But that doesn’t mean that one character managed to slip into the finished movie – a villainess whose popularity and name recognition is going to skyrocket come Avengers: Infinity War.
When Wade concludes his speech and raises his stereo high, a collection of characters rush down the slope ahead of him. One woman stands out thanks to her nimble frame and impressive headpiece. She may blend in with some of the video game characters seen previously, but make no mistake: that is the silhouette of Proxima Midnight, Daughter of Thanos, and one of the devious Black Order coming to seek out the Infinity Stones on film, as she once did in the pages of Marvel Comics.
20. Deadshot Cameo
We know it’s not easy to keep the likes of Deadpool, Deathlok, and Deathstroke straight these days, but hopefully his appearance in the Suicide Squad movie will earn Deadshot some recognition. If not for his costume, than at least for his impossible-to-miss red sight mounted over his eye. The member of Task Force X (and wouldn’t you know it, another one of DC’s elite assassins who reportedly “never misses”) can be seen immediately after Parzival raises the stereo over his head to signal a charge.
Several character come pouring over the small summit upon which Parzival is perched, and Deadshot is among them. His gear and guns are actually more generic in this brief glimpse than some of his most ostentatious comic looks, but give credit where it’s due. It isn’t Deadshot without his wrist-mounted firearms, and those are most definitely present for the film’s climactic assault on Anorak’s Castle.
19. Sagat Cameo
That’s right, Blanka and Chun Li aren’t the only famous faces from the Street Fighter series to lend their fighting talents to Parzival (we’re assuming Blanka will also side with the heroes). Not far from Deathstroke’s side, a tall, muscular man can be seen just cresting the snowy hill before the shot cuts. If his shorts were revealed in full, he might be easier for gamers to spot. But as it is, the eyepatch, red waistband, and massive scar across the chest makes it clear: this is Sagat, the one-time “Emperor of Muay Thai.”
It seems cruel to include Sagat in the film without giving fans a chance to see the Tiger Shot in motion, or any other of Sagat’s signature moves. So we can only hope that he and Ryu put their differences aside off-screen to bring down the real enemy. Well, technically it’s their players who would be putting aside… you get the idea.
18. Halo Rocket Launcher Easter Egg
The homages to the fictional arsenal of the Halo video game series continue, with a similarly miniscule amount of screen time for fans to catch (so don’t fell guilty if they slipped your notice completely). The pistol made famous by the Master Chief may have been found in Art3mis’ inventory, but the M41 Surface-to-Surface Rocket Medium Anti-Vehicle/Assault Weapon otherwise known as the SPNKr Rocket Launcher no Spartan leaves home without, is wielded by Parzival in the final battle.
It only has a few seconds of use in the entire fight, so viewers will need to be attentive when Art3mis finally spots Parzival tearing across the battlefield in his DeLorean (having fled Anorak’s Castle to fill him in on Sorrento’s plan). The tracking shot shows Parzival draw the rocket Launcher from his inventory, fire off a rocket against the walking tank Art3mis is riding, leading her to smash through the windshield of his car.
17. Duke Nukem Railgun Easter Egg
The Easter Eggs so far confirm that no weapon was chosen without conscious forethough – and possibly even a planned cameo by the effects team, as a tribute to games or firearms that hold a special place in their heart. When Art3mis and Parzival run out of ammunition, they rely on other Avatars for back-up. In a world where every bit of loot is valuable, it’s a sign of the true unity among the players, joined against the villainy of Nolan Sorrento and IOI.
The first gun tossed to Art3mis – the Anti-Personnel Ordnance Cannon – is still a mystery we have yet to solve. But the “railgun” thrown to Parzival appears to be a replica of the railgun used in Duke Nuken Forever, with a shot and sound effect to match. Not exactly a critical or commercial gem, so clearly somebody on the Ready Player One team has a soft spot for the again, increasingly less-badass-by-the-year shooter star.
It isn’t the climax of a geek-fueled genre-fest until the Gundam show up, and Ready Player One is no exception. It’s possible to completely miss the meaning of this character, or confuse it with a generic flying Transformer, since its impact on Sorrento’s MechaGodzilla is the same as one ofe the famous western robots in disguise. But for fans of the Gundam series, this is the live-action, big-budget movie spotlight they’ve been waiting for. And it’s easy to see why, watching as the enormous robotic warrior take to the sky in a quick flash of anime light beams.
The debut of Daito’s Gundam is teased earlier in the game, when Wade first outlines the challenge being pursued in Planet Doom. The artifact in that scene is a gauntlet granting the wielder two uninterrupted minutes commanding a gigantic mech in-game. Apparently, Daito knew that such a secret weapon would best be used when all seemed lost – and in the end, he wasn’t wrong (even if it didn’t end the fight all on its own).
15. The New Ninja Turtles Cameo
Seriously, you thought there was only going to be ONE reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in this finale? With the cartoons covered, and Tokka recreated more in the style of the live action films (his design really does suggest a combination of styles) that leaves only the modern version of the team. A group of simply Ninja Turtles that, while not quite as popular as their predecessors, are sure a welcome hand in a fight.
The Turtles can be spotted later in the large fight, during one of the many action montages showing the allies of Parzival making quick work of the IOI Sixers being desperately thrown at them. It’s easy to make out Donatello thanks to his bo staff, large backpack of tech equipment, and of course, his glasses. Now all the fight needs is a Mikey “Cowabunga” and all our bases are well and truly covered.
14. Chucky Battle Cameo
In hindsight, it might seem silly to call upon cartoonish video game heroes, courageous space marines, or elaborate flying automatons when you need combat skills. In fact. you only need to call Chucky, the doll star of the Child’s Play movie series. He may not strike viewers as the same brand of fun, nostalgia, or exciting wish fulfillment as the rest of the avatars showcased in the battle, but hey… everybody has their thing.
You can’t argue with his kills, either: the trailer shows him dispatching two Sixers in a single second, slicing through them like a knife through… well, fans of Child’s Play can use their imagination. It’s a small but memorable role for Chucky in the end, but his meteoric rise to slasher icon has earned him as much – and he proves to be even deadlier than most of the “secret weapons” deployed in the fight.
13. The Madball Bomb Easter Egg
Finally, the Easter Egg explanation that is going to put a LOT of audience mebers’ questions to rest. In the final scene, Art3mis and Daito work together to bring her within feet of Sorrento’s Avatar – having blasted a hole through MechGodzilla’s eye and directly into the cockpit. Why didn’t Art3mis shoot Sorrento? Who knows. But she did toss in an explosive, which may have seemed to be more significant than some viewers could place.
The bomb is actually an explosive contained within a Madball, a line of gross-out toys popular in the mid 1980s, giving rubber balls disgusting characteristics and names. In the case of Art3mis’ improvised bomb, the culprit is “Dust Brain,” and he’s not the first to appear. When the IOI drones approach Wade’s trailer to plant explosives, graffiti of Repvile can be seen on a lower wall. (A previous version of this post stated Repvile was the bomb. We apologize for this unintended slight to Dust Brain’s legacy.)
12. The Krull Glaive Easter Egg
Another famous weapon cameo comes when it truly seems that the heroes will be held out of Anorak’s castle by I-R0k’s extensive arsenal of weapons. While he’s firing away The Iron Giant’s fingers one at a time with rifle fire, Daito is trying to come up with another secret weapon of his own. He flips through his inventory until he finds one item perfect for the job.
Removing the glaive, and throwing the spinning pinwheel of razor-sharp blade towards I-R0k, the weapon finds its mark. The antagonist’s arm is sliced clean through, ending the threat of his gunfire instantly – not to mention sending him into a panic as gold coins start spraying out of the wound in place of blood. The weapon may have older fantasy fans believing the impossible, but it’s true: that really is the glaive wielded by the hero of the movie Krull (1983). In fact, the label “Krull Glaive” can be made out when Daito first selects it.
11. The Iron Giant’s Terminator Thumbs-Up Reference
The hero role played by the Iron Giant was at the heart of Ready Player One‘s marketing from the very beginning. Audiences didn’t know at the time that the giant mechanized champion was being piloted from the inside by Aech, but that wasn’t a twist, either. Still, the fact that Aech was inside of the Giant meant her death scene was less graphic than it could have been – and one fantastic nod to T2: Judgment Day.
The Iron Giant embraces its inner “Superman” in a new way from the movie it starred in, falling over the gap created by IOI intended to prevent Gunters from invading the castle. With the Iron Giant splayed across the lava-filled moat (obviously) Parzival and the rest of the Hi Five can scramble across. Just in time, too, as I-R0k ends up shooting Giant into the lava. Not a tragedy, but a farewell to friends: with Aech recreating the iconic thumbs-up salute from the T-800 as it, too, descended into molten metal at T2‘s end.
10. Gears of War Lancer Chainsaw Rifle Easter Egg
It isn’t just Dizzy Wallin getting some Gears of War love from Ready Player One, and it shouldn’t be too hard for fans to figure out the other famous cameo. It isn’t an appearance from Dom, Marcus, or Anya – but the ludicrous weapon that the Gears series eventually convinced people was “actually a pretty clever idea.” We’re speaking, of course, of the chainsaw-blessed Lancer Rifle.
The appearance comes in the final minutes of the climactic battle, when Art3mis is still fighting back the forces of IOI on the front steps of Anorak’s castle. Once Parzival and his crew make it across the chasm with help from Aech’s Iron Giant, Art3mis pulls out the big guns from her inventory. The Lancer is the right tool for the job… even if she ends up using something closer to a grenade launcher than any up close and personal chainsaw-ing. The movie has to be kid-friendly to some extent.
9. Parzival’s Battlestar Galactica Blaster Easter Egg
We may have established a real bias towards weapons from the Halo game series, and other classic shooters when it comes to Parzival – and his Lazer Tag firearm is seriously hard to beat. Unless you’re a fan of classic science fiction television, in which case it’s the blaster he uses in the final stages of the fight that should grab your attention. We’re talking about the blaster seen only in a handful of short shots… and used to kill Art3mis in order to force Samantha to find safety in the real world.
The blaster, for those unfamiliar with the design, is a dead ringer for the “Standard Colonial Blaster” issued to all soldiers in the original Battlestar Galactica series (image of resin replica provided by MonstersinMotion). The shape is one of a kind, but it appears Parzival is using a form of the blaster from after the show switched effects houses, and the plasma fired by them turned from invisible to the naked eye to visible (and spectacularly satisfying).
8. Parzival’s Surprise Hadouken Attack
Right up until the final confrontation between Parzival and Sorrento, it’s never quite established how much size or muscle mass relates to actually fighting in the Oasis. As a famous user of another digital simulation of reality once asked, should viewers believe that Parzival’s strength or skills in combat “have anything to do with muscles in this place?” That final battle confirms physical size is a major factor, but weapons and items aren’t the only thing that can be purchases by Gunters. A point made when Parzival summons a fireball with a shout, and blasts Sorrento off of his feet. An attack well known to Street Fighter fans as a “Hadouken,” the same as the word uttered when launched.
It may be the most famous, or at least widely-spread example of a fighting game attack thanks to Ken and Ryu (and countless other pop culture references). Audiences would have gotten a hint that Parzival had such a skill if they noted the Street Fighter kiosks in the marketplace. They advertised the Shoryuken upper cut for a price… but Parzival clearly made the obviously superior choice.
7. It’s a Wonderful Life Reference
I-R0k gets on Sorrento’s nerves from about the first moment they meet, but over the course of the movie, the expressed “villainy” of the skull-torsoed griefer comes up for debate. He criticizes Sorrento for actually using a ‘win’ button in the Cataclyst to destroy the Oasis’ user (if HE can’t be in control of them all). But even earlier, he helps the antagonist erect a magical ball of protection around his castle – and comforts him when it drops.
It’s a reference that may slide by most since it’s in I-R0k’s character, but his soothing words that “no man is a failure who has friends” isn’t an attempt to formalize their partnership. It’s a quote by Mark Twain originally, but made famous in the film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). It’s hard to say if I-R0k was suggesting he or Sorrento was coming to a grand epiphany, but we’re willing to bet Sorrento’s instant scorn means he got the reference to a Christmas classic. We get the feeling Sorrento is squarely in Mr. Potter’s camp.
6. Batgirl Battle Cameo
Batman and Superman may be getting the most reference action to this point, but another DC heroine joins the fun in a full-blown cameo that may be among the hardest to spot. That being said, your average fan of Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl doesn’t need much more than a glimpse to go on. We can offer some details that will make her easier to spot. The cameo comes in the final battle sequence, after Parzival has made his way through to the final challenge – and after Sorrento has triggered the Cataclyst to wipe out every player in the Oasis.
The resulting explosion claims I-R0k before he can reach his escape portal, and from there, it’s total chaos. Don’t get distracted by the first explosions of sound and light consuming players, though. As the shot jumps to a new group of heroes about to be erased, Batgirl’s unmistakable cowl, cape, and flowing hair are placed in the foreground mid-beating of an unsuspecting Sixer. Her looks have remained mostly consistent from the shoulders up, so it’s hard to tell if this is also the Arkham version or a similar comic design.
5. Parzival’s Sword Easter Egg
The origins of Parzival’s names are only mentioned once or twice, but it’s the same in the book as the movie. Wade Watts chose the name as an homage to Percival, the Knight of the Round Table who, in legend, set off on his own to search out and claim the Holy Grail. The parallels are obvious to everyone, and to Art3mis, a bit too on the nose to actually give credit. Still, the filmmakers found a way to double down on the symbolism.
Parzival’s clothes aren’t commented on for most of the runtime, but his usual attire sports one feature many may miss. One of the most well-known of Percival’s legends revolves around his sword, and while we’ll spare you the details, the point wasn’t missed by his tailors. The large golden sword can be seen embroidered into the back of Parzival’s denim vest, even if he never has to slay any beasts to attain his own quest’s end.
4. Mortal Kombat Easter Egg(s)
The plot of the film, like the book, is as meta and self-aware as possible – a point driven home when Parzival finally solves the challenges blocking his path to James Halliday’s Easter Egg. And what’s waiting for him in this secret, locked, mysterious vault? Why, an Easter Egg, of course. Well, technically it’s after he refuses the prize in this chamber, but you get the point.
It’s enough of a joke that the Easter Egg is a literal egg, but the surroundings of the proposed finish line aren’t random. The dragons between which the glowing egg is shown perched in the film’s trailer should be familiar to gamers of the 1990s. They’re dead ringers for the dragons of the Mortal Kombat logo and marketing, which began in 1992. It doesn’t end with the dragons either: a statue of Raiden is visible to the right of the egg, and what looks to be other fighters in various heroic poses in nearby alcoves.
3. Citizen Kane’s “Rosebud” Reference
The story focused on James Halliday and Ogden Morrow may fade to the background after audiences have seen the film, since it features significantly fewer explosions and 1980s callback than the other action-focused portions of the movie. But it’s the heart of the story, and more than one scene and detail drive it home (and no, we don’t mean Parzival telling Halliday’s Avatar that forcing Ogden out of the company was his biggest regret).
When Parzival first informs Art3mis that Halliday erased all mention of Kira, his best friend’s wife from his archives, the robotic Curator refuses to believe it. In hindsight, that belief – and the Curator quietly watching the rest of the scene play out even after Parzival and Art3mis begin spinning theories – makes more sense. Ogden clearly never realized his best friend’s regrets related to Kira. It’s suggested that Kira was James’ one regret, but it turns out to be balled up in the larger regrets about losing his best friend. His “rosebud,” as Wade explains when meeting him face to face.
We can only assume that line is confusing to modern audiences, since the reference to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane is probably less recognized than ever. In that film, the last word uttered by its protagonist was “Rosebud,” which turned out to simply be the name of his sled. A last memory of a simpler time – and what truly mattered in the end, just like Ogden Morrow.
2. Aech’s Jacket Easter Eggs
The Wonder Woman Easter Eggs continue once the real-world version of Aech– sorry, Helen rescues Wade from capture. There may be a little too much going on for viewers to actually take a good look at Helen’s denim jacket, but the pins and badges she uses to decorate it are a feast for fans of 1980s pop culture. There are nods to the Thundercats that may be easiest to spot, but there’s more than one DC Comics reference contained right beside them.
First, there’s the same Wonder Woman symbol seen earlier on Art3mis’ bike, given a boost by a small badge depicting what looks to be George Perez’s Diana with arms crossed in her now-famous Amazon pose. On the opposite side of her jacket, you can spot a small Supergirl badge, too.
1. The End Credits Song Connection
Ready Player One may not have a post-credits scene – which is itself somewhat strange considering its emphasis on secrets – but it does save one final bit of heartwarming trivia for the moment the credits roll. When the story comes to a close and it’s revealed Wade and his clan have forced Oasis users to go out into the real world at least twice a week, his relationship with Samantha is clearly blossoming. Cue Hall and Oates.
The song “You Make My Dreams” is as upbeat as the ending message, but it wasn’t chosen at random. It’s the song that Ready Player One‘s original author Ernest Cline and his wife walked down the aisle to at their wedding. Once Steven Spielberg discovered that fact, he decided to use it as a the kick-off for the film’s closing, as well.
Those are all the cameos, Easter Eggs, hard to spot references and surprises we could spot in the new trailer for Ready Player One, but we’re positive fans will have spotted more of their favorites hidden throughout. Be sure to name them in the comments.
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