The second trailer proves Ready Player One will have more Easter Eggs and cameos than any movie before. How else can you sum up the sheer volume and variety of pop culture references contained in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the novel, when early trailers already contain more than most feature films? It may take years to find them all, be they superheroes, classic films, video games... or anything else that the generations who lived through the 1980s and onward saw define "pop culture."
The wealth of references and blurred lines between real life and fiction is a credit to Ernest Cline's novel, upon which Ready Player One is based. But it's one thing to read about a movie hero living a life filled with immortal fictional characters, and something else to see it brought to life. And just to make sure that fans don't miss out on some of the most well-hidden, easy to miss, and secretly brilliant cameos and Easter Eggs, we're breaking them all down, one by one.
How many did YOU catch?
20. The Starting Grid
The massive race waged between Oasis users and Sixers (those employed by the film's antagonistic corporation to find the hidden Easter Egg) formed a thrilling finish to the previous trailer, but it's the approach to the starting grid that takes the spotlight this time around, following Wade as he dons his Parzival identity and enters the field. His car remains the DeLorean of Back to the Future fame, but a new set of vehicles are added to delight fans of a few different generations.
It's hard to miss the classic Batmobile from the Adam West-led TV series thanks to its flashing lights, and the same goes for the unmistakable white paintjob and numbering of the Mach 5, Speed Racer's REAL hero. There's also the back side of Ryu from the long-running Street Fighter series (the first of several nods to the fighting franchise), and the black-and-red van from The A-Team. That hardest to spot is probably the Falcon XB GT Coupe V8 Interceptor - the signature ride of "Mad" Max Rockatansky - since its usual rust and grime is a bit harder to spot in the low lighting.
19. Devo Hat Bartender
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. It's hard to know how much music will play the same part in the book as the film, but if the wealth of cameos, intellectual properties, and brands is any indication, this could be the tip of the dome.
18. Street Fighters, Off The Clock
As mentioned before, the characters of the Street Fighter series are turned to several times in this trailer alone, but not all of them are used for instant recognition (as is the case with Chun Li near the trailer's ending). When Parzival first makes his digital-realm-breaking-contact with Art3mis, 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 done enough fighting.
17. Shepard's Favorite Club in The Oasis
As one prominent cameo in the final seconds of the trailer reveals, 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, 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.
16. Lara Croft Orders a Drink
Another 'blink and you miss it' cameo comes at the close of that very same shot. As the camera pans left before cutting to the more... intimate interactions between our heroes, a person runs to the bar to order a drink. Going by the ponytail, the backpack, the midriff-baring teal shirt and the double holsters, that person is none other than Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider herself. The first of a handful of cameos she's made already in the film's marketing.
In the previous trailer, Lara could be seen in the aforementioned race sequence. There, she was driving what looked to be the automotive star of Stephen King's Christine adaptation. And with the first Tomb Raider game launching in 1996 (and only actually resembling a human years later) Lara is another example of the popular/gamer/geek culture being used to color the film's world, exact decade be damned.
15. Mortal Kombat Easter Egg(s)
The plot of the film, like the book, is as meta and self-aware as the inclusion of cameos. As this trailer explains for newcomers, Ready Player One sends a world of gamers in search of a grand prize concealed by the creator of the Oasis. To get to that final location, players will need to acquire three keys (requiring a few different victories). And what's waiting for them in this secret, locked, mysterious vault? Why, an Easter Egg, of course.
It's enough of a joke that the Easter Egg is a literal egg, but the surrounding aren't random. the dragons between which the glowing egg is perched, like those below, 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.
14. The Most '80s Bike Ever
In the previous trailer's race, the bright red bike caught several eyes for its resemblance to a light cycle from the TRON universe. This time around, the Atari-branded motorcycle gets even more accents, all proving its rider has some serous affection for the late 1970s and early 1980s of pop culture crazes. The Wonder Woman symbol is the easiest to spot - that of the original Lynda Carter TV series from 1975-1979, not the modern incarnation. 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.
13. King Kong, Too
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 thrust into the game-centric action, showing 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, unless this is actually a version of Donkey Kong we're looking at. It looks to be adding to the carnage of the race through New York City, but fans can speculate on whether it will be a game-changer to the competition, or extra detail for the audience to enjoy along the way.
12. The Battle Toads
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.
11. Time To Joust
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, players will need to beat a Joust enemy in two out of three rounds. Judging by this shot in the trailer, the enemy - Acererak the Demi-Lich - will be helping Wade's cause after being defeated.
10. Harley Quinn & The Joker
The mainstream geekdom of video games is a major evolution from the genre's beginnings, and the same could be said for the current onslaught of comic book heroes and villains. There may be none more infamous than The Joker and Harley Quinn (not least due to the large-scale controversy surrounding Suicide Squad). So it only seems right that among the different personalities meeting to cut a rug in the Oasis nightclub, Joker and Harley are among the patrons seemingly taking in the film's heroes on the three-dimensional dance floor.
Harley Quinn is the easiest to spot, since she's wearing her exact outfit from the Batman: Arkham Asylum series of games (and was originally seen as the woman leaving the club as Parzival enters). Joker's design is a bit more interesting. The black eye make-up around his eyes and contoured cheeks draw the strongest connection to Heath Ledger's version from The Dark Knight, but the hat and shirt suggest a direct recreation isn't the goal.
9. Tracer From Overwatch
As most interested Ready Player One fans enjoyed the trailer, it was only one real surprise appearance that stood out: a cameo from Overwatch's Tracer. The Blizzard hero is impossible to miss during the final call to arms issued by Parzival, with her orange goggles, glowing blue chest light and hairstyle all recreated perfectly in the movie's world. And for those fans of the original novel who thought that including popular brands and games released after the book was unwise, Tracer was their poster child.
The final judgement will only be given after the movie has actually been seen, but for now it appears that ALL pop culture is fair game. And since pop culture implies an element of 'current additions' along with nostalgia for classics, Tracer's presence may make just as much sense as any major game series currently in development. But Tracer grabbing the headlines may have distracted from the other modern heroes concealed in the fighting line beside her.
8. 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 these two avatars will be spotted together earlier in the movie. The competition between the two will go without saying: 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?
7. 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. But don't miss the shock of blood-red hair beside her.
We're almost positive that red-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.
6. Deadshot, Too
Joker and Harley aren't the only DC characters getting in on the fun of this Warner Bros. adventure. Remember us saying that Harley Quinn was originally seen as the woman leaving the Oasis nightclub as Parzival enters? Her costume has since been changed, but before it had been, it certainly lent credence to the idea that the tall, sword-carrying, masked man was Deathstroke, the deadliest of DC's assassins. It's harder to say so with confidence now, but luckily, another of DC's deadliest assassins is her to make up up for it.
In the shot of a smaller crowd of fighters leaping into action at Parzival's call, one figure stands out: masked, with a glowing red scope over his eye, and a gun strapped to his wrist. It may be closer to the version of Deathstroke from the comics than the Suicide Squad movie, but we expect actor Will Smith will be just as pleased.
5. Somebody Call Sagat?
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 to bring down the real enemy. Well, technically it's their players who would be putting aside... you get the idea.
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 cameo, or confuse it for a Transformer, since it comes in a split-second moment as part of the trailer's larger rapid-fire crescendo. But for fans of the Gundam series, this is the live-action, big-budget movie debut they've been waiting for. And it's easy to see why, watching as the enormous robotic warrior take to the sky in a blast of anime light beams.
What's interesting about the reveal is the sequence of frames at the beginning of the shot, sketching out the face of the Gundam in a glowing wireframe before it's filled in to become the flying titan seen here. Is this a sign that the Gundam is transformed into partway through the fight? If that's the case, then it may be the final fighting form of another cameo character...
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 trailer, 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 hard to guess how big a role Chucky will have - one look at his face can ruin anyone's experience - but even if this cameo is the majority of it, his meteoric rise to slasher icon has probably earned him at least that much.
2. The Iron Giant
The first trailer made a big impact by revealing this massive Disney star alongside the film's hero. And when Spielberg confirmed that The Iron Giant would be a big part of Ready Player One, fans of the animated colossus rejoiced. They may have no reason to stop, as this shot emphasizes just how much the mascot can tower over the forces on both sides of the battle.
It's hard to discern exactly where, when, or why the Iron Giant enters Wade's story, but the presence of that Gundam has us wondering if the metallic mountain is due for an upgrade. His own movie showed he doesn't need anything but heart and guts to save the world... but some Gundam parts surely wouldn't hurt. We'll keep our fingers crossed, since we doubt predicting it ahead of time would lessen the impact.
1. Back To The Future Theme
If it wasn't enough that Ready Player One's hero will be driving the DeLorean from Back to the Future through his Oasis escapades, then the final few seconds of the trailer will certainly help. Just stay in your seat, and hear the first few unforgettable chimes of Alan Silvestri's theme to the movie. Now enjoy as the flood of nostalgia rushes into your veins. It's safe to assume that music, or at least that cue, will return in the movie itself. To have Marty Mcfly's ride, but not his music? Now THAT's evil.
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.
- Ready Player One (2018) release date: Mar 29, 2018