WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Brad Peyton’s Rampage, in theaters now.
Dwayne Johnson and a trio of kaiju are tearing up theaters in Rampage, the big-budget adaptation of the 1986 arcade classic. While it’s not difficult to remain faithful to a game in which the only objective is for a giant monster to destroy buildings and eat people, some deep-cut Easter eggs prove the filmmakers did their homework.
The original Rampage spawned ported versions for almost every system of the era, as well as five sequels. So, while it’s hard to pull much more than the monsters and premise from the fairly simple initial game, the screenwriters mined other installments of the series to satisfy fans. For example, the terrible trio of George (the ape), Ralph (the wolf) and Lizzie (the crocodile) making a beeline to the labs responsible for their mutation is a plot point straight out of 1997 sequel Rampage: World Tour. However, what really caught our attention was the inclusion of two other monsters from the enduring property.
The film begins with Dr. Kerry Atkins (played by Marley Shelton) trying to escape a space station on which a pre-clinical trial of the Project Rampage pathogen was conducted. The vessel’s gravity has been lost and we see blood and dead bodies floating through the corridors as Atkins swims for the escape pod. However, when she gets there, her superiors inform her she won’t be going anywhere without the experimental substance. As she heads back toward the lab, we see the huge rat-like creature responsible for the mayhem. It may not be obvious to any but a die-hard few, but this is a nod to the fourth monster introduced in the Rampage franchise, Larry.
When the arcade game was ported for Atari Lynx, the developers added an extra monster to take advantage of the four-player system, and so a giant rat named Larry was born. This enormous rodent never showed up in any of the sequel games, but 1999's Rampage 2: Universal Tour gave us a towering mouse named Curtis, and the most recent game in the series, 2006's Rampage: Total Destruction, added a new oversized rat known as Rhett.
It’s worth noting these other members of the Muroidea family that appear in the games, because in the film Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) has a pet rat that ends up in the hands of a shadowy government agency. Do we detect clues to a sequel?
The next monster Easter egg is a little more subtle. In Rampage: World Tour, any player can get a power-up that will transform them into a new monster called a V.E.R.N. (Violently Enraged Radioactive Nemesis). These power-ups come in the form of vats of purple radioactive waste. While never stated explicitly in the game, this flying beast is clearly a gigantic bat. So, for those complaining since the first trailer dropped that Ralph has bat wings in the movie, there is a very good reason why.
Now, the last detail has nothing to do with the Rampage games, but everything to do with Johnson’s future with Warner Bros. When Davis Okoye (Johnson) and Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomi Harris) are detained by Agent Russell (Jeffery Dean Morgan), they ask him which government agency he works for. Caldwell throws out Homeland, CIA and then … the Justice League.
While, at first, that might seem like a random name-drop, it might have been included due to the fact that three actors in this film are major characters in the DC Extended Universe. Johnson is set to play Black Adam in a solo film, and is rumored to show up in either Suicide Squad 2 or Shazam! before then. Morgan played Thomas Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and fans are pushing for his return in The Flash movie, which at one point was called Flashpoint. And lastly, Joe Manganiello, who plays a mercenary named Burke in Rampage, was introduced as the DC mercenary/assassin Deathstroke in the post-credits scene of Justice League, and is expected to reprise the role in a solo movie.
In theaters nationwide, director Brad Peyton’s Rampage stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello, Jake Lacy, Marley Shelton and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.