After years of many stating the story was practically unfilmable, the first trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One is finally here.
Based on Ernest Cline’s novel, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic 2045 in which the world has suffered an energy crisis from the depletion of fossil fuels, and to escape the day-to-day doldrums of a dreary existence, people venture into the world of the OASIS, a virtual world where anything and everything are possible. Somewhere within the simulation is an Easter egg that will give the finder the keys to the virtual kingdom, and Watts’ life changes in an instant when he solves the first clue left behind by OASIS creator James Halliday, a discovery which leads other Easter egg hunters to chase after him in hopes to win the game’s ultimate treasure for themselves.
Since Halliday was a child of the 1980s, the OASIS reality was stocked to the brim with references from the decade, and it appears Spielberg has taken that approach to the next level for his film adaptation. The trailer for Ready Player One contains many modern callbacks in addition to retro ones, so let’s see how many we can spot in the film’s initial footage.
When protagonist Wade Watts first puts on his VR headset, horns boom in the background, forming a song that mindful listeners will realize is an homage to Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The song choice is fitting on many levels, with the obvious realization that when stepping into the story’s simulated world, the rules of everyday life no longer apply.
Willy Wonka is also a heavy influence on Ready Player One‘s overall plot line. The OASIS was created by James Halliday who, when he died, had announced in his will to the public that he had left an Easter egg inside the simulation, and the first person to find it would inherit his entire fortune and the corporation, similar to the golden ticket competition that the children in Roald Dahl’s story engage in. The “W” alliteration of protagonist Wade Watts’ name can also be seen as a callback to the story’s signature character.
Harley Quinn and Deathstroke
At the :33 second mark, when the viewer is first brought inside the eyes of Wade, we see two characters on the left side of the screen walk by the center figure and do a double take. Once looked at closely, the girl on the left is sporting the pig tails and frilly skirt that Harley Quinn has become known for in recent years. The masked figure beside her has crossed sword sheaths on his back and a bandolier across his chest. At first glance, the character can be misconstrued as Deadpool, but with Quinzel in the picture beside him, we’re betting on Slade Wilson.
There is no doubt concerning the identity of the next reference that comes into play. The Iron Giant makes his grand entrance at :44 seconds in, marking the first time the character will grace the silver screen since Brad Bird’s film debuted in July of 1999. Whether Vin Diesel will be reprising his role remains to be seen, but Spielberg and the actor have worked together in the past, during the filming of Saving Private Ryan.
Those understandably paying attention to the massive frame of the Iron Giant might also miss out on the potential reference stepping into the scene alongside him. A shadowy figure enters that bears a striking resemblance to Lady Deadpool, with dual katanas and a flowing strand of what might be the character’s signature blond locks behind her. Is it really her? Probably not, since she’s a Marvel/Disney property, but the homage looks obvious to us.
Freddy’s Dead (Again)
Flying into frame at the 1:00 mark is the nightmare maestro himself, Freddy Krueger, who horror fans will definitely realize with his blades at the ready. His appearance is cut short, however, as he quickly gets vaporized into a million pixels, but Freddy is never truly down for the count, now is he?
The 1:03 mark of the trailer has a little tidbit for Ready Player One book readers, as an ogreish character is seen blasting away with a machine gun with Aech written across its chest. This is a reveal of what the character’s avatar will look like in the adaptation, since Aech is the nick name and call sign of Wade’s best friend in the novel, who is sharing in the quest to find Halliday’s highly sought out Easter egg.
Today’s Tom Sawyer
The soundtrack switches away from the Willy Wonka homage to Rush’s Tom Sawyer about midway through the trailer, but the song isn’t just a catchy background note to reinforce the trailer’s action sequences. In the novel, the Canadian rock band was OASIS creator James Halliday’s favorite band, and all of his games (including the OASIS virual world) were created while he listened to songs by Geddy Lee and company in the background.
The Light Cycle
Arcing its way across the virtual asphalt at 1:35 is a Light Cycle courtesy of ’80s science fiction film Tron. Much like Willy Wonka, Tron is a heavy influence on the story line, with its plot consisting of Jeff Bridges getting sucked into a video game-esque simulation while being chased by an oppressive group of digitized villains.
Of course, since Tron is another Disney property, this is merely an homage to that world’s vehicles. Perhaps the more important aspect of this Easter egg is the Atari symbol on the bike’s front fender. At the beginning of the story, Wade and Aech prep for the Easter egg search by mastering all of Halliday’s favorite games, just in case it could one day aid them in their quest. Given the timing of the OASIS creator’s childhood, many of his favorites were Atari classics, which would explain why we see the scorpion from the classic arcade game Centipede battling knights from Joust on the battlefield. Although, now that we think about it, Atari did manufacture a number of Tron games…
Cruising not too far behind the Light Cycle is the DeLorean time machine made famous by 1985’s hit sci-fi/comedy Back to the Future. The vehicle is probably gonna need to go well beyond just 88 miles per hour, however, if it’s gonna have any chance of escaping the massive wrecking ball that is tearing through the slew of vehicles occupying the trailer’s racing sequence.
Were there any references that we missed in the article that you picked up on? Let us know any and all that you find in the comments!
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