One of the best debuts coming out of San Diego Comic-Con was Steven Spielberg’s appropriately pop culture-filled trailer for his adaptation of Ernst Cline’s brilliant novel Ready Player One. The story follows Wade Watts in a dystopian future where the only life worth living is through virtual reality. The game played is OASIS, a sort-of MMO and hub world that has a currency you can bring back to the desolation of the real world. Since Watts essentially lives in a video game, hundreds of pop culture cameos are made in the book. Maybe thousands. Could the movie live up to all the references? Could they afford it?
Since Warner Bros. has the film rights to the book, they can put in a massive amount of cameos from their intellectual properties. Some of which haven’t seen the light of day in years (Akira), some being pushed hard by Warners (all DC characters). It seems like it’s basically, dare I use a pop culture reference to make an analogy about a story full of pop culture references, a Super Smash Bros. of Warner Bros. properties. Bros. be Bros., right?
In less than two minutes, there are a ton of hidden secrets (and blatant cameos) in the Ready Player One trailer. Here’s what we’ve found so far:
Deathstroke and Harley Quinn
Is that Batman? Whatever, we’ve got ostriches from JOUST here, people.
Having access to some of Warner’s library allows Ready Player One to have fun in a similar way as The Lego Movie with some DC characters making a cameo. We guess this technically means Spielberg has now directed a superhero film?
Obviously, the Iron Giant is there, and Steven Spielberg confirmed he’ll be a “real major player in this story.”
This is the cameo that stands out for most in the trailer and is also the easiest to pick out. Spielberg added that the references were one of the big reasons he decided to direct the film, calling it “the most amazing flash-forward and flash-back at the same time” according to Variety.
There’s Freddy Krueger (And Duke Nukem?)
If there’s one thing that’s sure to scream flashback, it’s Freddy Krueger showing up. You really forget how popular “The Dream Master” was in the late eighties and early ’90s, especially when the character started to speak and became more of a fun horror villain than a child murderer seeking revenge. Also the gent holding the missile launcher is apparently Duke Nukem given the jeans, red shirt, and extreme lack of bubble gum.
An orc blasts away while using what looks like Master Chief’s assault rifle from the Halo series.
Yeah, that’s definitely the Halo assault rifle.
If you’re going to reference video games, Orcs and Master Chief are some of the biggest icons to include from modern gaming. Sonic and Mario might be the iconic characters you’d expect, but that’s to be saved for something like Wreck-It Ralph. If we’re talking a VR future where we all combine in some sort of virtual landscape of imagination, Halo and Warcraft would be the Sonic and Mario of today.
Back to the Future’s DeLorean gets into a chase with a light cycle from Tron (and Kaneda’s bike from Akira). Notice the SEGA, Atari and Taito logos on the bike.
During the hectic race sequence, there’s almost too much being thrown towards you at once. The stand-outs are definitely Doc Brown’s time machine, Kaneda’s cycle, and Bigfoot tearing through the other racers. You really forget just how popular monster trucks and Bigfoot used to be.
Does the A-Team’s van make an appearance? Yes. Also, the evil red Plymouth Fury Christine should seem familiar to Stephen King fans — with Lara Croft hanging out next to it. And we even get accurate dates in the DeLorean.
Don’t forget that he whole trailer is wrapped up in the soothing sounds of the Willy Wonka soundtrack mashed up with Rush. Appropriate. Does anyone see the Ninja Turtles in the trailer? Supposedly they’re in there, we just haven’t spotted them. Also, we need Harry Potter in there.