Ready Player One Easter Egg Watchlist: What To See Before Seeing Spielberg's Latest

Our spoiler-free, reference-rich guide to what to see before you check out Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One

by | March 26, 2018 | Comments

Ernest Cline‘s book Ready Player One is like one giant easter egg, filled with ever-smaller easter eggs — like a pop-culture nerd’s own little Russian nesting doll. The plot is about the search for an Easter Egg, and each stage of that search is an easter egg unto itself. And then, every paragraph is laden with easter eggs of its own, references to video games and anime films and, more than anything else, the ’80s.

Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation of Ready Player One, which hits theaters March 30, makes a lot of changes to Cline’s book — author-approved changes, mind you, as Cline co-wrote the screenplay — but the spirit of the novel remains intact. In particular, the film, like the book, includes a ton of easter eggs and references. So many, in fact, we think it would require Cline himself multiple viewings to pick them all up. (Spielberg admitted recently that the special effects artists were adding things even he didn’t even pick up on until he was making very final shot approvals).

We don’t want to spoil the movie for you — half the fun of Ready Player One is in its surprise pop-culture references. But we do want to help you get the most out of your viewing experience — so you’re ready to catch every little easter egg on offer. With that in mind, we’ve put together a spoiler-free guide to what you should watch before you join Parzival, Art3mis, and a whole bunch of ’80s-flavored easter eggs in the OASIS.

Spielberg’s Entire Oeuvre (OK, maybe not Schindler’s List)

(Photo by ©Universal)

And maybe not Munich, or Amistad or The Post. And definitely not War Horse. But there are tons of nods to and cameos from Spielberg’s big blockbuster hits, especially the one about the dinos. The Spielberg gems come thick and fast and pretty early in the pic — so eyes out. It all makes a bunch of sense, given that the filmmakers had to secure the rights for every easter egg they use here. And it has us imagining a Spielberg-directed Ready Player One sequel, full of easter eggs referencing the original Spielberg-directed Ready Player One: Our pop-culture–loving minds were just blown.

Child's Play (1988) 71%

Famous ’80s slashers abound in Ready Player One — if you’ve seen the trailer, you know Freddy and Jason are back for their first reunion since carving up a member of Destiny’s Child in Freddy vs. Jason. But it’s scene-stealing killer doll Chucky who gets the most love, and screen time, from Spielberg. We weren’t able to spot his Bride or his Seed anywhere, but maybe you will.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 93%

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1984 film The Terminator (Orion Pictures Corporation)

(Photo by © TriStar)

As if you needed a reason to revisit James Cameron’s genre-defining sci-fi action classic. We won’t say when, what or how T2 is referenced, but Steven Spielberg said during a South By Southwest Q&A that this is his favorite easter egg in the movie.

Back to the Future (1985) 96%

(Photo by (c)Universal)

There are blink-and-you’ll miss them references to Robert Zemeckis’s 1980s favorite throughout, and the director himself is called out by name. In fact, the whole movie feels undergirded by the spirit of Marty McFly and his journeys back and forth through time. So, it’s worth watching Back to the Future just to prep for the vibes. The most obvious allusion to the movie, though — and we’re not spoiling anything here if you’ve seen the trailers — is the DeLorean that Parzival drives when he is inside the OASIS.

The Iron Giant (1999) 96%

(Photo by ©Warner Bros. Pictures)

One of the most beloved animated movies of the 1990s — and one of the most critically adored, with 96% on the Tomatometer — is used to great effect in Ready Player One. The giant robot’s role has been amped up considerably in the transition from book to film, a decision that seems to have paid off. When Spielberg first revealed the big guy in footage shown at Comic-Con last year, fans went wild; expect similar reactions in your theater when the Giant gets his big moments.

Saturday Night Fever (1977) 82%

Fans of the book will be excited to hear that Parzival and Art3mis make it to virtual nightclub, the Distracted Globe. And once there, well, it’s Dance Dance Revolution by way of John Travolta.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) 90%

(Photo by Courtesy the Everett Collection)

Don’t expect to spot rogue Oompa Loompas in Ready Player One, or to spy a long-lost Augustus Gloop shooting through a random chocolatey tube somewhere in the background. Watch this wonderfully bizarre family classic to get a sense of the story beats. Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory is a world of pure imagination, just like the OASIS, and danger lurks in both.

Street Fighter (1994) 10%

(Photo by ©Universal)

OK, maybe skip the movie and bring a bucket full of coins to an arcade that still has Street Fighter 2. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the battle scenes feature a cavalcade of your favorite kicking, punching and hadouken-ing SF2 fighters. And there is a moment near the end of the movie that will blow… no, nope, we’re not saying anything else. But while you’re in video game mode, do brush up on Halo, Overwatch, and all your N64 classics.

King Kong (1933) 98%

King Kong, 1933

New York City’s favorite furry menace is central to one of Parzival’s key challenges, and that’s all we will say. You could dangle us from the top of the Empire State Building and we still wouldn’t tell you which one.

Akira (2020) 90%

(Photo by Courtesy the Everett Collection)

Like Ernest Cline’s book, Steven Spielberg’s film is littered with anime references. The most-front-and-center anime easter egg, though, comes in the form of the bike Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) rides. Yes, that’s Kaneda’s famous red motorbike from Akira.

Say Anything... (1989) 98%

The references in Ready Player One the book are broad. It wasn’t just about Spielberg movies and comics and Atari and anime; there were dramas and interesting novels and, yes, romcoms. And so it is with the film. You probably don’t need to rewatch the whole movie to get the key reference — just do a Google images search of the title — but there are worse ways to spend your time than enjoying a 98% Fresh classic.

Mad Max (1979) 90%

(Photo by ©Warner Bros)

Spielberg told Rotten Tomatoes that there are strong narrative parallels between Parzival’s journey and Max Rockatansky’s. “It’s a journey, it’s a chase, it’s a race,” said Spielberg. “There’s a goal in all of them… Mad Max is evocative of what we did here.” (Also, look around in Halliday’s office.)

Check out Movieclips’ Reference Guide for Ready Player One:

Tag Cloud

Pirates Apple Stephen King PaleyFest scary movies comics HBO theme song historical drama breaking bad hist Lucasfilm Premiere Dates canceled Martial Arts Infographic Pop TV MTV spain Grammys adventure BET psychological thriller independent directors 72 Emmy Awards PlayStation Comic Book screen actors guild dc Certified Fresh blockbuster Acorn TV children's TV canceled TV shows casting Countdown Syfy Quiz stop motion natural history Freeform LGBT Schedule Peacock Britbox politics Rom-Com Musicals revenge Trailer Alien critics American Society of Cinematographers boxoffice IFC cancelled TV series Comedy Spectrum Originals harry potter adaptation President Song of Ice and Fire Star Trek supernatural comic books GoT Pixar WarnerMedia USA franchise joker Trivia Mary Tyler Moore name the review Comics on TV Extras dragons X-Men romantic comedy Black Mirror San Diego Comic-Con documentaries social media Drama superhero nature video on demand 2017 Turner Classic Movies cancelled TV shows cults Adult Swim television Valentine's Day DirecTV Music E3 24 frames NYCC sequels Elton John OneApp Tarantino Film Classic Film Ghostbusters chucky Character Guide Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt The CW Photos spinoff ghosts concert Holidays Film Festival YouTube Red french archives based on movie Creative Arts Emmys crossover Summer CMT VOD tv talk YA Heroines Lifetime Video Games Disney Plus Dark Horse Comics video Ellie Kemper quibi Sundance TV teaser The Walking Dead Endgame elevated horror halloween tv mockumentary Starz SDCC Pop Awards batman Set visit docudrama technology A24 worst The Academy TNT BBC America doctor who YouTube Premium italian Anna Paquin Ovation ABC renewed TV shows criterion rotten Mary poppins Disney streaming service war DC Universe scorecard Paramount Discovery Channel 71st Emmy Awards werewolf award winner rt archives MSNBC Oscars spanish language Nickelodeon Comedy Central Brie Larson laika AMC History true crime movies Disney First Look Showtime nbcuniversal Horror CBS All Access Opinion Crackle cancelled PBS Pride Month Tubi reviews witnail ESPN Women's History Month TCM Hallmark toy story Christmas CBS what to watch fast and furious Television Academy Columbia Pictures japanese sitcom FX serial killer Calendar 2015 Fox Searchlight golden globes Fox News sports New York Comic Con thriller Box Office south america Rocky WGN Family 21st Century Fox asian-american Universal HBO Go zombie 2016 Hallmark Christmas movies MCU YouTube Winter TV dceu vampires Shondaland Apple TV+ Awards Tour emmy awards Tomatazos Lionsgate Pet Sematary anime toronto Sci-Fi Black History Month Western ABC Family Amazon Studios Paramount Network First Reviews Fall TV transformers Food Network aliens 007 Trophy Talk Kids & Family Hulu Netflix Christmas movies APB classics composers See It Skip It science fiction versus FXX cartoon Nominations halloween disaster VICE satire cops medical drama Best and Worst DC streaming service mutant political drama Bravo latino Chernobyl BBC One BBC Reality BAFTA cars Teen police drama Walt Disney Pictures die hard Country Cosplay Superheroes dogs ID LGBTQ Shudder Funimation stoner deadpool Rocketman Vudu HBO Max IFC Films comic unscripted richard e. Grant biography stand-up comedy Spike nfl crime Red Carpet SXSW 2018 GIFs obituary ITV Television Critics Association Toys Podcast Sundance Now The Purge Marathons Epix National Geographic justice league Mudbound zombies 20th Century Fox Star Wars a nightmare on elm street worst movies Mindy Kaling Mystery screenings facebook rotten movies we love 2019 miniseries travel 2020 black Disney Channel Election spy thriller Academy Awards Disney+ Disney Plus 99% green book TV renewals sag awards james bond CW Seed singing competition Emmy Nominations E! period drama Hear Us Out christmas movies boxing Sneak Peek finale SundanceTV blaxploitation parents foreign Emmys TCA Marvel Television space romance reboot El Rey Amazon Prime FOX robots Lifetime Christmas movies Thanksgiving A&E all-time Mary Poppins Returns cinemax Holiday talk show Reality Competition Marvel Studios anthology NBC kids Baby Yoda cancelled television indie Crunchyroll dramedy Musical ratings Avengers discovery The Arrangement twilight news crime drama The Witch venice FX on Hulu Year in Review OWN BET Awards cooking Fantasy Nat Geo USA Network 4/20 TCA Winter 2020 spanish movie TCA Awards hispanic films dark Arrowverse streaming animated Tumblr Amazon remakes TruTV spider-man free movies child's play TV Rock indiana jones Travel Channel festival jamie lee curtis DC Comics book Winners VH1 Cartoon Network Action psycho RT History Biopics series Animation Esquire Netflix TBS TLC sequel cats Binge Guide Writers Guild of America Sony Pictures Amazon Prime Video Captain marvel Masterpiece Apple TV Plus football Sundance strong female leads Turner RT21 Cannes australia Logo mission: impossible zero dark thirty hollywood Super Bowl best GLAAD CNN universal monsters documentary diversity Interview 45 comiccon comedies Spring TV TIFF Watching Series Marvel festivals Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Superheroe Polls and Games Warner Bros. game of thrones TV Land slashers binge DGA TCA 2017 game show fresh crime thriller