News

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

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