There’s a joke made in Ready Player One about how many advertisements a user could absorb in the VR world before having a seizure. But IRL, it’s equally maddening to figure out exactly how many specific easter eggs and references are onscreen in Ready Player One at any given time. From video games to horror films and anime, there’s a lot to take in, and it’s possible that no one will catch all the references until the movie is out on Blu-ray, and we’re spending late nights freeze-framing every single scene, trying to identify specific characters and fictional vehicles. Basically, with Ready Player One referential geek culture has either reached its zenith or hit rock bottom, depending on how you look at it.
Ostensibly, Ready Player One is a sci-fi movie first, though. So, with that in mind, here are the five best sci-fi easter eggs in the movie. But, be warned, most of these shout-outs are totally part of your dad’s science fiction VHS collection.
5. The Serenity from Firefly
In Ernest Cline’s novel, Wade flies a ship that is stylized to look like the iconic Serenity ship from Firefly. Wade calls the ship the Vonnegut in honor of author Kurt Vonnegut. In the movie, Wade doesn’t have this ship, but that doesn’t stop it from appearing several times.
4. Thumbs-Up from Terminator 2
When Aech/Helen dons the avatar of the Iron Giant for the big climactic battle sequence at the end of the movie, she ends up needing to sacrifice her robot exterior to save her friends. This results in the Iron Giant going down in flames, but not before Helen can give a robotic thumbs up. This references the thumbs up given by another robot: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
3. Tons of Spaceships and Props from Battlestar Galactica
When Art3mis visits Aech’s workshop, a ton of iconic spaceships from science fiction are briefly glimpsed, in miniature. The most obvious is titular ship from Battlestar Galactica. The design of this version of the ship comes from the original Glen A. Larson 1978 TV series. In the background of Aech’s workshop, a Viper fighter from the series is also visible. AND, Wade looks to be rocking one of the laser pistols used by the Colonial Warriors on the show, too.
2. Spock’s Casket from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
When James Halliday’s digital will is broadcast across the entire world, he jokingly pops up out of Spock’s casket from The Wrath of Khan. In that film, Spock’s casket is actually a photon torpedo tube, which is shot out of the USS Enterprise in the final scene of the movie. That’s why it has the designation “Mark VII” on the side. It’s a “Mark VII” photon torpedo.
1. Peter Weller’s Iconic Look from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Easily the most obscure sci-fi reference is also bizarrely slightly different from the one found in Cline’s novel version of Ready Player One. In both the book and the film, Wade dresses as Buckaroo Banzai — the titular character of the 1984 film. But, in the book, Wade wears Weller’s red bowtie look, which will remind fans more of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who. But, the movie opts to give Wade Weller’s pink tie look, which is more reminiscent of the movie poster than anything.
Of all the references in Ready Player One, a shout-out to Buckaroo Banzai is probably the closest to a true “cult classic.” A slick combination of sci-fi comedy and satirical adventure, this film is one many people’s father’s loved in the Eighties, even if it’s status as a fan favorite hasn’t carried over to the 21st Century. Still, a special steel book Blu-ray release of the film is coming on May 15, 2018. The regular Blu-ray of Buckaroo Banzai is available now. - Ready Player One is out in wide release now.