In the Ready Player One movie, director Steven Spielberg trades in a lengthy section from the book featuring Monty Python and the Holy Grail and instead offers up a single explosive reference from the beloved flick: The Holy Hand Grenade.
Spoilers for Ready Player One book and movie follow.
Ready Player One was released Thursday, and in it, we’re treated to a geeky overload of Easter eggs featuring everything from video games, Star Trek and Star Wars, to tons of other sci-fi properties. But one of the more niche and perhaps less-recognizable references tucked away inside the OASIS is a weapon that the film’s protagonist buys early on and uses in the final battle. And it’s the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.
Unless you’re in on this joke and “get” the reference immediately, this and many other weapons in the movie might come off as totally confusing. So here’s where the weapon is from:
The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is an irreverent and totally anachronistic weapon featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). King Arthur uses it to destroy the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog after it beheads one of his knights.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail itself is a British slapstick comedy film from that focuses on a ridiculously absurd retelling of Arthurian legend; it’s ultimately an extremely dry, lengthy comedy sketch. In the Ready Player One novel, Parzival calls Holy Grail “the most-beloved geek film of all time,” which is fairly accurate.
In the Ready Player One novel, Halliday himself loves the film — and his contest looks quite different than what we got in the movie. In written form, the first and third keys unlocked “gates” (or secret rooms) that forced the contestant to participate in Flicksyncs. These simulations of movies were sort of like what happens with The Shining in the Ready Player One movie, but rather than merely entering the world of The Shining, Parzival instead has to assume the role of a character in every single scene of the movie and act out the entire script from memory.
Parzival does this for a movie called WarGames for the first portion of the contest and again with Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the third. Steven Spielberg eschews these somewhat tedious sequences (which sound like licensing nightmares) and instead decided on a much simpler Monty Python Easter egg.
Parzival first gets the Holy Hand Grenade fairly early in the movie. After finding the first key in Halliday’s contest, he’s awarded with 100,000 credits — seems like a veritable fortune in the OASIS. He goes on a shopping spree and picks up the Holy Hand Grenade, along with a Zemeckis Cube that can rewind time. Before the movie’s end, both items prove totally essential.
In the final battle, Parzival uses the OASIS version of the Holy Hand Grenade, and it emits a short-range blast of presumably Holy Light that vaporizes everything in the immediate vicinity. He doesn’t even need to consult the Book of Armaments from a faux bible or even count precisely to three.
For purists out there, this might come off as a ridiculous usage of the holy weapon, but chances are plenty of fans were just happy to see a nod to such a beloved film
Ready Player One is out now in theaters.