Believe it or not, Parzival is walking on air. (Kind of.) Easter eggs from superhero universes like Marvel, DC, and beyond can be found throughout Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi fantasia Ready Player One. And lucky for you, you don’t need X-ray vision to find them all.
In Ready Player One, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is the unlikely leader of a revolution as he leads armies of pop culture geeks and gamers against the evil IOI, led by Anton Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). At stake is the OASIS, a VR simulator where all your wildest dreams come true. In a future where Earth’s resources and poverty is rampant, the OASIS is all that’s worth fighting for.
Because the OASIS is populated by pop culture obsessives, some actual avatars, vehicles, and other visual items are modeled after iconic — and not so iconic — superheroes. (Oddly enough, the only time there are any comic books in the film is in the bedroom of James Halliday, the eccentric creator of the OASIS.)
Below are all the best superhero Easter eggs worth keeping an eye for in Ready Player One.
12. 1966 Batmobile
Holy Hot Wheels, Batman! In the opening race to Central Park, a “gunter” (Easter egg hunter) drives the Batmobile, from the 1966 classic Batman series that starred the late Adam West. It’s maybe not the most durable ride to survive James Halliday’s death race of doom, but it is the most stylish.
11. Arkham Knight
Because of the Warner Bros. connection, there is a lot of references to DC. Case in point, the relatively recent character Arkham Knight — who is actually Jason Todd, the second Robin, in 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight — passes Wade Watts in the virtual OASIS library.
10. The Joker and Harley Quinn
Not enough Batman for you? Well, two avatars dressed as the Joker and Harley Quinn, also from Batman: Arkham Knight, appear in the nightclub, the Distracted Globe. Harley Quinn is shooed away from her booth by i-R0k (T.J. Miller) before reappearing later in the arms of her puddin’, the Joker, during the “Stayin’ Alive” dance number.
Also in the nightclub? Deathstroke, one of Batman’s most lethal enemies who first appeared in the pages of The Teen Titans in the 1970s. Deathstroke appeared for the first time on the big screen just a few months ago, in the post-credits scene of Justice League played by actor Joe Manganiello.
8. Lex Luthor: War and Peace and Chewing Gum
James Halliday’s favorite movie quote of all time came from Gene Hackman’s villainous Lex Luthor, in 1978’s Superman:
“Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.”
Reciting this quote is the first thing that bonds Parzival with his crush, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke).
7. “Like Peter Parker, or Bruce Banner”
Because Marvel is owned by rival studio Disney, showing off Marvel wasn’t really in the cards for Spielberg. But screenwriters Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, who wrote the 2011 novel the film is based on, retained Wade’s line about having an alliterative name, “like Peter Parker, or Bruce Banner.” Alliterative names are a trope in superhero stories, something even cerebral superhero movies like Donnie Darko and Unbreakable use.
Stan Lee famously once said it made it easier to remember who was who. “I have the worst memory in the world,” Lee said at a 2006 Q&A. “So I finally figured out, if I could give somebody a name, where the last name and the first name begin with the same letter, like Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock, then if I could remember one name, it gave me a clue what the other one was, I knew it would begin with the same letter.”
6. Ultraman’s Time Limit
In the battle on Planet Doom, Daito (Win Morisaki) morphs his avatar into the classic RX-78-2 Gundam from 1979’s Mobile Suit Gundam. But the three-minute time limit is taken from the Japanese superhero Ultraman, who could only fight for a few minutes on Earth before needing to recharge. Ultraman had a pivotal role in the novel but legally couldn’t appear in the film due to a copyright lawsuit. Consider the time limit the “appearance” of Ultraman.
5. Heroes in a Half Shell
That’s right, avatars of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — at least, the weirdo versions from the Michael Bay-produced films — appear in the OASIS to fight against IOI on Planet Doom.
Also on Planet Doom is an unexpected appearance of Spawn, his first onscreen appearance since 1997’s Spawn starring Michael Jai White. Currently, creator Todd McFarlane is signed to direct his own creation in a small-budget horror feature for Blumhouse.
ALSO on Planet Doom is Deadshot, the expert marksman of the Suicide Squad. He appears right next to Wade, when he holds up the boom box to blast Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
2. Wonder Woman
Unfortunately, the Princess of the Amazons doesn’t appear as an avatar, but Wonder Woman’s classic “W” logos do appear as stickers and patches, mainly on Aech’s (TK) denim jacket in the real world.
1. The Greatest American Hero
And the greatest superhero Easter egg is the most subtle. The scissor-shaped symbol of Ralph Hinkley, the hero of The Greatest American Hero from 1981 to 1983, appears as stickers on both Art3mis’s Akira bike and Wade’s OASIS goggles in Aech’s van. No, you have the theme song stuck in your head now.
Ready Player One is in theaters now.