It's not a scene teasing a sequel or a spin-off, but there is a little bonus surprise at the end of Disney and Pixar's new animated fantasy movie, Onward.
Spoilers for Onward ahead.
In theaters Friday, Pixar's Onward tells the story of a teenaged elf Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and his slacker brother Barley (Chris Pratt) who seek to finish a spell that will bring back their deceased father for 24 hours. In a twist from the usual fantasy adventure, the world of New Mushroomton looks an awful lot like our own. TVs, smartphones, supermarkets, and gas-guzzling cars replace magic spells and flying dragons.
So much of Onward is inspired by the influential tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974, the game's character-driven mechanics and original fantasy universe — itself heavily inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien — have cast a large shadow over generations of pop culture. From books like Game of Thrones, to video games like Dragon Quest, to Netflix shows like Stranger Things, are all openly influenced by a game where you roll dice with your closest friends.
Onward is no different. Pixar's latest features a lot of characters and story elements that aren't just inspired by D&D, but actually come from the game. The Manticore (a fearsome restaurant manager voiced by Octavia Spencer), the tavern, and the Gelatinous Cube are all taken directly from the pages of the official Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks. A Beholder can also be seen hanging in the restaurant.
In the credits of Onward, Disney and Pixar give a huge thank you to Wizards of the Coast, directly naming D&D's publisher for the prevalent use of D&D. It's a neat little bonus that shows just how much the filmmakers relied on D&D to tell its story in Onward.
In an email to Inverse, Wizards of the Coast confirmed its involvement with the filmmakers of Onward.
"The D&D team was super excited to meet with the writers and producers of Pixar's Onward," said a rep for Wizards of the Coast. "There was a lot of back-and-forth in the room discussing how best to portray D&D monsters like the Beholder and the Gelatinous Cube. We love that Onward is bringing fantasy to a whole new audience, and it's a testament to how D&D storytelling is a part of the mainstream culture now."
Geek culture has come a long way from enthusiasts hiding their comics and refusing to talk about their passions openly. Now that geeks have taken over the Earth, fans are free to enjoy their personal hobbies without concern with what people think. (As it should be!) With D&D gaining more recognition as both a social lubricant and a learning tool, now is the best time to gather around a table and tell new stories. And who knows? Maybe that story will become the next Pixar movie.
Onward opens in theaters on March 6.