The first trailer for Steve Spielberg’s virtual reality epic Ready Player One has just landed and the response has been positive so far.
But for those who aren’t familiar with the book the film is based on, they might wonder why there are so many familiar pieces of pop culture whizzing by the screen. Well that’s because in the book and the film, the next generation of VR users are obsessed with old games and films — because they lead to clues that are part of a bigger game.
After watching the trailer several times we managed to pick out a few video game and TV references hidden in plain sight.
The iconic red motorcycle from Akira, with the familiar Atari logo on the front wheel shaft, is a dead giveaway. A live action version of the anime classic has been in development at Warner Bros., so it’s perfect branding to give us a look at the bike in this unrelated Warner Bros. film.
2. Nightmare on Elm Street
One of the easiest references to pick out in the trailer is the demonic dream monster Freddie Krueger getting sliced in half.
3. Duke Nukem
On the same battlefield we see the main video game character Duke Nukem with his familiar buzz cut and jacked arms wielding a rocket launcher. Look for him in the background of the Freddy shot, situated directly between Mr. Krueger and whoever it is he’s fighting.
In another part of the battlefield scene we see one of the birds from the classic arcade game Joust, which gives itself away when it drops an egg in mid stride.
5. DC Comics
And, because Warner Bros. can and should pack all the cool Easter Eggs they own into the trailer, we also see what looks like Harley Quinn and Deathstroke walking hand in hand. Look for them early in the trailer, as they’re walking past the main character on their way out of that sci-fi-looking bar.
6. Tomb Raider
Later, we also get a glimpse of what looks like Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft leaning on a car before a race.
7. Stephen King
And what is that car Lara’s leaning on? It looks exactly like the car from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s horror story Christine, about a murderous car that’s literally possessed.
8. The A-Team
Parked right next to Christine is a nod to The A-Team — yet another ’80s classic — with the vigilante group’s trademark van clearly visible and woven discreetly into the fabric of the film.
9. Back to the Future
But that’s nothing compared to the mother of all movie vehicles, the Back to the Future DeLorean, which makes several appearances in the trailer.
10. The Iron Giant
The most recognizable character for most will be the The Iron Giant, which makes its appearance early in the trailer.
Those are just a handful of the references we could find, but we’re sure we missed some. Look hard and you might find a few more.