WARNING: This article contains minor SPOILERS for Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg worked to keep his own movies out of Ready Player One, but some Gremlins cameos snuck through regardless. Considering just how many secret tributes and partially hidden homages made it into the movie – our list of over 110 Ready Player One Easter Eggs is limited to details fans might actually miss, not references alone – the director can be forgiven for not screening them all.
The idea that Spielberg would adapt the novel built on nostalgia for the 1980s, yet pretend the director’s genre-defining work never took place will be foolish to some, and a tragedy to others. After all, a large part of Ready Player One‘s target audience have had their blockbuster and adventure movie expectations shaped by Spielberg’s hand.
Those fans have the effects and production design team to thank for righting this cosmic wrong. Because despite his efforts, it appears Ready Player One pays homage to Steven Spielberg’s Gremlins in more plot-pivotal ways than one.
This directive from Spielberg may surprise some viewers of the movie, especially those who noticed that Jurassic Park‘s T. Rex makes a cameo during the first Copper Key race. But as the director explained in an interview with EW prior to the movie’s release, his films set in the 1980s specifically (the era most directly fueling the Oasis’ nostalgia) were a no-go.
The DeLorean belonging to movie’s hero was an exception (it’s a major detail in the novel), but even a restaurant named for the villains of The Goonies was vetoed once noticed. Set designs were obvious enough, but when the action shifted to Ready Player One‘s cameo-rich battle scenes, Spielberg conceded that the animators had gotten the better of him:
I think a lot of the digital artists were trying to get some of their favorite ’80s cultural references in there, you know? And having seen every shot 30 times as we go through all the different steps from pre-viz to animatic to final, I started noticing little things.
They snuck a gremlin in… I said, ‘Well, I guess it’s too late to take that guy out.’ So he survived the cut.
The gremlin does indeed make a front-and-center cameo in the final fight. The better news? It’s not the only reference to the Joe Dante-directed, Spielberg-produced critter flick.
The most obvious cameo – and the one that, given the context surrounding its discovery sounds like the one Spielberg noticed – comes just seconds after the magic barrier surrounding Anorak’s Castle dissolves. Parzival raises his fist to issue the first part of the call-and-response, “First to the Egg…” before the camera cuts put the front line of fighters into the spotlight.
First comes the group shown off in Ready Player One‘s trailers, featuring Tracer from Overwatch, Street Fighter‘s Chun-Li, and Lara Croft. The “First to the Egg!” response is also shouted by the Halo characters in the next shot, and finally a clutch of DC heroes and a cameo from comic book antihero Spawn claim the frame…. along with the Gremlin ‘Stripe’ charging right along with them, fist raised, war cry roaring.
We would like to think that the sheer sight gag of seeing the Gremlins villain charging into war convinced Spielberg to let it remain. But from the sound of it, he didn’t catch the second group of Gremlins visible later in the battle. When Art3mis sprints from the Castle to Parzival’s path, she passes a stunned IOI combatant – leaving him to be jumped, then swarmed by a group of three Gremlins.
On top of it, the magical Orb that spawns the shield in the first place – a powerful protection or a villainous creation, depending on who wields it – gets a Gremlins connection, as well. The box it’s contained in when first revealed is the same one that the Mogwai Gizmo is brought home in. Sharing the same potential, we might add.
It’s a reference nobody would even think it look for, so the effects team clearly struck a home run in passing their director’s restrictions. Meaning not one, but three Easter Eggs (at least) escaped detection. It’s more than a little poetic that it took some Gremlins to break the rule so deviously.
Now fans can keep their eyes peeled for these key cameo moments – and speculate that if these slipped by… how many more did Spielberg never even catch wind of? Time for some repeat viewings.
Source: Entertainment Weekly