Though the much-anticipated adaptation of Ready Player One won’t hit theaters until March 30th of next year, we now have our first solid look at Tye Sheridan as Wade Owen Watts. It’s a good start. We get to see Wade’s VR hideout as it exists in the real world, a place where there’s a vast gulf between the wealthiest individuals and the folks eking out a meager existence. Wade’s in that latter camp but he clings to the hope that discovery of the treasure to end all treasure will end his life of poverty.
Author Ernest Cline absolutely filled his novel with 80s-era references, notably to the works of Steven Spielberg himself. Cline said, “His work directly influenced the narrative and the way that I told the story. So to have him directing, it’s too perfect to even be possible. And somehow it’s happened.” Some of those references are captured in the following image which suggests that the movie itself is going to have some incredible rewatch potential.
Here’s the first-look image below (via EW):
The image above takes place in Wade’s own private sanctuary, a partially destroyed van hidden in a junkyard littered with discarded cars and located on the perimeter of a poverty-stricken area known as the Stacks. The Stacks is where the teenage Wade lives with his aunt (and more than a dozen others) in a precariously perched trailer that’s literally stacked on top of other trailers. This hideout offers an escape from that reality, and the virtual reality world of OASIS offers Wade further escape still.
It’s in the OASIS that Wade (a.k.a. Parzival) and his closest friends and allies Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), and I-R0k (T.J. Miller) race to find the clues that lead to the greatest treasure in the world, marking them as egg hunters, or “Gunters.” They’ll try to stay a step ahead of Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who is the IOI corporation’s chief of Oology (the study of eggs), and who’s not above committing mass murder to secure the treasure for himself.
Now there’s a lot going on in this image. EW also sorted through it to highlight the Easter eggs hidden in plain sight.
The visionaries behind the OASIS are James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg), a sort of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak team, though Halliday was clearly inspired by Willy Wonka. It’s Halliday who sets the great search for the ultimate Easter egg in motion just before his death and then entrusts Ogden with making sure the game is played fairly. Their contributions are captured in a pair of periodicals displayed in Wade’s hideout:
Additionally, you can see a WIRED magazine featuring Halliday tacked up just next to a stationary bike that Wade uses to get a bit of exercise and keep his cooling fans running and his VR-powering batteries charged:
Other pop culture icons like a Masters of the Universe lunch box, plus Garfield and Garbage Pail Kids stickers decorate Wade’s hideout and add nice touches to the production. There even seems to be a Charleston Chew wrapped casually tossed on the ground. It’s a good signifier that the full film will hold this same attention to detail that Cline gave his initial story. Now we just need to see what the world of OASIS actually looks like to complete the puzzle.