Warner Bros. debuted the first footage from Ernest Cline’s “Holy Grail of pop culture” (OK, guys) directed by “cinematic gamechanger” Steven Spielberg, and—you know what’s more interesting than those accolades? That the Iron freaking Giant is in the OASIS.
Scored to a swelling instrumental cover of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory because why not, the two minutes of footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con take fans of Cline’s novel into two mind-boggling futures: first, the Stacks, the teetering towers of the futuristic, quasi-dystopian United States; and then into the OASIS, into which Wade Owen Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his peers escape their present.
“They called our generation the missing millions,” Wade intones in voiceover. “‘Missing’ not because we went anywhere… There’s nowhere left to go. Nowhere, except the OASIS. It’s the only place that feels like I mean anything—a world where the limits of reality are your own imagination.”
Cue the insane pop culture montage: the aforementioned Iron Giant (no you’re crying), DeLoreans and Tron cycles in insane chase sequences, Freddy Krueger in the midst of battle…
Here, watch for yourself:
Spielberg said that reading Cline’s novel, which is chock full of ’80s nostalgia but especially pays tribute to his body of work, “was both a flash forward and flashback,” which is what really excited him about adapting it. Though he joked that “They’re going to need a younger director!” Which is ridiculous, as Spielberg was basically the ideal director to take this on.
No surprise from the title and footage, there are plenty of video game references permeating the film. “It’s a little more accurate than Lawnmower Man,” joked TJ Miller, who has a small part as a gunter (or egg hunter) who goes by the moniker i-R0k.
Spielberg said that he was tempted to cut out his own pop culture additions. However, as someone who’s read the book, I think that would have taken away a lot of the spirit of the OASIS. Then again, the addition of our beloved iron “Superman” is going to enhance the story. “The Iron Giant is a real major player in this story,” Spielberg told the crowd.
Fair warning—I’ll have the tissues ready.
Plug into Ready Player One on March 30, 2018.