It’s the future. But … it sucks.
At least, the real world does. In Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One, there is a happy escape: The OASIS, a virtual reality wonderland that is saturated in a love of all-things-‘80s.
The movie isn’t out until March 18, but as part of EW’s Comic-Con preview, we present a first look at actor Tye Sheridan as Parzival (real name: Wade Watts), using his VR visor and haptic gloves to disappear into a realm where movies, cartoons, comic books, and TV shows from the good old days make life in 2045 more bearable.
Spielberg’s own work helped define this era, but in his adaptation of Ernest Cline’s book he’s putting his own filmography aside (apart from the time-traveling Delorean from Back to the Future, which he executive produced.)
Cline says he wouldn’t be a writer “if I hadn’t grown up on a steady diet of Steven Spielberg movie.”
“His work directly influenced the narrative and the way that I told the story,” the author said. “So to have him directing, it’s too perfect to even be possible. And somehow it’s happened.”
This image is Wade’s “hideout,” an old van where the orphaned boy stores his most treasured belongings. In Ernest Cline’s 2011 book, this is where the character goes to be alone, since he shares his aunt’s teetering trailer in the impoverished, Jenga-like “Stacks” with 15 other people.
There’s extreme wealth in the world, but most people don’t have it. The only escape from this miserable existence is through the virtual reality simulation created by James Halliday (Oscar-winner Mark Rylance), who has recently shuffled off this mortal coil – but left behind a final game for his millions of users: Whoever solves his series of pop-culture quests wins the OASIS, along with its parent company, Gregarious Games.
This digital getaway will be locked away – or at least become prohibitively expensive – if it ends up being taken over by the corporate IOI organization.
So Wade and some of this fellow treasure-seekers are in a race with the rest of the world to protect it, uncovering clues in a game that will decide ownership of this innerspace.
Parzival’s closest friends and allies are people he’s never met in real life: Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), and I-R0k (T.J. Miller) – while their greatest foe in this quest is Nolan Sorrento (Rogue One’s Ben Mendelsohn), who is IOI’s murderous chief of Oology.
“Oology” is the study of eggs — a little in-joke about Easter eggs — and this image actually has a lot of them.
Click here for a deeper dive into this first look, revealing some of the pop culture and book references hidden in the margins.