The first teaser for Ernest Cline’s bestseller Ready Player One dropped at San Diego Comic Con and gave us our first look at the ‘80s nerdgasm.

This article contains mild spoilers for Ready Player One.


Now, I’m pretty pumped for this movie. Ready Player One, as a sci-fi novel, is of a rarer breed these days, as the field has begun leaning further into the dystopian, gritty end of things; small wonder, given the cultural climate of the past decade or two. Even if Cline’s ultimate plea is that reality *is not* found in an overly realistic simulation of all of our favorite nerd universes, the book itself is still suffused with joy and pleasure. It sometimes feels like the references are the stars of the story, rather than our heroes. In short, the book is a bit escapist.

It was unlikely from the outset that the movie adaptation would attempt to stick to the original plot. For one thing, of the several hundred pop culture references, it’s hard to say how many of those are still under copyright. With the mess that is intellectual property law these days, the producers/Warner Brothers would have been hard pressed to acquire permission for everything. For another thing, the movie simply has less room to work with than the book, and some stuff would inevitably never reach the cutting room in the first place, never mind the cutting room floor.

So, what can the teaser tell us about the movie? Here are three moments in the trailer to pay attention to, each hinting at a major plot point.

0:55 – Wade’s haptic gear all has the IOI logo.

Source: Warner Bros. Entertainment

In my mind, this along with Wade’s narrative “I live in Columbus, Ohio…” hints at one of the biggest changes in the film – a shift in the dynamic of the narrative’s core driving force. One of the major conflicts in the book is the protagonist’s race against Innovative Online Industries (“IOI” for short) to complete James Halliday’s contest. Repeatedly, we are both told and shown how far IOI is willing to go to beat out everyone else. That Wade’s haptic gear carries the IOI logo, as opposed to the company behind OASIS, which suggests IOI’s influence may reach further than in the book and thus carries greater threat.


Source: Warner Bros. Entertainment

It does indeed appear to be the Iron Giant. As an IP of Warner Brothers, it makes some sense that the Iron Giant would appear to take the place of any number of giant robots that appears in Ready Player One, though it’s hard to tell from this scene alone exactly *which* robot it will be replacing. Although the Iron Giant will pander more to the ‘90s than the ‘80s, something tells me the nostalgia itself still roughly fits what the book and movie are going for. Very likely, this will not be the only reference that gets a swap – what remains to be seen is what else will or will not appear in the movie.

2:06-2:20 – Who’s this guy? Who’s the biker?? Oh, Wade does get his DeLorean! But…it’s a chase scene.

Source: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Alright, this is the section where I’m going to gripe a bit. Generic Sci-Fi Dude #1 and the chase scene honestly left me a little cold for a couple reasons. One, Generic Sci-Fi #1 appears a couple times in the trailer with shots that focus directly on him which leads me to think he may be one of the protagonists, namely Aech. Without revealing a major plot point about that character, I think it’s bit unfortunate they’ve decided to make him look less human as the reveal in the book makes some commentary about the state of society some 30 years down the line. And then there’s that chase scene. Sigh. Okay, fine. I acknowledge that some of the bits in the book that moves plot along are boring and they weren’t going to play scenes from Wargames or Monty Python and the Holy Grail wholesale. Still, do we need another chase scene in a sci-fi action movie? Especially after Mad Max showed up the entire industry on chase scenes?! Well, that decision was never in our hands so we’ll just have to witness the whole thing for ourselves.

What I am glad of is that the teaser, unlike a lot of trailers recently, showed us very little of the plot. Assuming future trailers continue this trend, the movie will get to be a fun romp with twists enough for everyone. If you’re debating reading the book before the movie comes out, I feel safe in saying you should – there are enough differences that both can and should be enjoyed separately.

Ready Player One hits theaters on March 30th, 2018.

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