Who is the master of today’s cinematic multiverse? If you ask Chris Miller, that would probably be him and longtime collaborator Phil Lord.
The writing-directing duo, of course, know a thing or two about mashing up some of Hollywood’s most beloved franchises with sly references and visual gags, as they did to great comic effect and unparalleled blockbuster success in 2014’s The Lego Movie (see Lego Batman, for example).
But with the hotly anticipated release next week of Steven Spielberg’s latest thrill ride, Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel about a dystopian world dominated by virtual reality, Miller couldn’t resist poking fun at the hype that movie’s generated for the plethora of pop culture shout-outs contained in its virtual world, OASIS.
Those include nostalgia-fueled cameos from the ‘80s and ‘90s, not only from the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s own megahits like the iconic T-rex from Jurassic Park and the famed DeLorean from Back to the Future (which he produced), but also King Kong, the Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, Harley Quinn and Deadshot, and Duke Nuke’em and Street Fighter’s Chun Li among many other Easter eggs. (It's also worth noting that not so coincidentally, Ready Player One’s coming out Easter weekend.)
Though he never singles out Ready Player One by name, it’s obvious what Miller’s joking about to his Twitter followers as he promotes Lego Movie 2.
Ironically, he and Lord embarked on that sequel after being fired from the mother of all cinematic universes as helmers of Solo: A Star Wars Story, reportedly because their improv-heavy approach didn’t mesh well with the vision veteran Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasdan and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy had for the standalone flick.
Moviegoers will be able to judge for themselves whose mashup of geek culture reigns supreme when Ready Player One hits theaters March 30 and The Lego Movie 2 arrives early next year.