The “Ready Player One” “Firefly” Easter Egg Feels Super Awkward

Matthew Loffhagen
Mutant Enemy
(Photo: Mutant Enemy)

“Ready Player One” is a movie of Easter Eggs.

The story revolves around finding an Easter Egg. The movie is packed with Easter Egg references to other movies, TV shows, video games, and comics.

Heck, Warner Bros has even decided to release this movie over the Easter weekend, adding literal Easter Eggs into the mix. They’re not even being subtle about this!

One tiny little reference has been spotted by eagle-eyed viewers, hiding in one of the TV spots for the upcoming movie. Apparently, if you pay close attention, you can see Serenity, the ship from Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” hidden among a bunch of other spaceships as the fly through space.

The reference isn’t in and of itself remarkable. This is a movie that’s packed with Easter Eggs, and once the movie hits Blu-Ray, you can be sure that fans will freeze-frame literally every second of the movie in order to uncover absolutely every tiny, hidden secret on display.

What makes the “Firefly” inclusion feel worth mentioning, though, is the fact that it seems to go completely against the ethos of the show it’s referencing.

“Firefly” is a story about a group of small, overlooked, unimportant spacers, just trying to survive in a hostile galaxy, while a big, angry, oppressive galactic government attempts to squeeze them out of the sky.

The message of the show is that sometimes, it’s just a triumph if the little guy manages to survive in a world of bullies and bigger kids.

“Ready Player One” is the bigger kid. It’s a movie that’s helmed by one of the most successful directors of all time, based on a phenomenally popular novel, and backrolled by one of the biggest movie studios in the industry.

For Serenity to be co-opted by Warner Bros feels an awful lot like the Alliance wearing the skin of Malcolm Reynolds, all for the purpose of selling movie tickets.

Apparently, someone at Warner Bros believes that Browncoats can be tricked into liking a film just because it’s got a fleeting reference to Serenity hidden within a trailer.

Well, in fairness, this story is getting coverage for a reason. Many of “Firefly” fans are still desperate for more of the show, but not like this. Not under the direction of an entirely unrelated creative crew.

This feels wrong. One of the big problems with the mere concept of “Ready Player One” as a franchise is that it takes a lot of different pop-culture touchstones and completely removes them from the context that made them meaningful.

The Iron Giant
Source: Warner Bros

The Iron Giant, for example, really shouldn’t be storming a battlefield, shooting lasers at the enemy. That’s exactly the opposite of the lesson that the character learns within his own movie.

There’s a good reason why so many critics are speaking out against all the references in “Ready Player One”. To hear the reviewers tell it, this film’s strongest moments are those that contain the fewest Easter Eggs, and the moments where the references start to pile up can feel almost unbearable.

If you’re going to go see this movie, good luck. You might well have a great time with it – this feels like the kind of movie where critics and audiences have very different opinions.

For those true “Firefly” fans, though, be warned that it may feel like something is missing when Serenity shows up. There’s no way the cinematic return of the iconic Firefly ship can live up to the last time it soared triumphantly off into the stars.