Every Pixar Easter Egg & Fantasy Movie reference
by Pixar Forward is absolutely filled with Easter eggs – and here are all the ones that have been spotted so far. Starring Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as Elven Brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, Forward is a film about grief and loss. It was inspired by director Dan Scanlan’s experience of losing his father at an early age, and the film is essentially the fulfillment of wishes for anyone who has gone through this kind of tragedy.
Forward is the first true fantasy world ever created by Pixar, which makes it somewhat unique among Pixar films. At the same time, however, this imaginative new world is surprisingly familiar; Pixar has mixed classic fantasy tropes with aspects of popular culture. The animation studio has created a fascinating society where magic has been overtaken by science, and goblins have forgotten they were meant to fly.
All this means that Forward contains a delicious number of subtle Easter eggs with classic fantasy tropes, plus all of Pixar’s traditional nods. Here’s our guide to every Easter egg you can spot. Forward.
16. An opening scene rich in Easter eggs
ForwardThe opening scenes reveal the history of the world, detailing the ancient magic that once flourished. The magic is illustrated using the example of a great wizard, who looks amazingly like Gandalf the Gray of The Lord of the Rings. Later, Barley indeed reveals that wizards of old had stereotypical names like “Wendelyn the Whimsical”, a detail seen in both. The Lord of the Rings and JK Rowling Harry potter. In those distant days, wizards were worshiped as the simplest solution to the world’s many crises – until technological development made the impossible a part of everyday life. Why train yourself to generate magical light when you can just turn on a light?
This opening scene is absolutely filled with Easter eggs. Attentive viewers will notice that the wizard is surrounded by Night Holler’s flowers of Zootopia, and he’s watched over by an elven version of Bonnie from Toy story 3. There is also what looks like a group of rock trolls from Frozen.
15. The store names in Onward are almost all Easter eggs (and sometimes bad puns)
As you go to “today”, keep an eye out for signs and store names in this fantasy world. Almost all of them are in fact fantastic references, including
- The “Sword & The Scone”, a pun on the animated classic The sword in the stone; it’s actually a repeated gag, as that was the name of a meal on the breakfast menu in Toy story 4.
- A store called “Burger Shire” serves “Second Breakfast”, two delicious nods to The Lord of the Rings.
14. Brands are fantastic riffs in the real world too.
Other brands in Forward are fantastic riffs on real world brands. There is the “Z90 Fit”, “Cloak & Cola”, “Prance Prance Revolution”, “Trollios” and “Mount Doom”. Barley’s jacket contains stickers for the band “Muddle of Mush”, a pun on Puddle of Mudd.
13. Barley’s Van has a memorable name
Barley named his van after Guinevere, the legendary love of King Arthur. He seems more than a little confused, however, viewing her as a Valkyrie rather than a monarch; this is initially indicated by the painting, which features a winged horse of Valkyrie. When Barley sacrifices his van to give his brother a chance to meet their father, he plays “Ride of the Valkyries”. There’s even a hilarious wing effect at one point in this footage.
12. The rules and roles of Dungeons & Dragons
The magic of Forward is strongly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. Magic itself can only be wielded by a specific “class” of character, including Ian himself. Just like in these games, spells have specific requirements that must be met in order to perform them. They are:
- Someone has to harness the “fire of their heart” – that is, speak with confidence when launching
- Other spells require concentration of attention, such as a growth spell.
- Additionally, others demand absolute self-confidence, Ian using magic to create an invisible bridge.
- The most complex spells require the above three
- Finally, advanced magic is only possible with an assist element such as the Phoenix Gem
Barley is obsessed with ancient history, and as such, he collects his world’s equivalent of Magic: The Gathering cards, called Knowledge quests. To his greatest pleasure, he and his brother embark on a magical quest; it incorporates the classic gelatinous cube of Dungeons and Dragons, and ends in a clash with a dragon, just like a Dungeons & Dragons mission. Barley’s jacket features stitching from the D20 dice, suggesting that the game is really remarkably similar.
11. Triple toothed eraser
Pixar seems to like Triple Dent Gum, who has appeared in both Toy story and Upside down (where he got a boring jingle). The gum is also popular in Forward; there is a package in Ian’s room and an advertisement at the gas station trashed by the goblins.
10. The Pizza Kingdom Truck
Pixar traditionally puts in a Pizza Planet Easter egg, and in Forward it is switched; the company is called Pizza Realm instead. Signs are displayed in the background of several scenes, and a Pizza Realm truck joins the queue for the toll booth. A box in the back of Barley’s van has a Pizza Realm sticker on it.
9. Have you spotted the courageous references?
Surprisingly, there are quite a few references to Courageous, another film about a young adventurer. The calendar in Ian’s room has a picture of the woods of Courageous above, while Barley’s map refers to “Brave Wilderness”. This supports the popular fan theory, all Pixar movies are set in the same universe. The card also references “Lock Lake”, a nod to the animated short. Nessie’s ballad.
8. Remy de Ratatouille works at the Manticore tavern
It’s easy to miss, as he’s only ever shown in the background, but the Manticore Tavern Chef is very familiar. It is in fact Remy, the French rat from Ratatouille. Presumably he left Paris for new pastures and found a more fantastic place to work. Paying viewers will notice it’s pretty close to a Pixar ball in the background.
7. Manticore Tavern staff wear distinctive hats
Mickey wore a very distinctive wizard hat in the animated classic Fancy, and that sort of became a symbol of magic in Disney movies and theme parks. There is an ironic nod to this idea in Forward, because some of the staff at the Manticore Tavern wear those same hats. Of course, unlike Fancy, there is no real magic in the Manticore Tavern – not anymore.
6. Mickey’s Hidden Fireworks Double Easter Egg
Almost all of the Disney animated classics feature a “Hidden Mickey Mouse”, the shape of a Mickey Mouse head in the background. They are also scattered around the theme parks and usually feature in the fireworks you will occasionally see there. Quite appropriately, then, Forward features a Mickey hidden in Ian’s firework spell.
5. The forward cameo of John Ratzenberger
John Ratzenberger has voiced a character in each of the Pixar films, sometimes as the main character, but on other occasions in a shorter role, blink and you’ll miss him. In the case of Forward, he plays a construction worker called Fenwick who tries to keep barley from climbing all over historic monuments.
4. An A113 is in progress
Few people outside of the animation industry will have heard of Room A113 at the California Institution of Arts, the classroom used by graphic design and animation students, including John Lasseter, Tim Burton, and Brad Bird. . But it’s impossible to overstate the impact of these classes, as the students in Room A113 breathed new life into Disney after the death of Walt himself. Pixar still likes to grace room A113, dropping an Easter egg in each of its films. In that case, Forward ends with a police call indicating that there is “an A113 in progress.“
3. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt have a funny character
Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are the featured voices of Forward, and their characters are fun on type. Like Peter Parker, Holland’s Ian is a socially awkward teenager who struggles to fit in. Chris Pratt’s Barley is notable for having a mixtape, although it is quest-oriented and therefore different from Star-Lord’s in guardians of the galaxy.
2. Barley’s badges are MCU references
Chris Pratt’s Barley even wears a few badges reminiscent of his connection to the MCU. He has an Infinity Gauntlet sewn into the fabric of his jacket (this logo is also stuck on the back of the passenger seat inside his truck). He’s also wearing a Hydra badge, which may just be a reference to the mythical creature, but he’s styled like the MCU organization.
1. The phoenix egg recalls the stone of the soul
The phoenix egg itself – the key to bringing the dead to life, albeit for a day only – is the same color as the soul stone in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In the comics, a person’s consciousness may enter the Soul Stone in order to interact with the dead, but Forward overturns the idea.
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