The Adam Project features a number of time travel movie references and Easter eggs, giving a nod to the films that helped inspire it. In addition, The Adam Project features a number of references to other films from the actors within it, including leads Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo. The Adam Project has been likened to the sci-fi movies of the 80s, pulling from all manner of classics of the era, from The Last Starfighter to Back to the Future to E.T. and beyond.
Directed by Shawn Levy (Free Guy), The Adam Project stars Ryan Reynolds as Adam Reed, a time-traveling pilot from the year 2050 who steals a ship to go back to 2018 in order to find his missing wife, Laura (Zoe Saldana), also a time-traveling pilot, who disappeared after her last mission. Adam inadvertently arrives in the year 2022 after some miscalculations and meets up with his 12-year-old self, played by Walker Scobell, who teams up with him to help stop time travel from ever happening. The duo travel back to the year 2018, where they meet up with their deceased father, Louis (Mark Ruffalo), who is actually the inventor of what made time travel possible in the future and the only one who can help destroy it. It’s a tale of adventure, humor, and heart that brings together many elements of the genre, including those that helped make it what it is.
Levy has named a number of films as being influential to The Adam Project, including the aforementioned Back to the Future and E.T., but he has also cited Star Wars, Good Will Hunting, Jerry Maguire, Searching For Bobby Fischer, and Gallipoli as also being part of that influence. There are other references that fuel The Adam Project as well, which stem from characters nodding to movies within the movie, such as the mention of lightsabers, a future akin to The Terminator movies, and even non-time-travel, fourth-wall-breaking bits that harken to Deadpool and the MCU. Here are the clever nods, Easter eggs, time travel references and more in The Adam Project.
Back To The Future’s Biff
After initially making contact with his younger self, Big Adam (Reynolds) resigns to lay down and let his bullet would heal, while his younger self asks what he’s going to do. Big Adam jokingly responds that he’s going to think about some “key investment opportunities” for his younger self’s future, prompting Young Adam to say, “Like Biff from Back to the Future?” This, of course, is in reference to Biff Tannen, one of the main antagonists of the Back to the Future series, who attempts to give his younger self a sports almanac in the past in order to help him gamble his way to wealth in the sequel, Back to the Future: Part II.
Pine Ridge Motel’s BTTF Link
One of the biggest running gags of the Back to the Future series is The Twin Pines Ranch in 1955, which is owned by Otis Peabody, eventually becoming the site of The Twin Pines Mall 30 years later. In the film, Michael J. Fox’s character drives over one of the pines on accident when he time travels there from 1985, which ends up changing the mall in 1985 to Lone Pine Mall. In The Adam Project, both Adams stay at a hotel called Pine Ridge, which is a reference to the Back to the Future gag.
Terminator’s Judgment Day Future
At one point, Young Adam asks Big Adam about what it’s like in the year 2050, which Big Adam likens to The Terminator movie franchise, saying that the film’s setting is “2050 on a good day.” In the post-Judgment Day future of The Terminator films, Earth is ravaged by war between humans and machines, turning the world into an apocalyptic wasteland, which makes The Adam Project‘s 2050 sound nightmarish. The Terminator franchise, created by James Cameron, focuses on time-traveling robots, called Terminators, which are sent from the future to kill future leaders of the human resistance, making the link to The Adam Project even more succinct.
Star Wars’ Lightsabers – Which Also References Free Guy
As Young Adam marvels at Big Adam’s bag of gear from the future, he notices one item that looks very much like a lightsaber from Star Wars. Big Adam deflects the reference, but later when he ignites it, Young Adam says, “That’s a lightsaber, dude,” making reference to the weapon of a Jedi in the Star Wars universe. While this isn’t a time travel reference, it’s an Easter egg that harkens not only to Levy’s influence in making The Adam Project, but also to Levy and Reynolds’ last film together, Free Guy, in which Reynolds’ character uses an actual lightsaber when fighting off another character, ironically named Dude.
Star Wars’ Endor Bike Chase
In the Star Wars sequel, Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia have a speeder chase with Imperial scout troopers in the woods of Endor, a forest moon in a galaxy far, far away. The forest is heavily populated with trees that are very close together, creating a lot of obstacles throughout the ensuing chase. In a similar fashion, The Adam Project features a chase that involves Big Adam, Young Adam, and Zoe Saldana’s Laura fleeing through the woods in a truck, while being pursued by troopers on flying “speeders.” Big Adam quickly dispatches them with a trick reminiscent of Return of the Jedi, with Big Adam and Laura crashing the troopers into trees and using the environment to help their eventual escape, just as the Skywalkers did.
Deadpool’s Superhero Landing
In both Deadpool and Deadpool 2 there are references to “superhero landings,” which is a running gag for Wade Wilson/Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds. In the first Deadpool, he jokes that Gina Carano’s Angel Dust is about to make a superhero landing (which she does), giving her faux applause afterward, stating how hard it is on one’s knees. In Deadpool 2, Wade himself makes the effort, jumping from a window after announcing his intent to do a superhero landing. He does so, lamenting the pain that follows. In The Adam Project, just as Big Adam is about to be defeated by his nemesis, Christos, Young Adam uses the “lightsaber” to jump to his older self’s rescue, landing in superhero fashion, before whispering, “Superhero landing” in a fourth wall-breaking reference to Reynolds’ Deadpool role and the running gag.
Deadpool and Hulk Stick Around
The final big Easter egg reference in The Adam Project revolves around both the MCU and Deadpool, which cleverly merges both in one scene. Reynolds is best known as Deadpool in the Marvel franchise, originally belonging to Fox and now under the MCU umbrella after the Disney acquisition of Fox. Similarly, Mark Ruffalo has played Bruce Banner/The Hulk in the MCU since 2012’s The Avengers, appearing in numerous films within the series ever since (and will appear again as the character in the upcoming Disney+ series, She-Hulk). After defeating Sorian at the end of The Adam Project, Louis, Big Adam, and Young Adam all play a game of catch, but they have to get the equipment out first, which is in a storage tub in the backyard. The tub in question has a number of stickers on it, two of them very prominent: the Deadpool logo and a cut-out of Ruffalo’s Hulk. Fittingly, it was announced that Shawn Levy would be directing Reynolds in Deadpool 3 just after The Adam Project debuted on Netflix, so expect to see more meta-references and in-jokes.
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