Warning: This post contains spoilers for Everything Everywhere All at Once.
As a genre-bending take on the multiverse narrative, Everything Everywhere All at Once is crammed full of Easter eggs and pop culture references for the observant viewer to discover. Multiverse storylines have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in superhero films after the success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. While Marvel and DC use the multiverse to connect previous versions of superheroes, Everything Everywhere All at Once is an original concept with more freedom to explore the possibilities of a multiverse.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is directed by the filmmaking team Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, often referred to collectively as Daniels. Everything Everywhere All at Once borrows heavily from the martial arts genre, though the latest release from the filmmaking team has a broad range of inspirations. Along with references to martial arts movies, there are nods to iconic science fiction films and TV shows, animation, video games, and music, not to mention some meta-references to the cast members themselves.
The multiverse of Everything Everywhere All at Once has its own unique rules and explanations, though the filmmaking itself often defies boundaries. With a relentless pace and chaotic action that crosses space and time, Everything Everywhere All at Once contains a lot of content to unpack. Repeat viewings are likely to reveal hidden details unseen in the first watch, particularly for those with a broad knowledge of pop culture. Here is every Easter egg and reference in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
The Matrix Parallels
In Everything Everywhere All at Once, the unlikely hero Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) can access abilities developed by alternate versions of herself in the multiverse. While her consciousness travels to other universes to learn these abilities, her physical body remains in place in her own world. This resembles the way characters are able to download abilities in The Matrix, and how Neo quickly learns kung-fu. Evelyn also learns kung-fu but does so by traveling to a universe in which she became a martial arts movie star, much like Michelle Yeoh is in real life.
Michelle Yeoh’s Career
Yeoh began her career doing her own stunts after being discovered by Jackie Chan in the early 1980s, just like the career path shown for Evelyn in one of the universes. Further parallels between Yeoh’s actual career and the movie star multiverse version of Evelyn are developed when the film utilizes footage from the actress’s public appearances. Archival recordings of Yeoh’s actual movie star career are used in the film, including red carpet footage from the premiere of Crazy Rich Asians. Although Evelyn is a poor laundromat owner with none of the same wealth in Everything Everywhere All at Onceshe is also an overbearing and judgmental mother, like the character Yeoh played in Crazy Rich Asians.
Paprika’s Meta Ending
In movie star Evelyn’s universe, the audience witnesses moments from a movie premiere of the star’s latest film, which has the Daniels listed as the directors in the end credits. Having Daniels credited as the director of the movie within the movie continues to blend the lines between reality and fiction. Similarly, the 2006 Japanese animated film Paprika ends with a sequence in which Detective Toshimi Konakawa (Akio Ohtsuka) goes to the theaters to watch a movie he is the star of. The movie has the same name as an unfinished film by Paprika‘s director, Satoshi Kon. The theater also has posters up for every other one of Kon’s films.
Projectionist Gag From Sherlock Jr.
As Evelyn loses control of what universes she is jumping to, we witness her inadvertently traveling to many in quick succession. In each of these various universes, Evelyn learns new skills for her battles against the villain of Everything Everywhere All at Once, and a wide variety are shown to illustrate the limitless possibilities. The shifting of Evelyn from location to location, while she remains in the same position, recalls a gag used by Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr. Keaton plays a movie theater projectionist who has a dream that can walk right into the movie screen and enter the movie. When the movie switches to various scenes, the projectionist remains in the same spot and is transported from scene to scene, just like Evelyn.
Ratatouille Or Raccacoonie?
There is a joke early in Everything Everywhere All at Once where Evelyn mistakenly calls Ratatouille by the name “Raccacoonie“describing a film with the same plot as Pixar’s animated movie but with a raccoon instead of a rat. Although perceived as a mental slip initially, this may be an indicator that Evelyn was subconsciously aware of facts from the parallel universes. In the universe in which Evelyn is a chef, she witnesses her colleague Chad (Harry Shum Jr.) being controlled by a raccoon on his head.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Some of the universes contain larger variations from what Evelyn knows, including one in which humans evolved with hot dog fingers. Though details about the anatomy of the fingers are unclear, this change results in humans becoming more adept with their feet. The beginnings of this evolutionary deviation are shown in a parody of the ape sequence from the science fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. It plays out similar to Stanley Kubrick’s film, except the apes have hot dog fingers.
Data’s Gadget Belt In The Goonies
Evelyn’s good-natured husband Waymond is played by Ke Huy Quan in his first role since retiring from acting in 2002. Along with playing Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomQuan is best known for playing Richard “Data” Wang in The Goonies, a character with an outfit equipped with countless inventions. Among these was a belt containing a suction cup. Although Waymond is not an inventor, he does also wear a secret weapon around his waist. Waymond often uses unconventional items in his environment as weapons, most notably his fanny pack.
Rick and Morty Marital Woes
Multiverses have played a significant role in the storylines of Rick and Morty since season 1. Rick and Morty‘s interdimensional cable episodes lightheartedly use the concept of multiverses for endless television program options, first introduced in “Rixty Minutes.” The relationship between Morty’s parents Jerry and Beth is on the verge of collapse, much like the marriage between Waymond and Evelyn. In “Rixty Minutes,” Beth begins to question her life choices after Rick gives them goggles to view the lives of their alternate universe counterparts. In Everything Everywhere All at Once, Evelyn and Waymond use earpieces to transport to alternate universes.
In the Mood for Love Homage
In a universe where Evelyn did not choose to marry Waymond, they are both extremely successful but lonely. When they run into each other years later, the scene is stylishly shot to resemble Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love. Evelyn and Waymond speak to each other longingly in an alley, as she describes the life they share in her universe. Adding to the significance of this reference is the fact that before Quan starred in this homage to In the Mood for Lovehe worked as an assistant director on Wong Kar-wai’s follow-up film, 2046.
Nine Days’ “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”
When a Waymond from another universe takes over the body of Evelyn’s Waymond to warn her of an imminent threat to the universe, he explains the multiverse by quoting the Nine Days song “Absolutely (Story of a Girl).” Waymond tells Evelyn “Your clothes never wear as well the next day, your hair never falls in quite the same way,” which may seem coincidental until the song appears on the soundtrack multiple times throughout the film.
Elvis Presley and Tupak Shakur
Rock legend Elvis Presley gets a nod when the film’s villain Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu) wears one of his iconic stage outfits. The villain is Evelyn’s daughter Joy from another universe, though her name is also clearly a reference to Tupac Shakur. With more costume changes than any other character, Jobu’s wardrobe could be seen as representations of various music genres.
Kill Bill And Hong Kong Kung Fu Classics
A common trope in the Hong Kong kung fu movies of the 1970s and 1980s was the Pai Mai character, a kung fu master often played by an older actor with white hair and a long beard. This character was lovingly parodied in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series and is again referenced in the training sequences of Everything Everywhere All at Once. The master is played by Li Jing, complete with the white hair and a beard. These sequences also have the faded look of kung fu films from the 1970s.
Super Mario Bros. Game Moves
Along with movies and TV references, Everything Everywhere All at Once has several nods to video game action. Several times during massive blows in the fight scenes, the sound effect used is borrowed from the Super Smash Bros. video game. Additionally, one of the more intimidating villains in Everything Everywhere All at Once uses Mario’s Ground Pound move to ram an object up his butt. Bizarre behavior like this is used to learn new skills from alternate universes, and the anal penetration from Mario’s special move elevates the fight scene in ways audiences are unlikely to see from Chris Pratt in the Super Mario movie.
Yin and Yang, Bagels and Googly Eyes
Throughout the film, there are multiple representations of dark circles, first written in black ink on a receipt by IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis). Later it becomes a symbol worn by Jobu Tupaki as a symbol for a being that is a black hole of despair, described as an everything bagel of life. This negative and combative mentality is also the way that Evelyn approaches life. In contrast, Waymond chooses to battle the pain of life with kindness and spreading joy. One of the ways he does this is by sticking googly eyes around the laundromat, much to the annoyance of Evelyn. The opposition of their approaches to life is represented by the fact that the googly eyes are essentially an inverse of the dark circle, also making them a depiction of Yin and Yang.
Co-director Daniel Scheinert appears in the cast of Everything Everywhere All at Once in a cameo as a customer of a universe where Evelyn works as a dominatrix. Directors have been given themselves cameos as long as films have been made, but this is a particularly memorable one. It is fitting for a film as bold and creative as Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Next: Everything Everywhere All At Once Ending Explained (In Detail)
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