Stranger Things took the world by storm in July throwing eight episodes of horror, suspense and good music onto Netflix. It’s filled with loveable characters like the gruff but kind chief of police and the science teacher who looks like he could be related to Vince Tom. Stranger Things brings realistic science and a plot line that pulls you in for eight hours straight. Trust me, I learned that the hard way.
The series begins in 1983 with four kids, Mike Wheeler, Lukas Sinclair, Dustin Henderson and Will Byers, playing Dungeons and Dragons. There’s much heated debate over rolls as a Monster is thrown onto the board, but the killing move is interrupted by Mike’s mother. She insists that 13 hours of D&D on a school night is unacceptable, and sends the other boys home.
On the dark, wooded road to his home, Will Byers is forced to swerve off the road to escape the gaze of a hulking figure standing in his path. He throws his bike aside and books it to his house, all the while pursued by the shadowy monster. The end result is in the episode title, “The Vanishing of Will Byers” His disappearance sends his family and friends into a frenzy.
The only thing that Stranger Things has more of than Christmas lights is pop culture references. Most relate to sci-fi movies and comics, such as the limitless ET references. If it’s not an easter egg from something else, then its from ET. Some of the most notable scenes that give homage to the world’s most famous alien movie are, the beginning scene with Dungeons and Dragons, the scene where the boys find Eleven, and the Byers family itself. Eleven, much like her alien counterpart, gets a chance to wander through Mike’s house and fiddle with things, get dressed up to go out into the world, and even levitating objects and friends alike. During a dramatic car vs bike chase one part begins to line up a shot at the most obvious ET reference the show has but the Duffer Brothers throw us for a loop at the last second, having Eleven flip an oncoming van over their heads, instead of levitating the bikes.
Second to E.T. are the X-Men references, which made my comic obsessed self incredibly happy. Eleven can easily be compared to Jean Grey (Marvel Girl/Phoenix), the red haired telekinetic who is often spoken of as one of the most powerful mutants alive. The comic that Will wins from a bet with Dustin can give some people a read into how the episode will go. He asks for the X-Men 134 edition, the issue where Jean Grey (the above mentioned telekinetic) shows up as Dark Phoenix to help the other X-Men fight a mysterious power.
Then, Dustin is boy made of references to a movie called the Goonies that came out in 1985. There are so many references it would take several pages to cover all of them that are packed into these eight episodes, but this video has most of them.