Parzival V. Parzival:
Ready Player One Book V. Movie
There are fundamental differences from the printed word and the motion picture. Most of note is the change of Parzival A.K.A. Wade Watts from a competent hero to a try-fail hero. A competent man comes into a situation with enough enough knowledge and preparation to turn a challenge into a cake walk. A try-fail hero may have prepared but will have learned from the mistakes of his first attempt to overcome the challenge presented.
During the first race in the movie Parzival came to the starting line without even a full tank of gas to make it to the finish line, this is something a competent hero would not have done if it could have been avoided. And as expected Parzival almost ALMOST wins on this attempt. It is important to show that this challenge is indeed hard and have our hero fail because then when he succeeds we, the audience, know how hard the task truly was.
In the book Parzival enters a hidden tomb and has to battle the evil lich king on an arcade cabinet of 1982’s JOUST. It just so happens he has spent hours with his unofficial best friend Aech. Oh! my how lucky. With all this practice under his belt it’s not a shock when he emerges after a short round of three that he emerges victorious. No dramatic tension. No sense of scale. Most readers won’t have ever played a game of JOUST but almost all of the audience has a sense of the difficulty involved in driving a race.
Without the constant examples of how Wade spends his free time studying, watching, reading forums, about pop culture associated with the HUNT we would have to assume that he is a GARY SUE (someone naturally talented in everything and whose rolls of the dice always end in their favor). But that is the difference readers are shown that Parzival overcomes his challenges by preparing. His preparation material is limited to James Halliday’s lifespan and interests. Which is a lot but it is not infinite and Wade is able to find the time in the book to do this research.
In the movie however all research has been done off screen only revelations are show and with little time elapsed between them. The movie takes place in what could be about a week or two. The book takes months and months. Over the course of the movie Parzival finds himself with just the right amount of skill after failing and trying again or failing and lucking out of the consequences of that failure. The hero wins in the end not because of how hard he has worked and prepared but because he was scripted to win all along.
If it came to a fight between the book Parzival and the movie Parzival the winner would depend on how much preparation time each one was to receive as well as the medium this bout would take place.
Movie audiences would not like book Parzival one bit who reads to them perhaps closer to a Psychopath Obsessed than a regular guy. And I have heard no criticism, except the voice in my own head, against showing a regular guy get just enough of an edge to win the challenge.
This is why the try-fail movie hero is and has been bad for people. If all you know is what you’ve seen succeed in movies you are missing the true work that is done between the panels. You have missed the labor between the cuts. Most importantly when it comes to challenges in your own life you will not be at the table as prepared as you could have been.
Fortunatly for me and you special Asshowls who followed this piece to the end. You are the competent hero in your own life. At least you will be once you get back to working and preparing for that next test.