"Duke Nukem" is a name that we associate with over-the-top masculinity. It's a name that communicates grit, aggression, domination, and violence. This is a character and a franchise that celebrates throwing caution to the wind and overcoming any and all obstacles with a giant freaking gun and offensive one-liners. The Duke isn't used to being overpowered by anyone or anything, but he absolutely gets served in the opening minutes of Ready Player One.
In the opening sequence, Wade is introducing the audience to the Oasis and all of the incredible people who inhabit its many worlds. One of those worlds is "Planet Doom" where the most skilled and hardened player in The Oasis go to rack up coins by destroying their foes in an intense, virtual war. It is here that we see Duke Nukem, and it is here that he meets his terrible end.
Wade's best friend in The Oasis is "Aech," and Aech knows his way around the battlefield. This is someone that the inhabitants of The Oasis all know not to mess with, but Duke Nukem apparently did not get the memo. In an incredible action sequence we see Aech tearing through one enemy after another, shooting and cutting down any foe that stands in his path or attempts to take him out.
At one point we see Duke Nukem mount a small elevation point and direct a rocket launcher of some kind toward Aech. There's no mistaking that it's him: you can see the iconic sunglasses, red muscle shirt, and jeans right away. We knew it was Duke, and so did Aech. Before Duke can get his kill-shot off, we see Aech turn with lightning speed and completely obliterate him. He's shot, and he explodes into a pile of coins. The once-strong caricature of toxic masculinity is turned into high-score fodder just like the rest of Aech's opponents, and it's actually pretty epic.
It happens in a flash, and if you blink you might miss it, so make sure you're paying attention in the theater during those opening minutes! When you see the Duke come and go, you're likely to hear some snorts and giggles in the crowd around you. Look around; those are the true gamers, and you can all catch up afterward and talk about how fun it was to see Duke Nukem torn apart like a noob.
By the way, did you hear that John Cena is lined up to play the titular badass in an upcoming Duke Nukem film? More on that here.
Did you catch the Duke's demise when you saw Ready Player One? Who do you think had the coolest death or coolest cameo in the film? Let us know in the comments below!