Parzival (born as Wade Owen Watts; August 12, 2027) is the protagonist and narrator of Ernest Cline's novel, Ready Player One. He is a poor orphan from the Stacks surrounding metropolitan Oklahoma City. Wade names his OASIS character Parzival after Percival, the Arthurian knight famous for his quest for the Holy Grail, and dedicates his life to finding James Halliday's Easter egg. He is currently in a relationship with Samantha Evelyn Cook.
"Wade and Parzival are two very different people," says actor Tye Sheridan. "Parzival is everything that Wade is not in the real world, and so, when we meet Wade, he's kind of this skittish guy who's quite introverted and closed off. The OASIS is where he expresses himself." Sheridan describes that while rehearsing motion capture footage, Spielberg instructed him on how Parzival walked with a swagger that Wade did not have. To aid him in achieving Parzival's swagger Spielberg used the film "Saturday Night Fever" as an example and began playing "Staying Alive" to give Sheridan the beat to walk to.
According to production designer Adam Stockhausen, Parzival's look drew heavily from Wade's obsession with every facet of 1980s pop culture, with a nod to the myth that inspired the avatar's name. "It has roots in anime heroes, it has roots in '80s rock stars. When you look at the hairstyle and you look back at '80s rock 'n' roll hairstyles, you see where that comes from. He's got this sword on his back, which was sort of the idea of how do you make an '80s pop-culture knight--does he wear a whole suit of armor all the time? Or does a jean jacket with a skull and sword become his suit of armor?" For Parzival's footwear, the design team looked back to Earnest Cline's original text and found inspiration from Art3mis' Black Chuck Taylor All-Stars sneakers that Parzival uses at the end of the book.
In regards to the dynamic between Wade and Samantha in the film, Spielberg had Sheridan and Olivia Cooke watch "His Girl Friday"; with specific instruction to focus on the dialogues and interactions between the characters Hildy Johnson and Walter Burns.
His appearance is similar to Danté with the exception of a gold ThunderCats belt buckle. He made his avatar more muscular and thinner than his real self. He only wears some jeans and a t-shirt at the beginning, but later levels up and gets more outfits.
In the film, Parzival has grayish skin with blue tattoos. His hair look, as chosen at the start of the movie is windswept with wind originally blowing his hair constantly until Art3mis stopped that effect. His hair itself is a white with blue streaks throughout. This remains his chosen hair look for the movie, even switching back after testing out a punk style in preparation for his date at The Distracted Globe with Art3mis. For the date, Parzival changed into the suit of his favorite character from Bonsai, but his general clothing is a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with a vest over it that has a golden sword on the back. Parzival wears a belt that has a gun holster on the right side, but the holster is empty. The only time Parzival is seen carrying a gun in the holster is during the final battle on Planet Doom.
After the detonation of The Cataclyst and the restoration of Parzival through the 1981 Quarter, Parzival's appearance is reduced to a simple t-shirt and jeans due to Parzival losing his character progression and with it, all of the weapons and items he had acquired. He retains the windswept hair however.
Wade is described as nerdy, heavy, and average looking. It's known he loses weight later on in the novel by forcing himself to excersise in order to use the OASIS.
Wade is quick-witted and passionate, his dedication to being a gunter by finding the egg fuels his desire to win. He is extremely knowledgeable in 1980s video games and spent a lot of time in hiding from his aunt to practice as much video games listed in Anorak's Almanac as possible. His determination is essential for his success in the contest.
Differences from the source material
- Wade was born to a teenage couple, two refugees who met in the stacks. His father, who goes unnamed, was shot to death when Wade was only a few months of age. He was allegedly shot and killed while looting a grocery store during a power outage.
- His mother, Loretta, held two full-time positions within the OASIS. She worked as a telemarketer by day, and as a virtual escort by night. It is explained by Wade, that Loretta used the OASIS to babysit him during these work hours; he would play interactive games and learn fundamental skills within the virtual world, beginning his infatuation with technology at a young age.
- When Wade was around 11 years old, Loretta died due to her drug addiction and committed suicide. She "shot a bad batch of something into her arm," and Wade found her, listening to music on an MP3 player he had repaired and gifted to her the prior Christmas. After her death, he was forced to live with his aunt Alice and her often abusive boyfriends, including others who rented rooms in his aunt's double-wide trailer. Wade's aunt didn't actually take care of him; the only reason she agreed to take him in was to receive additional food vouchers. She would often take stuff from him and sell it so that they would have enough money to pay the rent. He spent very little time in her trailer, only sleeping and eating there when he had to. Most of Wade's waking hours were spent in his secret hideout.
- Wade attended school in the real world for a few years and then volunteered to go to school in the OASIS, This was when he first had access to the OASIS since he was issued a school supplied visor, haptic suit and gloves. However, he didn’t have enough money to do anything else.
- Wade was often bullied by the richer students at the school since he only wore jeans and a tee shirt, the default options for clothing and this signified that he was poorer than the other students. However, since it was a no PvP zone, he was safe from any injuries.
- Wade often slacked off during school, he even found a way to hack the system so that he could read the clues for the hunt. Yet he still earned enough credits to graduate.
- After Wade completed Halliday's Hunt, he became one of the richest people in the world and also gained the abilities of Anorak in the OASIS world (including unlimited hit points and cyberpotence). He also became Art3mis's boyfriend.
- His father named him Wade because he thought “Wade Watts” sounded like a secret identity.
- During the fight in The Distracted Globe, Parzival initially wields a colonial revolver from Battlestar Galactica.
- In the early scenes in the movie, Wade wears a pair of glasses. The glasses disappear partway through the movie with no explanation at all. They are last seen before Wade visits Halliday's Journals a second time.
- In the movie, Wade's avatar is referred to as Parzival and Z as a nickname. The movie gives no reason for the Z nickname the High Five calls him by, but it likely stems from it being pronounced 'par-ZEE-vall'.
- In the film, Parzival's ride is a Back to the Future II DeLorean with a KITT scanner in the front grill and a 'PARZIVAL' vanity plate.
- Unlike the Back to the Future ll version, Parzival's Delorean doesn't have the ability to fly or time travel but can still hover.