×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Small Details You Missed In Steven Universe: The Movie

It's finally here, Steven Universe: The Movie, and it's everything we could have hoped for. There are four main things we love about this show: the action, the comedy, the music, and most importantly, the feelings. And in all four categories, this movie thoroughly delivered. We only cried a little bit, we promise.

But there's also a fifth thing that we love about Steven Universe, and that's the detail. Since the first episode, every corner of Steven's world has always been packed with Easter eggs, but because this movie has a higher budget and more detailed animation than usual, and also because the movie is somewhat of a victory lap celebrating the show's first five seasons, Steven Universe: The Movie has somehow crammed in even more subtle details.

After watching the film multiple times, not only can we now confirm that all of these new songs are going to be stuck in our heads forever, but also there is, as expected, so much to unpack. We've cataloged all the visual gags, nods to previous continuity, pop culture references, and clues to ongoing mysteries that we could find, and we're here to run down each and every one for you.

But first, if you just finished watching the movie, please take a moment to dry your tears before reading any further, so you won't mess up whatever device you're reading this on. Okay, are you ready? Then let's get started!

A world, and a logo, flipped upside down

The Diamond Authority were the main villains for the first five seasons of Steven Universe, but their totalitarian grip on the galaxy was loosened at the end of the last episode when Steven broke through White Diamond's normally icy facade and connected to the person beneath, convincing her that Homeworld's rigid societal norms were only making her people miserable, including herself.

It was a major change to the status quo of the series, and we were all left wondering what a post-Diamond Authority galaxy would look like. During the opening credits of the movie, there's a hint in the form of the insignia for the new Diamond Authority. It looks exactly like the old one, a diamond composed of four smaller diamonds (white, yellow, blue, and pink) — but now the symbol has been turned upside down. Instead of the white diamond being on the top, it's on the bottom, and the pink diamond — Steven's diamond — is now on top.

This change to the insignia is never commented upon, but it's borne out by what we see in the film. The strict hierarchy of gem culture has been dismantled, and when White Diamond unthinkingly refers to "lower life forms," she then corrects her language after a quick reminder from Steven. It's nice to see White Diamond slowly changing from Steven's arch-nemesis into his out of touch grandma, who tries her best to be accepting of his lifestyle, but still sometimes says some problematic stuff.

An early glimpse of the garden

After the opening credits, we see a broadcast in which Steven announces to the galaxy that he will be returning to Earth, saying that even though he is still committed to helping Gemkind recover, he doesn't want to sit on a throne. He wants to continue living in his beach house with his friends.

As Steven is saying this, we cut between different planets and see various groups of Gems watching the feed. There are numerous cameos sprinkled throughout, including the two Zircons from the episode "The Trial," but there is also an amazingly creepy hidden detail during a brief shot of the feed being broadcast in an overgrown ruin, seemingly to no one. Something is looming in the foreground. You might discount it as some bit of strange overgrown architecture the first time you see it, but during your second watch, you'll realize that this location is Pink Diamond's garden, and the thing in the foreground is undeniably Spinel's foot, covered in vines after 6,000 years of standing perfectly still.

As Spinel will explain later in the film, seeing this broadcast finally makes it click for her that Pink Diamond has simply forgotten about her and made new friends. At this moment, Spinel decides to stop waiting, and instead swear vengeance against Pink Diamond. Or y'know, Steven, since Homeworld Gems tend to have a hard time understanding the difference between the two.

One final heartbreaking detail: many of the flowers in Pink's garden are forget-me-nots. Ouch.

Steven's new house is packed with Easter eggs

Steven's newly reconstructed beach house is full of all sorts of nerdy jokes and references to previous continuity. It's practically a museum of important objects from the first five seasons of the show. 

On the walls we have that giant portrait of Rose Quartz, now moved slightly to a different wall, a portrait of Steven and Garnet painted by Vidalya, a picture of Cat Steven, a "Lonely Blade" poster, a poster for a sequel to "Star Battlers," and a signed "Sadie Killer and the Suspects" poster.

Scattered around Steven's room are his faithful Cookie Cat alarm clock, the Lunar Sea Spire statue sitting in a mug that says "World's Greatest Stephan" [sic], the VHS tape that Rose recorded for Steven before she passed away, an Explorer Gal toy, Greg Universe's CD — "Space Train to the Cosmos," the roll of duct tape from the episode "House Guest," a Playstation 2 sitting next to a copy of Katamari Damacy, and the framed picture of Rose and Greg that Steven broke all the way back in "Laser Light Cannon," now with a new frame. Also, in what might be one of the strangest deep cut references in the film, sitting on the nightstand is a photo of Connie in which she is dressed like Lana from Future Boy Conan.

Downstairs in the living room are the hilt of Rose Quartz's shattered sword, Steven's Gamecube, Greg's t-shirt cannon, Steven's baseball and glove from the episode "Hit the Diamond," and of course, the Cheeseburger Backpack.

Even the songs have secrets

Just like how the visual world of this film is an endless buffet of hidden meanings and nods to earlier continuity, the songs of Steven Universe: The Movie are similarly dense with auditory Easter eggs. Steven Universe has been going on for so long that it has now developed a semi-secret musical language in which melodies from previous songs are sometimes used as leitmotifs in newer ones, and each character is represented by a signature instrument that reflects their personality.

Steven's songs tend to feature upbeat chiptune music that evokes thoughts video games and childhood innocence. Pearl is associated with an elegant and mournful piano that reflects both her knightly grace and her melancholy. Amethyst's chaotic and rebellious nature is represented by aggressive rock drumming, with a heaping helping of erratic drum fills. Lastly, Garnet is typically accompanied by deep bass guitar solos that sometimes also contain breakbeat samples, a mixture of sounds that perfectly embodies the character's rock solid reliability and smooth confident swagger.

Musically matching a character with an instrument occurs throughout the film's soundtrack, but the clearest examples of this can be found throughout "Happily Ever After," which contains a verse sung by each of the four principal characters. As you might imagine, Steven's section contains chiptune, Pearl's section contains piano, Garnet's section contains bass, and Amethyst's section contains drums. Additionally, Garnet's verse contains a subtle reprise of "Stronger Than You," her breakout hit (if you'll pardon the pun) from the episode "Jail Break."

The treasure chest is open

One of the most mysterious corners of Steven's universe is the strange pocket dimension inside Lion's mane. Hidden within, Steven found a pile of mysterious old relics that once belonged to Rose Quartz, including her sword, the VHS tape she made for Steven, a flag with her sigil on it, a photo of her with Greg, a Mr. Universe t-shirt, Bismuth's gemstone, and an unopened treasure chest.

At this point in Steven's journey, we've learned the history of pretty much everything here, except for one item: the treasure chest. Steven tried to open it once in the episode "Lion 4: Alternate Ending," but quickly gave up when he couldn't figure out how. Since then, it's just sat there in the background every time Steven passes through Lion's mane, taunting us.

During the film, Steven makes a brief trip into Lion's mane only once, and if you were watching closely when he did so, you saw that something is now different here. The treasure chest is open! It seems as though in the two-year time jump since season five, Steven — or maybe someone else — has figured out how to open the chest. We don't get any answers about what was inside during the movie, but this could very well be a hint of things to come in season six.

Then again, given how long they've already made us wait to learn the answer to this particular mystery, maybe at this point the writers are just messing with us.

Little Homeworld is full of former monsters

Steven Universe: The Movie introduces us to "Little Homeworld," a new neighborhood on the edge of Beach City that is full of the formerly corrupted Gem monsters from the first five seasons of the show, who have now had their sentient minds and humanoid bodies restored.

None of the new Gems get any speaking lines, but whenever there's a scene that takes place in Little Homeworld, the background is populated with former bad guys that are now cured of their monstrous tendencies, such as the puffer fish monster from the episode "Beach Party," who is now wearing a slick red sweater (and whose name was confirmed to be "Watermelon Tourmaline" by co-executive producer Ian Jones-Quartey).

Additionally, in many of the scenes in Beach City proper, we see some Gems scattered about in crowd shots, hanging out with humans, confirming that Beach City's new alien residents have been (at least so far) largely accepted by the humans who already lived there.

However, there's still one formerly corrupted Gem who is notably absent from the film, and that's Jasper. When she was defeated by the Crystal Gems, she was still very much trying to kill them, so it's entirely possible that she isn't as friendly with Steven and his pals as the rest of the Gem refugees. She's most likely living on her own somewhere, and given that she's one of the largest question marks left in the show, Jasper's fate is likely to be explored further when we finally get season six.

The humans of Beach City continue to grow

Given how focused the movie is on its primary plotline between Steven, the Gems, and Spinel, the humans of Beach City don't get much screen time. However, when we do get glimpses of them, the movie includes a few snippets of subtle visual storytelling in order to fill us in on what's been happening in their lives over the past two years.

Peedee is noticeably older. He is only seen for a moment, serving a customer at Beach Citywalk Fries, but since we last saw him, Peedee seems to have had a massive growth spurt, and has gone from being a scrawny little kid into a full-on lanky teen.

Sadie's hair is growing out. In the episode "Change Your Mind," the normally blonde Sadie suddenly had a head full of dyed green hair, as part of her new life as the lead singer of her band, Sadie Killer and the Suspects. When we see her in the movie, her hair is now mostly back to its former blonde color, but the ends of her hair are still bright green.

Lars is no longer hiding his baking. Early on in the film, we see him bringing out a tasty-looking Ube Roll to share with the Off-Colors. It seems that Lars has finally stopped hiding his secret love of baking, hopefully a sign that he has moved past his constant need to seem cool and ironically detached from everything, and is instead now letting people see the real him.

Onion continues to defy physics

Not everyone in Beach City is growing. Onion is exactly the same. By this, we don't just mean that this strange little child is not aging — and for the record, it seems like he isn't — we also mean that he continues to operate outside the normal laws of the universe.

It's easy to miss, but there is a hilarious background detail during the montage when Steven and Lion are searching Beach City for Amethyst. Steven is using Lion's ability to make portals to teleport all around town, searching vast areas of it in relatively short periods of time, and all throughout the montage, whenever Steven arrives in a new location, Onion is already there, doing something in the background. He's buying fries from Beach Citywalk Fries, he's hanging out with an unnamed Gem in front of Funland, he's riding on a rollercoaster behind Steven, and he's sitting on the floor of the Big Donut.

This might just be a dumb continuity joke, but if it isn't, does that mean there are multiple Onions running around? Remember that in the episode "Onion Trade," Onion did get his hands of Pearl's replicator wand for a bit... oh wait, that doesn't work. The copies all vanished when the wand got destroyed, so we're back to square one. All we know for sure is that, after five seasons and a movie, Onion remains a complete enigma, and y'know what? We're cool with that. Keep Beach City weird, Onion.

Spinel's design is more meaningful than you might think

There are many things to love about the increased animation quality of Steven Universe: The Movie, but without a doubt, the most gorgeously animated aspect of the movie is the new villain, Spinel, who moves with an incredible degree of fluidity and stretchiness that is unlike anything else we've ever seen on Steven Universe before.

Spinel's way of moving is based on the "rubber hose" animation style that was most widespread during the 1930s, and was utilized heavily in early Disney cartoons and the work of animators like Max Fleischer. Though forgotten for many decades, this animation style has recently been brought back into vogue by a wave of aesthetically retro video games like Cuphead and Bendy and the Ink Machine.

Since Spinel is a character from the forgotten past of the setting of Steven Universe, it makes sense that she would be presented in the style of one of the oldest forms of animation, out of step with the current generation of characters. Spinel's anachronistic nature is also reinforced by her old-timey vocabulary, in that she regularly uses words like "gee" and "swell."

Though she pulls influences from multiple cartoons of the first half of the 20th century, Spinel's design is most directly parodying Mickey Mouse, with her two heart-shaped hair buns mimicking the silhouette of Mickey's ears. Also, as a subtle joke for the diehard animation nerds out there, just like Mickey's ears, Spinel's buns don't rotate in perspective to match changing angles of her head.

Additional visual jokes and references abound

This movie is just so jam-packed with subtle visual gags and references, if we kept listing them, we'd be here all day, but here's three more little ones that tickled us.

First, at one point when Connie skids to halt while riding Lion, it's a nearly perfect recreation of the iconic shot from the movie Akira in which the protagonist Kaneda pulls off a similar maneuver on his motorcycle.

Next up, during the scene where Peridot is attempting to analyze Spinel's giant injector, we see on Peridot's computer screen a paused video window in which she was apparently watching Camp Pining Hearts, evidence that Peridot's fervor for this Canadian teen drama hasn't diminished over the past two years.

And finally, during an establishing shot in which Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl are waiting in the beach house for Steven and Spinel to return from their trip to Pink Diamond's garden, the memory-wiped Garnet briefly picks up a spork, enraptured by it. It's a subtle joke about the fact that Garnet, a fusion of the Gems Ruby and Sapphire, feels a kinship to this strange utensil, itself a fusion of a spoon and a fork.

A puzzling detail from... the soundtrack?

Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher of all isn't in the movie itself, but rather on the soundtrack. You may recall that, after Pearl's memories are wiped by Spinel's rejuvenator, she sings a song to Greg, the new master she has imprinted onto. On the soundtrack, this cheerful song is given the unusual title of "system/BOOT.PearlFinal(3).Info."

Strangely enough, this title might tie into an unexplained element of Pearl's backstory: why she has a white gemstone. Since she was the pearl who served Pink Diamond, you'd think she'd have a pink stone, the way that Yellow Diamond's pearl has a yellow stone, and Blue Diamond's pearl has a blue one.

Since we learned in "Change Your Mind" that White Diamond's pearl has a pink gemstone, it now seems likely that, at some point, White Diamond and Pink Diamond switched pearls. Why this happened, we have no idea. Our Pearl might not know either, since giving Pearl a new master probably necessitated a memory wipe. If Pearl was once White's pearl, then she's had three masters total: White Diamond, Pink Diamond, and Greg. It's possible that the "(3)" in the track name is hinting that this is the third time Pearl has sung this song, a secret that even she herself has forgotten.

Maybe we've officially gone too deep, but time and again Steven Universe has shown us that, with this show, there is no such thing. You can keep digging forever, and there's always another hidden gem to discover.