Posted on Friday, July 3rd, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
Ryan Reynolds has told Empire that he’s insistent on Deadpool‘s habit of breaking of the fourth wall to carry over from the comics to the big screen. That means, in effect, that Deadpool/Wade Wilson will sometimes address the audience directly, as with Ferris Bueller, say, or the character of Paul in Funny Games. Other forms of metahumour have cropped up in the Deadpool comics, with him occasionally making explicit reference to his being a Marvel comics character. I’ll give you a handful of examples after the break.
Deadpool’s first metareference apparently came in the fourth issue of his ongoing series. Writer Joe Kelly not only had Deapool ‘sing’ the theme tune to the Hulk TV show, in reference to a plot development involving the jolly green one, he also had the characters give a plot recap as though directly to the reader. When future issues needed recaps they were dressed up in all manner of ways, from interviews to stand up comedy monologues.
Coming back from the dead in one plotline, Deadpool was given captions that read ‘Do I still think in little yellow boxes?’ and ‘I missed you little yellow boxes! What fun we shall have together’. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar reference to voice over in the movie.
During Christopher Priest’s run as a writer on the series, Deadpool virtually adopted a meta-mantra: ‘None of this is really happening. There is a man. With a typewriter. This is all part of his crazy imagination.’
For my money, Grant Morrison’s run on the Animal Man comics not only used these same devices first (though he in turn was inspired by Bryan Talbot’s work – and outside of comics, of course, the device is ages old, becoming very popular in theatre almost 200 years ago) he used them to a better end. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but some of the Animal Man stories, particularly The Coyote Gospel, are amongst my very favourite comic books of all time and absolutely worth hunting down.
My pocket comic book expert, Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool, tells me that Joe Kelly was likely to have been more influenced by John Byrne’s work on She Hulk, a series that coincided with my time working in a comic shop and so which I know quite well. I can definitely see the similarities.
I’m not, at heart, a big fan of breaking the fourth wall. This practice is typically assumed to be the dismantling of a barrier between the audience and the movie, though I’d argue that it is simply replacing on vague barrier with a blockier one.
Screenwriter Ken Levine found that Nicholas Mayer pulled a postmodern trick with the subtitles when filming his screenplay Volunteers. Levine and his co-writer David Isaac have argued that this one change alone ‘destroyed the movie’. You can see the scene and read Levine’s complaint on his blog. One good example, I think, of the risks the Deadpool movie will run.
Knowing that the film is going to be ‘playful’ in this way could be an indication of what directors they might be pursuing for the gig. Any guesses? From what I know about Zombieland, Ruben Fleischer seems like a hot pick.