It occurred to me recently that Deadpool, a character that people seem to keep referring to as “new”, is actually a little over two decades old.  For my part, I do occasionally enjoy the character, (I was a pull-list customer for ‘Deadpool Team-Up’ not so long ago) and I can clearly see that he has the malleability necessary to last the long haul in comics, much like Batman and Spider-Man.  Still, my favorite part of any ‘Pool adventure is the fourth-wall breaking, wherein our hero (and the voices in his head) make reference to their existence as a comic-book character.  I’m a sucker for a story that’s self-aware in a fun way (as opposed to the deathly dull, trying-so-hard-to-be-Neil-Gaiman way), and I’ve always enjoyed the moments where characters become aware of their place in the world.  Ambush Bug’s original mini-series was a hoot, and She-Hulk’s second run wherein she spoke directly to the readers and editorial team made for some fun stories at a particularly brutal time of comic history.  Indeed, the MS-QOTD knows that it’s nothing more than a question on the internet, but still has a small law practice and an active eBay store, which in turn begs a query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) breaks the fourth wall all the time, but all I get are weird looks, asking: What’s the most entertaining example of fourth-wall-breaking in pop-culture?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Rome
    December 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm — Reply

    My favorite example all-time is Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.

    Throughout, he talks directly to the audience (or at least directly into the camera), but what really brings it home is one of the final scenes where Ferris doesn’t actually speak to us, but casts his triumphant gaze in succession to the characters in-scene, and then takes a second to smirk directly into the camera.

    It is brilliantly done, and hilarious.

    • December 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm — Reply

      Agreed. Nothing left to say.

      • JoeM
        December 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm — Reply

        agree 100%.

      • December 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm — Reply

        Man, I kind of hate when that happens, what with it being a question to start a conversation, he said, hinting broadly. :)

        • SmarkingOut Adam
          December 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm — Reply

          For what it’s worth, I watched that movie about a year ago and didn’t get what people liked about it. Ferris is a jerk and a terrible friend. I wanted him to get caught.

          • SmarkingOut Adam
            December 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm — Reply

            And to actually answer the question, I’d have to go with Ultimate Spider-Man, the cartoon TV show I’ve been watching on Netflix with my son. Funny stuff.

  2. December 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm — Reply

    While not a specific example, I rather like Ambush Bug’s constant breaking the fourth wall while still being part of the mainstream DCU. The fact that it is usually just chalked up to insanity makes it even more amusing to me.

    And I also liked Jasmine breaking the fourth wall in the Dekaranger/Magiranger crossover.

  3. Rob
    December 20, 2013 at 3:41 am — Reply

    Basil Exposition telling Austin a Powers not to worry about temporal mechanics and just have fun “and that goes for you to.” Sound advice for any time travel story.

  4. December 20, 2013 at 6:23 am — Reply

    The final act of Blazing Saddles (studio tour, cafeteria food fight, utter destruction of a lovely dance number, watching their own movie….). Mel Brooks breaks the fourth wall quite a bit in several of his films, from sly references to blatant camera takes. What other western finishes the ride into the sunset in a two-door sedan?

  5. Troy
    December 28, 2013 at 4:24 am — Reply

    The Netflix show House of Cards. Kevin Spacey does a brilliant job not only breaking the fourth wall but making you feel like someone he’s confiding in or mentoring. He says more with a quick smirk to the camera than lesser actors say with lines of dialogue

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