They call it ‘breaking the fourth wall,’ a term that originated in the theatre for those moments when the characters in a play acknowledge the existence of their audience, as with Puck’s final speech in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’  Motion pictures have been using the technique since their earliest days, but you can’t beat the utter demolition of the conceit in ‘Blazing Saddles,’ which not only references the audience but has the final showdown in a movie theater, after which the main characters sit down to watch the rest of the movie that they’re in.  (It’s Mel Brooks, it gets weird.)  Perhaps as impressive an achievement is Grant Morrison’s ‘Animal Man’, which manages to turn what is usually a silly bit of business into heavy drama, with A-Man actually meeting the writer in a very touching sequence.  It may be my fave-rave comics fourth-wall-breaking experience, which leads us to today’s meta-referential query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) still has a soft spot for She-Hulk’s fourth-wall breaking, writer-mocking, fully meta days of the late 80s, asking: What’s (other than Deadpool) your favorite example of a character completely ignoring the Fourth Wall?

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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12 Comments

  1. Alisha
    August 14, 2015 at 12:01 pm — Reply

    Ambush Bug. If they ever decide to use him in the Arrow-verse (preferably on “The Flash”), I’m really hoping they will have a scene where he addresses the audience directly, and then the camera angle shifts to show the others watching him talking to thin air with confused looks on their faces.

  2. August 14, 2015 at 12:18 pm — Reply

    I’m not a fan of characters in comics breaking the 4th wall, but oddly, I don’t mind it in movies. I say Ferris Bueller.

  3. AmFan15
    August 14, 2015 at 12:43 pm — Reply

    The theater scene in Gremlins 2. That was such a fun movie, with hundreds of pop-culture references in it, but when the film “broke”, and Gremlins started invading the projection booth, it took Hulk Hogan to set things right.
    (Didn’t think it was possible, but an amateur film years later made that scene even better…they invade the Exorcist, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and even fight Batman!)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REGCV6z3VkM

    Also, Turtles Forever had a great bit about 80’s Raphael breaking the 4th wall. After he did it several times throughout the movie, Hun finally had enough.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2PDJS7bCDA

    • Alisha
      August 14, 2015 at 1:02 pm — Reply

      I’m so glad I finally have confirmation that I’m not the only one who enjoyed those parts of “Turtles Forever”.

      • AmFan15
        August 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm — Reply

        I thought the entire movie was just awesome…although I do think they ragged a little too much on the 80’s Turtles. EVERY version of the Turtles (before 2009) had at least a cameo in it, from the movies to the comics to the cartoons. It was a real love letter to all of the fans, and I honestly would have been fine with it if that had been the last Ninja Turtles thing they ever came out with.

        • Alisha
          August 15, 2015 at 9:34 am — Reply

          I squealed when they showed the TMNT multiverse (not to mention how excited I was when they met the original black and white comic team). The same year that movie came out, they had already had a comic where a character from the Archie TMNT series appeared in a Mirage TMNT series (Cudley the Cowlick, who was confirmed to be the same one from the Archie series rather than a Mirage version of the character), as well as some minor glimpses into a TMNT multiverse.

  4. August 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm — Reply

    Cant really tell absolute favorite but one I remember the best is that issue of Byrnes She-Hulk where this sleazy guy takes topless pics of her at the roof of her apartment. (Yeah, cant help it and I was like 9 years old when that issue came out.) Or was it Fantastic Four, because i think she was in the team after Ben was going through one of his regular self pity sessions?

  5. Karl G. Siewert
    August 14, 2015 at 3:36 pm — Reply

    “This never happened to the other fellow.” –George Lazenby as James Bond in _On Her Majesty’s Secret Service_.

  6. Robbie
    August 14, 2015 at 9:21 pm — Reply

    Ok, this is a weird one–
    How about “Duck Amuck”, the old Daffy Duck short where he runs afoul (ha ha) of the animator?

    • AmFan15
      August 15, 2015 at 12:42 am — Reply

      Oh, that’s one of the best! I just watched that one a few days ago, and laughed my butt off!
      “Daffy Duck he had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
      And on that farm he had an igloo, E-I-E-I….DOOOO?!?”

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