Free Guy, the movie where Ryan Reynolds plays a man who discovers he’s a character in a video game, was originally scheduled to come out in July 2020, before it was repeatedly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s currently scheduled to be released on August 13, but like so many other studios, Disney is facing the question of how to goose up active interest in a film it’s been teasing since 2019. The apparent solution: Bring in Deadpool, dump him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and have him promote the film.
In a new meta-spot, first tweeted by Ryan Reynolds, the actor plays Deadpool commenting on Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy. The ad takes the form of a YouTube reaction video where Deadpool snarks over the Free Guy trailer, along with Korg, the alien rock-man from Taika Waititi’s MCU movie Thor: Ragnarok. The joke is that Korg is played by Taika Waititi, who also stars in Free Guy as its villain, the destructive game developer Antoine. So when Korg amiably says Taika Waititi in the movie “seems quite nice, actually,” he’s… well, you get the joke.
This is far from Deadpool’s first venture into meta-humor. The original comics character frequently breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges he’s a comics character. The movie version not only talks to the camera and acknowledges the audience, he ended Deadpool 2 by going back in time to murder Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (also played by Reynolds) and to murder the actor Ryan Reynolds before he could sign on for the much-panned flop Green Lantern. The Deadpool reaction video to Free Guy is similarly crammed with meta-jokes, like Deadpool acknowledging the fridging controversy around Deadpool 2 (also lampooned in the Deadpool 2 re-edit Once Upon a Deadpool), or saying Free Guy “looks fun, in a last-days-of-Fox fire-sale kind of way.” (The movie started production at 20th Century Fox before Disney bought the company.)
But while this ad certainly fires up the corporate synergy by bringing a character from a Marvel Studios movie and a character from a Fox movie together to comment positively on a new Fox-turned-Disney movie, it also previews Deadpool’s planned arrival in the MCU. With Fox’s movies now under the same Disney banner as Marvel Studios, Deadpool will supposedly be an MCU canon character. But for the moment, he’s snuck in the back door, which seems like the most Deadpool way to show up anywhere.