Fourth Wall Breaking Superheroes: The Top 5

What are you reading this H2 for? The Fourth Wall Breaking Superheroes are down there!

Deadpool: “You’re probably thinking, “My boyfriend said this was a superhero movie, but that guy in the red suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab!” Well, I may be super, but I’m no hero. And yeah, technically this is a murder. But some of the best love stories start with a murder. And that’s exactly what this is: a love story.

Deadpool

Hey you! Yeah, you! Grab a sledgehammer. I need some help breaking the Fourth Wall. Whaddya mean, “what’s the Fourth Wall?” It’s an old plot device from theater where the characters believed they were real and ignored the audience, who looked through a metaphorical “Fourth Wall” of the stage.

Comedic and insane characters tend to notice the audience and talk to them, thus breaking the Fourth Wall. You might see a random character point out the plot makes no sense and ask who wrote that crap. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the imp Puck famously apologized to the audience for having to watch the play. And then you get the melancholy types who suffer and call out the audience for enjoying their torment. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller breaking the fourth wall throughout the movie.

Don’t think breaking the Fourth Wall is only found in live theater. You see it it books, movies, video games, hell, ya even see it in superhero comics. Don’t believe me? Here are the Top 5 Fourth Wall Breaking Superheroes! Just scroll down, folks.

Hey wait! Don’t forget that sledgehammer! I still need to break the Fourth Wall and get outta here! Come back! Aw… you guys suck.

#5 Fourth Wall Breaker: Animal Man

Animal Man: [holding a copy of his comic] “Why? Why did you do this? You killed my family. You ruined everything. Do you know what you’ve done to me?!’
Grant Morrison: Of course I know. I wrote your grief and your rage and your acceptance. It added drama. All stories need drama and it’s easy to get a cheap emotional shock by killing popular characters.
Animal Man: “But that’s not fair.

Animal Man #26

Animal Man began as your everyday animal-powered superhero. He could copy any animal’s ability and attributes. Readers gave him a once over and passed by for something more interesting. Animal Man was eventually brought back by author Grant Morrison, who decided to make him more interesting.

Animal Man was changed from a cookie cutter superhero into an animal rights activist and family man. When his family died, he noticed the Fourth Wall and realized he was being watched. He went on a journey to find answers and met his author. The pair had a meta argument about stories and characters that ended with Morrison having a change of heart.

Morrison retconned the family’s death and all following issues to be a nightmare that Animal Man woke up from. And the Deus Ex Machina award goes to… Grant Morrison and Animal Man!

#4 She-Hulk

She-Hulk: [fighting Deadpool]“Y’know, if this game was made in 1991, I’d be the one whacking YOU with a health bar.”

Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Before Deadpool popularized superheroes breaking the Fourth Wall, there was She-Hulk. Jennifer Walters was an attorney who was shot by a criminal. Luckily, her cousin Bruce Banner was in town and saved her with a blood transfusion. That transfusion gave her the ability to transform into her own Hulk form, the She-Hulk.

She-Hulk lacks her cousin’s temper problems and knows that she’s a comic character. She argues with her writers, smashes captions and text boxes she doesn’t like, and even tears apart pages to get at her enemies. When asked in recent comics if she can still break the Fourth Wall, she says she can, but doesn’t to avoid Deadpool comparisons.

#3 Fourth Wall Breaker: The Joker

The Joker: “Not crazy? Like hell I’m not crazy. I mean, if I’m not crazy, what am I doing in the looney bin… all alone in solitary confinement… talking to my imaginary… uh… you are imaginary, right? [glares at the reader] Right?!

Joker’s Asylum

I know what you’re thinking; “Wait, The Joker? What the hell? He ain’t a superhero!” Patience, grasshoppa, I shall explain.

Everyone knows that The Joker is insane. Not true. In the mid 2000’s, DC retconned The Joker as Hypersane. He reached a point where his madness circled back and changed to understanding the world in a way most people can’t comprehend. While never explicitly confirmed, it has been implied that this includes his realization that he is a fictional character.

There have been several occasions where The Joker referenced events outside of normal continuity, like when he recognized Spider-Man during a crossover after previously meeting him. He’s often talked about audiences while looking directly at the reader. On more than one occasion, an illustrated Joker has even “turned” the page for readers.

All this Fourth Wall stuff gave rise to a fan theory. Some fans believe that Joker knows he’s the villain and slaughters people so Batman media will be produced. Like the Aztecs practicing human sacrifice to keep the world spinning, Joker is killing to save his world. His victims? Feh, they aren’t real people.

To paraphrase The Dark Knight: The Joker is the hero Gotham needs, but not the one it wants.

#2. Loki

Loki: [narrating]“Now, I know what you’re thinking: why am I falling to my death while a man who makes terrible life decisions shoots an arrow at my face? Eh? Why don’t I just magic everything better? Tell the universe a nice big story?  ‘Then Loki wiggled his fingers and everything was fine. Also his mission was complete and he had a pony and balloons and a Cosmic Cube. The end.‘ It’s not a very good story, is it?”

Loki: Agent of Asgard #1

What kind of God of Mischief would let himself be constrained by something as paltry as plot? Not Loki. The Norse trickster frequently breaks the Fourth Wall to mock heroes or have a jape with the reader.

The Fourth Wall was truly shattered in recent years when Loki became popular enough to star in his own series. Various versions of Loki each had their own plots running based around the concepts of storytelling and lectured readers about the medium.

Loki eventually achieved his destiny and became the God of Stories. He then bid farewell to the readers and traveled into the future to skip an event comic Marvel was doing. Loki’s stories are meta.

Fun fact: Loki is the one who taught our number one pick how to break the Fourth Wall.

#1 Fourth Wall Breaker: Deadpool

Deadpool: [talking to the audience] “When it comes time to lick wounds, there’s no place like home. And I share that home with someone you’ve met. The old blind lady from the laundromat, Al.
Al: [flashback] “God, I miss cocaine.
Flashback Deadpool: “Her. [gasps] Fourth Wall break inside a Fourth Wall break? That’s, like, 16 walls!

Deadpool

C’mon, Deadpool has a movie coming out and his main shtick is breaking the Fourth Wall. Did you really think he wouldn’t be number one?

You probably know DP’s backstory, and if ya don’t here it is. [linkity link link] Deadpool learned how to break the Fourth Wall from Loki, who tried to trick him into killing Thor. When Deadpool failed, Loki transformed his face to look like Tom Cruise. What a monster. Since then, Deadpool’s been taking the wall apart brick by brick, joke by joke.

Actor Ryan Reynolds became interested in playing Deadpool after a Fourth Wall break where DP claimed that he looked like “Ryan Reynolds crossed with a Shar-Pei”. The actor and the superhero get together like fire and an oil-soaked log cabin. Fourth Wall breaking has been a major part of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool, and sure as Shar-Pei isn’t going away in Deadpool 2.

What Fourth Wall breaker is your favorite? Leave a comment.

HAHAHAHAHA! I’ve finally escaped the Fourth Wall! [hoists a sledgehammer] Now to wreak my revenge on all of you who refused to help me before! Wait, the article’s over! SONUVA-.

T-t-th-That’s all folks!

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