The film Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a man who realizes he’s a character in a video game, was supposed to be released in July 2020, but it was frequently postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s set to hit theatres on August 13, but Disney, like so many other companies, is grappling with how to pique people’s interest in a picture that’s been teased since 2019. The obvious solution is to bring Deadpool in, throw him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and have him advertise the movie.
Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool remarking on Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy in a new meta-spot, which he first tweeted. Deadpool, along with Korg, the extraterrestrial rock-man from Taika Waititi’s MCU film Thor: Ragnarok, snarks about the Free Guy trailer in the promo, which takes the form of a YouTube reaction video. The humor is that Korg is played by Taika Waititi, who also plays the villainous game creator Antoine in Free Guy. So when Korg remarks in the movie that Taika Waititi “looks rather sweet, actually,” he’s… well, you get the joke.
This isn’t Deadpool’s first foray into meta-jokes. The original comics character constantly acknowledges that he is a comics character by breaking the fourth wall. The movie version not only speaks to the camera and recognises the audience, but he also ends Deadpool 2 by murdering Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (also played by Reynolds) and the actor Ryan Reynolds before he could sign on for the critically panned Green Lantern. The Deadpool reaction video to Free Guy is similarly loaded with meta-jokes, such as Deadpool addressing the fridging issue surrounding Deadpool 2 (also lampooned in the Deadpool 2 re-edit Once Upon a Deadpool), or Deadpool claiming Free Guy “looks like a dead man.”
While this commercial undoubtedly promotes corporate synergy by putting a character from a Marvel Studios film and a character from a Fox film together to praise a new Fox-turned-Disney film, it also teases Deadpool’s impending entrance in the MCU. Deadpool will purportedly be an MCU canon figure given that Fox’s films are under the same Disney brand as Marvel Studios. But for the time being, he’s entered through the back door, which seems like the most Deadpool method to do it.