12 movies that expertly break the fourth wall

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3. Fight Club

The first rule about the fourth wall is…you do not break the fourth wall.

One of my favorite movies, Fight Club’s shocking ending often takes away the original anomaly of the film that is the main character speaking to the camera. It’s threaded so smoothly into the movie that it’s easy not to notice Edward Norton looking at you as he narrates. Think of the movie as The Narrator’s journal as we’re reading it. Because he suffers from D.I.D, The Narrator is quite possibly speaking to another one of his personalities. Maybe he sees the audience as another part of his mind he isn’t sure is real or not. When narrating the movie he occasionally says “we” as he includes himself as a viewer. “We have just lost cabin pressure” and sometimes he tells them he’s moments away from freaking out; “ladies and gentlemen please return your seats to their full up-righted and locked positions.”

Given that Fight Club is about the deterioration of society and of the mind, it’s hard to determine why The Narrator/Tyler Durden would bother talking to the audience. Which is why I think he’s talking more to himself then to the audience. In the beginning scene, while Tyler is threatening him, he looks up and thinks out loud, “wait, let me start over.”

2. Deadpool

Deadpool is insane, and I don’t mean the movie, I mean the character. More or less a crude sock puppet coming to life humping your leg and killing your neighbors. Deadpool had been on hiatus for years, unable to come to life after X-Men Origins ruined the character. The first portrayal of Wade Wilson on the big screen not only looked ridiculous but he never once broke the fourth wall. In 2016, after nearly a decade, Ryan Reynolds resurrected the character himself in a fan perfect movie.

After an experiment gone wrong to cure his cancer, mercenary Wade Wilson becomes Deadpool, a wisecracking mutant who often turns to the audience to share his opinion on what’s going on. Unlike most fourth wall breaking characters, Wilson not only acknowledges the audience, he references the outside world and the movie he’s in. Despite him knowing this, he always goes along with the plot.

The use of the fourth wall in Deadpool is comparably the most fun because it’s a web of fandom references. You can watch Deadpool and enjoy it, but it’s impossible to appreciate it unless you understand the references.