Marvel has had incredible success, and it’s easy for fans to get wrapped up in conversations concerning the Marvel universe. When fans talk about this universe, they’re usually referring to the fictional universe in which the movies and comic books take place.
The characters within this universe more often than not are oblivious to the fact that they’re fictional creations. But many of them have proven time and time again that they’re completely aware of their audience, often choosing to do so in ways that left fans glancing over their shoulders to make sure they weren’t being watched.
Updated on December 12, 2022 by Mayra García: Breaking the fourth wall has always been a central trope in Marvel. Both in the comics and in audiovisual media, Marvel characters are often aware of their role inside a narrative, which provides a new layer to their stories. We updated this list with more Marvel figures who have broken the fourth wall.
When Howard the Duck met Gwenpool as the girl tried to hire him as a private investigator in The Unbelievable Gwenpool — by writer Christopher Hastings, pencilers and inkers Gurihiru and Danilo Byruth, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Clayton Cowles — the girl made fun of how inconsistent his time in the comics has been. Howard answers by telling her that everything has been real for him.
This, combined with a couple of camera glances confirms that Howard knows he’s inside a comic. This isn’t really strange considering that Howard comes from a different universe. It makes sense that he understands the deepest secrets of reality itself.
14/15 Deadpool Calls Out The Studio
Deadpool is infamous for breaking the fourth wall, whether in a video game, comic, live-action movie, or animated series. Perhaps one of the most hilarious examples of Deadpool’s fourth-wall-breaking antics occurred in the first Deadpool film when he paid a visit to Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead.
Many viewers might’ve been left wondering where the other X-Men were. Deadpool joked that the studio couldn’t afford another X-Man. While this might be true, given that the film’s relatively modest budget was due to there being no guarantee it would succeed at the box office, Deadpool biting the hand that feeds him is a pretty scathing fourth-wall break compared to others he’s made.
13/15 Loki Modified The Panels’ Size To Use As A Weapon In A Recent Comic
During Donny Cates’ run on Thor, Loki changed gender. After this, she went on a new adventure together with the Defenders during Defenders: Beyond, by writer Al Ewing, artist Javier Rodríguez, and letterer Joe Caramagna. In a mighty battle against the Beyonders, the self-proclaimed Goddess of Stories pushed the panels on the page to trap one of her enemies.
Of course, this didn’t last much as she only managed to make the villain angrier. However, it’s still a great example of the fact that Loki is one of the most powerful characters in Marvel. Not only she can manipulate the narrative of the comic, but she can also use it as a way to take advantage in a fight against other characters.
12/15 Slapstick Asked His Fans For A Favor
When it comes to Marvel heroes, Slapstick doesn’t get nearly enough credit. He’s constantly ignored. With an indestructible body made out of ectoplasm and a giant mallet that he uses to smash anything in his way, Slapstick definitely lives up to his name.
Slapstick has broken the fourth wall several times, but his most famous fourth wall break occurred on the final page of the fourth issue of The Awesome Slapstick by writer Len Kaminksi, penciler James Fry, inker Terry Austin, colorist Glynis Oliver, and letterer Bill Oakley. In this issue, he begged readers to write letters to Marvel comic book editors so that he could have his own longstanding series.
11/15 Agatha Harkness Confesses Everything To The Audience During Agatha All Along
Among the many over-the-top moments in WandaVision, the series treated the fans to the bop “Agatha All Along” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The song marks the revelation that Agnes the neighbor is the real villain of the story. Throughout this sequence, Kathryn Hahn looks at the camera at different moments, showing the audience her snarky pride about having tricked Wanda and even confessing to having killed her dog.
Like Wanda, Agatha possesses knowledge beyond reality, so she understands Westview is trapped in a television show. Under this logic, it makes sense that she understands it has an audience. Given the parody nature of WandaVision, Agatha’s fourth wall breaking makes perfect sense.
10/15 Tippy-Toe & Monkey Joe Address The Reader
While Squirrel Girl hasn’t been featured in an MCU film yet, she definitely deserves to be. Her powers endow her with many traits found in a common squirrel, and while this might not seem like much, she’s gone on to defeat some of Marvel’s most powerful villains like Thanos, MODOK, and Terrax.
Squirrel Girl has also been known to break the fourth wall quite a bit, although this is nothing compared to her squirrel companions Tippy-Toe and Monkey Joe, who basically vaporize that wall. In many of her issues, they deliver a recap of events directly to the reader, and in one instance, Monkey Joe even warned fans to steer clear of stealing Marvel’s copyrighted material.
9/15 Reed Richards & Ben Grimm Defend Sue From Hate Mail
When the original Fantastic Four comics were released back in 1961, Stan Lee created a segment in which Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny responded to submitted fan letters. This presented the opportunity to go over their background and delve a bit more into their powers. Apparently, many people wrote letters asking for Sue to go, mostly because she got kidnapped way too often.
Reed Richards and Ben Grimm broke the fourth wall to defend their comrade against all the angry fans, noting a few of Sue’s accomplishments that made her a valuable member of the team. While the defense was noble, it was also a bit sexist, with Ben telling readers that they should watch “lady wrestlers” if they wanted to see women fight all the time.
8/15 The Scarlet Witch Knows The Audience Can See Her
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduced the audience to the dangers of the multiverse while also allowing Marvel Studios to experiment genre-wise. Directed by Sam Raimi, this film pays homage to horror films in different ways. For example, Scarlet Witch breaks the fourth wall several times in a spooky manner.
After possessing Earth-383’s Wanda, the Scarlet Witch gets comfortable on her new skin and then looks at the camera with a very small smirk, letting the audience know she knows they exist. This is a very miss and blink moment, but it adds a new layer to the horror of the film. Suffice it to say, this isn’t the first time Wanda breaks the fourth wall. During WandaVision, she talks plenty to the camera during the Modern Family parody episode.
7/15 She-Hulk Argues With The Editor
From serving alongside the Avengers to filling in for The Thing in the Fantastic Four, Jennifer Walters, also known as She-Hulk, has had quite the career. Despite her tragic origin story and the fact that she can’t revert to her human form, She-Hulk has been known to shatter the fourth wall quite a bit.
The most stunning example of this was when She-Hulk actually argued with the editor in the ninth issue of The Sensational She-Hulk,written by Richard Starkings and Greg Wright, penciled by Bryan Hitch, inked by Al Milgrom, Walt Simonson, and Bob Wiacek, colored by Glynis Oliver, and lettered by Jim Novak. She demanded that she be drawn correctly in her own comic. Additionally, in her fight against Dr. Bong, she can be seen ripping the pages of the comic to show a Marvel comic ad.
6/15 Gwenpool’s Existence In The Marvel Universe Is A Fourth Wall Breaking On Itself
Originally, Gwendolyn Poole was just a normal girl without superpowers. But she managed to get stuck in the Marvel Universe, gaining unique powers that allowed her to fight alongside her idols. As Gwenpool, basically a toned-down version of Deadpool, she’s constantly breaking the fourth wall since she knows a lot about the Marvel Universe from the perspective of a super-fan.
Gwenpool’s existence is a huge fourth wall break in itself since she actively participates in a world and acknowledges its conventions that only readers would be able to recognize. For example, when she first met Miles Morales on a public train, she was quick to praise his work as a hero.
5/15 Loki Tells Deadpool They’re Inside A Comic
While Deadpool is known for breaking the fourth wall more than any other Marvel character, Loki often doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his ingenious fourth wall breaks. As the God of Mischief, this ability suits him perfectly, since the fourth wall breaks generally add to the chaos of everything else going on in a given scene.
In Journey Into Mystery, Loki outright asked readers to write him fanfiction, and once told Deadpool in Deadpool Vol. 1 #37 (written by Priest, penciled by Jim Calafiore, inked by Mark McKenna, lattered by Sharpefont & PT, and colored by Shannon Blanchard) that their reality wasn’t real and was controlled by a man on a typewriter. As expected, Deadpool didn’t know how to take the news, and for once, was speechless.
4/15 Baby Groot Touches the Camera
The MCU takes itself much more seriously than the comics. Being the highest-grossing film franchise of all time, it’s no surprise that these movies would adopt a more serious tone to accumulate mass appeal. However, there is one time in particular that the fourth wall was broken in these films, and many fans might’ve missed it if they were too enveloped in the action. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Baby Groot accidentally tumbles into the camera.
Some fans noticed a tiny sound when Groot struck the lens. Apparently, this was the first time the fourth wall was broken in an MCU film, and even then, it isn’t played up at all. Still, it shows that the creators of the film are aware of Marvel’s long history of fourth-wall-breaking characters that they’ll hopefully play more with as the MCU continues.
3/15 Rick Jones Has Comic Awareness
Originally Bruce Banner’s confidant, Rick Jones is a young man who has spent many decades close to most iconic Marvel figures. He may not be an Avenger, but he possesses the Destiny Force, which allows him to tap into limitless energy.
Many fans were shocked to learn that Rick also possessed a trait known as “comic awareness,” playing off of Captain Marvel’s “cosmic awareness.” This enabled him to see that the Captain America comic series was coming to an end because the sales just weren’t good enough.
2/15 Peter Parker Reminds Readers It’s “Spider-Man,” Not “Spiderman”
Spider-Man might be one of the most well-known superheroes of all time, but apparently many people don’t know the correct way to write his name. He’s known to break the fourth wall on many occasions, but perhaps one of his most long-standing gags is his tendency to correct villains and heroes alike when they refer to him as “Spiderman” instead of “Spider-Man.”
Both spellings should sound identical when spoken aloud, but apparently, it’s one of Spider-Man’s biggest pet peeves. Given that Tom Holland’s take on Spider-Man is as prone to wise-cracks as his comic counterpart, this joke could easily make it into the MCU at some point soon.
1/15 Jennifer Walters Dismantled The Whole MCU Right In Front Of The Fans
After eight incredible episodes, the season finale of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law sees all its storylines collide into one mess. Jennifer Walters responds by doing what she’s known to do best: she breaks the fourth wall and changes things around. Like in the comics, Jennifer takes control of her own narrative and jumps from the show into the Marvel Studios offices through the Disney+ menu.
Here, Jennifer reimagines her story together with the mastermind behind the MCU: K.E.V.I.N. While discussing her plot with this AI, obviously inspired by Feige, Jennifer questions it on other matters related to the MCU, such as the tropes it has abused and her possible appearance in future projects. All fans agree the finale of this series was an excellent adaptation of the comics.
NEXT: 10 Signs The MCU Is Running Out Of Steam