By now I think most of us are familiar with the character of Deadpool/Wade Wilson, even those who don't read his comic books or indeed delve into the Marvel comic universe in general.
The first promo photo for the upcoming Deadpool movie was tweeted by Ryan Reynolds back in March, and fans of the comic book Deadpool were enthused to see the character embodying the tongue-in-cheek humour that defines him.
Indeed Fox have managed to pull off a marketing campaign for the movie that perfectly encapsulates the essence of Deadpool's character, and it's actually pretty impressive.
Shattering The Fourth-Wall
Breaking the fourth wall, in which a character is self-aware of their status as a fictional construction within a fictional universe, has always been a central feature of the character. Deadpool is insane, but with that insanity he gains a measure of clarity as he is the only character in the Marvel comic universe who is consistently aware that he exists as nothing more than pen and ink upon a page.
The characters tendency to break the fourth-wall has been theorised as a symptom of his mental illness: a coping strategy that he uses to deal with the reality of his existence, but the throwaway comments to the real world (name dropping his creators and the knowledge that Tobey Maguire portrayed Spider-Man in the Raimi movies) refute this theory, suggesting that he actually can see into our universe.
Anyway, the marketing for the Deadpool film is very aware of this central feature, playing off of it to create viral marketing within the fandom; it's been very successful thus far.
At lot of what makes the Deadpool character so attractive here is the way in which Reynolds is building off the general hatred in the fandom for 2011's Green Lantern movie (in which he portrayed the titular character) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine's portrayal of Weapon X/Wade Wilson (Reynolds again).
There's a pretty obvious jab towards Green Lantern in the Red Band trailer: "Please don't make the super suit green... Or animated!". It's been well publicised how much Reynolds hated the Green Lantern movie, blaming the problems on the lack of a solid script and the unrealistic release date, a sentiment shared by the majority of the fandom.
Deadpool director Tim Miller said that "Ryan [Reynolds] definitely had some Green Lantern issues to work out..."
"We had about a minute’s worth of dialogue between him and Colossus where he talks about it, like, ‘So a guy comes with a thousand-dollar suit and says, ‘We want you to play a superhero,’ but there’s no script yet and the release date is completely unmakeable…’ He goes on this whole anti-Green Lantern run, but I’m not sure it’ll stay in, because probably not even half the people in the theatres will get those jokes…that scene’s one for the DVD extras, for sure."
The teaser trailer for the trailer has an outright comment towards both X-Men Origins: Wolverine and 20th-Century Fox, as the in-character Reynolds describes Deadpool as "from the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time."
More Promo Fourth Wall Breaking
The trailer, for the trailer: The fact that Fox released a teaser trailer of the central character introducing the actual trailer for his movie is something which be ridiculous for any other movie, but fits perfectly with his previously established character traits for this one.
The Red Band trailer: Features plenty of Deadpool-esque humour (the nicknames he gives his captors, the swearing, the reactions to his face), as well as the fourth-wall breaks in the form of Green Lantern jab and punching people to the tune of the non-diegetic soundtrack.
Breaking into the Fantastic Four trailer: Some people may have missed this one, but a while back the teaser trailer for the Deadpool trailer was tacked onto the end of the extended trailer for the Fantastic Four movie trailer, with Deadpool interrupting the end of the broadcast to introduce his own trailer - "But wait, there's more!" This fits perfectly with Deadpool's tendencies to crossover with other heroes in the Marvel universe, often promoting confused reactions from them when he does his thing.
The attention to detail given in remaining true to the character and carrying that over the fourth wall into our reality is actually quite clever, and it's gone down extremely well within the fandom so far.
So, the promos have left me cautiously optimistic that the final product is going to be worth seeing, and not another freaking train-wreck like the manner in which Fox have handled the Fantastic Four franchise. Or at least, I live in hope.