As you’d expect from a broad studio blockbuster that relies heavily on pop culture for both inspiration and Easter Eggs, Free Guy is packed full of both visual and in-person cameos. Not to dive into spoilers, but there’s definitely a couple of action beats in the third act that you can tell were added once Disney had purchased Fox and assumed control of the rebranded 20th Century studios.
Ryan Reynolds recently explained why he never considered the idea of having Deadpool drop by for a guest spot, even if the Merc with a Mouth did make his Marvel Cinematic Universe as part of a Free Guy trailer breakdown opposite Thor: Ragnarok‘s scene-stealer Korg. A poster bearing the character’s signature logo can be spotted behind Stranger Things star Matty Cardarople’s gamer in several scenes, but that’s as far as it goes.
However, director Shawn Levy admitted in a new interview that a much more overt nod towards Deadpool almost made the cut, before it was decided that Guy would become the hero of Free City without firing a single shot.
“Initially, there was talk of having Guy use Cable’s gun. But we actually liked the idea that this good guy character who never fires a gun in the whole movie.”
Although the two projects couldn’t be more different in design, concept and execution, Free Guy gets everything right about nodding towards existing IP that Space Jam: A New Legacy got wrong. Warner Bros.’ sequel was often a shameless advertisement for the studio’s back catalogue, but all of the references in Free Guy are used to enhance the story and generate laughs, rather than flog other properties.
It was a difficult balancing act to pull off, but looking at the critical acclaim to have been greeting Free Guy so far, Levy and Reynolds clearly managed it with both style and aplomb.