Free Guy is the video game-inspired blockbuster that boasts a number of pop-culture references of major franchises, despite it technically being a wholly original intellectual property itself.
One of those references was such a closely guarded secret that the filmmakers took great pains to keep it under wraps during filming, it turns out.
The film stars Ryan Reynolds as a non-playable character who becomes sentient inside a videogame, a very Matrix-like set-up that arguably achieves an even better execution than the latter franchise’s latest sequel.
Just like in real video games, the players can don all kinds of custom skins and cosmetic items in the open-world game. In addition, Disney now owns the production company that brought Free Guy to life, 20th Century Fox, which opened the floodgates for references to many of the various franchises the House of Mouse owns. As such, a myriad of nods to franchises such as Star Wars and Avengers were made in the movie, including a cameo by Chris Evans.
A certain iconic shield from Captain America featured in the film was a particularly challenging item to keep under wraps. To prevent the shield’s leak, visual effects supervisor Swen Gilberg explained the shield was made of cardboard and painted in a drab grey, with the iconic red-white-and-blue design being added in digitally later on.
“We actually purposely made it not look like the Captain America shield so that we didn’t get any looky-loos,” Gilberg told ComicBook. “So, the shield we used was a gray cardboard thing, and we made sure that it didn’t look like Captain America’s shield when we were shooting it. And for what it’s worth, on all the Marvel movies also, every single shield is digital.”
The Disney Easter Eggs were also something star and producer Reynolds and director Shawn Levy secured with their powerful Hollywood connections.
It seems as if Free Guy will soon form its own franchise as the box office success has recently been greenlit by Disney for a sequel, according to Reynolds.