Fandom is basically a full-time job with terrible wages (at least until we figure out how to convert Reddit gold into actual money). It's impressive how much time, effort, and creativity go into movies and comics that only take minutes or hours to experience. But we suppose fans have to do something to fill the time between trailers or release dates, and making memes on the internet is as good an activity as any.
Sony and Marvel have been booting and rebooting Spider-Man since 2002, and we're currently on the third film version of "He Who Does Whatever a Spider Can" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming. And over the past 15 years, seven movies, and three actors putting on the red and blue, fans have been thwipping out funny text over silly pictures like it's the only way to stop a train from derailing or a ferry from splitting in half.
We've tracked down 15 of the funniest memes made just for Spider-fans. These jokes comment on the various versions, other Marvel movies, and somehow, even Batman shows up even, though that's not canonical at all. But we're not about to question Batman.
Be sure to share your favorite Spider-Memes in the comments.
15 Yeah, about that ...
After the debacle of Spider-Man 3, Sony wasted little time in scrapping director Sam Raimi’s fourth entry and starting over from scratch with 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield replaced Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, which made the line from the end of Spider-Man 2 partticularly hilarious to the person who made this image.
The online debate over who is (or was) the superior Spider-Man has only gained more traction now that Tom Holland has taken up the web-shooters for the MCU. We’re not going to pick a side here, because we just like Spider-Man.
This pic contains a meme within a meme through its use of “Tobey Maguire crying,” which is just something that happened a lot in his films.
14 Jameson strikes again
Even more than the Green Goblin or Venom, Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson has been one of Spider-Man’s most enduring and bitter enemies since he first started his crimefighting career.
The newspaperman never trusted Spidey, for whatever reason, and devoted the full resources of his outlet to defaming and libeling the friendly neighborhood superhero. This meme takes the memorable moment of Parker snatching Captain America’s shield in Civil War and runs it through the Jameson filter, although we can’t really argue with what he comes up with because it is, for once, exactly what happened.
Marvel hasn’t cast its new version of Jameson yet, but whoever ends up chomping that cigar will have a hard time matching J.K. Simmons’ fantastic performance in the three Raimi films, which remains for us the only universally watchable part of that trilogy.
13 The redemption of Harry Osborn
This meme derives from the moment in Spider-Man 3 in which the Osborn family’s long-suffering (and shockingly silent) butler reveals that Harry’s hatred of the wall-crawler over the past two movies has come from misunderstandings and lies.
Harry spends almost two full movies believing that Spider-Man killed his father, who had accidentally murdered himself in the first film’s final battle. We don’t know why Houseman let his young master get all Goblin’d up and crazy if he’d known the truth this whole time, but at least he tosses him a hint just in time for him to go and have Venom kill him. Way to look out for the family, Bernard.
The pic also incorporates the well-used “Change Team” meme, which comes from the menu of multiplayer car-soccer game Rocket League. Most of its use has used historical backgrounds like shifting loyalties in World War II and the Roman senate turning against Julius Caesar, but Spider-Man 3 works, too.
12 It all makes sense
We knew relatively early on that Spider-Man was going to make his MCU debut in Civil War, but that only came after some on-and-off negotiations between Marvel and Sony, which owns the film rights to the character.
Marvel likely produced the bulk of the movie’s early promotional material when it wasn’t sure if Peter Parker was going to appear, so it's a little light on Spider-Man. This meme comes up with a fun explanation for why that is, one that plays on the young superhero’s famous day job as a photographer for the Daily Bugle.
Somehow people never caught on that Peter Parker was the only one who could get decent pictures of Spider-Man, but Jameson probably didn’t mind as long as he had visuals for his hit pieces.
11 Nobody tell him
This fantastic crossover meme plays on the montage in the middle of Homecoming that shows Spider-Man politely helping the people of his city with their minor needs. In the movie, he gives a lady directions, and she buys him a churro, but we like this version better.
The image replaces the woman with Deadpool and works the event into the story of the his own solo film, which has him tracking down the guy who tortured Wade Wilson until he became immortal. It actually doesn’t sound like a bad trade-off when we put it that way, but the main thing is that Wilson didn’t appreciate it.
We’re pretty sure that Spider-Man wouldn’t have helped Deadpool if he knew what he was going to do to Francis once he found him, but we would watch the hell out of that crossover if Marvel, Sony, and Fox could work out a deal.
10 Spider-Man meets Benjamin Button
Several Spider-Man meme creators have noticed that both Peter Parker and his Aunt May have looked progressively younger with each reboot. Tobey Maguire was 26 when his first movie premiered, and Rosemary Harris (May) was 75. Andrew Garfield was actually older, at 29, but Sally Field was 66.
Homecoming turns it way down with 21-year-old Tom Holland playing Parker, which is still noticeably too old for high school, but at least it’s closer. And Marisa Tomei went ahead and broke the internet by playing Aunt May at 53.
Some people weren’t ready to find May attractive, but we’re all in favor of the change. If you’re really trying to sell that Peter is in high school, then it’s probably not a good idea to make someone roughly the same age as his parents look like his grandmother.
9 We would not hate this remake
Internet citizens went similarly crazy when the Civil War trailer came out that showed us Spider-Man snatching Captain America’s mighty shield. We saw a whole lot of output from that single shot.
The person who made this meme improbably folds in the memorable lines from the Tom Hanks-led Somali-pirate film Captain Phillips. We aren’t sure what the audience intersection is between MCU movies and real-life maritime thrillers, but we’d guess that it’s pretty low. But one thing we’ve learned from living online is that the weirdest connections are often the best ones, so here you go.
This isn’t the funniest shield-grab meme we’ve found in our image search. But it is the most oddly clever and ridiculous, so that surely counts for something.
8 The death of a beloved relative can be funny
This offering goes all out, taking one of the most informative and tragic moments of Spider-Man’s life and reducing — or elevating, depending on your taste — it to a silly, visual pun. And it throws in a joke from The Avengers just for fun.
Peter’s uncle, Ben Parker, instilled the young hero with the wisdom that would drive him to use his spider powers to help others: “With great power comes great responsibility.” He also died tragically because he was the Obi-Wan of this story. In some versions, Ben dies because of Peter’s selfish actions, which further galvanizes him to fight for good.
We have seen this play out in two different movies in the past two decades, and we’re glad that Homecoming only makes passing references to a past tragedy without making us sit through a Spider-Man-free hour of movie just so Peter can learn the one lesson that everyone in the audience already knows.
7 Tony spotted that Easter egg, too
Sharp observers noticed that the science-nerd shirt that Peter wears at the end of Homecoming is the same one we see Pepper Potts sleeping in during Iron Man 3.
We aren’t sure what the costumers had in mind when they recycled this piece, because we’re pretty sure Marvel has a geeky T-shirt budget beyond what most of us would consider reasonable. The implication, we guess, is that both Tony and Peter buy their casual gear from the same websites. One of the themes of the movie is that Iron Man is trying to mold the young hero into a better version of himself, so it makes sense that they’d draw this kind of visual parallel between the two.
It makes less sense that they didn’t use a shirt that Tony actually wears during any of his seven other MCU appearances, but then, we wouldn’t have this joke.
6 You know, that 'really old movie'
The weird thing about Disney owning both Marvel and Star Wars now is that the MCU can contain references to the space opera franchise without costing anyone a penny. We doubt these references will go the other way, though, which is bad news for our fan script, Han Solo Meets the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's like 90 percent one-liners.
One memorable Star Wars insert occurs during the airport fight in Civil War, during which Ant-Man becomes giant, and Spider-Man defeats him by webbing his legs together. He tips his teammates off to a plan by asking them if they’ve seen The Empire Strikes Back, which gives us a similar situation in the opening battle on the ice planet Hoth.
This meme takes the comparison to an abnormal and frankly uncomfortable extent, morphing Ant-Man into a bizarre, human-ish version of an Imperial AT-AT walker and casting Peter as the hotshot Rebel pilot about to take him down.
5 The numbers don't lie
We love this meme less for the joke than the idea of Steve Rogers and J. Jonah Jameson having a conversation. What would they even talk about?
The editor is right, however; Civil War was already a big deal for containing even more Marvel heroes than the last Avengers movie and making half of them fight the other half. But it became a must-see for Spider-Man fans once we found out that he was going to make his MCU debut in the middle of all of that.
To be fair, Civil War was never at any risk of losing money at the box office. But Spider-Man surely upped its event status just by showing up for a bit in the middle. And that’s saying something, considering how disappointing and divisive The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was.
4 When cute marketing tactics go wrong
The internet has no shortage of memes centered around the concepts that Uncle Ben is dead and Tobey Maguire’s version of Peter Parker cries a lot. And this image combines them into a single, powerful supermeme.
This joke definitely falls under “so dumb it’s funny.” It’s ridiculous to think that a name on a bottle of soda could turn a mighty superhero into a blubbering mess, but then again, he breaks down even more spectacularly at several points in Spider-Man 3. That’s also a big part of the character’s appeal: He has normal, regular person problems alongside his superhero-related ones.
We’re not sure that this concept extends to a name on a Coke bottle triggering a day-ending flashback, but for the purposes of this joke, it definitely does.
3 No, it's really important
One of our favorite gags in the first Guardians of the Galaxy comes when Rocket Raccoon demonstrates that even a complicated escape from a maximum-security prison still has room for a prank.
He needs a few supplies to make his plan work, and Star-Lord volunteers to grab a fellow inmate’s prosthetic leg. Unfortunately, the limb was never important; Rocket just thought it would be funny to see the guy hopping around without it, because he’s kind of a mean character.
This meme applies the same joke to Spider-Man’s fight with the Winter Soldier in Civil War. But we assume it wouldn’t go as well in this case, because that arm is really attached. It takes Iron Man’s most powerful attack to destroy it at the end of the movie, and then it’s no good to anyone.
2 What all the fighting was really about
You could come up with several explanations for why the events of Civil War ripped the Avengers apart.
It could be a conflict between Steve Rogers’ old-fashioned, black-vs-white sense of morality and Tony Stark’s more gray-tinged approach. It could also the inevitable struggle to establish a balance between freedom and order in a world in which gods both figurative and literal walk the Earth. Or maybe it was just to up the stakes for Infinity War, which is the movie the studio really wants us to see.
This meme has another, funnier guess, and it has everything to do with Captain America and Iron Man’s disparate preferences for Spider-Man actors. And it’s definitely a sensitive topic on forums, so why should Earth’s Mightiest Heroes be immune?
1 Too mean, internet
We found less sensitive Spider-Man memes than this one in our research, but this one hit us right in the feels. It combines the inspiring moral lesson of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins with the Uncle Ben-level tragedy of the death of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s first girlfriend.
In the comics — and in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — the Green Goblin sends Gwen plummeting to her doom, and despite his best efforts, Peter can’t save her. And if that’s not depressing enough for you, both versions leave the event open to the interpretation that the rescue attempt itself (i.e. Peter himself) caused her death. And the comics even confirm that nightmare truth later on.
It makes us kind of sad and angry to laugh at this meme, but we do, anyway. It’s just solid joke construction, even if it is in poor taste.
What are your favorite (appropriate) Spider-Man memes? Be sure to share in the comments.