Revealing the origin of the ‘legendary’ Spider-Man pointing finger meme, no one tells you

Thu Trang
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June 10, 2024

Memes tend to have a pretty short shelf life, and it seems as though the more time goes on, the less longevity they have. While they used to make enough of an impact to make it onto t-shirts and board games, nowadays, the majority are barely able to last a full month before fading into irrelevancy. This makes it all the more impressive that the Spider-Man pointing meme is one of the rare and precious few that’s managed to cling onto public awareness for quite some time.

Not only has the pointing Spider-Man meme lasted a long while, but it has also done something perhaps even more difficult: it has became extremely popular and somehow retained its popularity. The bit has existed so long that it has jumped ship from the Internet and been featured in official Spider-Man media. In spite of this, no one seems to be annoyed by it. Ordinarily, if a meme reaches this level of popularity, most people find that it loses a lot of its charm. And yet somehow, no matter how many times they see it, everyone still seems to love pointing Spider-Man.

The original image used in the Spider-Man pointing meme comes from the nineteenth episode of the 1967 cartoon series, “Double Identity.” J. Jonah Jameson has set up an exchange of valuable works of art, hoping to lure Spider-Man in for capture. Spider-Man does appear to show up and proceed to begin stealing the art, but is quickly interrupted as a second Spider-Man appears on the scene. The two masked men point at each other, creating the iconic shot, as they accuse one another of being the impostor. Jameson clamors for both of them to be arrested as the real Spider-Man suggests a showdown between the two of them, with the loser of the battle getting unmasked and arrested.

The pair engage in combat, first matching each other’s webs as Spider-Man notes that his adversary has copied his power. He then flings the impostor over the roof, enraging Jameson, who feels both of the superheroes are getting away. Spider-Man manages to reign victorious, webbing up the faker and delivering him back to the police before making his exit. Removing the impostors mask, a police officer notes that the identity of the man is a criminal actor who uses his theatric skill to impersonate others.

The scene is campy and silly, as would be expected from the 60’s show. It’s also a bit confusing, as the criminal impostor is shown to be powerless and merely capable of copying the appearances of others, leaving it a mystery how he was able to obtain Spider-Man’s powers for a few minutes. Perhaps he’s just that good an actor. Whatever the case, the specifics of the scene don’t really matter. What mattered was how funny the image of two identical figures pointing in accusatory fashion at each other was.

Where The Spider-Man Meme Has Been Used

The screenshot first began to circulate as a meme in 2011, often accompanied by captions such as “No U” and “Ha! Look at that loser.” The meme circulated quickly and began to take on more specific meanings. It was used to make fun of different people or groups acting similarly to one another, often while they maintained how different they were. The popularity of the meme template stayed consistent over the years because it was typically not annoying, the punchline was easy to understand, and of course, it featured Spider-Man.

That Spider-Man connection is what’s brought the meme freshly back into the spotlight today, as the three most recent Spider-Man films have all incorporated it in some capacity. 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse was the first movie to reference the meme. In the film’s post credit scene, the audience is first introduced to Miguel O’Hara, also known as Spider-Man 2099. The imposing Miguel would go on to be one of the sequel’s antagonists, but the first film only gives a glimpse of him. In serious fashion, Miguel travels through the multiverse with grave intent, only for a comedic shift in tone to occur as he warps into the world of the 60’s cartoon. He immediately comes face to face with the Spider-Man of that reality, and the pair recreate the accusatory pointing from the original episode, albeit in comically drawn out fashion.

In 2021, Spider-Man: No Way Home became the first live action movie to reference the meme. All three variations of Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland, have joined forces and are hard at work in their lab. When the name ‘Peter’ is called out, all three look up, then simultaneously point at one another, asking which particular Peter was the one whose attention was requested. The three actors also posed for an on set picture mimicking the famous meme, this time in their respective Spider-Man costumes.

Most recently, Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse referenced the meme in perhaps the most plot relevant way any movie has so far. As Miles Morales has begun his escape, Miguel O’Hara sends out an ambiguous command to every hero in the Spider-Society to stop Spider-Man. This was an unfortunate choice of words on his part, because the city full of Spider-Men all stop and point at one another, confused over which particular Spider-Man is the one to be stopped. This is the most creative of all the pointing meme references crafted so far. The meme is a fun one to reference, and as fans still seem to be enjoying it as much as ever, it seems likely Spider-Man media will continue to utilize it for the foreseeable future.

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