Why Is 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' Obsessed With Spider-Memes
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Spider-Man: No Way Home is a $200 million movie whose marketing strategy revolves, in large part, around memes. This week, Sony announced the movie's home video release with a behind the scenes image depicting Tom Holland and two old dudes locked in a finger gun standoff in the manner of the famous "Spider-Man pointing" image -- which, like so many other memes, originates from the low budget, highly insane 1960s Spidey cartoon.
Well, we have reason to believe that this is part of a concerted effort to dethrone that '60s show as the most meme-filled Spider-Man installment ever. It started back in October when Sony officially released a weird, somewhat blurry screenshot from the movie that seemed calculated to become a meme format similar to the classic Floating Boy Chasing Running Boy. It worked, as this very relatable post in, we think, Portuguese demonstrates:
Next, in November, the official No Way Home social media accounts posted a video of the movie's cast reacting to a new trailer without showing the trailer itself. They were practically begging for some immature, attention-seeking individual to insert something other than the movie in there in an attempt to make the actors look ridiculous.
Once the movie came out, we found that the plot itself was littered with memes (although we believe the technical term for most of these is "Raimimemes"). Half a minute is devoted to Tobey Maguire's supposed back problems, a running joke that goes back to 2003 when Maguire was in negotiations to appear in Spider-Man 2 and nearly got replaced with Jake Gyllenhaal. This had already led to a gag in the scene from that movie where a powerless Peter says to himself that he just needs a "strong focus" to re-learn how to jump across rooftops, only to end up falling on a Focus car.
Back to No Way Home, one of the final lines in the film is Peter's new landlord telling him not to be late on rent, much like the highly meme-fied Mr. Ditkovich from the original trilogy. They even got Willem Dafoe to say, "You know, I'm something of a scientist myself," with the same intonation as the Spider-Man (2002) scene that became a late bloomer meme in 2016.
Oh, and the movie includes not one but two Spider-Men pointing moments, aside from the backstage one that was just released.
And speaking of those backstage pictures, many on Twitter pointed out that another one accidentally recreates part of the popular "Me and the Boys" Spider-villains meme. At this point, we're not sure about the "accidental" part.
It's easy to picture Amy Pascal or some other Sony executive slamming a conference table and yelling, "Get me memes of Spider-Man!" but we can see why they're doing this. No Way Home is a PG-13 movie based on a 60-year-old franchise that picks up plot threads going back to 2002 -- this storyline is older than a significant chunk of the movie's target audience. Memes are an effective way to get younger people to notice things (from square burger fast food brands to armed conflicts in Eastern Europe), and they seem to come naturally to the character, so why not use them? It's probably best not to think too hard about the cultural implications of the fact that moments from one movie can now turn into memes and make it into other movies, though. Here's Spider-Man dancing in extremely low resolution!
Top image: Sony Pictures, Marvel Studios