Anyone who has seen even one episode of the original 1967 Spider-Man cartoon knows that the show is an absolute laugh riot. Despite gifting us its iconic theme song, the show’s notoriously hammy dialogue, stiff voice acting and liberal use of stock footage make it an unintentionally hilarious experience. Because of the show’s minuscule budget, Spider-Man’s suit only had webbing on his head, gloves and boots; character movement was stiff and minimal. The show also often aired and reused scenes with mistakes in the art or animation, the most glaring being the spider on the back of Spider-Man’s costume only having six legs in the show’s first season.
On top of that, the show often put Spider-Man in some downright strange places, leading to an absolute goldmine of screencap-worthy moments for the people of the internet to turn into memes. In fact, a few years ago it wasn’t uncommon to see threads devolve in an exchange of memes pulled exclusively from the show’s 52 episodes. Like all things on the internet, Spidey’s 15 minutes of meme fame have long since come and gone, but today we’re picking 15 of our favorite ’60s Spider-Memes from days of internet past.
15. YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD MYSTERIO
Generally speaking, most of the ’60s Spider-Memes cast Spidey in one of two ways; either as a nihilistic monster or a goofy and often idiotic man-child. In a meme we’ve affectionately dubbed, “YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD MYSTERIO,” Spidey is definitely the latter.
Like every entry on this list, the humor is built at least in part on how ridiculous the show’s original art is, but this entry shows how fun memes like this can be once they take on a life of their own. The fact that Spider-Man would be (for some reason) yelling at Mysterio from the top of a staircase is funny enough on its own, but this joke is just one of the many that evolved out of the characterization of Spidey as a whiny kid.
14. BABIES CAN’T SWIM SPIDER-MAN!
Our next entry falls on the exact opposite side of that comedic spectrum. While our previous entry portrayed Spidey as little more than an upset child raging against his supervillain of a stepfather, this one shows our Friendly Neighborhood Hero as something of a mad scientist. His experiment? Finding out if babies can swim, of course! And what better way to solve that problem then by rolling up your sleeves and trying a little good old fashioned science?
This side of ’60s Spider-Memes play so well because of their sheer shock value. Even people who’ve never touched a comic book in their lives know that Peter Parker’s Spider-Man is beloved by fans across the world for being an altruistic good guy who strives to wield his power responsibly.
13. IS HOGWARTS IN NEW YORK?
And finally we have the last major category of ’60s Spider-Memes, those that do nothing but poke fun at the often absurd situations the show regularly placed Spider-Man in. Unlike our two previous entries, these Spider-Memes often have very little to say about Spider-Man or his personality at all. More often than not, these memes veer into making pop culture references or outright asking the viewer, “What the hell is going on?”
This entry is obviously a nod to the flying car featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Funnily enough, aside from being airborne, the car shown in the image above does bare a pretty striking resemblance to the blue Ford Anglia that Ron Weasley and his brothers used to rescue Harry from his Aunt and Uncle’s house.
12. SPIDER-MAN, MASTER OF DISGUISE
This entry is another Spider-Meme that lands squarely in the “Spider-Man is a doofus” category. While we’re sure the rest of the original scene shows Peter pulling off his mask and hiding his costume underneath his street clothes, it is so much funnier to see this meme play into the idea of Spidey as a dime store master of disguise. Just the thought of meme Spidey trying to tail one of his villains dressed like this is enough to get us laughing.
When you think about it, this meme is actually a pretty great dig at flimsy superhero disguises in general. If we’re being honest with ourselves, is this really any less ridiculous than the fact that no one has figured out the ridiculously jacked Clark Kent isn’t just a newspaper reporter?
11. WE’RE YOU EXPECTING DEADPOOL?
Though the most common caption for this image is a reference to Titanic’s iconic “Draw me like one of your French girls” scene, our favorite version of the meme is a nod to Marvel’s fan favorite meme machine, Deadpool. This joke is so on point simply because this subversion of the classic cartoon trope of the damsel tied to train tracks would feel right at home in a Deadpool comic.
In fact, now that we’re thinking about it, meme Spidey really isn’t that much different than Deadpool is he? He’s a crazy, at times twisted mirror image of a superhero who isn’t above a little murder, mayhem and debauchery. Wow, now that’s it’s all been laid out in front of us like this, it’s no wonder he was so popular with the kids.
10. SPIDER-MAN: MURDERER
Aaaand we’re back to murderous psychopath Spidey with this entry! Though the original scene is clearly showing Spider-Man covering this man’s eyes from seeing something, the placement of his other hand and the fact that Spider-Man is grabbing the guy by his entire face make it hard to see anything but a Mortal Kombat-esque neck snap. Just look at the way his neck is stretched out! His body is clearly being lifted off the ground by his neck!
As much as this meme’s humor is built on backbone of the original episode’s poor animation, these darker Spider-Memes are made by how blasé Spider-Man is about being a cold blooded killer. In terms of being portrayed as a true blue good guy, Spider-Man is right up there with Superman, so seeing him snap a man’s neck without a second thought is sure to get a few shock laughs.
9. TATTLETALE SPIDEY
We’ve all been there. You’re playing in your supervillain Stepdad’s secret lab when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, your stupid stepbrother Billy rushes in, breaks your wrists into a 90 degree angle and makes an absolute mess of things. What other course of action is there for a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, other than making sure the fiendish Billy pays dearly for his crimes?
All kidding aside, this meme is yet another fantastic example of the internet taking a gag and running with it. There are plenty of memes made that pull from superhero media, but what made the ’60s Spider-Memes so special was that the people creating them played off one another to build a mythology around meme Spidey, which in turn gave him a unique voice as a character.
8. I LOVE YOU ELTON JOHN
The creator of this meme obviously had some pretty rich source material to pull from, considering the cartoon’s take on Doc Ock looks like he’s on his way to win an Elton John lookalike contest. That being said, the idea of meme Spidey as a frantic Elton John fan feels like an oddly appropriate character quirk.
The fact that it took us this long to realize what a striking resemblance singer-songwriter Sir Elton John has to Doc Ock makes us a little nervous about what he’s up to when he isn’t stealing hearts and minds with his music. Have you ever seen Elton John and Doc Ock in the same place at the same time? Is that how he got so good at the piano? Food for thought.
7. DEAR DIARY, IT’S ME SPIDER-MAN
The next entry on our list is another one of the gags that works on a few different levels. The perspective of this screenshot definitely makes it look like Spider-Man’s pencil is making contact with the paper to no avail (you might want to try leaning on a desk or something Spidey).
Now, this premise is already a silly enough set up for a solid Spider-Meme all on its own. However, the added layer of picturing meme Spidey getting frustrated over his inability to write in his diary plays right into the bratty persona fans built up for the character and really brings this one to the next level for us. Then again, given his propensity for violent crime, those diary entries might be a lot more unsettling to read than we had initially thought.
6. HEEEEEEEEREE’S SPIDEY
Our next entry is another reference to a classic piece of pop culture, this time Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable performance as Jack Torrance in the film version of The Shining. This is arguably one of the finest examples of baffling situations Spider-Man found himself in on the show. Why in the world would Spider-Man ever be menacingly holding an ax like this?!
Though we’re hopeful that meme Spidey is just quoting a line from one of his favorite movies, given how many times we’ve seen him murder on this list alone — Wendy and Danny Torrance might want to watch their backs. We’re not 100% sure on this one, but Danny’s psychic powers don’t seem like any sort of match for a meme Spidey on the warpath.
Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and… Spider-Man? Despite the fact that meme Spidey wouldn’t have lasted a week under Master Splinter’s tutelage, it’s hard to argue that the idea of Spider-Man teaming up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sounds like anything but a match made in heaven.
This joke likely started as a jab at Marvel for its inability to use its flagship character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe prior to Captain America: Civil War. However, now that it’s out there this has us thinking about just how perfect a Spider-Man/TMNT crossover starring a young Peter Parker (or even Miles Morales) could be. Sure the Heroes in a Half Shell are still in the midst of a multi-arc team up with Batman, but hey, much stranger crossovers have happened.
4. PSSSST… BATMAN!
Speaking of Batman, don’t say we didn’t warn you that these Spider-Memes get dark! While it might not involve murder, this entry is just savage. Not only is it inconceivable that Spider-Man would ever mock someone’s dead parents, given the fact that the loss of his Uncle Ben defined Peter Parker as a character, this one really hits close to home on a number of levels. That being said, it sure makes for a good bit of black comedy.
Again, so much of the humor in these Spider-Memes comes from surprising us and subverting our expectations for Spider-Man as a character. They get such a genuine reaction out of people because they take everything we hold sacred about the character and toss it out the window to amazing comedic effect.
3. I KNEW I FORGOT SOMETHING
We’re certainly no fans of arson, but we have to admit it is kind of nice to see meme Spidey’s actions only negatively affect himself for a change. We’re still talking about a potentially life threatening situation here for everyone in his neighborhood, but this Spider-Meme feels far more comfortable on the “Spider-Man is a hapless buffoon” side of the fence.
Many of the darker Spider-Memes do a great job of undercutting deadly serious situations with this kind of humor. How serious and determined Spider-Man looks standing among the flames in the original piece of art juxtaposed with a fairly common household fear is already pure genius. That being said, what really pulls the joke together for us is Spidey’s overall muted reaction to the whole ordeal.
Many of our previous entries have seen Spider-Man characterized in some way as a trouble-making kid, but this entry has the added dimension of showing Spider-Man’s most geriatric foe, Adrian Toomes a.k.a. the Vulture, as just another tattletale on the school yard. Considering how much collateral damage we’ve seen meme Spidey do in just the entries presented on our list a few curse words are probably the least of Vulture’s worries after snitching.
For the sake of you readers at home, we tried our best to keep the swearing to a minimum on this list, but given how many Spider-Memes rely on some pretty foul language for their humor (no pun intended), we’re pretty sure this one got a lot of use in its heyday.
1. YOU CAN’T GROUND SPIDER-MAN
For our last entry on this list, meme Spidey finally gets his comeuppance. Arson, child murder and talking back to his Stepdad are just a few of the highlights on this webhead’s rap sheet. Given the severity of his crimes, you better believe he’s going to be punished to the full extent of the law: two weeks without TV! It may seem harsh, but it’s truly the only way he’ll ever learn.
However, that doesn’t mean you should expect him to take his punishment lying down. Though meme Spidey isn’t nearly as prevalent as he used to be, nothing is ever truly dead on the internet and new Spider-Memes are still popping up on every corner of yon internets. No matter how hard you try, you can’t ground the Spider-Man.
Which Spider-Meme was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
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