WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman Beyond #36 by Dan Jurgens, Rick Leonardi, Ande Parks and Chris Samnee, on sale now.
Spider-Man's famous "With great power, comes great responsibility" line has been referenced all over the place in pop culture, whether related to superheroes or not. Rarely, however, does Spidey's status as a certified meme star makes its way into mainstream media. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the most notable example, but now we also count Batman Beyond #36.
In the issue, an aged Barry Allen teams up with Ten, an ex-member of the Royal Flush Gang. Together, they face off against False Face (who is imitating Batman) and a speedster called The Splitt.
In the ensuing battle, it is revealed that the other Royal Flush Gang members are dying, with their only hope being a technology found on their boat. It's here, on the first panel of Page 15, that an eagle-eyed Redditor noticed a line that, word-for-word, copies one said by Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn in Sam Raimi's first 2002 Spider-Man movie: When reminded not to let a power surge occur, Barry assures the Royal Flush Gang member that, "I'm something of a scientist myself, you know."
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MEME
The line from the film went overlooked until 2016 when memes involving the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies really started to take off. According to Know Your Meme, the original variant of the still is followed by a fake monologue from Norman in which he states his love of urinating on ant hills as some sort of scientific experiment.
It would come into greater use the following year, soon becoming the equivalent of the Technologically Impaired Duck meme, with Norman bragging about his scientific acumen after accomplishing the most mundane of tasks. A Ugandan Knuckles-themed version of the meme was especially popular, catapulting it into further internet stardom.
INTO THE MEME-VERSE
Spider-Man memes have become ubiquitous. In fact, the Wall-Crawler is probably the most memed superhero. Part of this stems not only from the constantly changing nature of his live-action movies and other related media, but also the very easily mockable 1960s cartoon that the character starred in.
Marvel and DC's friendly rivalry has often led to the two companies poking fun at each other's universes by way of cameos or references like the one in Batman Beyond #36. Clark Kent, for instance, has been unofficially popping up all over the Marvel Universe for years. And that's just one example of many.
Writer Dan Jurgens' reference might beg the question as to whether or not the Sam Raimi movies and their accompanying memes, or even just Spider-Man himself, exist in the DC Universe somewhere. Though it's far more likely that he slipped this line into the book as a throwaway joke, hoping a few Internet-savvy fans might get.
But, who knows? In an alternate world of the DC Universe, perhaps Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies do exist, and they maybe even went up to four.
KEEP READING: Batman Beyond Just Reintroduced a Classic DC Hero