As fans, we love nothing better than praising, pulling apart and poking fun at the things we love. Sometimes a well-argued, long form article does the trick. Other times just a few paragraphs in a comment section or forum will do. But, there are the times when just the simple marriage of words and pictures is all you need. Why waste valuable typing time when a meme will do? Though the word itself has (amazingly) been around since the 1970s (coming from a Greek word meaning simply, “to imitate or copy”) new life was breathed into the idea when the Internet began to fully invade almost every aspect of our lives.
When it comes to Internet culture today, memes reign supreme as our favourite cultural currency, everything from the adorable, to the weird, to the savage AF. Coupled with the current “Golden Age” of superhero movies, it seems that every new release from Marvel, DC or others invites a whole new crop of superhero memes to capture fans’ collective reactions and observations. And — the Internet being the Internet — some are hilariously brutal. “Sad Batfleck” and “Train Face Tobey Maguire” are classics, but what are the most savage superhero memes floating around right now?
15. UNDER WHERE?
Ah, the classic underwear-on-the-outside costume. It’s been a superhero wardrobe staple since pretty much forever, but mocking it is a fairly modern thing. Though, yes, it does look kind of goofy by today’s standards, there is a good reason for this bold design choice.
DC Editor Julius Schwartz, who was with the publisher from 1944 to 1986, and did a lot of work on Superman comics, explained that this was done simply because early superheroes were modelled on wrestlers and other circus performers who did the whole external-underwear thing, unabashedly. Sure, it’s laughable now, but you have to admit, Henry Cavill does look weirder with his super-briefs on the inside, right? Also, it looks like whoever made the meme doesn’t know their Christopher Reeve from their Brandon Routh…
14. AND THEN THERE’S DEADPOOL
Orphans and crime-fighting seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Traumatic childhood? Strong moral code? Fond of vengeance? Pent up, unresolved angst from your teen years? What better way to deal with your issues than grabbing a costume, picking up a weapon, and learning a few martial arts moves?
Spider-Man is of course fond of a good wisecrack, but no-one can wind up a villain (or hero) quite like Deadpool. As this meme so perfectly captures, while other superheroes wallow in misery or rage, Wade breezes through life with a smile. Not that he hasn’t suffered his fair share of tragedy, of course. His body is hideously disfigured, his mother died of cancer when he was a kid, and his dad was a real piece of work. But why should any of that get in the way of a good joke?
13. SAVAGE WOLVERINE
Though Hugh Jackman has consistently brought the goods to every pitch-perfect performance throughout the X-Men movie series, fans were crying out for a more R-Rated version of Wolverine on the big screen for years. The 2017 film, Logan, finally gave us that. At long last, the old, grouchy, beat-up, foul-mouthed iteration of Wolvie that we’d seen and loved from the comics was on the big screen.
It doesn’t get much more savage than Old Man Logan, and, as this meme aptly points out, he doesn’t need adamantium claws to rip you a new one, especially when it comes to “pretty boy” Cyclops. Now all we need are R-Rated remakes of the entire back catalogue of X-Men films in which every other sentence out of Hugh Jackman’s mouth contains at least one expletive.
12. CONTINUITY? WHAT’S THAT?
When it comes to the crown for messiest timelines, Marvel has the X-Men, but DC has the Flash, as this meme savagely nails. As the fastest man alive, Flash harnesses the power of the Speed Force to run fast. Really fast. He can run so fast, in fact, that he can travel through time. This opens the door for some incredible stories, but also some incredibly messy time-tinkering, sometimes with devastating effects on the DC universe.
Most notoriously was Flashpoint, in which Barry Allen travels back in time to save his mother and pretty much dooms his entire timeline, and fellow Justice League members, to being annihilated. Nice one, Barry. The Flash TV series has also dived into these fractured alternate timelines, introducing a whole new audience to a world of frustration!
11. ALL PAIN, NO BANE
Pow! Right in the kisser. The Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy of films are considered to be about as close to perfection as superhero movies can get. Gritty, moody and layered, they fully exorcised the spectre of the silly and widely-reviled Joel Schumacher movies from the late ’90s, which somewhat tainted the Dark Knight’s brand on the big screen.
That being said, fans have still found lots to (affectionately) mock about them, from Christian Bale’s gravely voice to Tom Hardy’s muffled lines. Some of the films’ most iconic scenes have also spawned a ton of memes — the hospital scene with the Joker and Two-Face being the most prevalent to this day. This meme not only perfectly pokes fun at Batman’s… well, “Batman-ness,” but the smile plastered across Christian Bale’s face makes the joke look even more brutal.
10. LIL’ SPIDEY
With the release of yet another Spider-Man movie with yet another version of Peter Parker, the internet was quick to spot the pattern in the casting. According to the precedent, our next Spider-Man should look like he’s barely started puberty. Though Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield did well in the role, and their films — Spider-Man 3 and ASM 2 aside — are considered to be, at the very least, decent adaptations, they were both nearly 30-years-old when they began their web-slinging careers.
You can really tell, too. It doesn’t prevent a good performance, but it does leave audiences unconvinced that Peter Parker is a mere teenager. Tom Holland — barely into his 20s — looks far closer to the real deal. To be honest, Tom also comes across as having a pretty good sense of humor. So, while this meme does skewer his age, he’d probably get a good chuckle out of it.
9. HAWKGIRL BURN
If there’s one thing the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons taught us about Hawkgirl, it’s that she’s probably the most brutal member of the team — and not just when she’s swinging that mace around. More innocent viewers (which the shows were technically aimed at) might interpret this clapback to mean that the Flash is just literally too fast to stop and pick up women, which it could well be.
But, mature audiences might see a dirtier reference here. This is far from the first or last sex joke in the Timmverse’s Justice League, too. Rewatch both series’ as an adult and you’ll likely be shocked — and amused — by just how many adult jokes managed to slip past the network bosses and censors.
8. POINTS FOR TRYING, SUPERMAN
Ouch. You can’t fail harder than, uh, dying, right? Okay, to be fair to Supes, this meme implies that it was Batman who managed to send him to his grave, which of course, isn’t what went down. Not that Bruce didn’t try though, and at one point — to every fan’s horror — it looked like he might be about to break his “One Rule” in cold blood at the climax of their brawl in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Luckily, by harnessing the power of word association, Clark was spared that grisly fate. Instead, the Kryptonian went down doing what he does best — being the ultimate hero. Still, the nobility of his sacrifice is kind of diminished, as this meme bleakly points out, when you consider the title of the movie. Poor Supes.
7. SUPER ORPHANS
Orphans! Where would superhero comics be without them? Gotham wouldn’t have a Batman, Metropolis wouldn’t have a Superman, and New York would be missing… well, most of its Avengers. One reason for this could be that it makes for an easy dramatic conceit. The death or absence of parents is a pretty believable source of trauma that might push someone into an unusual lifestyle.
But, if you ask Stan “The Man” Lee — when he’s not breaking up nerd fights — the answer could be even simpler than that though. “Writers [were] too lazy to come up with a background,” he joked once in a video interview on Facebook while promoting The Amazing Spider-Man, pointing out that he never used to have any idea where Superman lived — something he set out to change in his own stories.
6. TWO PEOPLE VS AN ENTIRE PLANET? NO CONTEST
Most superheroes are missing a parent or two, but few can claim to have suffered the level of loss that the Last Son of Krypton has. Despite his entire race being blown to bits when he was too young to remember, learning about that tragedy during his formative years placed a sizeable burden on Superman. Emotional burdens are something that Batman knows better than anyone.
After all, his relentless pursuit of justice was kickstarted by witnessing his parents’ murder as a child. His black costume, fondness for living underground, and stalking his “prey” mainly at night certainly seem like the actions of a person with a morbid fascination. Batman v Superman promised us an orphan super-fight, and the Internet continued the rivalry by taking the films’ infamous smack talk into new realms of savageness. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, Supes.
5. MAMA ALLEN
Who doesn’t love a good “yo mama” joke? Well, probably not Barry Allen in this instance. Yes, it’s in incredibly poor taste, but can’t you just imagine Reverse Flash pulling this kind of dick move as he zips past Barry? The gag is of course referring to the death of Nora Allen, mother of Barry, and Malcolm Thawne, who was murdered by Malcolm’s time-travelling ancestor, Reverse Flash, on a vengeance mission.
The crime was pinned on Nora’s husband, Dr. Henry Allen, and Barry’s refusal to accept his father’s guilt led him to join the police force. As such, Nora’s death is a defining moment in Flash history, and attempts to rectify or alter the event have had dramatic effects on certain timelines, as this meme hints. But Nora ain’t heavy, she’s Barry’s mother.
4. THE REAL REASON DAREDEVIL ISN’T AN AVENGER
Damn, that’s cold! This is one of those word-play gags with a “Dad joke” quality to it that kind of makes you groan. But, that doesn’t stop it still being pretty funny. In the comics, we know that Daredevil has rarely been left out of the Avengers’ roster, but so far the same hasn’t been true in the MCU. The question of Daredevil’s “vision” is a persistent one though.
Is he really that blind? What can he actually “see” and how does he do it? We’ve been given insights in the comics before, resembling a kind of vector view of the world based on his other highly attuned senses. In the movie adaptation, there was that infamous rain scene, and the Netflix series gave us the “world on fire” explanation. Nothing seems definitive, either way. One thing is clear, though — you wouldn’t want to be caught making blind jokes anywhere near Matt Murdoch’s fists.
3. JOKER IS THE MOST SAVAGE VILLAIN OF THEM ALL
Hey, Batman’s parents are dead, by the way. The joke just never seems to get old (just like them). Most villains are known for bringing the pain through their fists and deadly weapons, but the Joker is often at his most deliciously vicious with just his sharp tongue. Of course, this joke only works on the premise that the Clown Prince of Crime has finally worked out Batman’s real identity.
Still, it’s fun to think that if he ever did unravel the greatest mystery in Gotham, he would prefer to use it for comedy rather than criminal purposes… at least to begin with. Even though this meme throws together screenshots from a few different Batman cartoons, you can’t help but read the Joker’s lines in Mark Hamill’s voice from Batman: The Animated Series. It’s the only voice that could do the savage-ness justice.
2. OOPS, BUTTER FINGERS!
“Don’t worry, Gwen! I got you.. I got you… Oh. I don’t got you.” This is meme culture working at its best/worst, reducing dramatic, watershed moments in pop culture down to childish jokes and savage burns. With the introduction of Gwen Stacy as Peter Parker’s main love interest in The Amazing Spider-Man reboot of the cinematic Spider-verse, there came a lot of speculation as to whether or not her infamous death would be brought to the big screen.
In the sequel, that’s exactly what we got, with The Night Gwen Stacy Died painfully and faithfully translated into live-action. We’re used to seeing heroes swooping in in the nick of time to save the damsel in distress. If you’re Superman, swooping comes naturally, but for heroes like Spider-Man, web-slinging has it drawbacks, and as this traumatizing experience proved, those drawbacks can be fatal.
1. THE FLASH VS. QUICKSILVER
Too soon? This burn is so hot it might make your screen melt. It was pretty sad to see Quicksilver go down after serving on the MCU’s Avengers team for all of about five minutes, but at least he went down in true superhero style. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Internet can’t mercilessly mock him for it. The question of which one of DC or Marvel’s speedsters is fastest is a popular one among fans.
It’s also actually been answered before in the comics. In the Justice League/Avengers crossover miniseries, Pietro becomes obsessed with besting the Flash when he crosses paths with him in the DC-verse. He was beaten two out of three times, only winning the third time with a home field advantage (there’s no Speed Force in the Marvel-verse.) That makes this meme not only savage AF, but also pretty accurate.
What do you think the most savage superhero meme is right now? Let us know in the comments below!
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