Sony has announced the official home video release for Spider-Man: Now Way Home, in perhaps the most fun way possible. The studio released an on-set photo of Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland recreating the infamous “Spider-Man pointing meme,” that anyone who has been on the internet for more than five minutes is aware of. It’s a truly joyous moment preserved on film, but it might make one wonder—how did this meme gain popularity anyway?
We know where the Spidey pointing meme originated. It’s from episode nineteen of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon. You know, the one with the most awesome theme song ever? The episode had a criminal disguise himself as Spider-Man, as one does. And then the real Spidey showed up, and the pointing began. A live-action version of this scene would play out in Star Trek VI with Captain Kirk. But it was likely a coincidence. In any event, this one moment would take on a life of its own four decades later.
According to the website Know Your Meme, the earliest instance of that scene of the two Spider-Mans pointing appeared on February 5, 2011, on Sharenator. It was part of a larger compilation of 1960’s Spider-Man images. Over the years, the other retro Spider-Man images dwindled away in popularity, with the “pointing meme” the sole surviving champion. By the mid-2010s, it became the go-to meme for joking about two people (celebrities usually) meeting for the first time. By 2017, it was an institution.
Of course, the No Way Home scene was not the first time a Marvel film contained a meme reference. In the early 2000s, a YouTuber redubbed old X-Men: The Animated Series episodes, with a metric ton of profanity. One scene, of the X-Men villain Juggernaut yelling “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” went viral in a big way in early 2006. By its May 2006 release, X-Men: The Last Stand featured the character of Juggernaut saying the exact same line to Kitty Pryde. So long before Tobey, Andrew, and Tom recreated a meme on the big screen, the X-Men movies beat them to it. But we prefer our friendly neighborhood Spider-Mans.