What are two things that everyone likes? Superheroes and humor. When you combine these and post image macros on the Internet, you have a winning combination. Certain 4chan users were smart enough to put two and two together. In the resulting Internet trend, the 60’s Spiderman meme was born, an image macro series using humorous screenshots from the 1967 Spiderman cartoon and witty captions. The well-known Peter Parker from then on had been transformed something Stan Lee never saw coming: Spiderman became a total clown.
The absurdly wacky Spiderman cartoon series from the 1960’s was low budget and quite often had some ridiculous instances of bad animation and goofy writing that somewhat insulted Spiderman’s legacy. In the conquest of the Internet, it makes logical sense that such odd material became a meme.
In 2009, Marvel began streaming the episodes on its website. This created a new fandom (and I use the term loosely) of the show. Users of 4chan’s /co/board of cartoons invited others to watch the show with each other and review episodes as they were streamed. Screenshots of Spiderman swingin across stock photos of cities were very representative of the show’s low animation budget. Entire boards were devoted to image macros pointing out various quirks in the show’s animation and making them into very LOLcat-esque image macros. One of the earliest examples of these boards was titled “Spider-man on his day off” and contained 153 examples of the human arachnid’s outrageous escapades. Quite often, Spiderman image macros are posted to demonstrate the posters’ apathy in that Spiderman declares that he does not give a… well, you get the idea.
On February 1st, 2011, the Tumblr site “You’re a horrible man, Spiderman Brown” was founded as the first Tumblr site entirely devoted to the odd adventures of ’67 Spiderman. Many other Tumblrs and websites were founded for the same purpose. Since January of 2011, Google search traffic for “spiderman meme” has been slowly growing, showing signs of the meme’s popularity.
Why on Earth is this series of absurd image macros so popular, though? It makes sense, if one ponders. Everyone likes superheroes. When such an bad cartoon makes such a series of memes capable though awful animation, we feel free to take our own liberties with the concept in a sense that we become the superhero ourselves. However, in our constant efforts to please everyone, it becomes more of a comedic gesture than an act of superhero-like philanthropy. When it’s with such a well-known character as Spiderman, results are by no means hard to find or boring in any way, shape, or form.