Living in a pineapple under the sea isn’t sparing SpongeBob from Thanos and all things Avengers: Infinity War. In the wake of the film’s premiere, Marvel fans are turning SpongeBob into the unofficial mascot of the film. Inspired by Tony Stark’s hilarious “Squidward” dig at Ebony Maw, fans are recutting clips from Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants into memes and videos riffing on Infinity War.
Since Infinity War, countless Marvel fans have been using the Nickelodeon series as meme material. A popular one popping off on Twitter, from user @mnmtwinz, recuts clips into the ending of Infinity War where (SPOILERS), the heroes dissolve after Thanos snaps his fingers to wipe out half the universe. Meanwhile, on Reddit, a rising post from NovaPrime15 spoofs Doctor Strange’s capture by Ebony Maw. Another meme is to just collect stills from SpongeBob and explain that it’s all spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, but with no context.
In Avengers: Infinity War, the first time Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark meets Ebony Maw, an alien who invades Earth as one of the “Children of Thanos,” Stark calls Ebony Maw “Squidward,” referencing the self-loathing squid and neighbor of the hyper-energetic SpongeBob. The “Squidward” line in the film conjured the first big laughs out of millennials of a certain age, even if it’s doubtful Robert Downey, Jr. has seen a single episode.
Just what makes SpongeBob so meme-able? It’s a popular question other places have asked, including Mashable and The Daily Dot. The answer is kind of simple: A whole generation grew up with the show. In its heyday, SpongeBob succeeded Looney Tunes as a wacky cartoon starring anthropomorphic sea creatures.
The show’s colorful, recognizable characters and long lifespan guarantees at least several moments that can live independently minus context, which is effectively how a meme is born: Blurry Mr. Krabs, Evil Patrick, Primitive SpongeBob, even less-popular gags like “Behold!” are easy to grasp without seeing a single episode. It’s probably how even a mega-billionaire with PTSD like Tony Stark can name-check Squidward.
Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters now.