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The Avengers: Infinity War spoiler joke is the Ready Player One of memes

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Photo: Marvel Studios

Major spoilers for the ending of Avengers: Infinity War to follow.

At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, a gauntlet-wielding Thanos snaps his fingers and effectively dooms half of civilization to death. Captain America watches helplessly as his best bud Bucky dissolves into a pile of dust. Spider-Man sputters “I don’t feel so good,” and bites it in Tony Stark’s arms. Even Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury can’t escape death.

In true internet fashion, fans are commemorating the tragic loss of so many fan favorites (before some of them inevitably return for sequels) as a meme. Paired with Spider-Man’s final words, the joke includes an image of some character disappearing — like, Spongebob, or maybe Jack from Titantic.

That’s it. That’s the whole meme.

Memes spread for many reasons — they’re relatable, easily replicated, they’re lovable nonsense. This particular meme is referential humor at its most boring; if you’ve seen Infinity War, you get it. If not, well, you’ve been staring at spoilers without realizing it.

Although the meme has spawned a few creative jokes, like using the iconic Windows logo, it’s mostly just applying it to whatever character or object you want. It’s best appreciated if you’ve seen Infinity War, or at least know how it ends; if not, it’s lost on you. It’s a meme-ified version of Ready Player One, a story that spews pop culture references like confetti bursting out of a crappy, DeLorean-shaped piñata.

These viral jokes work because they’re within reach of anyone who gets the joke, but accessible doesn’t equal lazy — or at least, it doesn’t need to. The culmination that is Infinity War pulled together a decade’s worth of storylines, references, hat tips, and Easter eggs. The least we could all do is put a little effort into its first meme.