The Spider-Man TikTok trend that almost wasn’t

spiderman tiktok
(Photo: TikTok)
“I can’t interfere, it’s a canon event,” read the captions on the videos, as an ominous audio clip plays in the background.

Those TikToks, a mixture of concern and schadenfreude, are a few of the thousands of videos powering a trend that has catapulted a new phrase into the pop culture lexicon: the “canon event,” a pivotal moment that must happen in order for people to mature into their future selves. It’s a concept that draws on the music and plot of the animated blockbuster “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” But that language almost did not make it into the film.اضافة اعلان

“A canon event is something that’s unfortunate at the time it happens, that turns out to have happened for a reason,” said John Casterline, a 19-year-old creator who has 3.5 million followers on TikTok.

The videos play with this concept by spotlighting those disappointing, mortifying, or simply weird moments that we wish we could change: breaking up with a high school sweetheart, getting kicked out of a friend group, or adopting an embarrassing hairstyle.

Choosing to see these events as immutable canon and posting about them on TikTok is a form of group catharsis — a recognition that it’s precisely because of those moments that we’ve become who we are today.

“Since you get to know that people have this shared cringey, awkward experience, you do not feel alone,” said Josh Referente, a 20-year-old creator on TikTok who has more than 1 million followers and who has posted several canon event videos. “It helps you process it a lot better. It was a step in your life that helps you move toward the right direction.”

The phrase “canon event” is not entirely new — in comics culture and superhero fandom, canon has long meant those elements of a character’s story that are part of a shared fictional universe.

But the phrase was popularized by “Across the Spider-Verse,” which has topped $600 million at the box office worldwide. In the film, Miles Morales travels to a universe full of other Spider-People and learns that each one is destined for a series of “canon events,” including the loss of a parental figure and the death of a police captain. To interfere with any of these canon events is to invite the destruction of the entire multiverse.

Originally, the film was not going to include any mention of a canon event, Kemp Powers, one of the film’s three directors, said in an interview. The team had settled on “convergence event,” but that term confused the early focus groups who saw the movie, so they switched to canon instead.

“One of the funny things about it is the whole idea of the canon event was something that we were worried people weren’t going to understand right till the last minute,” Powers said. “So the fact that not only did they understand this concept but that it took on a life of its own, I thought was really entertaining.”

Powers, who does not have a TikTok account, said that for a while he didn’t know social media was running with the concept. After the film’s release, he was sitting in Los Angeles International Airport when he heard two people cracking jokes about canon events.

“And I’m like, ‘That can’t be about our movie.’ You know what I mean? I was just like, that’s weird,” he said.

But soon friends and even his two children started sending him TikToks.

“If you’re so lucky to put something out in the world that connects to people, it’s a reminder that it immediately doesn’t belong to you anymore,” he said. “You have no idea what they’re going to do with it.”

The canon event videos follow a specific formula. They feature a scene or a caption that captures an awkward or regrettable real-life moment accompanied by a snippet from a portion of the score, “Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara),” and include the parenthetical phrase: “It’s a canon event. I can’t interfere.”

The score was composed by Daniel Pemberton, who said that segment was the product of a synthesizer being run through a variety of algorithms to end up with a “punchline” bit of audio.

He said he faced his own canon events while composing the music.

“I had to fail a lot within this score with ideas that didn’t work until I found ideas that really did,” he said.

For Pemberton, it’s natural that the idea of a canon event has resonated with so many people.

“I don’t really do a lot of social media but I think there has always been a projection of unattainable or unrealistic lifestyle that I found quite toxic, and the thing I like about canon event is, it’s giving people a bit more ownership over the truth of their lives,” he said.

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