We here at Empire are extremely woke when it comes to the internet (we think that's what the word means). So here, for your entertainment, are 15 of the dankest memes to enter our bandwidth this year.
15. Norman Reedus holding things
The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus is a bit of an icon on the internet, so when he popped up in the trailer for the new video game Death Stranding, the internet responded the only way it knew how: with Photoshop.
14. Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets
Upcoming Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel has been running his Mean Tweets segment of his late night show for a while now, and this movie star edition was particularly memorable, especially to see Sean Penn read one of his fans describe his “penis nose”.
13. Bad Lip Reading: Star Wars
Bad Lip Reading is a simple but perfectly-executed YouTube concept, replacing the dialogue of old videos with new nonsense – and they went big with Star Wars, recruiting Jack Black, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader. If you’ve ever wanted to hear Grand Moff Tarkin say “turd burglar”, this is your chance.
For an antidote to Donald Trump’s ever-ubiquitous bloviating tweets, there was @ArtHouseTrump, which reimagined the Orange One’s missives as a bloviating lover of niche independent films. It’s time to Make Cinema Great Again!
11. SNL: Kylo Ren Undercover Boss
As the buzz for last year’s The Force Awakens continued into the new year, this SNL sketch created an alter-ego for Kylo Ren in the form of Matt the Radar Technician, whose impassive face and thumbs up became almost as iconic as the Knight of Ren himself.
Nobody quite expected Netflix’s Stranger Things to explode as much as it did, and certainly nobody could have expected Barb – a minor character who only appeared in five episodes – to be the internet’s unlikely breakout star. Her untimely death at the Demogorgon hands sparked a #JusticeForBarb campaign, murals, posters, gifs, and this quite extraordinary performance from a drag queen going by the name Pandora Boxx. (Barb’s almost certainly dead, by the way.)
Is it self-indulgent to include our own meme in this list? Possibly. But when we asked the Twittersphere to list their favourite seven films using a hashtag, we didn’t quite expect the response. Over 100,000 tweets were posted in the first 24 hours, with high profile Twitterers like Ricky Gervais, Amy Schumer, Rob Lowe and Mindy Kaling getting in on the act. See the full results here.
8. Rogue One – Canary Wharf
When the first teaser for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story landed in April, many Londoners were bemused to see Canary Wharf tube station featured in among the X-Wings and AT-ATs. Some dedicated Star Wars fans were even inspired to recreate the scene while drunkenly trying to catch the last train home.
7. Deadpool Valentine’s Day viral
Winner of perhaps the best marketing campaign of the year, Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool – irreverent, sex-obsessed, mouth like a sailor – seemed tailor-made for the internet. The viral videos were many and bountiful, but this fake Valentine’s Day poster, so convincing that it surely tricked a few gullible romantics, is a highlight.
6. Doctor Strange jumping
When Benedict Cumberbatch and his mystical pals were spotted filming Doctor Strange in New York, some fan videos showed the good doctor looking, well, a bit foolish without the benefit of CGI. Naturally, the internet cracked its knuckles, put on a pot of coffee, and got to work.
5. John Travolta is confused
John Travolta’s baffled reaction in Pulp Fiction has been floating around various corners of the internet for years, but continues to stay strong. Here is an abridged list of things Vincent Vega has been confused by: Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Ukrainian politicians fighting, a bus not stopping to pick him up, the Barbie aisle of a toy shop, and himself, many thousands of times over.
4. Hodor / Hold The Door
When Game Of Thrones gave finally some backstory to the gentle giant known as Hodor, doorstopper sales went through the roof.
3. Sad Ben Affleck
When confronted with the lukewarm reviews for this year’s Batman v Superman, Ben Affleck’s face was a mountain: contours of sadness, remorse and melancholy etched across his face like a thousand years of film-critic-based erosion. The result was 2016’s most depressing meme.
2. Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley
There’s been a dearth of material from Star Wars: Episode VIII, understandably, but one behind-the-scenes image left a great disturbance in the internet. Almost immediately, a million voices cried out in meme creation. Mark Hamill was only too happy to retweet the results.
1. David S Pumpkins
In a year where America seemed to tear itself apart, America’s Dad made it all better again. Saturday Night Live has always been a hit-or-miss sketch show almost by default, but here was an unbridled hit, in which Tom Hanks dresses up as a silly man, pulls a silly face, and does a silly dance. The four-and-a-half minute video inspired horror movie parodies, Halloween costumes, and even lengthy thinkpieces (one entitled “What David S. Pumpkins taught me about life.”) Mr Pumpkins' appeal is obvious. Any questions?
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