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There has been a lot to get extremely emotional about over the past few days. And yet, against all odds, climbing the top of my list as I ruminate, gaze into the dark recesses of my own soul, and drink rum (the order in which those activities are placed does not mean to imply that rum drinking is least frequent of the three), is this: Where the sweet hell was Gritty in the Avengers: Endgame election meme?
The meme took the world the internet Twitter the bubble of Twitter obsessed with dumb election memes and also pop culture by storm last Friday, when it Hulked its way onto our social media feeds depicting a host of political figures defeating Orange Thanos in the style of Avengers: Endgame's famous portal scene. The world all of Twitter I shrieked. We tore at our hair. Some people (including Mark Ruffalo) shared the meme approvingly. Others engaged in a time-honored Twitter dunk-a-thon, decrying its corniness and general WTFery and, oh yeah, the fact that Sean Connery is there.
That's the one thing that everyone seemed to agree on: In a meme depicting political figures coming to Biden's rescue to defeat Trump... uh... Sean Connery? Connery: Famously not a politician. Connery: Famously not American. (He is, as depicted so convincingly in the classic feature film Highlander, a son of Spain.) Connery: Famously thought it was chill to hit women sometimes, y'know, if they got too saucy. John H. Piette, who created the America: Endgame meme (as it's now known), said in an interview with Vulture that Sean Connery was there because he needed a dead dude and liked the idea of Connery riding into battle on RBG's shoulder, which... OK. I actually can't argue with that.
But. Counterpoint. WHITHER GRITTY?
Gritty: Sports mascot. Chaos demon. Sweet and beautiful soul. Philadelphia's daimon, or maybe the manifestation of the city as a god, like Roma. With the election hinging in many ways on the vote count in Philadelphia, and with Philadelphians taking to the street—sometimes in costume—to ensure their votes would be counted, Gritty went from a somewhat fringe figure known and respected among Philadelphians and the Terminally Online to a figure of international interest, with no less than French newspaper Le Monde screaming to the skies: C'est quoi Gritty?
I'll tell you who Gritty wasn't quoi — he wasn't in the Avengers: Endgame meme, even though as a manifestation of populist eff-around-and-find-out-ism he would have fit perfectly. That Gritty deserved a spot in the meme (and he has been muchly memed over the past week) is without question. The only point of question is which of the Avengers and their various hangers-on he should have been. Let's present some options:
- Captain America: No. This will work better when Gritty runs for President himself in 2024.
- Giant-Man: The image of late Congressman John Lewis as a giant version of Ant-Man busting through rubble to nutpunch Trump (Disney just didn't show us that part, but trust me, it's there) is the only part of Piette's meme that, through the power of sheer ridiculousness, worked for me, so it stays.
- Thor: In the meme, he's.... Hunter Biden? Which doesn't really make sense to me, either. Gritty, like Thor, is possessed of follicular magnificence and looks amazing shirtless. (Well, I assume.) It's possible. Let's come back to it.
- Hulk: In the meme, the Hulk is John McCain. McCain never really had Hulk's big-green-Professor-Daddy vibe from Endgame down. Or the rage monster thing, for that matter. And Gritty is, like the Hulk, a creature of pure, unhinged Id. We're getting closer, but I think we can take it home.
- Iron Man: This is it. The true, original leader of the Avengers, like Gritty is the true, original leader of our souls. He's saved us so many times. We all—all of America, all of the world—love him 3,000. And, anyway, in the meme, Elon Musk gets to be Iron Man. Elon Musk. He doesn't even go here!
Gritty shoulda been in the meme, and he shoulda been Iron Man, gazing soulfully into Greta Thunberg's eyes in a true meeting of the minds.