The Bully Maguire meme from Spider-Man 3 fits into almost any franchise, but he’s especially perfect for Star Wars. Here’s why.
Star Wars has thrived because of its memorable characters, ranging from Force users such as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker to cute critters like the Ewoks and Grogu. Though the list of beloved heroes and villains from a galaxy far, far away will most likely continue to grow, fans have also started taking matters into their own hands. With the help of video editing software, some fans have incorporated unnatural, or at least unofficial, characters into scenes from Star Wars movies and TV shows — and the best of them is undoubtedly Bully Maguire.
The meme was generated from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, in which Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire, acquires the Venom symbiote. Prolonged contact with the alien life-form causes Peter to act aggressively towards others, including Harry Osborn, Mary-Jane Watson and the staff of the Daily Bugle, and essentially become the opposite of his typically mild-mannered self. However, the film’s depiction of Peter’s “bad boy” persona was simultaneously cringeworthy and hilarious, preserving it in the collective memory of audiences since the film came out in 2007.
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The meme of the symbiote-infected Peter Parker, dubbed Bully Maguire, made his debut in YouTuber Aldo Jones’ “AVENGERS INFINITY WAR Weird Trailer” in which he seemingly targeted his “bullying” towards Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, presumably because Holland plays the same character as Maguire once did. This postmodern pastiche was incredibly popular with viewers and Bully Maguire became a recurring character in many of Jones’ others videos. Though he was initially inserted into scenes from Marvel Cinematic Universe films, he gradually branched out into other franchises, including Star Wars, and was adopted by a number of other content creators.
One major factor that makes Bully Maguire an especially good fit for Star Wars is the way in which his image and personality closely resemble a Sith Lord. His black clothing, slicked hairstyle, self-aggrandizing attitude and hostile responses make him a perfect comedic parody of Dark Side Force users. This is why he is typically substituted for Sith, such as Darth Maul or Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, when he is added into scenes from Star Wars properties. The version of Anakin from the Prequel films is a particularly perfect comparison, given that both he and Bully Maguire have been mocked for their laughable dialogue and failed efforts to appear “cool.”
In addition to lampooning the Sith, Maguire’s especially memorable “cool” dance has stood in for Luke in The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan during his confrontation with Anakin on Mustafar and even Han Solo during his meeting with Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, among a number of others. This versatility bodes well for his continued use in Star Wars fan content, which could even see a boost if rumors of Tobey Maguire’s return to the in-development Spider-Man 3 are confirmed.
Bully Maguire also serves as a reminder that there is a great deal of appeal to Star Wars when it it not taken too seriously. Though Star Wars‘ best scenes are often serious, there is leeway to see pure comedy in the films. The Prequels, for example, were often derided for their poor writing and general silliness, and yet fans have still found a way to enjoy them through memes more than 15 years after the release of Revenge of the Sith.
There’s almost no chance that Bully Maguire would ever be incorporated as a real Star Wars character, but video editing means he can play pretty much any role fans may want. The meme has now been going strong for two years and shows no signs of stopping, so if Star Wars is to have an unofficial best addition, Bully Maguire is certainly an inspired choice.
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