This is a response to We Need More Animated Stories Like 'Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse.'
If you’re not someone who has been sucked into the multiverse thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sony, you are probably not familiar with “canon events” that have taken over TikTok the past couple of weeks. For those who are confused over this popular term that currently has over 500 million views on the app, here's what it all means.
You may have heard the term canon before, referring to film and TV adaptations, which basically means the story follows a source material or is true to a book it was originally based on. In Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, we are introduced to the concept of canon events. In the multiverse (which is the term for alternate dimensions and multiple timelines that exist all at once), a canon event is a character-defining moment that has to happen to every version of you in every universe.
In the case of Spider-Man, he is told by another Spider-Man (in the multiverse there are different versions of Spider-Man) that in order for his timeline to continue accordingly, he has to lose someone who is very close to him. The real catch is that if you know something is a canon event, particularly an upsetting one that could hurt you or someone else, you are supposed to let it happen and not interfere with any of the upcoming events leading up to the moment.
Like many pop culture references, TikTok has done its job and turned canon events into a viral trend of its own. Now, everyone's FYP is probably filled with people talking about not being able to interfere in someone else's life when they see something cliché about to happen to them, especially if you’ve been through it yourself. These things are therefore canon events, which means it's an experience you have to live through to turn you into who you’re meant to be.
This is true TikTok fashion where creators turned this philosophical concept about the multiverse into satirical and relatable content. From not being able to stop the bi girl from dating the below average indie guy before she finds the perfect woman, or the person with curly hair going through their straighten hair phase, TikTok is pointing out some of our most realistic life choices to make light of them, as well as pointing out their significance.
One creator wrote, “Watching the girl who hates studying choose to go to uni straight out of highschool because she doesn’t know what else to do,” and I have to say I have never read a more relatable post. As a college student that can relate to this, I can confidently say that going to college was supposed to happen — one of my canon events.
But the concept of canon events certainly does make me wonder: Are there some undesirable things that we have to go through so we can grow and become the person we are supposed to be, and can we ever just skip past them without any lasting impact on our lives?
It's probably true that certain challenges are beneficial, if not very necessary to our character development — and for that reason, canon events are crucial. But some might say there is also value in rejecting our fated destiny and learning from others’ mistakes before we make our own. It’s like when people say everything happens for a reason — are we just saying that in regards to a terrible situation hoping something beneficial comes out of it, or do we actually believe everything happens for a reason?
It's heavily hinted that in the third Spider-Verse film, we might see the entire concept of canon events challenged, as Spider-Man and his friends go against their arranged scripts and choose their own path. We will just have to watch and see if, after its release, TikTok determines whether we’ll ever be able to get ahead of our own canon events and say no thanks to the firm rules of the multiverse.