Twitter was dominated by Spider-Man memes and references to Hollywood blockbuster Independence Day as Dominic Cummings made a series of damaging claims on live television over the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Giving evidence to MPs, Mr Cummings – who left Downing Street in acrimonious circumstances last year – was scathing about some of those he worked with during the pandemic.
While that was perhaps not surprising, what was less expected was his use of an internet reference to illustrate what he saw as a lack of accountability.
“You know that Spider-Man meme, both the Spider-Mans pointing at each other?” Mr Cummings told MPs.
“It’s like that but with everybody… all the different Spider-Mans are pointing at each other saying ‘you’re responsible’.”
The comment unsurprisingly prompted a flurry of comedy responses, with former minister David Gauke tweeting: “What? It’s SpiderMan’s fault!”
“At last! We are finally getting to Spiderman’s role in this shambles. He has got away unscrutinised to far too long,” wrote Financial Times journalist Robert Shrimsley.
The Guardian’s media editor, Jim Waterson, added: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so Extremely Online speaking from a position of relative seniority in UK politics, I guess this is the future we’ve got now.”
Mr Cummings also said the Government’s delay in locking down and lack of an action plan was similar to sci-fi movie Independence Day, in which the US is devastated by a surprise alien invasion.
He went on to compare one colleague, data expert Ben Warner, to Jeff Goldblum’s scientist in the film, whose warnings were ignored to disastrous consequences.
“This is like a scene from Independence Day with Jeff Goldblum saying, ‘the aliens are here and your whole plan is broken, and you need a new plan’,” he said.
“There’s always a Jeff Goldblum moment!” author Giles Paley-Phillips tweeted.
“I like the Independence Day analogy I hope he has more fun film analogies where he is a hero,” joked comedian Rosie Holt.
Matt Hancock was one of the most prominent people criticised by Mr Cummings, who said he believed the Health Secretary “should’ve been fired for at least 15, 20 things” during the crisis.
Many immediately recalled a video that morning of Mr Hancock jogging down the street after being asked if he was worried about Mr Cummings’ testimony.
“You know that video of Hancock going for a run this morning? He’s not coming back, is he?” wrote one Twitter user after Mr Cummings’ comments.
Making reference to Mr Hancock’s choice of attire – an England cricket shirt – another wrote that they thought it was James Anderson “running into bowl”, to which the swing specialist replied with a laughing emoji.
By midday, Mr Cummings’ explosive statements had drawn a sizeable audience, with several top trending topics revolving around his evidence.
The Thick Of It writer Simon Blackwell tweeted “Is The Thick Of It trending yet?” to which one of the political sitcom’s stars, Chris Addison, drily replied: “Every f***ing day.”
Another striking element of the hearing was Mr Cummings’ admission that he had not told the full story of his famous trip to the North East during the first lockdown.
The revelation prompted comedian Janey Godley to bring things full circle, joking that the former Number 10 adviser had in fact travelled north to meet Spider-Man and Goldblum.