Axel-In-Charge: Unmasking the "Totally Awesome Hulk"
The NFL’s image has taken several hits in recent years, with a few teams sustaining serious (if largely self-inflicted) damage. Perhaps it’s time for the entire league to undergo a makeover — a Marvel makeover.
Justin Kozisek has reimagined the helmets (and mascots) of all 32 teams, bringing the Marvel Football League from the 616 universe to ours. Surely attendance would skyrocket at stadiums nationwide if fans could watch the Philadelphia Fin Fang Fooms face the New England Star-Lords, or the Pittsburgh Hydra battle the Jacksonville Rockets.
For many, stars of professional sports are the closest things to real life superheroes. They’re bigger, stronger, and faster than seems humanly possible. They’re able to perform feats beyond the capabilities of your average individual, jumping and twisting and barreling through opponents.
But just imagine: If the stars of the NFL really were superheroes of comic book lore, who would be whom? The folks at NFL Memes went and matched up the biggest names in football with the biggest characters in comics to answer that question with these incredible mashup renditions. Some are obvious, like Calvin Johnson as Megatron and Cam Newton as Superman, but others are pretty spot on. There’s Odell Beckham Jr. as Spider-Man, Peyton Manning as Iron Man, Rob Gronkowski as Thor, and – perhaps best of all – Andrew Luck as the Beast.
In late February, the NBA asked Miami Heat forward LeBron James not to wear the black protective face mask that drew comparisons to Batman and Bane. Now the NFL is making its own move against masks with similar comic-book parallels
NFL Network reports the league will ban non-standard/overbuilt face masks in the 2014 season, saying they aren’t up to safety standards. That means Oakland Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck will have to say farewell to his “Shredder Mask,” which he named because of its similarity to the one worn by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain. So too will Raiders rookie Khalil Mack, who wore a similar design in college.
And no Bane masks, either. According to NFL Network, four players last season wore what will soon be considered illegal face masks.
Although Red Robin’s television spots for its Wolverine-themed burgers have been getting a lot of play, the winner of the award for best tie-in has to go to the ESPYs and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
In the commercial for ESPN’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award, the enthusiastic nominee reads a copy of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine #1 as his teammate Matt Kalil explains, “You can shoot him, stab him, set him on fire — Wolverine takes a beating and keeps coming back.” Naturally, that leaves an opening for Peterson to bring up his nomination for best comeback … and to don a football helmet, festooned with the mutant’s trademark hair and sideburns. There’s also a funny cameo by The Wolverine star Hugh Jackman.
The ESPYs ceremony airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ESPN. The Wolverine premieres July 26.
I think if I mention the NFL and Marvel Comics in the same blog post, there has to be a reference to NFL SuperPro. Union rules, or something. So there you go.
With that out of the way … Marvel and the Dallas Cowboys announced this week a line of T-shirts, hoodies and other apparel featuring the football team and Marvel characters. “Through an agreement that enables the Dallas Cowboys to license Marvel’s Super Heroes, the team will develop co-branded merchandise featuring Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and many other Super Heroes decked out in Cowboys’ team colors, logos and jerseys.” What, no Rawhide Kid, Two-Gun Kid or Kid Colt?
If you’re thinking these might be popular with comic retailers in the Dallas area, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had the same thought, as they reached out to Lone Star Comics owner Buddy Saunders, who owns six stores in the Metroplex. “Sports fans are predominantly male, and comic fans are predominantly male. It’s sort of like branding yourself with two things — the team you like and your favorite superheroes,” he told the paper.
This isn’t the first time that Marvel has crossed over into the world of sports merchandise. Marvel characters have appeared on several NBA shirts, including the Hulk on a Celtics shirt and of course the infamous one for the (cough, cough) world champion Miami Heat.