When Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters in April of 2018, the internet was full of memes discussing how the film was the greatest crossover event in the history of modern pop culture. And that film held the record for greatest crossover event for an entire year, until Avengers: Endgame — the sequel to the aforementioned film — came out. Truth be told, it’s going to be really hard for any movie, or anything in general, to top the financial success and cultural phenomenon that was these two Avengers films.
Naturally, those films have spawned a slew of different types of associations and offshoots. One of them includes an intrepid graphics designers re-imagining all 32 helmets of teams in the National Football League being merged with famous superheroes of Marvel Comics.
If you’re one of those people who grew up a sports fan and a comic books fan, you’re definitely in the right place. Special thanks to talented artist Justin Kozisek whose superhuman skills made this mash-up possible.
Arizona — Phoenix
Giving the Phoenix to the Arizona Cardinals, who were once-upon-a-time called the “Phoenix Cardinals” themselves, was a no-brainer. As many comic book fans are well aware, the Phoenix was the official name of the cosmic entity that consumes Jean Grey of the X-Men, documented in the renowned “Dark Phoenix Saga.”
In the summer of 2019, the film adaptation of this storyline is set to come out in theaters, with Sophie Turner set to reprise her role as Grey.
Atlanta — Deadpool
Instead of the “Dirty Bird,” Atlanta’s professional football team gets to don the infamous “Merc(ernary) with a Mouth” on its helmet. In case you forgot: his name is not “Captain Deadpool,” but rather just Deadpool. While you might wonder why there isn’t a bird on the helmet, don’t forget that Atlanta’s red and black colors jive well with Deadpool’s getup.
For anyone who’s never seen the big screen depiction Ryan Reynolds’ take on the wisecracking anti-hero, do yourself a favor and go check it out (and make sure you check out the sequel too).
While associating the Baltimore Ravens with Hawkeye was kind of a given because of the purple motif shared by the two entities, it’s rather ironic that the purple getup famous worn by the noted Avengers archer in the comic books isn’t seen at all in the films in the MCU. In fact, throughout the movies, you only see SHIELD Agent Clint Barton in all-black getups.
One interesting fact that most people don’t realize: throughout the MCU, the only mention of the name “Hawkeye” comes once when it was teased in the original “Avengers” film, and fully stated in Endgame (a moniker which Barton uses for his archery-loving daughter).
Buffalo — Rhino
The Bison — the animal which the mascot of the Buffalo Bills is derived — is a member of the bovine family. Meanwhile, the rhinoceros is actually a mammal. So, there’s not a lot of common, outside of the fact that both of them have horns of some kind. Apparently, that’s just good enough for a substitute in this case.
In the comic book world, Rhino is a gamma radiation-enhanced Russian villain who was a member of the Sinister Six, and thus beefed with Spider-Man.
Carolina — Wolverine
Did the designer(s) of this helmet overlook the completely obvious superhero that would’ve been perfect for Charlotte’s professional football team, giving them the tri-clawed Wolverine (an animal that’s not even in the cat family) instead of the king of Wakanda, aka the Black Panther himself?
While you’d be remiss to make any superhero list that doesn’t feature one of the most famous members of the X-Men, this one easily has to be the biggest miss of all 32 teams, especially considering the enormous success of the Black Panther film at the box office.
Chicago — Ultron
It was rather clever of the designer to use the famous Chicago “C” and turn it sideways for the U with which Ultron begins. One of the most famous super villains in Marvel Comics, and someone who once even wielded the Infinity Gauntlet, most causal fans remember Ultron as the main antagonist in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Regardless, even though “Bears” have little to do with a self-replicating robot hellbent on the extinction of mankind (in order to preserve the Earth), this association still works nicely.
Cincinnati — Symbiote (Carnage)
One of the coolest looking designs among all of the helmets, this design deftly turns the stripes of the Cincinnati Bengals to the tangled web created by the alien symbiote in the famous Spider-Man story arc. In this case, the reddish-orange and black symbiote symbolizes Carnage, an offshoot (or even offspring) of famous Spider-Man arch nemesis Venom, who took over the body of serial killer Cletus Kasady.
Carnage’s wrath and path of destruction was so great that it even forced Spider-Man and Venom to work together to take down Kasady.
Cleveland — Thing
Look, we all know that, with the benefit of hindsight, and given the cinematic excellence of the MCU, the Fantastic Four films released by Fox look pretty terrible. But for most casual superhero fans, that’s their only association with Ben Grimm, also known as the “Thing” — a superhero imbued with a rock-like hide, giving him superhuman strength and making him virtually indestructible.
Michael Chiklis portrayed the Thing in the original Fantastic Four film (released in 2005) and its 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Indianapolis — Galactus
The brain trust behind the MCU did an outstanding job of positioning Thanos as one of the best villains in cinematic history. But fans of Marvel Comics know that Galactus, the devourer of worlds, might be one of the few super villains more feared than even the mad titan Thanos.
A god-like figure who literally eats planets to consume himself, Galactus has little to do with the other horse-based team mascot in the NFL, until you look closely at the “U”-looking horns behind the head of Galactus, and realize how similar it is to the horseshoe symbol for the Colts.
Houston — Odin
Odin Allfather, the son of Bor, and the father of Thor, isn’t probably someone you’d associate with the city of Houston. But the steer or bull on the helmet of the Houston Texans has been altered cleverly to resemble the face of the mythical king of Asgard.
In the MCU, Odin is portrayed by another legend in Sir Anthony Hopkins. Unsurprisingly, Hopkins does a magnificent job of showing the Allfather’s wrath, leadership, and empathy across all three Thor films.
Green Bay — Iron Fist
Danny Rand, the Kung Fu-practicing vigilante known as the Iron Fist, was born in New York City, which happens to be a long way from America’s heartland proverbial Mecca of NFL football in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
But the green dragon symbol, which is branded on Rand’s chest after he defeats Shou-Lao the Undying in the dojo of K’un-L’un, works very well as a replacement for the renowned “G” symbol on the Packers’ helmets.
Detroit — Beast
There’s a nice symmetry with Detroit’s professional football team replacing the Honolulu blue silhouette of the king of the jungle, and replacing him with the genius enforcer of the X-Men… who just so happens to be all blue himself.
After years of wandering in football’s version of purgatory, perhaps Dr. Henry McCoy — the real name of the character known as “Beast” — would be a fine choice to run the organization, and try to bring it to relevance (if not prominence)?
Denver — Brood
Obviously, the mascot of the Denver Broncos are horses. And while “The Brood” is a fictional race of insectoid, parasitic aliens who (coincidentally) very closely resemble the alien-like creatures from the “Alien” and/or “Independence Day” film franchises, they’re easily adapted when it comes to the symbol on this helmet.
Considering The Brood’s clashes with both the X-Men and the Kree, it’ll be interesting to see if they pop up in future phases of the MCU.
Dallas — Captain America
If you’re someone who hates the Dallas Cowboys, then this association will definitely rub you the wrong way. But even the most ardent Cowboys-haters have to acknowledge that the team that’s previously been described (rightfully or not) as “America’s Team” would be most deserving of this character.
And even if you do disagree with that association, you can’t ignore the fact that the Cowboys’ most famous quarterback in franchise history was a guy given the nickname “Captain America” himself (Roger Staubach).
Jacksonville — Rocket Raccoon
It’s debatable as to who should be more insulted: the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise, who saw their team mascot changed to a rodent-like superhero, or Rocket Raccoon himself, who’ll have to associate with a team that hasn’t done a whole lot of winning since coming into the league in 1995.
An interesting fact that even the most season MCU fans might not know: the name and aspects of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s weapons specialist character are a nod to The Beatles’ 1968 song “Rocky Raccoon”.
Kansas City — Spider-Man
All red helmet? This worked out near perfectly… although it would’ve been totally perfect if the Kansas City Chiefs’ helmet colors included black instead of white. If that were the case, they would be the perfect transformation for perhaps the most well-known superhero amongst all the Marvel Comics.
Even with the MCU turning characters like Captain America and Iron Man into near household names, virtually everyone recognizes Spider-Man faster than even those two guys.
Los Angeles Chargers — Sentry
In a way, Sentry is a very fitting character to blend with the Los Angeles Chargers. After all, both of them seem to be afterthoughts in their respective domains. Even the most ardent fans of Marvel Comics or the MCU probably can’t tell you very much about Sentry, other than the fact that he’s a robot given life by the Kree.
Similarly, most people don’t really give much notice to the Chargers, even though they remain one of the more consistently relevant franchises over the past few decades.
Los Angeles Rams — Doctor Octopus
Nobody is going to mistake Los Angeles Rams’ head coach Sean McVay for Otto Octavius, but there’s absolutely a certain level of “mad scientist” in the former that draws similarities to the latter. So, maybe associating the reigning NFC champions to one of the founding villains of the Sinister Six makes sense.
Of course, McVay’s schemes are much more about coming up with ways to defeat opposing defenses and defensive coordinators, as opposed to ridding the world of a certain friendly, web-slinging, neighborhood superhero.
Miami — Namor
Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen Avengers: Endgame: when Natasha Romanoff is meeting the holograms of the remaining Avengers and their associates who are left, she had a conversation with Okoye, the General of the Dora Milaje of Wakanda, when the Okay makes reference to an “underwater Earthquake” that took place.
That’s almost certainly an Easter Egg nod to Namor, a sea-based superhero, who will make his first appearance in Phase 4 of the MCU. So tying him with the Miami Dolphins makes plenty of sense here.
Minnesota — Venom
What do the famous Norse seafarers have to do with an alien symbiote that famously became one of Spider-Man’s most feared villains? Nothing, really. Outside of the fact that both the “Vikings” and “Venom” both start with the letter “V,” the real association comes from the fact that the Viking horn on Minnesota’s helmet looks very similar to the pointy eyes of Venom.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Venom character introduced in 2018 by Sony Pictures will get its own film franchise, as they’ve currently teased.
Philadelphia — Fin Fang Foom
The birthplace of our nation and the famous home of some of our great country’s protagonists might not be too appreciative of receiving a mascot that was a villain who famously squared off against Iron Man and War Machine, but here we are.
The dragon-like Fin Fang Foom — unsurprisingly — hails originally from the Far East, where he was awakened to help Chinese rebels fight off incoming Communist invaders.
Oakland — Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
While the designers of this look converted the Silver and Black’s mascot from sea-faring marauders to CIA-like secret agents charged with maintaining the Earth’s overall security, they did a damn good job of doing so (and having Nick Fury on the helmet is always a nice touch).
As agent Phil Coulson informed us earlier on, the Raiders’ probably don’t want to be known as the “Agents of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.” So, “Agents of SHIELD” is definitely a lot easier to say.
New York Jets — Quin-Jet
For those who aren’t familiar, the Quinjet is described as “a technologically advanced jet belonging to S.H.I.E.L.D., and frequently used by the Avengers and STRIKE teams for transportation.” Used in all the Avengers films, with its origins shown in the Captain Marvel film, using this — instead of a superhero — works perfectly with the New York Jets.
In fact, it’s doubly perfect when you consider that the Jets drafted Quinnen Williams with their top overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
New York Giants — Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange, who took up residence in Sanctum Sanctorum located at 177A Bleecker Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village, is a fitting superhero pairing for the G-men (especially when you see the way the letters on the Giants’ helmet are tweaked to read “ds.”).
Sure, the world-famous surgeon-turned Sorcerer Supreme doesn’t really jive with the blue-collar mentality of the Giants, but… nobody’s perfect.
New Orleans — Nova
In the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, we got a very early glimpse at the Nova Corps, an intergalactic military/police force charged with protecting the planet Xandar.
While the planet was destroyed in the Infinity War/Endgame film saga, we’re almost certainly going to see the superhero Nova in Phase 4 of the MCU, and he’ll almost certainly have something to do with the now-defunct planet.
With Nova’s off-gold colored helmet, it only makes sense to blend together Nova’s helmet with that of the New Orleans Saints.
New England — Star-Lord
Sincere apologies to anyone who’s a fan of the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the opposite of a fan of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. While Peter Quill (also known as Star-Lord) is from Missouri (at least in the MCU), his cosmic face-plate that allows him to travel in space works well as a replacement for the Patriot character on the helmet of New England’s professional football team.
Plus, can’t you see a few similarities between Quill and Tom Brady?
Pittsburgh — HYDRA
A city that fancies itself as one of symbols of blue-collar Americana will likely take great exception to having the mascot of its beloved football team replaced with that of a fictional terrorist organization that’s responsible for a lot of bad things in the Marvel Comics universe.
But the red, yellow, and blue charges on the helmet of the Pittsburgh Steelers is nicely replaced in this rendition of the multi-headed HYDRA serpent.
Somehow, changing the chant from “Here we go Steelers” to “Hail Hydra” doesn’t feel like it would work, though.
San Francisco — Iron Man
One of the most beloved characters in the MCU gets paired with one of the most well-respected franchises in the NFL. It’s rather fitting that San Francisco’s famous professional football team, named after those who participated in the 1849 Gold Rush, would receive the superhero whose armor was made of a special titanium-gold alloy.
In fact, as genius, billionaire, philanthropist, playboy Tony Stark quipped in the first “Iron Man” film, which would serve as the rock in which the MCU was built upon, there isn’t even any iron in the armor. Which is why the team all about gold makes a lot of sense here.
Seattle — The Incredible Hulk
The designer of this helmet did a nice job with replacing the bird face of the Seahawk with the “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” grimace of the Incredible Hulk. It’s the closest one can probably come to turning an NFL design into one that includes the alter ego of Dr. Bruce Banner.
Where this designer really missed an opportunity is to leverage Seattle’s sea-green “alternate” uniform colors, which closely resembles that of the Hulk’s skin color.
Tampa Bay — The Punisher
Tampa Bay is another team that gets its pirate-like mascot replaced with a more protagonist-type figure.
Except in the case of the Buccaneers, the Pirates are replaced by one character: the Punisher, an Italian-American vigilante whose only real superpower is being a highly decorated former member of the Marines, driven by the deaths of his wife and two children who were killed by the mob.
Tennessee — Thor
If you look close enough, doesn’t the current helmet of the Tennessee Titans already have an Asgardian feel to it? The blue flames coming off the regal-looking T in the middle of the helmet already looks worthy of the realm eternal.
And in this case, it’s rather easy to replace said “T” with Mjölnir, the magical hammer of Thor that was his staple weapon in virtually all of the early MCU films.
If one were so inclined, Stormbreaker — Thor’s weapon in Infinity War — could probably be substituted here as well.
Washington — Groot
If the Washington Redskins are ever “officially” forced to change their name (due to the mascot’s perceived racial and ethnic insensitivity towards Native Americans), this might be one of the cleanest replacements they could go with, and a great way to endear themselves back to fans they might’ve otherwise alienated.
Few characters in the MCU, if not movie history, were able to capture the hearts of fans in the way that both adult and baby Groot did in the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films, even if his entire lexicon was limited to “I am Groot.”