As regular people, we sometimes see our favorite professional athletes in the same vein as superheroes — guys (and girls) being able to accomplish things that seem almost superhuman, sometimes in the midst of the most adverse circumstances.
It was with that inspiration, and the enormous popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), that we decided: which starting NFL quarterback compared the most favorably to the superheroes we’ve seen in MCU movies?
Here’s our best attempt at pairing those two groups together.
Tom Brady — Nick Fury
While nobody could (or should) question whether Tom Brady is the “GOAT” at quarterback, entering the 2019 NFL season at 42 years old, he’s probably at the phase of his career where he’s more of a “masterful Director” than he is a true superhero.
Over the course of his 19-year career, Brady has seen virtually everything. Although, like Director Nick Fury, he’s not only someone who can summon the might of his team to defeat anyone who stands in his path, he’s also a guy you wouldn’t want to make mad.
Aaron Rodgers — Iron Man
In Iron Man 2, the assessment report on Tony Stark read that he was prone to self destructive behaviors, demonstrates textbook narcissism, and in The Avengers movie, he was described as not working well with others. Does that sound familiar?
None of this is mentioned as a dig to Aaron Rodgers, who is one of those quarterbacks whose football intellect has transcended that of his peers, and has an improvisational style of play that can create absolute wonders on the field, though leave him susceptible to getting hurt. Still, there is no quarterback in the NFL that personifies the “genius, playboy, billionaire philanthropist” description more than Rodgers.
Patrick Mahomes — Captain Marvel
Once Patrick Mahomes was unleashed upon the rest of the NFL, the rest of the NFL quickly realized that Mahomes was effectively unstoppable. And that’s why his best comparison would be Captain Marvel, whom Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige basically called the most powerful superhero the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) had unveiled.
Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) was strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Thanos in Avengers: EndGame, and Mahomes is capable enough to go toe-to-toe with any quarterback alive. Oh, and the flowing tresses of hair possessed by both of them only helps out the comparison.
Josh Allen — Groot
Groot is the “humanoid plant” (with a species named of “Flora Colosssus”) who’s shown to be a funny, lovable giant who can quickly annihilate his opponents who dare cross him. But in general, he shows a combination of empathy, brute physicality, clumsiness, and lovability.
Doesn’t that sound a bit like what you’d get from Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills? The strong-armed quarterback can throw the ball a country mile, but where that ball ends up sometimes is just as maddening as it is breathtaking.
Drew Brees — Spider-Man
Drew Brees isn’t going to wow any obvious “super powers,” or his overall genetic gifts. Instead, he’s just one of those guys who has a preternatural sense of what’s going to happen, and what’s the best way to attack a defense based on what’s going on around him.
In other words, it’s almost like Brees relies on a “Spidey Sense” to maneuver himself around the pocket, away from defenders, and deliver pin point throws to his receivers — just as how SpiderMan is able to deliver pinpoint shots of his web blasts.
Deshaun Watson — Captain America
Steve Rogers was the guy whom everyone overlooked because of his size (or lack thereof), with everyone saying that he’s not quite physically capable enough of serving his country in World War II. Obviously, everything changed when he was infused with the Super Soldier serum.
Deshaun Watson clearly hasn’t received any such infusion, but he was similarly a quarterback who had all the intangibles you’d want in a quarterback, and a guy who could inspire everyone around him, even if he lacked the desirable physical attributes. Plus, Watson is absolutely the type of relentless competitor who’ll take your best shot, look you straight in the eye, and tell you: “I can keep doing this all day.”
Baker Mayfield — Rocket Raccoon
The self-named “Rocket” Raccoon was the result of surgical experimentation, in which he received a genetically augmented cerebral cortex. Within the Guardians of the Galaxy team, he’s half known as the technical genius who can basically turn anything into a weapon, and the other half as the teams resident firebrand and/or wise-ass.
You have to see why the comparison to Baker Mayfield works so well here. On one hand, Mayfield has the ability to deliver an onslaught of offense upon anyone who stands in his way, but he’s also the guy who’s going to go on camera and either make some brash statements, if not take some brash actions.
Mitch Trubisky — Wasp
We might only remember The Wasp from the Ant-Man movie sequel, but in the comics, she’s one of the founding members of the Avengers and one of their longtime leaders. Similarly, Mitchell Trubisky might have only appeared in the national consciousness late in his career at the University of North Carolina, but he was a former star quarterback in his home state of Ohio, earning the prestigious title of “Mr. Football” in the state.
Plus, Trubisky’s athletic ability (and resulting mobility) compares favorably to the Wasp’s ability to fly around and deliver energy blasts to opponents (although her blasts are probably more consistently accurate than Trubisky’s passes).
Russell Wilson — Black Panther
According to Wakandan lore (as described by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the “Black Panther” comics), the Black Panther is the protector of Wakanda, who is given acute senses, enhanced strength, speed, agility, stamina, durability, healing, and reflexes thanks to the heart-shaped herb.
The super-athletic, deceptively strong player who is oozes leadership and almost feels destined to be leader of the people around him, there aren’t many players who would be an apt fit for the mantle of the Black Panther like Russell Wilson.
Eli Manning — Hank Pym
While fans of the comics will recognize Dr. Henry Pym (aka Hank Pym) as the true Ant-Man, fans of the MCU will recognize Pym as the original Ant-Man (portrayed by Michael Douglas), who passed on the mantle to the younger Scott Lang.
The idea of Pym being a bit too old to hold the mantle, and not quite what he used to be, works well as far as a comparison to Eli Manning. Manning will always be a two-time Super Bowl champion, but his best days are long behind him.
Ben Roethlisberger — Thor
Could there be a better NFL fit for Thor Odinson than Ben Roethlisberger? A large, burly quarterback who’s among the strongest at his position, virtually impossible to defeat, and able to summon the fury of his powers upon his opponent?
Roethlisberger even looks like he’s straight out of central casting for the character. Plus, as someone who’s seen his weight go up and down over the course of his career, Roethlisberger would double just fine as regular Thor or Fat Thor from Avengers: EndGame.
Cam Newton — Incredible Hulk
Simply put, quarterbacks aren’t supposed to have the combination of physical tools such as standing at 6’5, weighing around (if not upwards of) 250lbs, and running the 40 yard dash in under 4.6 seconds. And that combination is what makes Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers so unique. He’s strong, competitive, and plays with an edge. And to borrow from the Incredible Hulk’s alter ego (Bruce Banner), you wouldn’t want to deal with Newton when he’s angry.
Kyler Murray — Ant-Man
The predominant question surrounding Kyler Murray, as he entered the 2019 NFL Draft, was simply whether he was “too small” to hold up in the NFL. Standing 5’10 and 207lbs, he was able to use his size (or lack thereof) to escape from defenders chasing him, and make big plays on the field.
That’s why he gets the title of the Ant-Man. In the MCU version of the character, Scott Lang was able to shrink down and use his combination of intelligence and athleticism to avoid antagonists and do spectacular things for “the good guys.”
Andrew Luck — Doctor Strange
For a guy that went to Stanford University and has been described as having a near-eidetic memory, plus as someone who’s a little bit quirky in the way he speaks, Andrew Luck makes perfect sense for being associated with the Sorcerer Supreme.
While Luck isn’t anywhere near as cocky or narcissistic as Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of Doctor Strange in the MCU, they’re both that genius-level talent who had to overcome great injuries to themselves in order to realize their true potential. Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts will serve as “The Ancient One” for Luck, guiding him to unleash his true potential.
Matt Ryan — Hawkeye
In the comics, Hawkeye — aka Clint Barton — has no superhuman powers. Rather, as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., he’s an expert fencer, acrobat and marksman. In other words: everything about Barton comes from long-term mastery of skills related to his craft, as opposed to being infused with “gifts.”
That sounds a lot like Matt Ryan, who isn’t exactly a guy who has otherworldly athleticism, arm strength, or other physical tools. Rather, he’s someone who’s continued to get better and better at the craft of quarterbacking.
Ryan Fitzpatrick — Loki
In the Marvel comics universe, Loki is said to possess genius-level intelligence and has extensive training in magic. In the MCU, he’s equally the guy who can do incredible things to help any of his comrades, as he is the guy to use his magic to betray their trust.
Doesn’t that sound like the Ryan Fitzpatrick — aka “Fitzmagic” — experience? There are days when Fitzpatrick, the Harvard University alumni, will go out and accomplish some incredible stuff on the field. And then there are days when he puts up performances that make you question for which team he’s actually playing.
Carson Wentz — War Machine
In both the comics and the MCU, Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes is something of a foil to Tony Stark — the clean cut, rules-abiding military man who can still go out on the battlefield and use the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit to annihilate opponents.
That sounds like Carson Wentz: a quarterback who’s more of the humble, aw-shucks “company man” who can step out on the field and use his combination of physical gifts to defeat nearly any opponent he faces. We witnessed that first-hand in 2017, when Wentz would’ve been named the league MVP if not for his season-ending injury.
Joe Flacco — Nebula
In the MCU, we learn that Nebula — one of the adopted daughters of the mad Titan Thanos — was always someone who was “not quite good enough,” requiring constant tweaking by her adopted father. In a way, that’s the story of Joe Flacco.
Even after winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, the team was always looking to find ways to tweak things around Flacco, in order to see him maximize his true potential. Eventually, Flacco and the Ravens parted ways — just like Nebula eventually parted ways with her sadistic adopted father.
Nick Foles — Drax The Destroyer
In the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, we see Drax as a “down on his luck” assassin who was locked up in the Kyln, and learn that his family was murdered by the Kree fanatic known as Ronan the Accuser. Eventually, by pairing up with the Guardians, Drax’s life is effectively given new meaning.
There’s a very similar storyline that can be told for Nick Foles, who bounced around the NFL for a long time and was ready to call a nondescript career quits, before getting one last chance with the Philadelphia Eagles, and leading them to the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship.
Philip Rivers — Vision
A “synthetic” human being who uses the Solar Jewel (in the comics) or the Mind Stone (in the MCU) as the source of his powers, Vision becomes one of the most powerful members of the Avengers, with one of its most sets of unique skills.
Accordingly, the role of Vision, for the purposes of this list, goes to Philip Rivers. The long-time quarterback of the Chargers franchise isn’t always seen as one of the NFL’s “leading men” at quarterback, despite the fact that he’s one of the most uniquely gifted passers the league has ever seen.
Marcus Mariota — Mantis
Like the Mantis character (portrayed by Pom Klementieff) in the MCU, Marcus Mariota isn’t exactly known for being a gregarious social butterfly. The reserved, mild-mannered quarterback doesn’t show a ton of emotions himself, but has the ability to stir up a bevy of emotions in both his teammates and on-lookers.
That’s why he gets the comparison to Mantis. Put another way, given the ups-and-downs that he’s had in his career to date, Mariota hasn’t really quite earned the role of being a “lead superhero” as of yet.
Lamar Jackson — Quicksilver
If there’s any quarterback in the NFL who can zip by opposing defenders without them even knowing what happened (allowing him to ask said opponents “You didn’t see that coming?”), it would be Lamar Jackson.
While Jackson didn’t run the 40 yard dash at the 2018 NFL Combine, he’s been clocked at a sub-4.4 time while at the University of Louisville. That speed alone makes him comparable to the comic book hero who can move ant supersonic speeds himself.
Dwayne Haskins — Shuri
Dwayne Haskins gets the honor of the gifted, precocious, highly intelligent heir to the throne of Wakanda (even if Shuri is a female). In only one season as a starter at Ohio State University, Haskins was named a third-team All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, leading the nation with 4,831 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes.
The Washington Redskins hope he can use his combination of intelligence and physical talent to bring stability to their quarterback position for the foreseeable future.
Dak Prescott — Star Lord
Peter Quill, aka “Star Lord,” always fancies himself as this renegade outlaw (who secretly has a heart of gold), and eventually becomes the de facto leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy — one of the most beloved teams in the MCU. While he’s a prominent character, he’s not without his own flaws — similar to how he let his anger get the best of him in Avengers: Infinity War.
Similarly, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of what many consider to be “America’s Team,” and while he’s someone whom the team wants to retain in the long-term, he’s not someone who isn’t without his own flaws.
Derek Carr — Valkyrie
In Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie was a member of Asgard’s elite fighting force (of the same name). But after enduring a rough patch of her own, she’s spent the next couple of MCU films sort of finding herself, until she’s given the opportunity to lead again (by Thor, in Avengers: EndGame).
That arc is similar to what Derek Carr has gone through. He was once anointed as one of the league’s next great young quarterbacks, but he’s had a very rough patch ever since then. Now, with Jon Gruden as the main man in Oakland, Carr is being given that chance to become the leader of the Silver and Black.
Jimmy Garoppolo — The Falcon
Another “superhero” who isn’t necessarily blessed with any superhuman powers, The Falcon — aka Sam Wilson — is a character who gets by on grit, guile, and general versatility. That sounds similar to the way Jimmy Garoppolo approaches the quarterback position. In the end of Avengers: EndGame, the aged Captain America hands Wilson his shield, in a nod to the comics (where Wilson takes up the mantle of Captain America).
This juxtaposes well with the idea of Garoppolo being The Falcon, given that many feel he’s close to assuming the mantle of one of the NFL’s next great quarterbacks.
Sam Darnold — Okoye
In the Black Panther film, Okoye was the general of the Dora Milaje, the team of women who serve as special forces for protecting the king of Wakanda. In the movie itself, some people believe that Okoye — portrayed by Danai Gurira — was one of the secret stars of the film.
And that’s where the comparison comes in to Sam Darnold, the quarterback of the New York Jets who many believe to be one of the NFL’s secret underrated stars. Paired with new head coach Adam Gase, Darnold might be ready for his “breakout performance” in 2019.
Matt Stafford — Winter Soldier
Fans of Marvel Comics and the MCU recognize James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes as both the best friend of Steve Rogers, but also as one of Captain America’s top nemeses in the Winter Soldier. In the MCU, Barnes has quite the story arc, going from Rogers’ best friend to the ruthless assassin as the Winter Soldier, to the conflicted mercenary, and finally back to being a protagonist.
Matt Stafford has had a similar career arc, going from the injury-prone QB early in his career, to the gunslinging thrower who put up big numbers, to more of a “field general” at this point in his career.
Andy Dalton — Scarlet Witch
No, Andy Dalton isn’t someone with the quarterbacking version of “hex powers”, which can cause random and unlikely events to take place. He’s certainly not among the most powerful quarterbacks in the NFL, in the manner that the Scarlet Witch is understatedly one of the most powerful individuals in the MCU.
Instead, we’re going with the more obvious connection — the “Scarlet” part, connected between the Scarlet Witch’s red costume in the comics, and Andy Dalton’s well-known red hair (as well as the red hair of Elizabeth Olsen, who portrays the Scarlet Witch in the MCU).
Jared Goff — Gamora
Gamora has seen quite the story arc in the MCU. After once being the “surgically modified and trained as living weapon,” serving her adopted father in Thanos, she eventually joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and became one of the protagonist group’s most capable members.
Compare that to Jared Goff, who started out his career playing under the laughably inept offensive scheme of Jeff Fisher, only to join up with head coach Sean McVay and unleash so much more of his potential. That, of course, begs the question: should McVay then be considered Thanos?
Kirk Cousins — Black Widow
Natalia Alianovna “Natasha” Romanova is the stealthy S.H.I.E.L.D. spy portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, who’s been known to have a checkered past that she’s always trying to escape as she does the right thing for “the good guys.”
In a way, that’s the story of Kirk Cousins: a guy who always played with a chip on his shoulder while with the Washington Redskins, but was always seen as someone who was good but not quite good enough (and prone to make mistakes in big moments). In his “new life” with the Minnesota Vikings, he’s trying to prove that he can be a guy who can win his team a Super Bowl.
Jameis Winston — M’Baku
In Black Panther, we met M’Baku, leader of the one of the five factions in Wakanda, known as the Jabari tribe. M’Baku was a large, fierce warrior who challenged for the mantle of the Black Panther, but was proven to be not quite ready yet for the role.
That’s where the parallel comes in with Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The brash quarterback was a popular pick over the past year or two to be the NFL’s next “breakout star” at quarterback, but hasn’t quite ascended to that role as of yet. Perhaps this is the year for Winston, under the guidance of new head coach Bruce Arians?