CFL Pass

The all-time Superhero Football Team: Avenging Earth on the gridiron

In honor of what is apparently National Superhero Day (at least on Twitter, anyway...),  CFLpass is rerunning the below piece, which was originally posted one month ago. Geez, it's already been one month since Batman v Superman was released...?

Perhaps due to the release of the blockbuster flick Batman v Superman, reportedly a train wreck if Hollywood ever made one (sigh), the guys over at the Eskimo Empire Podcast this week kicked around the concept of a superhero football team.

Mr. Hoskins and Uncle Tim didn’t actually complete a lineup full of metahumans (and the occasional alien), and so yours truly brings his übergeek level of comic book knowledge to the task; what bunch of guys do we want playing against the evil of invading hordes, a cadre of supervillians or possibly even the New England Patriots? Read on for the Official CFLpass Superhero Football Team!

The ground rules
First, some ground rules for filling out the roster.

•  Our lineup will be composed of solely DC- and Marvel Comics-branded heroes in their standard continuities. Sure, we could totally geek out and draw on stuff like Marshal Law or Watchmen to build a ridiculously invincible bunch, but trust me, you don’t want me to dig *that* deep. This isn’t io9, after all…

•  No women. No sexism here – hey, Wonder Woman is this geek’s all-time fave – but let’s face facts: Of all the sports, none lacks a truly co-ed version like gridiron football. (Don’t talk to me about intramural flag football: That ain’t proper football.) Maybe someday CFLpass will present its all-time Lingerie League superheroine team – most ladies in the genre are already outfitted for that game, anyway – but today we’ll keep it simple.

•  No gadgets. All powers in play must come from within the hero in question. No power suits, no projectiles; guys like Thor and Captain America can play, but without their trademark weaponry. This means dudes like Ghost Rider, Silver Surfer, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Iron Man and, most egregiously for our species, Green Lantern, are out.

•  For the safety and sanity of the spectators, no fire-based heroes are allowed. (Do you want to suck in the fumes of burning astroturf? I thought not.) Human Torch, Firestorm: You’re out.

•  No Aquaman. Because Aquaman sucks.

Despite the limitations, though, I think you’ll agree, a nice group of the all-powerful can still be assembled.

Suspended for PED use
Back in the so-called “Golden Age” of DC Comics, i.e. the 1940s, the Justice Society of America included Rex Tyler. Ol’ Rex was a normal mortal until he popped a “supervitamin pill” (yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrre) called Miraclo, which gave him superstrength and invulnerability for one hour, thus morphing him into Hourman! (Clearly, those were more innocent times.) As much as a Roger Goodell might be willing to look the other way on the use of Miraclo, these are good guys and a strict “Just Say No” policy is in place for this crucial matchup.

The waterboy
Who else but Howard the Duck? As an alien waterfowl, clearly Howard’s skills in the milieu are second to none. Though surely he’d find the position revolting, it’s all hands on deck for this all-important battle on the gridiron. Poor Howard: Trapped in a game he never made.

The DL: The Incredible Hulk, The Thing, Colussus, Beast (of the X-Men). As a Los Angeles Rams fan, I appreciate the value of a crippling pash rush (hey, aside from Todd Gurley, that’s all we’ve got). Who better than these four behemoths to put the fear of the gods into opposition QBs?

Of course, as a Russian, Colossus might need a crash course in the rules, but we probably don’t even need anyone after Ben “It’s Clobbering Time” Grimm, anyway. We’ll also get to hear classic lines like “Hulk smash puny quarterback!” (Incidentally, what’s up with Marvel cornering the market on huge smashing forces of supernature, anyway…?)

The linebackers: Thor, Superman, Captain Atom
Yeah, sure, most Americans and likely DC Comics publishers themselves would put Supes at the QB spot, but that’s too easy. Again, we want the devastating push rush, and putting these three guys behind the massive front four brings amazing reaction time and the capacity to reduce yards-after-catch to negative numbers.

The cornerbacks: J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter, Doctor Strange
Why does J’onn J’onzz get such a short shrift in DC land? This guy has super strength, invisibility and can fly. Imagine an opposing QB seeing open receivers on every passing play, only to find that (whoopsie!) the invisible Martian was shadowing that splitback the whole time.

We’ve also got Doctor Strange here, because (a) we need some mystic powers on the squad and (b) he’ll be played in the movies by Benedit Cumberbatch, and yours truly is a total male Cumberbitch.

If we’re playing CFL rules, we can add Northstar of Marvel’s Canadian mutant superhero team Alpha Flight with his awesome powers of light control.

Free safety: Ant Man
The new fan favorite that you never see coming would be incredible in the FS spot. Is he rushing the QB? Is he dropping back into coverage? You’ll never know until it’s too late! (And yeah, I know I’m stretching the no-gadgets rule a bit here, but imagine the jersey sales…)

Strong safety: Beast Boy (of the Teen Titans)
Look, this guy is my daughters’ favorite from the Teen Titans Go! series and they’d never forgive me for not including him. For plusses, this youngest member of the team can morph into any animal, Terran or alien. How’d you like a Thanagarian spider monster bearing down on you, Joe Hotshot Quarterback?

The OL: Cyborg, Captain Marvel, Wolverine, The Vision, Swamp Thing. For the offensive line, we’re accentuating healing factor; we want five guys who can withstand punishment play after play the likes of which the human race has never seen.

While the Swamp Thing isn’t particularly mobile, he can manifest new bodies directly out of a natural grass surface and manifest spare vegetable-fiber extremities at will, making him a potentially impenetrable part of the left side.

And Logan the Wolverine’s animal senses, psychotic disposition and Canadian citizenry would make him an awesome center, with or without CFL rules in play.

The halfbacks: Flash, Quicksilver. A no-brainer, really: We’ll definitely go with speed to burn here. Important to note that we’ll be using the America-born version of Quicksilver as seen in the X-Men movies, rather than the Russian of Avengers II, in part because, well, that one (spoilers) is now dead.

The tight end: Who else but Captain America? More than any position, TE requires a complete knowledge of offensive sets in blocking and route-running, so we need adaptability, strength and discipline, all of which Cap possesses in fair amounts. Under Canadian rules, the red, white and blue guy might not be quite as devastating (recall that back in the 1940s when he was “born,” the CFL still disallowed US players on rosters), he’d still do as a split back.

The wide receivers: Plastic Man, Spider Man. Both are fairly obvious choices and you gotta love utilizing Peter Parker’s enthusiasm and elusiveness. Between the qualities of rubber and web-slinging, there’s not a ball either one couldn’t catch. For a third WR, we’d go with Elongated Man, even if Green Lantern John Stewart once reckoned that on a superhero team “we don’t need two stretchy guys.”

The quarterback. OK, I know what you’re thinking here. We’ll need intelligence, intuition and cunning in large amounts. We need a guy who can read defenses on the genius level and the capacity to bring surprising innovation at a moment’s notice. You figure the call here is Batman, right?

Nope. The truth is we need to bring in all the resources Earth has at its disposal. We need to think outside the box. Plus, there’s no way Bruce Wayne’s appearing among the superpowered without the costume and there’s no way that cape is an advantage in the wide-open space of the football field. (Back alleys of Gotham at night, great. A big black bull’s eye on green and white on Sunday? Not good.) The pick here is Lex Luthor.

Now, wait. Think about it. Who else do you want directing a team with the fate of humanity possibly in the balance than a guy who’s gone head-to-head with the strongest and best in the DC Universe (which boasts *way* more power than Marvel’s, by the way) and lived to tell the tale? Hell, in the old Superman movies, dude consorted with a couple of handicaps and still nearly pulled off the destruction of California and gaining the position of absolute dictator of Australia.

And sure, some possibility of betrayal is there, but surely Lex can stuff his insatiable need for Superman and his buddies’ destruction long enough to subdue a greater threat to humanity (check out the fantastic final two episodes of Justice League Unlimited for proof). Heck, behind the offensive line we’ve constructed, Tim Tebow might have a decent game; imagine putting that 200-plus IQ behind center instead. Lex is our guy: As Gene Hackman’s Luthor once proclaimed, “Mind over muscle.”

Head coach: Batman is clearly the choice with Luthor on the field. Let’s face it: If the opposition has that most EEEvil of all forces on the sideline – we’re talking Bill Belichick here – who else has the single-minded strategic thinking to coach our team to victory? Or we can reverse the two non-metahumans and put Luthor in charge.

Sudden thought: Is Belichick in actuality Lex Luthor with a toupee? Think about it: Have you ever seen them together…?

– written by Os Davis