It seems as though you can’t walk past a cinema these days without seeing a new Marvel film being advertised, and it could be that your iconic comic strip is a regular presence at our sporting venues. Last summer, the NRL, Australia’s premier rugby league organization, collaborated with Marvel to create special X-Men and the Avengers-inspired jerseys for five teams in the league to wear in Round 21 of the 2014 season. While the Sydney Roosters wore Captain America against St George Dragons in their Iron-Man strips, Manly Sea Eagles’ usual colours were replaced by a Wolverine design, Canberra Raiders appeared as the Incredible Hulk with North Queensland’s kit sporting demi-god Thor.
The round of games at the beginning of last August featuring the Marvel kits also features pre-match and half-time entertainment, character appearances and giveaways, adding more than just some colourful kits to an important round of games in the NRL calendar. In the run-up to the matches, Sydney’s Anthony Minichiello, St George’s Gareth Widdop, Cowboys’ Ashton Sims, Manly’s Kieran Foran and the Raiders’ Paul Vaughan did a series of promotional shoots, drawing parallels between the famous Marvel characters and some of the best rugby league players in the world.
[youtube id=”DmGIq9HHrNQ” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Three of the teams certainly appeared to be channelling some super-hero powers while wearing their Marvel-inspired jerseys in a round of games that had a big say how the season turned out. While Manly clawed their way back to beat Brisbane in their Wolverine kits, North Queensland dominated Gold Coast 28-8 with the power of Thor. Captain America beat Ironman at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney as the Roosters, currently 7/2 to go all the way this year, ran out 30-22 victors over the Dragons, while it turns out the New Zealand Warriors didn’t mind Canberra when they were angry, crushing the Raiders in their Hulk strips by 54-18.
So after making an impression on the NRL, it remains to be seen where the Marvel brand will next make an appearance. While the Holy Grail for the franchise would be to break into the Premier League or one of the USA’s major sporting leagues. For the time being, though, Marvel will be focusing on the latest in the comic strip’s big screen series, Doctor Strange, a role already being linked with Tilda Swinton, who is in line to play a gender-swap version of the lead character, in a movie Benedict Cumberbatch has already signed up for.