In a stunning development, Marvel joined forces with the NBA to further blur the line between fantasy and reality (see: Shaq). The two are gearing up to market a new line of clothing at the NBA All-star Game on February 20, 2011, with hopes to expand the line to NBA cities, online, and in stores. Marvel is granting a license to the NBA to use specific characters from its various comic book series, while allowing for color changes and other alterations to fit NBA teams and their “character.” Back in October, this dynamic duo hit the headlines when Wired magazine featured prominent basketball athletes decked out in prominent superhero attire. The consensus was mainly positive, though Cleveland begs to differ.
Now, there are two different worlds we must analyze here in the trend of “entertainment.”
- Sports- Largely geared towards a male audience, sports figures generate images of athletic prowess and almost super-human physical capabilities. They are idolized and treated like demi-gods by adoring fans (as long as they don’t go ruining that for themselves), and profit largely from resultant popularity. We mean largely.
- Comic Books- Once reserved for the more intellectual “mathlete” than athlete, comics and their heroes share similar characteristics with their athletic counterparts. Both are symbols of power, stretch the boundaries of the imagination, cover extensive media markets, and are popularized with massive fan bases.
Sports and comic books rarely purport to reach a common audience, but there’s massive earning potential if everything goes smoothly. Drawing iconic athletes in superhero garb, representing the true prowess of player and team in a way never before expressed, and merging two financially lucrative markets is sure to benefit all parties, right?
Not so fast. This seems like a win-win, but the world of sports and comic books don’t always mesh. The NHL tried a similar marriage of sport and comic heroes when teaming with Marvel to produce the “NHL Guardians” representing team mascots. Long story short, the two didn’t get along and fans parted ways, disgustedly.
Hopefully any lingering differences between Sports and Comic fans will be vanquished so that this project is successful. Super-humans as superheroes… we’ll see who goes where after the draft.