Comparing Every Starting NFL QB to a Superhero
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, with many of the league's passers regarded as superheroes for their respective teams and cities.
In some ways, that line of thought is spot-on. Quarterbacks are given great power in determining how their teams do on a week-by-week basis.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. While quarterbacks get much of the credit for good stats and team wins, they also are the first to be blamed when the win percentage goes south.
With that in mind, here is every starting NFL quarterback's superhero equivalent.
Arizona Cardinals, Kevin Kolb: Ghost Rider
The Ghost Rider comics and movies document the challenges of stuntman Johnny Blaze, who struggles to maintain control as he sees himself and his life go up in flames, both figuratively and very literally. Riding a fiery motorcycle, Blaze is able to use his new powers to stop criminals in their tracks.
On the flip side of this comparison, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb will try this upcoming season to prevent the team's prospects and his career from going up in flames.
Despite burning through much of the fans' good will since his arrival this past offseason, Kolb's play should improve as long as he can stay healthy and avoid concussion-creating hits that limited his play for much of 2011.
Atlanta Falcons, Matt Flynn: The Invisible Woman
Sue Storm, better known as the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four, has an impressive array of talents including (as her name would suggest) the ability to disappear. The talent comes in handy when the team needs to lay low or get through a sticky situation without detection.
Funnily enough, it appears Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has developed similar vanishing skills when it comes to the team's playoffs appearances. In his three playoff games, all losses, it has appeared that in the second half, his presence can barely be detected.
The team's most recent playoff loss, a 24-2 loss to the New York Giants in January, was especially disappointing, as Ryan and the rest of the offense were kept completely off the scoring sheet.
Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco: Dynomutt
Dynomutt The Dog Wonder has all of the right stuff to fight crime, from extending arms to springs in his feet. However, he doesn't appear to have much intelligence to pair with these items. As the theme song states clearly, "he's stronger than a train, with a so-so brain."
He's got all the tools and skills necessary, but sometimes the application can be a little off.
Likewise, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has the arm strength and weapons to be a championship-level quarterback.
However, it always seems like the application is a little off. It probably doesn't help when the biggest stories coming out are about Flacco's neighbors calling the team about the quarterback's desire to learn skateboarding...right before a playoff game.
Buffalo Bills, Ryan Fitzpatrick: Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, one of the smartest superheroes around, pairs nicely with Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
While the intellect of these two may be similar, it's clear the success rate is a little different.
Despite his intelligence, it should also be noted that Fitzpatrick led the league in interceptions with 23 last season.
Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton: The Thing
The Thing of the Fantastic Four may have a completely different look than his fellow superheroes, but his focus can't be questioned.
When he sees what he wants or what he needs to do, he's going to get it no matter what, boosting his team members in the process.
Likewise, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's play during his rookie year was spectacular, as he now locks in on how he can do better and what can be done to get his team some more victories.
In light of his huge numbers during the past year, Newton may have only one thing to say when it comes to challenging the record books:
"It's clobbering time!"
Chicago Bears, Jay Cutler: Iron Man
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler may not always be a choir boy with how he acts both on and off the field, but his aggression and occasional inflated sense of ego have built nicely with his game to propel him forward and make him one of the most effective passers in the league.
Likewise, Iron Man and its developer, Tony Stark, have a way of sparking up some controversy, as Stark looks to save the day in his specially armored suit.
In this scene, Stark puts the spotlight on himself by acknowledging that not only was the large fight at his plant his fault, but that he was in it as the Iron Man.
Cincinnati Bengals, Andy Dalton: Baby Jack Jack (The Incredibles)
Jack Jack, the infant child of the superhero family team The Incredibles, is a bit of a wild card. Too young to control its powers, he has all the potential for greatness once the family realizes what he can do (his ability to completely engulf himself in flames is a good start).
Likewise, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton showed a lot of promise in his first year, but he's also a bit of a wild card. It's too early to know his ceiling, but his ability to take a leading role in the team's playoff appearance is a good indicator of what he can do.
Dalton has all the potential to be in the league's top five sooner than a lot of people might think.
Cleveland Browns, Brandon Weeden: Hawkeye
When it comes to comparing Hawkeye of the Avengers and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, there's a lot of similarities.
Passed over by bigger names in a class of super-talent that is poised to bring excitement to fans in the near future, this guy just can't seem to get an edge in.
No matter what he does, it will probably serve as the weak link when people go to talk about the new group years down the road.
Wait a minute...who am I talking about here?
Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo: He-Man
Is it going to be the one that can light up a stat sheet and terrorize opposing defenders, or is it going to be the one that will slip up at the worst possible time?
Regardless of any past mistakes, Romo has the power to bring the big wins to Dallas.
The difference is just about as big in Eternia, in whether Prince Adam or He-Man will be leading in the fight. Prince Adam is laid back and doesn't come across immediately as a fighter, while He-Man strikes fear in his opponents as he goes into fights on his Battle Cat.
Regardless, success in the fight against villains like Skeletor rests with Prince Adam. As he is known to say in transforming from one identity to the other..."I have the power!"
Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning: Batman
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's arm strength is very much in doubt as we wait to see him perform during the offseason, but his game revolves around much more than how hard he can chuck it.
Manning's intelligence has been the clear reason for why he has had such a successful career, as he proves time and time again his capacity for deciphering opposing defenses and making lightning-fast adjustments at the line.
Likewise, Batman is more than just a rich man in a super-suit with gadgets. He is able to thwart Gotham's criminals mainly by outsmarting them and staying literally two steps ahead of them. That superhuman detective work is why he'll have a place in the hearts of many fans, despite his lack of concrete superpowers.
Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford: Spiderman
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford put together one of the best completion percentages in the league last season, as he developed almost a Spider-sense for his best wide receiver, Calvin Johnson.
The two were one of the most explosive pairs in the league, and they will continue to haunt opposing defenses for years to come.
(Also, Stafford's arm strength could make anyone wonder if he has radioactive blood.)
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers: Thor
The way opposing defenses are clobbered by his game, you'd think Rodgers was playing while wielding the Hammer of Thor, the Norse god of thunder.
Regardless of what weapons he has going into 2012, look for him to continue to dominate when he's on the field.
Houston Texans, Matt Schaub: Captain Planet
Few quarterbacks benefit from the supporting cast around them like Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Teaming up with talents like running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate along with wide receiver Andre Johnson, Schaub can flourish when working with the talent around him.
Likewise, Captain Planet can do great things while fighting polluters, but that's only possible when he's summoned by the internationally/elementally balanced members of the Planateers.
After getting called into action, Captain Planet works with the team and usually finds a lot of success against whatever villain they're going after.
Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck: Astro Boy
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has been the much-hyped boy prodigy prior to his draft selection this past week with the No. 1 overall pick. He'll have big expectations given the hype, but he should succeed given a few years to develop.
Likewise, Japanese superhero Astro Boy, a boy robot with an ability to fight crime, is placed in bigger situations than would be expected of someone his age based on his technological ability.
In addition to their skill, both succeed based on their ability to stay cool when the pressure is high.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Blaine Gabbert: Underdog
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert may be the underdog of 2012, as the odds will be stacked against him as he looks to improve on a hum-drum rookie season.
In this sense, it's a fair comparison to link him to the cartoon hero Underdog, who surprised with both his superpowers and his ability to talk.
Underdog is helped by a wide range of superpowers, while Gabbert will have to rely on improved wide receiver weapons such as the newly drafted Justin Blackmon.
Kansas City Chiefs, Matt Cassell: The Punisher
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell was out for good portions of 2011 with injuries, and given the state of the AFC West division, there's no doubt he'll want to take out some revenge on his opponents.
Likewise, comic book and film superhero The Punisher takes revenge first on those who killed his family, before violently pursuing the mob and other criminals.
Needless to say, with a roster that should see several players return from season-ending injuries, the Chiefs could be in a position to punish those who underestimate what they can do in 2012.
Miami Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill: Captain Caveman
Captain Caveman, billed as the world's first superhero, was probably considered so unmarketable that the addition of three female sidekicks was the only way to get fans into it.
Likewise, it appears it will be a long first season for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the team continues their rebuilding process. However, fan excitement about Tannehill and his decision making were instantaneous after the discovery of his wife, Lauren, stole the show during Thursday's opening round.
The team may be unmarketable, but at least Mrs. Tannehill's appearance got the fans into their new man under center.
Minnesota Vikings, Christian Ponder: Aquaman
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has become somewhat of an afterthought among the young quarterbacks in the league, despite some flashes of promise as a rookie last season.
He may flourish or flop in 2012, but it's unlikely it'll get too much attention.
Likewise, Aquaman has become the low man on the superhero totem pole, as people realize most fights require superheroes who are versatile enough to fight in more than one location.
The character may end up getting some kind of movie or television show at some point, but what are the odds it will get much attention?
New England Patriots, Tom Brady: Captain America
Fighting for playing time from his time at the University of Michigan to making the most of his shot with the New England Patriots, Brady has put together one of the most unlikely rises to prominence imaginable.
It's only fitting that the Patriots passer be compared with Captain America, a specially trained super-soldier who also rose from a scrawny geek to an all-American hero.
New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees: Atom Ant
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees may not be the biggest passer in the league, but he took full advantage of his teammates and game plan to put together one of the best seasons for a passer in league history in 2011 (including the shattering of Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage mark).
Meanwhile, Atomic Ant is in the running for smallest superhero around, but he takes full advantage of his atomic power to level the bad guys and save the day.
Clearly, it's not about the size of the quarterback/superhero, but how they use their talents and abilities.
New York Giants, Eli Manning: Superman
It's all about laying low when it comes to Superman and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Superman is able to keep his secret identity under wraps by maintaining a persona as mild-mannered news reporter Clark Kent.
Meanwhile, Eli Manning has been able to throw off fans and writers for years with his goofy personality and perpetual deer-in-the-headlights look. Despite this outward appearance, he has been one of the league's most successful quarterbacks, especially when the pressure is high.
New York Jets, Mark Sanchez: Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman had a unique ability of making bad guys tell the truth using her magic lasso. When they were caught in its grip, they were going to spill the beans on whatever she wanted to know.
Similarly, Mark Sanchez has a unique ability of making fans and pundits speak candidly every time he gets on the field.
When you're caught watching him play, you can't help but speak the truth: This guy isn't a championship-level quarterback, and he isn't getting much better.
Oakland Raiders, Carson Palmer: Hellboy
A washout while in Cincinnati and the recipient of several painful injuries, Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer has every reason to not succeed any more in the league, and he struggled initially after joining the team midway through the 2011 season.
However, with an extra season to prepare and work with the team's receivers, he might be able to turn into something positive after all.
Likewise, Hellboy has every reason to be a menace to society after being created through Nazi scientific testing. However, a somewhat normal upbringing away from those beginnings helped turn his natural evil tendencies into something that has made him one of the most beloved antiheroes around (even if I thought Hellboy 2 was an atrocious movie).
Philadelphia Eagles, Michael Vick: The Human Torch
The good news for fans is Vick has more good games than he does bad games.
Likewise, the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four can be one of the most flaky members of the team, as he adjusts to life between his superhero responsibilities and his new-found fame. However, when he gets into a fight with the team, literally every part of his body is on fire.
The good news for fans is the Human Torch is fighting on our side.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger: Wolverine
While his combined injuries were evident toward the end of the season, his willingness to put his body on the line showed how dedicated he was to his team and their success.
It's only fitting he's paired with the man who has the ability to spontaneously heal from wounds sustained during fights.
San Diego Chargers, Philip Rivers: The Incredible Hulk
Like Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk, Rivers' emotion after fumbling a late snap in a tight game this past season was evident, with the only thing not happening was him turning into a green crime-fighting monster. He's also been seen getting fired up while taunting opponents across the field.
Those looking for him to tone it down know that by taking away that emotion, it would take away one of the many reasons he's able to put in high-quality performances so often.
San Francisco 49ers, Alex Smith: Green Lantern
Creativity is important when you're the Green Lantern, as the limits of your capabilities are only what you can't imagine. The ring can make it all, so why not push the boundaries with how you solve problems?
Likewise, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith probably benefited the most from some unique play calls from first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. In addition to throwing to some unique targets, the coach designed some neat runs that were crucial in the team's playoff run in 2011.
Smith can run the play as drawn, so why wouldn't Harbaugh push the boundaries with his play-calling?
Seattle Seahawks, Matt Flynn: Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing)
After years of serving as Batman's sidekick Robin, Dick Grayson left Bruce Wayne's manor in order to fight crime on his own as Nightwing. Building on the flashes of glory he received while developing his skills, he became very successful in his own right.
Likewise, new Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn has learned under Aaron Rodgers, one of the smartest and most effective quarterbacks the league has today.
Shining brightly in his first few chances to start as a member of the Green Bay Packers, Flynn will now have a shot to make a name of his own in the league.
St. Louis Rams, Sam Bradford: Birdman
It has to be nice for quarterbacks like the St. Louis Rams' Sam Bradford to know that the fans and organization are cheering for them and their willingness to make the team as good as possible.
The team's struggles and relocation talk may take away from that, but Bradford's overall poise and attitude should be able to win many fans over (at least if he can improve his game in 2012).
Meanwhile, the powerful Birdman gains the most strength when he gets hit by the largest amount of direct sunlight. His opponents may try to hurt him by pulling him inside or underground, but he always finds a way to stay near the sunlight.
Despite the struggles they have had and will face, look for these two to have bright futures.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Josh Freeman: Daredevil
The superhero Daredevil makes up for his blindness with superhuman abilities with his other senses, creating a hero that goes beyond what meets the eye.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman may lead some fans to question his vision after coming in second in picks during the 2011 season. Clearly, somebody needs to work on smelling and hearing their receivers come open.
Perhaps making Freeman's job more easy in 2012 will be the Bucs' addition of wide receiver Vincent Jackson with a five-year deal.
Tennessee Titans, Jake Locker: Plastic Man
It's too early to say what the future will hold for Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, but it's clear that his game will have a lot of shaping in the next few seasons. His accuracy was a little questionable, but his mobility and decision making were both bright spots in his early appearances.
He might have a good pairing with Plastic Man, the Quality Comics/DC Comics hero with the ability to shift into any shape imaginable.
While there may not be too many applications on the football field for powers that let you turn into the shape of a net or hammer, the ability to stay flexible and to grow would be beneficial to any young quarterback on this list.
Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III: Judge Dredd
The Judge Dredd comic series (and this Sylvester Stallone movie from the '90s) depicts an apocalyptic future (of the year 2099) in which a select group of law enforcement officials play cop, judge, jury and executioner. These combined roles create a series of conflicts that the Judge has to deal with during several worldwide conflicts.
Meanwhile, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III may have to play several roles well if the team will want to be competitive in 2012, including quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
While the world of Judge Dredd offers cloning, the same cannot be said for the NFL.