Casting Athletes as Comic Book Characters
Super strength? Check. X-Ray vision? Oh, we got that.
The world of sports is packed with athletes capable of superhuman feats. Some can jump into low orbit, while others use their mind to control entire fields of action. And like their comic-book counterparts, each has their own special set of powers and unique weaknesses.
The following is a collection of athletes and their alter egos from the Marvel and DC Comic universes. Some are heroes, while others are villains, yet all them possess some form of real-life superpower or skill.
Throw on a cape because we’re traveling to a universe where casual Friday means tights and you’re only weird if your childhood wasn’t affected by radiation.*
*Disclaimer: Bleacher Report does not condone tampering with or bathing in radiation. It will not grant you superpowers.
J.J. Watt—The Hulk
If anyone can flick a switch and go from nice guy to hit-sticking monster, it’s J.J. Watt.
The Houston Texans defensive end is cool as Kojak when he’s not on the field, but a transformation occurs the moment his cleats hit turf. After that, it’s all screaming, flexing and flinging people out of his way.
Thankfully, like the Hulk, his pants stay on through the process.
Powers: Super strength, jumping.
Achilles Heel: Overhyping, the New England Patriots
Mike Trout—Captain America
Is any athlete more all-American than Mike Trout? I submit there is not.
When I look at the 22-year-old Los Angeles Angels star, I feel like I’m taking in an American propaganda advertisement. He’s the kid every parent wishes for.
Would you be surprised to pull off Captain America’s mask and see Trout's smiling face looking back at you? The answer you're searching for is, "No, Dan. Not in the least."
Powers: Super speed, flying squirrel reflexes, strength.
Achilles Heel: Can't play every position at once.
Brock Lesnar—The Juggernaut
Don’t you know who Brock is? You must not know who Brock is.
Brock Lesnar is the mixed martial arts/pro wrestling Juggernaut! He’s gonna break you in half!
Lesnar isn't the keenest blade in the butcher's shop, and the fact he doesn’t have a neck makes him a dead ringer for the giant Marvel villain.
Powers: Super strength, near indestructibility.
Achilles Heel: Advanced problem solving.
If only seeing past someone’s mask was as easy as looking at DC Comics villain Two-Face.
Once the hero of his sport, Alex Rodriguez has fallen far from grace. His continuing involvement in PED scandals are grabbing half of the headlines coming out of baseball these days, and the MLB may have to enact its own Dent Act to bring him down.
Get ready for the A-Rod Act, America.
Powers: Acting like a good guy.
Achilles Heel: Stubbornness, thinking he’s above the law.
Usain Bolt—The Flash
You’re a smart fellow.
Do I really need to explain to you how the fastest track runner in the world is the sports equivalent of The Flash? No, I don’t.
I will, however, say that seeing Bolt win the 100-yard dash in a red Flash suit would be one of the greatest things to happen at a track event.
Powers: Super speed, super dancing.
Supremely confident and wrathful, Serena Williams is one of the most powerful athletes in sports.
Like Storm, Williams can make it rain—either with her racquet or her words—and she’s unrivaled when she’s in her element.
She is a recurring veteran at the top of the tennis world and a force of nature in sports. Once provoked, Williams won’t stop until the match is won, or she’s thrown out for threatening a line judge.
Powers: Lightning serves.
Achilles Heel: Emotional, has trouble controlling powers.
Yawn. It’s a boring comparison, but it must be made—18-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps is humanity’s Aquaman.
He may not be able to ride on the backs of flying fish, but who needs marine friends to swim when he has pectoral fins for ears?
Unfortunately for all of us, the Olympic Committee has yet to present Phelps with the Trident of Neptune.
Powers: Ability to (almost) breathe underwater, super swimming.
Achilles Heel: Ineffective on dry land, camera phones.
Peyton Manning—Professor Xavier
They’re not the most mobile men, but Peyton Manning and Charles Xavier don’t let a lack of speed stop them from wreaking havoc on enemies.
Both men are natural leaders, have dealt with grievous spine injuries and use the power of their minds to figure out the opposition’s plans.
Powers: Mind-reading, defense-reading.
Achilles Heel: Legs, male pattern balding.
Drew Brees and Cyclops are two men who lay waste to the opposition with lasers.
While Cyclops scorches enemies with his laser sight, Brees reads the coverage and melts defenses with precision passing. They both throw lasers in their own way.
Powers: High-power beam passes.
Achilles Heel: Takeout orders.
The similarities between Batman and Tiger Woods start at the superficial level and extend deeper than you might imagine.
On the surface, they’re both rich men who have spent their fair share of time chasing women and living in luxury. On a deeper level, however, Woods and the Dark Knight are imperfect heroes trying to redeem themselves for their faults.
Like Batman, Woods is a polarizing figure. Some think he’s a menace who does more harm than good, while many still cheer for him and the things he has done in the line of duty.
Tiger is not the hero that golf deserves—he’s the hero that golf needs.
Powers: Physically strong, skilled with expensive equipment.
Achilles Heel: Women, inability to live life without causing collateral damage.
It’s a simple rule—if you do a rhinoceros touchdown celebration, you get the distinction of being Marvel Comics villain Rhino.
The similarities don’t stop there, however, as Rhino is a perfect fit for the hard-charging New York Giants fullback. Hynoski is a big man (6’1”, 266 pounds) who runs full steam at opponents. He wants to destroy linebackers, and the fact that it helps his running backs find the end zone is just an added bonus.
Powers: Tough exterior, fearlessness.
Achilles Heel: Sidesteps, African poachers.
Always the bridesmaid.
Unlike Robin, however, Durant isn’t OK being little brother.
Powers: Great mechanics, team player.
Achilles Heel: None, besides inability to be No. 1.
Aroldis Chapman—Human Torch
When you can pitch 105-mph fastballs, you’re about as close as a mortal man can come to throwing actual fire.
With that said, Cincinnati Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman is baseball’s version of Jim Hammond, aka the Human Torch—Marvel Comics’ fiery member of the Fantastic Four.
Powers: Ability to throw straight heat.
Achilles Heel: Can only sustain flames for so long.
Like it or not, Lebron James is the Superman of sports.
He isn’t exactly the “Man of Steel,” but he can leap tall buildings, outmuscle defenders and flop with the grace of a falling oak leaf.
Dwight Howard calls himself Superman, but King James is the closest thing that sports has to an all-powerful figure.
Powers: Super strength, super speed, super hops and super flops.
Achilles Heel: His mental game is his Kryptonite.
You can hit him, hurt him and tear his ACL into typewriter ribbons, but Adrian Peterson keeps coming back.
His ability to overcome injuries that would end other athletes’ careers is what makes the Minnesota Vikings running back the NFL version of Wolverine—Marvel’s indestructible claw-handed hero.
Unlike Wolverine, however, Peterson is a nice guy when his game-time gear comes off.
Powers: Regenerative healing, speed, reflexes.
Achilles Heel: Night clubs.
Regarded by a number of his colleagues as the quickest man in tennis, German tennis player Bjorn Phau is the Nightcrawler of the court.
He isn’t the tallest or strongest pro, but he seems to be everywhere at once. It’s as if he can teleport from place to place while chasing down balls.
Powers: Preternatural agility, reflexes.
Achilles Heel: Aw, he’s just a little guy.
Shaquille O’Neal is a storage shed of a human being, standing 7’1” and weighing a healthy 324 pounds. So he’s already Beast-like.
The kicker, however, is O’Neal’s personality. The former NBA star-turned-analyst fancies himself a philosopher. While O’Neal is no astrophysicist, he has a talent for expressing himself that pairs well with Beast’s intellectual side.
The Big Aristotle and Hank McCoy (Beast’s real name) consider themselves learned men, but their physical talents trump their brain power every time.
Powers: Super strength, preternatural post moves, having Kobe Bryant on team.
Achilles Heel: Chimichangas, having Kobe Bryant on team.
Mike Tindall—The Thing
Mike Tindall is an outside centre for Gloucester. He's the type of man who breaks his nose and stubbornly refuses to fix it out of spite.
The Thing is a former football player who stubbornly flies into a sea of cosmic radiation, turns into a rock golem and doesn’t fix it because he can’t.
In other words, they’re both ornery meatheads with faces only a mother could love.
Powers: Super tough exterior, throwing smaller beings.
Achilles Heel: Flexibility, tendency to scare away beautiful women.
Everything she touches she destroys.
Caroline Wozniacki doesn’t have hands of death, but each time her arms grace Rory McIlroy, you can almost see his swing leaving his body.
I’m not anti-Wozniacki—the Danish tennis pro is a great competitor and athlete. She just happens to be sucking the birdies out of her boyfriend. Don’t read too much into that last sentence.
Powers: Reflexes, life-leeching.
Achilles Heel: People who can’t take a joke.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.—Deadpool
Talks trash constantly and is nigh un-killable.
You can’t hit what you can’t see, and Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s boxing skills coupled with his penchant for jawing constantly make him an easy match for Marvel super assassin Deadpool.
Deadpool gets injured a lot more than Mayweather, granted, but both are hand-to-hand combat nightmares. Step into the ring with the undefeated champion, and you’re going to leave leaking.
Powers: Trash talking, superhuman agility, hand-to-hand combat master.
Achilles Heel: Arrogance.
Looks like a nerd in the streets, but performs his true calling like a beast.
Russell Westbrook goes geek-chic when he’s not balling, but beneath those faux-intellectual glasses is a supreme athlete capable of pulling some Spider-Man-like maneuvers.
Put it this way—if Westbrook ever rose to dunk and ended up stuck to the backboard, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Powers: Super agility, preternatural reflexes.
Achilles Heel: Laundry day.
Promise: This isn’t just about the facemask.
Like Bane, Ray Lewis is the ultimate semi-redeemable villain to some people. Is he a murderer? Or just a born-again radical fond of public speaking?
You also want to slam your head in the microwave about five seconds into their monologues.
Powers: Strength, cunning.
Achilles Heel: Verbal diarrhea, white suits.
Jon “Bones” Jones—The Punisher
Inflicting pain is the name of the game, and no two men are better at it than Jon “Bones” Jones and The Punisher.
Sure, one uses gunpowder to administer justice, while the other pulps opponents with his elbows, but they’re both the last people you’d want to see standing in your doorway in the middle of the night.
Powers: Eliminating people, causing grievous bodily harm.
Achilles Heel: Injuring self while destroying others.
Tom Brady—Green Lantern
What do the Green Lantern and Tom Brady have in common? Besides being both super powerful and the absolute worst?
Some people argue that the Green Lantern is the most omnipotent superhero in the comic universe, just like some fans believe Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Both may be true, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to like it.
Powers: Bending the universe to his will.
Achilles Heel: Is an inanimate object.
Sexy? Check. Can beat your face until it turns into cat food? Double check.
The term “femme fatale” was made for women like UFC star Ronda Rousey and Marvel assassin Elektra. Stay on their good side, boys.
Powers: Fatal attraction, hands of death.
Achilles Heel: Potential wardrobe malfunctions.
Is Clay Matthews the NFL version of Thor? Or is Thor just Clay Mathews with a hammer and a B.A. helmet—a helmet I may or may not have just ordered on eBay?
I can't answer that, but I will say this—the world can never have enough Viking warriors.
Powers: Biceps, thunderous hitting, golden locks that can cure rheumatism.*
Achilles Heel: Hair straighteners.
Hope Solo—Wonder Woman
An Amazon woman with super strength, speed and reflexes? Sounds like Hope Solo to me.
Wonder Woman and Solo are both American treasures that would be incredibly intimidating to ask out on a date.
Powers: Strength, balance and speed.
Achilles Heel: Temper.
Metta World Peace—Bizarro
Weird, strong and completely immature, Metta World Peace and Bizarro are sideshow heroes of their respective universes.
They have their capable moments but typically function best with someone telling them what to do and micromanaging their every move. No one usually has any idea what they’re talking about.
Powers: Strong, durable and persistent.
Achilles Heel: Inability to control impulses.
A magician with the stick, Pavel Datsyuk slices and dekes his way through defenses like hot butter—or in Blade's case, cold vampire flesh.
Like Blade the vampire hunter, you can swarm Datsyuk en masse, and he’ll still find a way to escape. And when Datsyuk slips past your defense, you’re generally dead before you hit the ground.
It’s OK though—he'll dispatch you with high artistry.
Powers: Stick skills (Level: Master)
Achilles Heel: Has to pass occasionally.
Kobe Bryant—Iron Man
Tons of money, super eccentric and loves giving coy interviews.
Kobe Bryant is Iron Man with a killer fadeaway. His jet boosters aren’t quite what they once were, but the Los Angeles Lakers superstar can still fly when healthy.
He is the de facto head of an high-grossing enterprise with the Lakers, and he has a thick exterior shell that few can pierce.
Powers: Laser targeting, thick skin, intellect.
Achilles Heel: Achilles tendon.
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