Reimagining Manchester United Legends as Superheroes
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was only at Manchester United for one season, but he went a long way toward acquiring legendary status with his efforts on and off the field.
He's recovering from a knee injury, so he has had time on his hands to launch a mobile game titled Zlatan Legends.
In donning a suit that makes him look a bit like a superhero, Zlatan gave us food for thought. We have consequently taken a look through the Manchester United annals to reimagine Red Devils greats as the superhero characters they most resemble.
Without further ado, let's head to Metropolis, Gotham City, the Marvel Universe and Manchester and assign a few players their roles.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Superman
The yellow sun of Earth bestows special powers on the children of the red sun of Krypton. Kal-El was one of those, and it would make a certain amount of sense if Cristiano Ronaldo were too.
We know the Ronaldo family are Superman fans; Cristiano's son once interrupted an interview dressed in his dad's...sorry, Clark Kent's more well-known costume.
Prodigious natural talent and the kind of work ethic that would guarantee he would not ignore any cries for help his advanced hearing picked up, Ronaldo is an excellent fit for the Man of Steel.
If he can leap buildings in a single bound, that would help explain his header in Moscow in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final. And it is not like he would have to do any extra work on his physique to make the costume work.
Paul Scholes: Iron Man
The Iron Man costume is a bulky affair and clearly visible when worn. But evidence has come to light—or been made up for entertainment purposes at least—that a special pared-down version of its laser targetting systems was created especially for Paul Scholes.
An Iron Man contact lens is the only explanation for Scholes' range of passing and capacity to instantly triangulate the trajectory of ball and foot to ensure his volleys flew beyond helpless goalkeepers the world over.
He missed a couple so as not to give the game away, but when United needed it, like in the 2008 Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona, the Tony Stark technology was activated. Magic ensued.
Rio Ferdinand used to call Scholes "Satnav," and the nickname took off. But the technology he would actually have had to use was considerably more sophisticated.
David Beckham: Batman
David Beckham is a product of practice. There were some decent raw materials there, but his superstardom came not as a result of harnessed preternatural talent but hard work.
Batman has no super powers and trained himself in the discipline of detection and martial arts in order to become the crime-fighting genius he is today.
In order to do his work, he maintained a celebrity alter ego, Bruce Wayne, a dashing billionaire playboy who looks great in a suit—sound familiar, Becks?
Fortunately, as far as we know, Beckham was not driven to excellence by any personal tragedy, and no one in their right mind would call Sir Alex Ferguson "Alfred," but otherwise it all works.
Beckham? Batman, more like.
Bryan Robson: Captain Marvel
The character of Captain Marvel has been through many incarnations. The incumbent occupant of the role is Carol Danvers, but its greatest ever exponent was Bryan Robson.
Or at least, it should have been. Robbo never quite made it into Marvel's pages, but for United fans everywhere, Robson is the person who springs to mind upon hearing the words "Captain Marvel."
United's No. 7 through the difficult 1980s, he helped Ron Atkinson win a couple of FA Cups and then became the first rock around whom Ferguson built. In a fitting tribute to his endeavour in a red shirt, he was part of the team that broke the 26-year dry spell by winning the Premier League title in 1992/93.
It was no wonder his nickname related to a superhero. He seemed to give superhuman effort every game: flying into challenges, inspiring those around him and displaying plenty of skill and technique too.
He might not be the original Captain Marvel, but he was the best.
Ryan Giggs: Spider-Man
A teenage superstar, incredibly fluid in motion, who occasionally changed from a red suit to a black suit in the 1990s? This stuff writes itself!
We know from The Class of '92 documentary that Ryan Giggs is quick with a well-placed wisecrack too, just like Spider-Man. Replacing the web-slinger's New York backdrop with Salford would be a simple enough process.
And—personal life aside—Giggs knew that with great power came great responsibility. As a player, that meant looking after himself with superhuman professionalism. In his brief spell as caretaker manager, he was sensible and only occasionally brought himself on as a substitute.
Giggsy is the new Spidey.
Sir Alex Ferguson: Professor X
A great leader who assembled group after group of incredibly talented youngsters into more than the sum of their parts.
A man capable of using his mind to manipulate his opponents, forcing them to say and do things that were out of character. A man whose aura was so powerful it could bend the fabric of time itself.
No, not the genius that is Professor X, but rather the touchline-prowling genius that is Sir Alex Ferguson. Frankly, the similarities are such that the latter might just be the former in an impressively convincing wig. However, this would make Arsene Wenger Magneto, and that does not work quite so well.
Although, thinking about it, Magneto is dedicated to sticking rigidly to his philosophical approach, even in the face of evidence that there might be a better way.
Eric Cantona: The Hulk
You might be thinking: "Wait a minute—The Hulk? The brutish manifestation of the unfettered id that is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's original vision of the legendary green giant? That does not seem like a good match for the erudite and sophisticated Eric Cantona!"
An understandable thought, but bear with us. Because in the Marvel Universe in the 1990s, The Hulk was something quite different. Through a series of elaborate circumstances in a run written by the brilliant Peter David, Bruce Banner and The Hulk had merged their personalties, meaning The Hulk was brilliant and quick-witted, as well as strong.
And anyway, even the more rugged original vision makes sense in a way. The brilliant Banner gets angry, causing something inside of him to come out—sometimes working as a force for good, but sometimes too destructive to be harnessed. Cantona might relate to that story.
After all, you would not have liked him when he was angry.
Roy Keane: Wolverine
The beating heart of his team, driven by a fierce internal will.
The capacity to tear apart his opponents apparently at will regardless of any suffering it inflicts on his body.
Brooding and troubled, he's difficult to get to know but possesses a heart of gold.
An effortless ability to grow spectacular facial hair.
Roy Keane is Wolverine.