As the Marvel Cinematic Universe celebrates 10 years with the release of Avengers: Infinity War (don’t worry, no spoilers), I thought it would be fun to cast the male heroes as Penn State football players from James Franklin’s tenure. It’s easy to think of 2014-15 and 2015-16 as a Phase One of sorts, and the last two years as Phase Two. The heroes for each player were chosen based on a variety of factors, and it’s certain that not every characteristic or relationship for a certain hero will match their chosen player. That said...
Nick Fury: CJF
He put the band together in the first place.
Captain America/Steve Rogers: Saquon Barkley
A leader on and off of the field (along with a few others on this list), but was the face of the team. He’s always interested in saying and doing the right thing, and bleeds blue and white. (I strongly considered putting Trace here.)
Iron Man: Tommy Stevens
He might not have a lot of different mechs, but he can “transform” into various different roles for the Nittany Lions. (I know Tony Stark is one of the two leaders of the Avengers...) He also isn’t afraid to say things the way he wants to, as we’ve all witnessed.
Thor: Mike Gesicki
In addition to being tall, large, strong and blond, Mike also was an extremely clutch player during his time with the Nittany Lions. I don’t know if he can call lightning down from the heavens. I’m going to guess not.
Hulk: Jason Cabinda
I mean, just look at this face.
Looks pretty angry, right? Cabinda’s off-field personality, similar to Bruce Banner, is more intelligent and mild-mannered. He was a terrific representative of the Penn State program.
Black Panther: Koa Farmer
This was probably my most difficult decision, but I chose the fifth-year senior linebacker for several reasons. First and foremost, he is the most experienced linebacker coming back, and will be the leader of LBU from that standpoint. Koa is also very strong and intelligent, having already earned degrees in criminology and sociology, and is able to play multiple positions (T’Challa is a monarch, a diplomat, and a fighter depending on the necessity of the situation).
Winter Soldier: Trace McSorley
He’s got a really powerful arm. (Get it?) He and Saquon were a fantastic one-two punch for the last two years, and now after the departure of Saquon, he gets a chance to be the unquestioned leader, just like Bucky does in the comics.
Falcon: Miles Sanders
Speaking of people who took over as Captain America, we have the heir apparent to Saquon poised to be the guy in the backfield. Miles is dependable, loyal, and (probably) full of quips, just like Sam Wilson.
War Machine: Garrett Sickels
This large defensive end is a very loyal and patriotic gentleman who enjoys (and has) rather large guns. He also was rather clutch at times, just like Rhodey was in AOU when he arrived with the Helicarrier.
Spider-Man: Lamont Wade
This could have gone to a number of young bucks on the Nittany Lions, such as TCF, but I chose the most talkative sophomore in the secondary (at least on social media). He’s athletic and versatile (as proven by his position change to safety this off=season), and could play a larger role in the team’s future, just like Peter Parker.
Rocket Raccoon: Grant Haley
Like Rocket, Grant is inventive, quick, and versatile (remember, he was the team’s primary kick returner as a freshman as well as playing in the secondary), in addition to being a little undersized. He is, however, a little more unselfish and way more humble.
Groot: Chris Godwin
This was a tough call between Godwin and Juwan Johnson. Chris is tall, he’s not a huge talker, and he’s clutch, just like his Flora Colossus friend.
Drax: Micah Parsons
Both of these gentlemen (Yes, I know Drax is not a man) are physical freaks, and they both have (had, in Drax’s case) children. Also, just like the Destroyer, Micah is not afraid to dish out jokes or insults. Anyone know if he likes Mary Poppins?
Star-Lord: Marcus Allen
He, like the space outlaw, has great dance moves and was a leader of the secondary during his tenure. No word on whether he appreciates 1980’s culture the way Peter Quill does, though.
Dr. Strange: Christian Hackenberg
He was blessed with great physical tools (and a lot of confidence), just as the Sorcerer Supreme did in his pre-magical life. He occasionally, dare I say, carved up the defense with...surgical precision? (That only makes sense if you know the backstory of Dr. Strange). Although he didn’t reach the heights that many expected when he came to Penn State, his loyalty to the university and commitment to the team are not in question. Despite a lackluster offensive line in front of him, Christian tried to do whatever was necessary to get his team the win, no matter what.
Ant-Man: Mark Allen
He’s short, he’s fast, and he’s pretty funny, just like Scott Lang. The end.
Hawkeye: Billy Fessler
Many fans have a soft spot in their heart for Billy, and he was more important than you remember. He basically functioned as an additional coach on the sidelines, and also served as the holder for the Nittany Lions during his tenure. Also, the MCU Hawkeye is left-handed, just like Fessler.
Vision: DaeSean Hamilton
DaeSean endured a lot of trials and difficult moments, as he tried to find who he really was as a Penn State football player (just as this android does in the MCU). He may not have an Infinity Stone or be able to fly, but he catches the ball extremely well, is an excellent route runner, and can make an eight-yard pass go for 40. At times, it was like he could...phase through people. He will be greatly missed in 2018, but new players will step up to try and fill his absence.
Thanos: Urban Meyer
Children of Thanos/Black Order: Jim Harbaugh, Pat Narduzzi, Mark Dantonio, Pat Fitzgerald
I’m sure there will be (many) disagreements about my choices, so enjoy the discussion!