The Sons of Ben have never been ones for subtlety. This was perhaps never more apparent than the bold statement made by the giant tifo of Captain America in full Union garb punching Adolf Hitler in the face that was unveiled against the New York Red Bulls last weekend.
I talked to Sons of Ben Tifo Director Ryan Bross about the Nazi punching tifo earlier this week. The purpose of the tifo was for an Independent Supporters Council initiative “Show fascism the red card” that has seen other MLS Supporter’s Groups show similar sentiment over the past few weeks. Bross decided on the Captain America punching Hitler motif to honor Free Comic Book Day, which was the day the tifo was to be unveiled.
I asked Bross about the process to design and create the tifo, which he did with the help of a few other people. “(We) cut the material off the Macho Man (tifo) on Thursday night while we worked on the new book ends and got the grid down. Like 30 mins of work on that. Packing it and the ends in my car was another 10 (minutes).
Friday I was at Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company for like 5-6 hours, but only spent a like an hour or so sketching it out with spray paint and using a wax crayon to draw out the letter.
Got to NCBC about 6:30 AM on Saturday and spent some time finishing the book ends, and worked til 2:30. Drug it outside and flipped it to let it dry and packed the cars and left for Chester around 3:45. Got to Chester around 4:45. Set up til about 6:15.”
Then shortly after 7:00 PM, the tifo went up.
Bross was gracious enough to provide us with a sneak preview of the tifo before the match, which we shared after it had been unveiled. Note: never show tifo on social media until after it’s been displayed in the stadium.
There’s much more going on than just the obvious “Captain America in Union garb clocking Hitler”. Bucky - Captain America’s sidekick from the original - was turned into Ben Franklin, who said “Your friend BEN declares don’t be a BIGOT!” and the Independent Supporters Council logo was displayed at the bottom left. According to Bross, “the Ben Franklin is from Deadpool when Ben helped DP kill the undead POTUSes. The caption near Ben is inspired by the MC Lars song about Wheaton's Law.” Sons of Ben imagery also abounds, with Captain America sporting a key on his hat (an homage to Ben Franklin’s kite experiment) and a four-leaf clover on his chest.
The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with MLS even including it in their Week 10 tifo roundup. Of course there were a few people upset at it, but honestly if you’re defending fascism you should probably re-evaluate your life.
At the end of the day, the work of Bross and the tifo crew gave Philadelphia Union fans something to be proud of - even before the club won the match.
- Original inspiration Ryan Bross
- Mockup of the tifo Ryan Bross
- Macho Man tifo that eventually became the Captain America tifo Ryan Bross
- Partitioning out Macho Man Ryan Bross
- Setting the grid up Ryan Bross
- Starting the process at Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company Ryan Bross
- Starting the overlay Ryan Bross
- Taking shape. Ryan Bross
- No more Macho Man Ryan Bross
- lol Ryan Bross
- Almost done Ryan Bross
- Ben Franklin with some words to live by. Ryan Bross
- The red card for fascism and racism Ryan Bross
- Notice the key on Captain America’s mask and the four-leaf clover. Ryan Bross
- A better look at Captain America Ryan Bross
- Final product Ryan Bross