Now that it’s Avengers Week at SB Nation, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to examine that immortal question, which superpowers would make you an unstoppable soccer player? Certain players already give the impression that they’ve mastered super strength and super speed, so what would happen if some superheroes who really had those powers took the pitch?
Before we dig into things too deeply, let’s set down some ground rules. For starters, we’re sticking to the powers as reflected by the heroes as presented in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That way we can reflect on the character’s particular set of skills without digging too deeply into the mythology of the comics, which tend to be flexible over time.
The other major rules is that the abilities would have to be usable in such a way that they would not fundamentally alter how a soccer match is played. Tony Stark could easily build a suit of armor that would make him an excellent soccer player, but he could never wear it during a real match. Because that isn’t soccer any more, it’s Rocket League.
3. Enhanced Agility and Dexterity (Black Widow, Gamora)
There’s always been a fair share of Marvel superheroes whose powers have just been the result of intense training and focus. While there aren’t really superpowers in the traditional sense, they’re some of the abilities that would most easily translate for playing soccer.
Black Widow is probably the best example of this. She doesn’t have super strength or speed, but her special training as part of a secret Russian spy program means that she can at least keep up with people who do. That’s why she was able to hold her own when fighting alien invaders on the streets of New York City.
So what would that look like on the soccer pitch? Presumably she would be a skillful, tactical player much like Lionel Messi. Her agility and dexterity with martial arts would translate into solid skills on the ball. The same abilities that allowed here to smash through aliens would also help her dribble past defenders on the way to an impressive highlight reel of goals.
And it wouldn’t end there. Her intense training in gymnastics means that she’ll be able to pull off the full range of bicycle kicks and volleys. She could probably even manage some of those Christiano Ronaldo style “how is it possible to jump that high?” headers.
Up for discussion: The Mystic Arts (Doctor Strange)
Black Widow gained her abilities through intense physical training, but what about intense mental training? That’s how Doctor Strange became the master of The Mystic Arts.
But would these abilities be allowed on the pitch? How can you play a proper match when someone’s able to open a portal that can transport the ball directly into the net? How about summoning ropes with his mind to tie down everyone on the opposing team?
Since he’s using his mental abilities, it wouldn’t technically be banned by the current rule book. But you’d have to assume that rules against the manipulation of space and time would quickly be added.
2. Naturally enhanced strength and endurance (Thor, Drax, Korg, any Asgardians, certain other alien species)
Almost every member of the Avengers has some degree of enhanced strength. Rather than poking through and deciding which Avenger is the strongest, let’s just consider how this super strength could influence a soccer match.
Thor wouldn’t have his hammer to help him out during the match, but he’d still be able to blast rockets on frame any time he’s able to square up in front of the goal. You’d have to imagine that any teams he faces would need to carry extra goalkeepers on their bench due to assumed injuries.
Enhanced endurance goes hand in hand with enhanced strength and that could prove to be just as useful. Thor’s not just strong, he could spend 90 minutes running box to box without even breaking a sweat.
Now for some of these characters, their enhanced strength could slow them down to the point where they wouldn’t be much use on the pitch. This would most likely apply to bulkier characters like Korg. Being made of rocks would slow him down, but he could still make a serviceable defender. Presumably for the New Zealand National team.
Up for discussion: Scientifically enhanced strength (Captain America, The Hulk, Winter Soldier, Spiderman)
There’s plenty of heroes in the Avengers who have some form of super strength, so why single out Thor? Unfortunately, most of the other heroes got their abilities through some form of scientific assistance.
Captain America would probably be a great soccer player, but there’s a good chance that the super serum that gave him his powers would be some sort of banned substance. The same goes for Bruce Banner’s gamma radiation and Peter Parker’s genetically altered spider venom.
These heroes can beat Thanos, but they can’t beat a FIFA drug test.
3. Pinpoint Accuracy (Hawkeye)
Really? The most useful superhero would be Hawkeye? The guy with the bow?
Just hear me out.
Hawkeye secured the number one position with a short line in Captain America: Civil War. He sums up his attempts to pick up golfing after his retirement from the Avengers as, “played 18, shot 18. I just couldn’t seem to miss.”
Hawkeye may not have any major superpowers, but if he’s sinking hole-in-ones on Par 5 holes during his first ever round of golf then he would be able to use his accuracy skills to become the greatest scorer in history.
Give him an inch of space in the final third and the ball will be in the back of the net.
Concede a corner kick? Hawkeye will take it. Olimpico every single time.
Give up a free kick at midfield? Hawkeye takes it. Back of the net.
In fact, Hawkeye would be just as successful if he played as a goalkeeper. Because he’s so accurate that he could score off of goal kicks.
Hawkeye’s skills with the bow may seem out of place when fighting swarms of aliens or robots, but those accuracy skills would make him a human highlight reel on the soccer field.