From a character named Doop and the Incredible Hulk to a reference to a line from Iron Man’s daughter and an anti-Nazi Captain America comic, there have been a number of references to Marvel over the years in the tifo produced by the Sons of Ben.
“Comics in general is something that’s pretty well known,” tifo artist Ryan Bross said in a recent interview. “All the characters are fairly well known, a lot of it is nice bright, vibrant, easy to paint, easy to recognize. And then, I’ve always tried to like pair a tifo with a movie release or something like that just to give it more of a theme.”
One of the more profile uses of Marvel in a tifo was the “Show the Fascism and Racism the Red Card” tifo from three years ago.
“The Independent Supporters Council wanted to take their anti-racism month and make it anti-racism and fascism, basically anti-hate,” Bross recalled. “And Bill Gusler (then president of the Sons of Ben) suggested Captain America punching Hitler so that was something pretty straightforward that a lot of people recognize and a lot of people know.”
Less known was the use of a character named Doop in May 2015. Doop first appeared in an X-Force comic in 2001. A panel with the green blobby character was included alongside one that played off Age of Ultron (Age of Union) and a third panel of Darth Vader for Star Wars Day.
“It was just obvious to include a character named Doop,” Bross said.
A tifo banner last May included one of the more subtle Marvel references.
“In Avengers Endgame Iron Man’s daughter says ‘love you three thousand,’” Bross said. “So we did a Love U two thousand 10 banner.”
An older banner that was used was one of the Incredible Hulk with a nod to the @UnionHulkSmash Twitter account.
One of the more elaborate tifo displays combining the comic universe with the Philadelphia Union was one inspired by then-Sporting Director Earnie Stewart and Avengers: Infinity War.
“Infinity War was coming out so I used the cover from the Infinity Gauntlet comic book but instead of Thanos it was Earnie Stewart collecting the pieces,” Bross said. “and he was missing the one stone, the green stone which we said was money.”
One of the many casualties of the 2020 season being suspended and the Union still waiting to play a home game after playing just two games on the road has been the tifo displays that allow the Sons of Ben to display support for the club in creative and unique ways. Free Comic Book Day and Star Wars Day in early May usually inspire a comic book-related tifo.
“The FC Cincinnati game would have been on Free Comic Book Day so we probably would have had something from an idea I had last year for a Star Wars comic, which is technically back at Marvel now,” Bross said. “We didn’t get to finish working it out.”
Bross has comic book coloring pages available to download from his website based on the tifo inspired by the Age of Ultron, Doop and Star Wars.