Which Super Heroes Would Make Super Athletes?

In light of finally seeing “Green Lantern” (which did a competent job of meeting the exceedingly low expectations I set for it, so… yay?), I’ve decided to answer an all-important question: would having superpowers make you a better athlete? If so, which sport, and at what position?

Considering sports and comic books are easily my two greatest areas of knowledge, let’s set some ground rules (otherwise this blog post could easily top 2,000 words). For consideration, the hero:

  1. Must be a DC comics character (sorry, Marvel, but I prefer my heroes archetypal).
  2. Must have at one point been in the Justice League of America (otherwise we’re talking dozens of characters).

OK, rules are all set, let’s give a new meaning to the phrase “fantasy sports.”

Sure, the JLA are great superheroes. But would they be great professional athletes?

Superman: Hockey center

The problem with all-around heroes like Superman is that they really can play anywhere. I could think of 10 positions that Superman would excel at across all sports, but the NHL needs a high-profile player to help it steal some ratings from the other three major sports. Who would do that more effectively than the most iconic hero of all time? A center has to do a little of everything on the ice: lead the team, fight for faceoffs, pass and shoot. Clark Kent’s bulk would make him hard to push around on the ice, plus he could literally fly down the ice on break-aways. Perfect NHL center.

Wonder Woman: Rugby hooker

Rugby is unfortunately the only sport available to women (and I’m not yet counting women’s tackle football, though it exists) that utilizes force and physicality. Although the position has a crappy name, the hooker is ideal for Diana of Themyscira. Hookers have to block like forwards and run like backs. In the scrum, the hooker must support the entire weight of the scrum-half while still rolling the ball back to a teammate (called “hooking,” after the shape the leg makes). The position requires strength, speed and stamina. Look, it’s either this or rodeo-shows with that lasso, so what do you want?

Batman: Football coach

This one is the easiest. Batman is absolutely the Bill Belichick of the DC Universe: brilliant, cold, conniving, distanced. Batman knows how to use what he has to do the maximum good, be it his own abilities or JLA personnel. Bruce Wayne would make an excellent coach, and no sport requires the pre-planning like football.

The Flash: Running back

Yeah, yeah, track and field, blah blah blah. Look, people go into sports to make money. No one gets rich running track, even if you can run so fast you can beat people who travel instantaneously across time and space (this actually happened in 1998). Flash’s speed and reaction time would make him lethal in an NFL backfield, and he could vibrate through tackles. Barry Sanders, meet Wally West.

Martian Manhunter: Designated hitter

J’onn J’onzz’s telepathy would make him a fantastic hitter because he would know pitch selection and location ahead of time. He’s quick, but maybe not quick enough to make a good position player. And not that I would accuse of him of doing something dishonest, but telepathy would also let him steal signs when he gets to second and tell other hitters without anyone noticing.

Green Arrow: quarterback

Pinpoint accuracy, arm strength and trajectory perception would make Oliver Queen an ideal QB. Technically, his protege Red Arrow is more accurate with anything not a bow and arrow, but Roy Harper’s a heroin junkie, and the NFL doesn’t need another drug addict sullying its image. As a backup, go with Booster Gold: he used to actually be a quarterback!

Green Lantern: point guard

This is a bit of a stretch, but there aren’t any rules yet banning contact between players and green energy constructs in the NBA. Kyle Rayner (or Hal Jordan, or John Stewart if you want to be un-PC) could use his ring to push people off rebounds, elevate the ball over defenders on fade-aways, or create one-man double- or triple-teams on defense. No sport requires endurance like basketball, and endurance is all about willpower… I guess.

Plastic Man: shortstop

Eel O’Brian’s elasticity would make it very hard for grounders to get by him into the outfield. He would also be able to get his foot to second base quicker than an average SS to start a double play, or stretch his glove over the base for pick-off attempts.

Aquaman: water boy

Because Aquaman sucks at everything. Fine, how about competitive fishing? That way I never have to watch him.

As a bonus, I’ll give you two super-villains. Lex Luthor would be the perfect NFL owner: very rich, and completely unconcerned with the welfare of his employees. The Joker would make an excellent Cincinnati Bengal: you never know what he’s going to do, but somebody’s probably going to die.

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