Fans are used to seeing Marvel storylines play out in the world of comics, film, and television, but now they are playing out on the basketball court thanks to a partnership between Marvel and ESPN. The two companies are launching the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate presentation for the Golden State Warriors vs New Orleans Pelicans game on Monday, May 3rd. The alternate presentation is titled NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel's Arena of Heroes, and will integrate elements from an original Marvel story throughout the game, which will include custom graphics, animation packages, and 3D virtual characters.
Some of the characters in the story will include Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange, and will revolve around an incoming major threat that will cause the Avengers to recruit some new members, and they'll do so by holding a series of contests where the winners get the chance to train and fight alongside the Avengers.
The Avengers have selected three members from each team to participate, and you can find the full roster and the official description below.
"After a narrow victory over an invading alien army, the Avengers receive an ominous threat from the enemy who vows to return in greater numbers and force. The Black Panther and Iron Man quickly realize they will need more help and form a plan to expand their ranks to fight this impending threat. Recognizing the superior physical abilities, agility, and tenacity of Earth’s greatest athletes, the Avengers will hold a series of contests where the winners earn the right to train and fight alongside them as Marvel’s Champions! The Avengers will begin their recruitment with the NBA elite and observe the battle between the Warriors and the Pelicans, focusing on three star players from each team."
Golden State Warriors:
Stephen Curry, three-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA MVP;
Draymond Green, three-time NBA Champion;
Andrew Wiggins, 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year.
New Orleans Pelicans:
Zion Williamson, 2019 NBA Draft top pick;
Brandon Ingram, 2019-20 NBA Most Improved Player;
Lonzo Ball, 2017-18 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
One Marvel Hero Point will be awarded for every point, rebound, assist, steal and block;
One Marvel Hero Point will be deducted for every missed field goal, free throw or turnover.
ESPN's Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary in a fully customized Marvel-themed studio, and the special presentation will also feature commentary and analysis from Marvel expert Angelique Roche.
“Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and Super Heroes together for years through comics, documentaries, and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities,” said Mike Pasciullo, vice president, marketing and communications, Marvel Entertainment. “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”
“We’re eager for fans to experience this unique, innovative presentation that will pair Marvel and ESPN’s exceptional storytelling and production,” said Matt Kenny, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. “We are proud to showcase the ‘larger than life’ abilities of these NBA stars in a manner in which only Disney and Marvel can deliver.”
“We are thrilled to work alongside ESPN and Marvel to present fans with the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate NBA telecast,” said David Denenberg, NBA senior vice president, global media distribution & business affairs. “This fun and innovative game presentation builds upon our goal of providing personalized and compelling viewing options for our fans.”
NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel's Arena of Heroes will kick off at 7:30 PM EST on ESPN 2, ESPN+, and ESPN Deportes, and will also be available via streaming on the ESPN App.