- If you aren’t up to date on all MCU movies prior to “Infinity War,” and don’t want said movies and their character introductions/developments to be spoiled, please stop reading now
- This post WILL NOT go into events of “Infinity War”
- Please don’t spoil “Infinity War” in the comments for those who haven’t seen it yet
The Portland Trail Blazers were the first team eliminated from the NBA Playoffs, which is disappointing, but it also allows more time to devote to other passions. Mine? Movies. Superhero movies have dominated the movie-scape, with Marvel becoming the leader as they’ve developed their Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2008 with the first “Iron Man.”
Ten years and 18 movies later, the MCU crosses over in “Avengers: Infinity War.” To celebrate the release this weekend, I’ll try to find connections between MCU characters and some 2017-18 Blazers.
Some thoughtful connections
Damian Lillard: Black Panther
T’Challa becomes king of Wakanda and assumes the Black Panther mantle in his own solo movie, “Black Panther,” after the passing of his father. He’s relatively unproven, and he faces some challenges before showing his people why he’s right for the job. Damian Lillard came to Portland from relative unknown Weber State with critics a plenty. But whether it was his stellar rookie season (and unanimous Rookie of the Year) or his buzzer-beater in 2014, he proved as a young leader he was right for the franchise.
Jusuf Nurkic: Hulk
This connection isn’t as obvious as you’d think. Bruce Banner’s Hulk in the MCU is always angry, as he says in the first “Avengers,” and he’s often fighting off the rage to stay in his normal state. The opposite can be said for Nurkic: He often seems in a malaise, and it can last for several games before we see the dominating big man show again. And sometimes his fieriness leads to uncalled for fouls or rushed shots. But when both the Hulk and Nurkic are in control of that rage, they’re game-changers — it’s just a matter of channeling it to help the team.
CJ McCollum: Iron Man
Tony Stark and CJ McCollum are arguably the two most put together members of their respective teams. Stark is a genius and arms dealer, which leads him to immense wealth and becoming an integral part of the Avengers. McCollum is known for his journalism degree, evolving into a Most Improved Player award winner, and various endorsements like Banana Republic and Li-Ning. They’re both busy men. They both also have personalities that lead them to often not hold back with snark (case in point), but are still likable regardless.
Zach Collins: Spider-Man
Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is very much a kid, but you see the potential. He’s way in over his head in “Captain America: Civil War,” facing heroes more powerful/experienced than he, but Spidey still finds a way to help while looking like a future star. While I wouldn’t call Zach Collins a future star just yet, you see the potential for what he can be. The first half of the season he looked outmatched, the game too fast. Then it started to click and we saw both impressive defense and the ability to hit 3-pointers. Both Spider-Man and Collins seem to have the future of their respective teams on their backs, too. (Side note: Tom Holland is clearly the best Spider-Man to date.)
Some random connections
Ed Davis: Groot
Groot and Ed Davis are just physical specimens. They’re grinders. Whether it’s tree limbs that can bend their will, or an undying motor leading to rebounds, they’re going to use their physicality to overpower you and win. Just picture Ed Davis screaming “I AM GROOT” after a rebound — it’s perfect.
Jake Layman: Hawkeye
This applies to the current Hawkeye, who falls off the earth and then all of a sudden pops up, and you’re like, “Ohhhh, I forgot about him.” That’s how I feel when I see Jake Layman checking into the game.
Meyers Leonard: Thor
Purely a looks-based connection. Have you seen Meyers flex?
Evan Turner: Rocket Raccoon
Both have their drawbacks (Rocket is tiny due to being a raccoon, Turner is not a starter-level talent yet plays starter-level minutes), but they find ways to help their respective teams.
A fun exercise
None of these connections are clear (except Meyers really does look like Thor), but it’s a fun exercise with the spectacle that is “Infinity War” consuming pop culture.
While this is not very serious, we invite you to share your own MCU-Blazers connections in the comments. Just remember: Don’t reveal any Infinity War spoilers!