ESPN 2 decided to mix things up a bit with its NBA programming recently and aired an alternate Marvel broadcast to the NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Golden State Warriors. The end result was a superhero-laden basketball game dubbed "Arena of Heroes" with far more superhero references than the average game, but at a cost.
I'm not going to say Marvel's Arena of Heroes on ESPN 2 was a flop (especially since there was a completely normal stream of the game available on ESPN), but there were definitely some hits and some misses. The following are some of great moments that, over the course of the game, occasionally turned sour due to shortcomings in execution.
Best: Seeing Iron Man In The Rafters Looking Down At The Game
The Pelicans and Warriors game got off to a strong start as audiences saw Iron Man atop the rafters of the arena awaiting the tip-off to start the game. I could totally see Tony Stark (rest in peace) chilling in the rafters of an NBA game in full armor, just to see the reaction he'd get, so this was awesome.
Worst: Iron Man Sitting On The Shot Clock
Not long after that moment, Marvel's Arena of Heroes took things a bit too far, and Iron Man was just chilling on the shot clock as Andrew Wiggins attempted his free throws. Not only was it out of character for Iron Man to interrupt the flow of the game with hilarious antics, but there's no way the shot clock would hold the weight of his suit without collapsing. I know it's silly, but my suspension of disbelief could only go so far, and seeing Iron Man sitting on the shot clock really made it feel goofy as hell.
Best: The Commentary's Great Marvel References
Ryan Ruocco, Richard Jefferson (who absolutely roasted LeBron James a while back), and Angélique Roché took on Marvel duties for the Arena of Heroes NBA game and, for the most part, they crushed it. Whether it was "By Odin's beard" or "Steph Curry is inevitable," there was no shortage of catchphrases that were peppered into the game with ease.
Worst: The Commentary Occasionally Making Major Mistakes Regarding Marvel Lore
Unfortunately, the night was not without its errors in regards to Marvel. There were a couple of times when, perhaps due to the ongoing nature of a game and a litany of references had to be remembered, the commentary team made a few mistakes in naming Marvel. I heard the term "Hulk suit" a couple of times, as well as one instance where Captain Marvel Carol Danvers was egregiously referred to as "Ms. Romanoff." Not a great look for a Marvel broadcast, though I certainly can empathize given there's so much going on at once.
Overall, I don't regret watching Marvel's Arena of Heroes, though I'd never see it being the only way I consume my sports. I also doubt it would do much to make a game more enticing for a non-sports fan interested in Marvel, but I could be wrong. Sound off in our poll to share whether you'd watch another NBA installment of Arena of Heroes or if you even bothered to tune in.