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Marvel and ESPN Team-Up for ‘Marvel’s Arena of Heroes’ During NBA Game

Promo Marvel NBAArenaofHeroes min e1619476275712

Marvel and ESPN, two branches of Disney, will flex their corporate synergy on May 3rd for Marvel’s Arena of Heroes, a special presentation that will take place concurrently with ESPN’s telecast of the Golden State Warriors vs. the New Orleans Pelicans NBA game.

While the regular telecast of the game will air on ESPN, a special Marvel infused version will air on ESPN 2, ESPN + and ESPN Deportes. As part of the presentation, a Marvel superhero storyline will be integrated into the telecast of the basketball match-up, including appearances by characters like Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange. It’s not clear whether the animated or live-action versions of these characters will be included, but considering the promotional information focuses on Marvel, and not Marvel Studios, it’s a safe bet that we will see animated characters.

As part of the integrated storyline, the Avengers are looking for new recruits to help fight against an alien attack. Thus Black Panther and Iron Man turn to the NBA to seek the best candidate to join their ranks. Three players from each team will be monitored, and they will be given points, fantasy style, for in-game performance.

Marvel's Arenas of Heroes Promotional Comic Cover
Marvel’s Arenas of Heroes Promotional Comic Cover

From the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins will be in consideration, and from the New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson, Brendan Ingram and Lonzo Ball will be in the running.

The scoring will be awarded as follows:

  • 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.

Given the scoring system, there’s almost no chance that Steph Curry isn’t crowned the next Marvel superhero at the end of this game. And rightly so, since there isn’t another player maybe this whole season who has performed as heroically as Curry has.

This sounds like a really fun and creative project between the two Disney brands. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, and detractors can simply watch their regular airing on ESPN, but it’s a great way for fans of both Marvel and the NBA, like myself, to enjoy both interests at once.

As part of the special presentation, regular ESPN NBA announcers Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary in a fully customized Marvel-themed studio at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus, and they will be joined by Angélique Roché, who has worked on Marvel’s Voices comics, moderated countless comic book related events, and hosts the Marvel’s Voices podcast. Roché is fantastic and I’m excited to see her represent the geek community on ESPN.

Check out additional details on the special presentation below and be sure to tune in for Marvel’s Arenas of Heroes May 3rd on ESPN 2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes!

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ESPN & Marvel to Offer First NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes Alternate Presentation for Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game on May 3

Exclusive Alternate Presentation to Air on ESPN2, ESPN+ & ESPN Deportes with Traditional GameTelecast Airing on ESPN

The Avengers to Observe Both Teams Battle to Become Marvel’s Newest Champion

ESPN, Marvel Continue Decade-Long Sports Content Collaboration with Special Telecast Driven by Original Marvel Storyline

ESPN and Marvel announced a groundbreaking collaboration today to launch the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate presentation for the Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans game on Monday, May 3. The exclusive alternate presentation, NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes, will start at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes with the traditional game telecast on ESPN. This marks ESPN’s second live NBA game on ESPN+.

The latest development in Marvel and ESPN’s long history of sports content collaboration, the telecast will integrate elements from an original Marvel story and iconic characters including Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange throughout the live game, including 3D virtual characters, custom graphics and animation packages.

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.

Fans will be able to follow along as these athletes are put to the test, gaining Marvel Hero Points for their achievements and performance during the game. The player with the most Marvel Hero Points on the winning team will be crowned as Marvel’s first Champion following the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes.

Scoring system:

  • 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 commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary in a fully customized Marvel-themed studio at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus. Additionally, the special presentation will include commentary and analysis from Marvel expert Angélique Roché.

“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.”

“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 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.”

The traditional telecast of the Warriors vs. Pelicans game will be exclusive in the New Orleans market and will air simultaneously on ESPN. Dave Pasch will call the action with analyst Mark Jackson and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth on site in New Orleans. Both the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes alternate presentation and the traditional game telecast will stream via the ESPN App.

About ESPN

ESPN is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment brand, featuring an unmatched portfolio of sports assets. It is comprised of eight U.S. 24-hour television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, Longhorn Network, SEC Network and the ACC Network; five with HD simulcast services – ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes). Other businesses include direct-to-consumer video service ESPN+, ESPN Audio (broadcast, satellite, digital, podcasts), an array of digital services (ESPN.com and many other sites, ESPN App, fantasy games and more), multi-screen ESPN3, ESPN International (26 networks, syndication, radio, digital), consumer products, ESPN Events and espnW. Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Hearst holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN. 

About the NBA

The NBA is a global sports and media business built around four professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the NBA G League and the NBA 2K League.  The NBA has established a major international presence with games and programming available in 215 countries and territories in more than 50 languages, and merchandise for sale in more than 100,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents. NBA rosters at the start of the 2020-21 season featured 107 international players from 41 countries.  NBA Digital’s assets include NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA League Pass. The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with 1.9 billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms. Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.

For more information visit marvel.com. © 2021 MARVEL

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Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture.  He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.

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