For round 21 of the 2014 NRL season, five teams will be wearing a special series of one-off shirts designed by ISC and themed around Marvel Super Heroes – they’ve been causing quite a stir on social media, and so we thought it would be somewhat remiss of us if we didn’t at least review these eye-catching designs, let’s dive in…

North Queensland Cowboys


The Cowboys Marvel Heroes shirt is, rather obviously, modelled after blonde-haired god of thunder Thor. Now, the regular North Queensland shirts this season were some of our favourite designs of this year’s NRL crop, so this shirt has some work to do to impress us. 

And yet… it really works doesn’t it? Thor’s famous ‘discs’ on the front of the jersey give it a really nice symmetry, and we really like the way the Cowboys and NRL badges have been incorporated into the two chest discs, keeping the amount of ‘rugby jersey’ intrusion to the Thor look minimal.

If we had to criticise one thing, it’s the ‘fake cape’ that starts around the neck and then covers the back of the jersey. We get it, what’s a Norse god without a flowing cape, right? But… this cape doesn’t flow, at all, and it would have been nicer keeping things grey all over. If the players REALLY want to wear a cape, they can bring their own, surely?

But we’re not knocking it – this is a seriously cool jersey that nicely captures a balance between rugby shirt and super hero. And let’s face it, it’s a fucking hell of a sight better than if they’d chose to model it on Thor’s early 90s look instead



Sydney Roosters 


Again, we were big fans of the Roosters’ regular season offerings, but we really like the way that using Captain America as their chosen jersey superhero has allowed the club to reflect its regular red, white and blue colours, albeit in a much more er… Yankie-centric kinda way.

Indeed, that’s kinda the only thing about this jersey, isn’t it? Captain America is one of the most symbols of American patriotism in any kind of media, and while there’s nothing wrong with the rest of the world thinking it’s a cool look (because dammit, it certainly is), but there is something a little silly about a 13 burly pinnacles of Aussie masculinity taking the field dressed up like the Star-Spangled Avenger.

That said, asides from Aboriginal teleporter Gateway and recent additions Tempus and Manifold, there are pretty much no Australian Marvel Heroes to speak of, so maybe the good people of Australia need to have a word with the House Of Ideas about getting Captain Australia off the ground… we mean, if Wales gets its own X-Man, Aussies have to be feeling pretty hard done by, right? Still, cool shirt!



St George Illawarra Dragons



If you read our review of the Dragons’ regular season shirts, you’ll know that, amongst other things, we were not too impressed with the red alternate jersey. So, can we make a suggestion to the powers that be in St George-Illawarra – keep this one. Dump that crappy alternate shirt and wear this thing ALL the time. It is SO cool.

Unless you’ve spent the last five years living under a rock, you’ll know full well that the Dragons’ Marvel Heroes shirt is based on Iron Man’s nifty suit of armour. And despite it being pretty faithful to Ol’ Shellhead’s early movie look, it’s perhaps the most un-jarring design of the lot, and it works pretty well as a rugby shirt in of itself.

There are some things we’re not keen on – it’s unavoidable, but we still absolutely detest that main sponsor. Nothing ruins the heroic superhero vibe like a poorly drawn, coy-looking dragon, but that’s not the designers’ fault. We’d have liked to see the arc reactor in the middle of the chest used for the badge, and if we’re being comic-nerd picky, we’d have liked to see the shirt mess around with Iron Man’s current Model 40 black ‘n’ gold colour scheme, as that would have looked SICK, but other than that, this is one seriously cool design.



Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles


The Sea Eagles have opted for the only non-Avenger in our selection, and the most radical colour palette departure by opting to use the Canucklehead himself, Wolverine, as their Marvel Heroes shirt. If you ask us, they could have stuck with the Avengers and done something pretty cool with the regular colour scheme of the Sea Eagles shirts and Hawkeye’s current costume, but there’s a very special reason why they’ve chosen Wolverine over all other characters…

Did you know that Wolverine himself was a Sea Eagles fan? Yes indeed, big screen Wolverine High Jackman is a passionate Manly supporter, and so it’s a really nice touch to see the club tip their hats to their most famous fan.

It’s a pretty cool design, too, we have to say. While we personally would have preferred them to model it on the classic 1980s brown/yellow Wolverine look, this is still unmistakably Wolverine, and little touches such as the ‘X’ belt around the waist only further add to the effect.

If there’s one thing we’re not keen on, however, it’s the ‘claw slash’ on the chest. We get it, it’s actually a pretty clever way to incorporate the regular Manly maroon into the shirt, and giving a nice little in-joke that Wolverine is indeed, a Sea Eagles fan underneath but… well… it sort’ve looks like he’s gone to scratch himself and forgot he’s got his claws popped… hardly the behaviour of one of the most dangerous men on earth, no? Still, it’s really cool, and double points for the Jackman connection.



Canberra Raiders


There can be no doubt that, of the five Marvel Heroes jerseys ISC has produced, the Raiders’ Hulk-themed shirt is the most striking. Part of us is wondering why the Raiders didn’t go for Thor, given the obvious Norse/Viking connection, but we’re not complaining, as this might be our favourite shirt of the bunch.

We love it because of the way it’s taken the Hulk character, and the classic ripped shirt idea, and given it a rugby league spin. If you look closely, that the tattered remains of the shirt that’s left on our Hulky torso is in fact this season’s Raiders alternate shirt, complete with distinctive green, blue and yellow chevron. It’s a really cool way to keep things rugby league, without leaving you in any doubt as to what the shirt is designed to represent.

We also love the way the bottom of the shirt has a hint of the Hulk’s trademark infinitely stretchable purple jeans, which will also be reflected in the purple shorts that go with the jersey.

While we love all these Marvel Heroes shirts in their own way, this one works so well as an encapsulation of the idea of fusing rugby league and superheroes, it’s probably our favourite of the bunch. Plus those are some SERIOUS abs, let’s face it…





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