With Avengers: Endgame well on its way to record-setting heights, it’s only fitting to once again give praise to Stan Lee. After all, the creative maestro is responsible for many of the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – characters who are now part of cinematic history, and for whom the venerable Lee will always be remembered. But as much as he’s now associated with these big-name heroes, Lee also came up with a bunch of lesser-known creations, including the so-called NHL Guardians. This was group of heroes inspired by the 30 teams of the National Hockey League, and it was conceived of by Lee less than a decade ago, in 2011 – though the project was quickly discontinued.
In this look back at the short-lived idea, we won’t examine all 30 heroes – but we’ll point out out some of the most interesting ones.
Think Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy, only stronger – and, yes, a bruin. This character is a terrifying combination of brawn with intelligence “that borders on precognition” (we swear that’s part of The Bruin’s official description) and “a roar that causes petrification” (this, too!). On top of all this, The Bruin’s bulging muscles make the character look about as strong as The Incredible Hulk. Frankly, it’s not a bad avatar for the present-day Bruins, who are looking fairly mighty themselves en route to a possible Stanley Cup triumph. Indeed, with a strong Eastern Conference Finals series against the Carolina Hurricanes (who incidentally have one of the more badass Stan Lee superheroes), the Bruins are seizing control of the NHL betting projections as the likeliest team to hoist the Cup.
The Blue Jacket
The Blue Jacket is officially described as “serious minded,” and with “a devastating array of weaponry at his disposal.” And like The Bruin, this makes him a fairly suitable mascot for the team as currently constructed! The real-life Blue Jackets swept the best team in hockey, the Tampa Bay Lighting, early in the playoffs. And while they lost soon thereafter (to the Bruins, in fact), we suspect Tampa Bay will attest to said array of weaponry. Not for nothing, as fun as the Blue Jackets’ series was against the Bruins, we wouldn’t have minded seeing a showdown between the teams’ respective heroes either….
The Shark may look like the Maui and Sons shark mascot of yesteryear, but it is “a technological genius and software empath,” so it has that going for it. And with an army of sharks at its disposal, this fearsome, anthromorphic sea creature actually sounds quite formidable. Again, the real team can probably relate; while as stated the Bruins are justified betting favorites, as of this writing, the San Jose Sharks are still battling for a berth in the Stanley Cup finals as well. And they just so happened to advance through the playoffs in part by dispatching our next team and hero, The Avalanche.
The Colorado Avalanche’s, own superhero (eponymously named The Avalanche), “controls the elements of ice and rock.” Designed as a Rocky Mountain-dwelling spirit of sorts, he doesn’t have the most badass look of the bunch, but he may have some of the most intimidating skills and powers. We’re not sure if the real hockey team can relate to “skills and powers” in this sense, but in that the Colorado Avalanche definitely snuck up on some people this past season, it’s another fitting pairing. It was a fairly unassuming bunch right up until it forced its way into the playoffs.
The Blue is a mind-controlling musician, who just happens to have the power of teleportation (between dimensions, no less). He seems a little bit sinister for a representation of blues music, but what do we know, right? Maybe this his just how blues artists look in other dimensions. Ultimately the most interesting thing about The Blue isn’t his list of abilities, however, nor how he matches the actual St. Louis Blues (there’s not much of a connection for this one). Rather, it’s that he looks an awful lot like the X-Men character Nightcrawler – who, incidentally, has been described as a kind-hearted teleporter. It might be that Lee dipped into his creative reserves once or twice in compiling this group of NHL-themed heroes.
Unfortunately, these and the other guardians didn’t exactly win over a lot of fans. and that ultimately led to the project’s cancelation. They’ll be mere footnotes to Stan Lee’s oversized legacy – but still fun ones that show just how inspired he was to keep creating heroes.