In this unique bit of Marvel news, we’re going to talk about the biggest film of the holiday season, TRON: Legacy, and about three of the biggest stars in the NBA. What do they all have in common?

First off, there’s the awesome news that Marvel is releasing a bunch of variant covers for some of their classic back issues. These aren’t just ordinary variants of course, that would be par for the course – these are TRON variants! That’s right, all of your favorite superheroes have been redrawn as if they were characters from the TRON universe.

The Marvel variants are tied to the upcoming major release of TRON: Legacy. In case you forgot, Disney now owns Marvel and, oh yeah, Disney is banking on their release of the TRON sequel. Of course, when the covers look this cool, who cares if it’s a marketing ploy?

Check Marvel for all of the variant covers, but here’s my favorite. It’s a TRON-ified twist on the cover to Invincible Iron Man #33.

As if turning Marvel’s greatest superheros into computer programs weren’t cool enough, Marvel also recently teamed up with ESPN The Magazine to create a unique cover focused on the upcoming NBA season. The cover features NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant as the Marvel superheroes Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor.

What I really like about the ESPN tie-in is how it gets you thinking about who these athletes most resemble in the Marvel universe. Clearly, the reason that the three superheroes were chosen for the cover is because they represent three of Marvel Studios’ most popular, or anticipated, film franchises. Iron Man 2 came out this past summer, and Iron Man 3 is on the way. Plus, both Captain America and Thor are out next year.

While the art for the cover isn’t groundbreaking, it’s still pretty cool. Check it out below.

While this is good for Marvel’s cross-promotional efforts, as a huge hoops and comic book fan, I have to say I disagree with a few of the choices. Setting aside the marketing angle, Kobe Bryant as Iron Man is solid. They’re both egotistical, occasionally to their detriment, but they’re both brilliant at what they do – and are incredibly driven. Kobe is a bit meaner than Tony Stark, so I would also be okay with The Punisher.

Kevin Durant as Thor is a bit contrived – since it’s based entirely on the fact that he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. If KD were really a superhero, he’d be someone like Mr. Fantastic – with his speed, arm length, and hops, watching him play ball is like seeing someone with super stretch abilities (though Marvel doesn’t own the film rights to the Fantasic Four films, so don’t expect that mash-up to happen anytime soon). ESPN’s Sports Guy columnist Bill Simmons once proposed calling KD “Plastic Man,” after the old DC hero, but unfortunately that nickname was wasted on Stacy Augmon.

LeBron James as Captain America is also suspicious. Since moving to Miami in the off-season, most NBA fans across the United States have nothing but contempt for James. As such, he doesn’t exactly represent the collective will of America. However, he is a strong leader and a true soldier on the basketball court, so it’s not the worst choice.

Frankly, I see LeBron as more of a Dr. Doom figure. Doom is completely driven by his ego and sense of superiority. He’s also vicious to his enemies. This could be the year where LeBron lets loose on all of his haters and simply demolishes the NBA. That said, as mentioned, the Fantastic Four franchise is tied up with Fox, so forget about a cool metallic LeBron – at least for the time being.

Do these NBA players match up well with their Marvel counterparts? What other NBA players would you pair with a Marvel superhero?

Source: Marvel [via /Film]