If You Love The Muppets, You Should Love Marvel (and Vice Versa)

Published: May 6, 2024
Categories: Feature, Fun Stuff

This article was written by guest contributor Michael Engel. Thanks, Michael!

2024 is the year for two big 50th anniversaries. Well, three, but this is not an article about me turning 50 this year. Gulp. Where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday that I was wearing superhero pajamas and watching Kermit flail his arms. Ah, who am I kidding? That WAS yesterday!

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about myself, I’m here to talk about the debut in 1974 of The Muppets’ Valentine Show, which was the first of two pilot episodes for what would become our beloved Muppet Show. The very same year, the world was also introduced to one of Marvel’s most popular and enduring characters, Wolverine.

How best to celebrate major anniversaries of two things that are near and dear to my heart — Muppets and Marvel? Could I possibly combine the two? Are there other people out there like me, who hold both properties in high regard? More importantly, what can I do to reach out to those poor lost souls who enjoy one but not the other? Please indulge me as I engage in a bit of light character mapping, in the hopes of reaching any Muppet fans who are not yet hip to the delights of Marvel comics.

For those who already are fans of both: I knew you were cool, but I didn’t know you were THAT cool! Where have you
been all my life?!


Both Kermit and Spider-Man (aka Peter Parker) are, at heart, caregivers. Their whole reason for living is based around helping others. Kermit wants to make millions of people happy. Spider-Man wants to keep millions of people safe.

Beyond these broader motivations, they both have a small, core group of loved ones that depend upon them. Peter has Aunt May, Mary Jane, and a few other loved ones that form a family group. They look to Peter for reassurance and stability, for Spider-Man knows that with great power, there must also come great responsibility.

Kermit’s family group, the Muppet gang, similarly look to him for guidance, and to assume the awesome responsibility of command. Peter has at various times tried to give up being Spider-Man, but he always comes back because he is needed.

In Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit is replaced by a nearly identical, physically speaking, doppelganger, and the Muppet gang realizes how much they really depend on him. Peter has also been replaced by a clone, and — actually, the less said about this, the better. Movin’ right along…

Miss Piggy/She-Hulk

Miss Piggy and She-Hulk (aka Jennifer Walters) both have many facets to their personalities, sometimes contradictory ones. An interesting range of emotions, one might say, from demure to daring. On one hand, they can both be quite hysically aggressive, displaying feats of great strength and displaying a propensity towards violence. The violence can appear when the innocent are threatened, of course, but there can also be hell to pay if anyone angers them for all sorts of reasons.

On the other hand, both Jennifer and Piggy are known for their sensitive sides, and their romantic exploits. Miss Piggy can often be found throwing herself at the male guest stars of The Muppet Show (Christopher Reeve, Roger Moore, Rudolph Nureyev, John Denver, Elton John, etc.) and She-Hulk’s love life is legendary in superhero circles (Tony Stark/Iron Man, Luke Cage, Starfox, Hercules, even Juggernaut!)

Also, both of them love the color green.

(Bonus fact: In Episode 7 of She-Hulk’s Disney+ show, Jennifer is at home watching TV and none other than Miss Piggy is on the screen!)

Fozzie Bear/Captain America

Both Fozzie Bear and Captain America (aka Steve Rogers) have very goal-oriented personalities. Steve’s main goal is to fight and defeat evil and injustice in the world. Fozzie’s main goal is to be a funny, successful, and well-liked comedian. Both of them constantly face obstacles on the path toward achieving their goals.

Captain America has been frozen in ice for decades, forced out of the uniform by government interference, cast away to alternate universes, and even been shot and killed. (He got better.) None of this has ever stopped him, and has only briefly dented his positive attitude and optimism.

Similarly, Fozzie has suffered setback after setback. His performances are routinely and mercilessly heckled by Statler and Waldorf. When Fozzie tries a new skill or strategy, it always goes wrong. He has unsuccessfully attempted stage magic, mime, ventriloquism, roller skating, script writing, and many others. Just like Captain America, Fozzie never gives up or loses hope.

They are both also natural leaders. As the chairman of The Avengers, Steve often leads the team to victory against their foes, usually accompanied by stirring, inspirational speeches when things seem to be at their lowest. Fozzie also fulfills this role in the Muppets when it’s required of him: Witness the scene in The Great Muppet Caper when the gang opt out of the rescue mission, and Fozzie talks them back in by delivering his famous “We don’t want the bad guys to win” speech.

Gonzo/Iron Man

It may not seem a likely pairing, but Gonzo and Iron Man (Tony Stark) have a lot in common. They are both wildly inventive and creative “think outside of the box” types.

Gonzo’s avant garde acts have included reciting Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice while hanging by his nose from a feather boa, saying the 7 times tables while standing in a hammock and holding up a piano with one hand, and singing “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” while tap dancing in an enormous vat of oatmeal. Technology genius and visionary Tony Stark, of course, created the Iron Man armor, but he also invented Repulsor Tech, a highly efficient form of green energy, and an artificial intelligence called Friday that was so advanced that she became sentient.

Gonzo and Tony are also both famous, or infamous, for their libidos. Tony is attracted to tall, statuesque, super-model types, while Gonzo is attracted to chickens. Gonzo does at times seem to be involved monogamously with Camilla, but on the other hand he is often seen with multiple chickens and can’t tell them apart. Tony has dated civilians (and employees) like Bethany Cabe and Pepper Potts, fellow superheroes like Black Widow, She-Hulk, and the Wasp, and even super villains like Madame Masque. I’m not sure what’s riskier, Gonzo’s death defying stunts or Iron Man’s love life!


This last one is almost too obvious to mention, but how could I not? Wolverine’s “berserker rage”, where he becomes extremely violent and lashes out with the aggression of a wounded, cornered animal, is nearly identical to Animal’s violent fits, albeit much more graphic in nature.

Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, and what he does is not very nice. Animal is the best there is at what he does, and what he does is beat drums! It seems like Wolverine spends almost all of his time fighting, and Animal’s only interest seems to be bashing the drum kit. Well, he’s interested in women too. The female students at Danhurst College, the gals in Nicky Holiday’s gang, Rita Moreno, Cheryl Ladd, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even poor Snow White have been on Animal’s radar, while Wolverine’s affections have included Mariko Yashida, Jean Grey, Storm, Mystique, Elektra, and possibly even Squirrel Girl!

Well, I could go on and on. I’m sure my inbox will soon be flooded with requests for Lew Zealand/Hawkeye or Crazy Harry/Deadpool character maps. Until then, I’d like to leave you with a comparison of the brains behind these cherished creations.

Jim Henson was an arts major in college, and anticipated being a commercial artist. It was almost an accident that he stumbled into puppetry at his first job at a local television studio. In much the same fashion, Stan Lee dreamed of writing the great American novel, and took a position at Marvel’s predecessor, Timely Comics, just to have a job to pay the bills.

Before Jim Henson, most TV puppets were wooden affairs, literally and/or figuratively. Jim reshaped the entire world of puppetry through his creative vision, imbuing his puppets with a humanity and authenticity that were sorely lacking before he came along. Likewise, superheroes before Stan Lee’s breakthrough were two dimensional, cookie cutter, boy scout vs. bad guy affairs. Starting with Lee’s collaboration with Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four #1 in 1961, Marvel’s superheroes had relatable problems and character flaws as well as virtues. Two creative geniuses, making the world a better place. Happy 50th anniversary, everyone!

Click here to announce that you understood these references on the Tough Pigs Discord! Excelsior!

by Michael Engel

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