I have this vision in my head. It’s not of Ali ascending to an afterlife perse. Instead, he’s taking his place in a pantheon of superheroes. Call it Valhalla, crossed with Avenger Tower, with the Justice League thrown in as well.
First Batman comes up to him. Given the Bat’s long history of outthinking opponents and using their strengths against him, he wants to shake the hand of the man who invented the “rope-a-dope.”
The Flash wants to remind Ali that he really wasn’t ‘that’ fast, but you can tell he’s joking. Even Barry Allen might have had trouble keeping with Ali in the ring.
Black Panther welcomes Ali to the Veld, “where you can run forever.” T’challa thanks Ali for all he did to remind the world of the diginity of Africa and its people and nations, and calls him a fellow warrior. Perhaps he wishes that Wakanda had come out of its isolation a bit earlier, so it could have hosted the Rumble in the Jungle.
Black Widow would overhear this and join the conversation, pointing out that while Ali was a great warrior, one of his most heroic moments was his refusal to go to a war he did not believe in.
Iron Man and Spiderman want to talk to the man who invented trash talking and heroic self promotion. Even Tony would admit that he’s never come up with something as good as “float like a butterly, sting like a bee.”
Professor X doesn’t need to say anything, but smiles to himself as he remembers the way Ali rolled into a room in his wheelchair with as much dignity and charisma as he once strode.
All of them want to thank him for reminding the world that a hero gets to choose his name, and define his identity to the world. They talk fondly of the fight against Ernie Terrel, who refused to call Ali by his chosen name, so Ali cried out “what’s my name” with almost every punch.
And Captain America, (who is decidely NOT a Hydra Agent!) wants to shake the hand of the man who stood like a tree and said, “no, you move” to the sports world, to the boxing authorities and to the American goverment. The man who stood up to the American government, and refused to fight against the Vietcong, who had never done to him any of the things that America did. I think Cap would have been in awe of someone who took a stand so unwavering and unfalttering that within 30 years the man who had been called unpatriotic and unamerican was being celebrated as a national hero when he lit the olympic torch.
Ali didn’t have a cape, but he was one hell of a superhero. Anyone who even dreams he wasn’t, better wake up and apologize.
*That’s just a small list. Have an idea of how a superhero you love would react to Ali– post it below!
*I’ll be the first to admit this is a far from comprehensive list and is almost exclusivly white and male. That is somewhat reflective of which superheroes get movies and TV shows made of them and thus which I know enough about to imagine, but even more its because as a white man, I’m not sure how equipped I am to imagine the reaction of someone outside that experiance to Ali’s death.