Magic: The Gathering sees multiple new sets released each year, each with its own themes and ideas. The newest one to hit store shelves and MTG: Arena is called Streets of New Capenna. This set focuses on a giant city ruled and fought over by five distinct factions and features plenty of mafia and mob-like inspirations and references.
Over the years Magic: The Gathering has referenced pop culture in its card designs and has paid homage to things like Akira, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even Harry Potter. Streets of Capenna is no different and there are more than a handful of references you might have missed on new cards attached to the set.
8 Jewel Thief – Catwoman
The three-mana green card called Jewel Thief has to be one of the more on-the-nose references in all of Streets of New Capenna. It's a creature labeled as a cat rogue who happens to steal jewelry from the rich. This person justifies their crimes as the card has a quote saying "They can afford the loss. They build it into their prices."
Catwoman is the clear inspiration and reference with this card, and though one could complain it's a little too apparent, it works considering the set is based on a giant city full of crime and corruption, similar to Gotham City.
7 Wrecking Crew – Thunderball/Absorbing Man
Wrecking Crew is interesting because it could be referencing one of two Marvel characters from the comics. The art on the five mana human warrior creature shows a man carrying a giant metal ball that sits at the end of a long chain-link leash.
Both Absorbing Man and Thunderball wield the very same weapon. However, the latter is also a black man, like the character from Streets of New Capenna. This makes it more likely that Thunderball is the true influence here. It's also neat to see a lesser-known Marvel character be referenced in some capacity in Magic: The Gathering.
6 Sleep With The Fishes – Mafia Trope
Streets of New Capenna seemingly had the goal of making sure the feeling of a working mafia was apparent and noticeable as a key part of this new set. Sure some of the cards are callouts to specific movies and television shows, but others poke fun at the tropes of the genre.
One such trope is that in which a man will exclaim that a person who was recently killed is sleeping with the fishes. That's what the four mana blue enchantment in the set is referencing, and it's implying that the person was put in a body of water with weights attached to them, so they may stay underwater and never be found.
5 Topiary Stomper – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The image of a fully grown dinosaur roaming the streets of a sprawling urban city has been used before in pop culture, but Topiary Stomper seems to be a reference specifically to a scene from the much-maligned sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
That movie has a scene where a tyrannosaurus rex invades a city. The three-mana green plant dinosaur could also be a shout-out to the lesser-known animated movie We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story, which also saw a t-rex rumbling in-between skyscrapers.
4 Rogue's Gallery – Usual Suspects
An uncommon black card called Rogue's Gallery may at first seem like a nod to the villainous roster of bad guys associated with either Batman or Spider-Man, but the art offers a different assumption.
It features five possible suspects who are standing in front of a police lineup, each evoking their personality. This is very reminiscent of the movie cover for the Usual Suspects, where each of the guys belonging to a crew of criminals stands in front of the police. Despite them standing still they can communicate subtle tells about who they are as a person and provides a bit of flavor.
3 Riveteers Ascendancy – Lunch Atop A Skyscraper
Back in 1932, a famous black and white photograph was taken that showcased 11 construction workers eating on top of a construction beam high up above New York City. It's often pointed to as a symbol of pride for blue-collar workers as it exemplifies the risks and sacrifices they make to do the work others are often too prideful to do.
Riveteers Ascendency is a multi-color enchantment in Streets of New Capenna that's practically a one-for-one copy of that iconic photograph. It is likely meant to evoke the same feelings for the working class of this newly introduced plane in the world of MTG.
2 Pugnacious Pugilist – Rocky
Over the decades there have been numerous boxing films that feature a larger-than-life fighter taking coaching from a small and scrappy older man. The red ogre warrior Pugnacious Pugilist could be a reference to many of them, but the most likely is that of the Rocky film series.
The literal devil on its shoulder has attire that feels inspired by the look of Rocky's trainer Mickey in the movies. A city like New Capenna would likely have a fighting scene where the best-of-the-best scrap it out, while the audience uses their fighting spirit to hopefully cash in and win some money.
1 An Offer You Can't Refuse – The Godfather
With Streets of New Capenna having a theme related to both the mob and inner-city factions, it was bound to make a few references to classic mob-related pop culture. A one drop blue instant in the set called An Offer You Can't Refuse is a direct reference to one of the most famous lines from the movie The Godfather.
Many consider it to not only be one of the best mafia/mob stories ever put on screen but also simply one of the best movies of all time. It taught people that sometimes there are offers that are too good to refuse, and other times the offer itself is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing.
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