Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, And More Turned into Superheroes by Marvel and espnW

Twenty-five of the world’s most influential female athletes get the hero treatment in a strong show of internal Disney brand synergy

As the Internet has found itself engulfed in a silly debate about whether the most dominant female athlete is more worthy of the title of “sportsperson of the year” than a horse, one pleasant side effect is that we are at least talking about female athletes. There are many of them, but outside of Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey, we don’t spend nearly as much time discussing them as we do their male counterparts. But at the end of a year that saw Williams continue to play at an unprecedented level, Rousey live out the plot of Rocky 3, the USWNT win the World Cup, Jen Welter and Sarah Thomas break into the boy’s club that is the NFL as coach and ref, and Simone Biles prepare to become a household name in next year’s Olympics, there are a lot of women doing heroic things in sports.

Illustraion: Jamal Campbell

“Heroic” is the operative word there, too, as this very neat piece of brand synergy from espnW and Marvel (both of which share Disney as a parent company) demonstrates. The two entities took all of the above-mentioned sportswomen, and twenty others, and transformed each of them into a Marvel-style superhero. The comic book company tapped scores of its established and rising talent (including Jessica Jones co-creator Michael Gaydos, who took on uConn basketball star Breanna Stewart) to give a look at the process–with a cool slider that allows a look at how they went from sketch to full-color illustration–of turning an athlete into a superhero. Black Widow artist, Phil Noto transforms Jessica Mendoza–the former softball star who became the first woman to do in-booth announcing during an MLB game this year–into Major Leap, while Hawkeye‘s Annie Wu turns dancer Misty Copeland into The Principal. Indie artist Elizabeth Torque, meanwhile, turns Serena Williams into Super Galactic Slam, a planet-smashing title to which only the best tennis player alive can lay claim.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.