ESPN Teams Up With Marvel To Re-Imagine Female Athletes As Superheroes

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It has been a banner year for women in sports, especially in the US, so to see Marvel team up with ESPN and turn a whole host of female athletes into superheroes only makes sense!

2015 saw solo athletes like Ronda Rousey and Serena Williams soar to such dominant heights (despite suffering some major losses) which cemented them as legends in tennis and UFC respectively while they are still active in the game.

The US Women’s National Soccer Team winning their 3rd World Cup Win in the summer set a new precedent for discussions around equal pay and equal airtime as the final match garnered more views in the US alone than the NBA play offs and MLB final. Although the men’s national soccer team have never won a World Cup title, they still get paid more than the women who have proved on multiple levels they deserve equal, if not MORE, pay.

In February, New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko broke both men’s and women’s golfing records by becoming the youngest professional golfer to be ranked no.1 in the world at age 17.

Dancer Misty Copeland has already broken so many barriers, most notably by becoming the first African American soloist for the American Ballet Theatre in over 20 years, but in 2015 she became the first African American principal dancer at the ABT in its 75 year history.

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The list does not end there, however. There are a number of women who have been making history in the sports arena in non-competitive positions. In 2015 Jen Welter became the first female to hold a coaching position in the NFL (working for the Arizona Cardinals) and Justine Siegal broke a barrier by becoming the first female coach in major league baseball.

This is the continuation of a trend that has been happening over the past few years with the news of Sarah Thomas becoming the first female referee in the NFL, and Becky Hammon being appointed the first female coach in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs.

So why does all this matter? The way we see if, the more female athletes are portrayed as and elevated to a level that is equal to that of male athletes, perhaps it will have an effect on them getting paid the same, attracting the same types of sponsorships and media coverage, and there will be less gender stereotypes and criticisms in discussions around athletic ability.

For this awesome collaboration, ESPN and Marvel have released a series of images of the aforementioned women as well as many others re-imagined in heroic fashion (while still keeping their day jobs) to honor the females pushing the boundaries.

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“What do you get when espnW IMPACT25 honorees Carli Lloyd, Lydia Ko, Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey and Misty Copeland join forces with Ms. Marvel, The Black Widow, Thor, She-Hulk and Medusa? A #SUPERSQUAD, that’s what. And below, see more original renderings as Marvel artists turned our illustrious list of 2015 Influencers and Athletes into super versions of themselves,” says the description on the site.

Aside from the athletes, there are women such as the first African American US Attorney General Loretta Lynch who 3 weeks after her historic appointment led the charge in the FIFA corruption investigations, announcing the indictment of 14 top officials at the company and uncovering an $150 million case filled with bribery, money laundering and fraud.

Another major influencer in the professional sporting world is former college hockey player Dani Rylan who founded and launched the first ever National Women’s Hockey League in the US with 4 teams and a number of financial sponsors in the hope that it will attract bigger and bigger audiences each season.

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There are a string of college athletes highlighted who have made news headlines throughout the year, and who serve as badass examples of what is possible when girls get involved in sports.

On the website you can view each woman’s bio and image in a double slider which allows you the see the original rough sketch and the finished product with color and detail. And speaking of artwork, Comics Alliance points out that this series featured more female artists and women of color than regular Marve projects, making it a double home run in our eyes.

As ESPN and Marvel honor the women who have made an impact on sports in 2015, we are in awe of this list knowing it is only the tip of the iceberg. There has certainly been a increased amount of attention and discussion around the need for greater female representation in the coverage of sports, so we can only imagine what 2016 will hold for these women, as well as the girls they are impacting every day.

Take a look at the full series by clicking here.

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