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Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky got the Marvel superhero treatment they deserve

Marvel's portraits of Tamika Catchings, Simone Biles, and Simone Manuel.
Marvel's portraits of Tamika Catchings, Simone Biles, and Simone Manuel.
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Watching the incredible Olympic feats performed by athletes like American swimmers Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel, gymnast Simone Biles, and basketball player Tamika Catchings will leave you speechless. Sometimes the best and perhaps only word to describe a Ledecky race or a Biles tumbling pass is "superhuman."

Fittingly, that’s what Marvel and ESPN had in mind back in November, when they teamed up, for the second year in a row, to create the Impact 25 — a list of 25 female athletes and influencers who have put their mark on women in sports.

Marvel artists then reimagined those athletes and influencers as comic book superheroes, imbuing them with superpowers and the larger-than-life spirit that we see in characters like Wonder Woman, Storm, and Captain Marvel.

With the Olympics wrapping up this week, there’s no better time to look back at how cool some of the Impact 25 portraits are.

For example, here’s Laura Braga’s breathtaking depiction of Olympic gold medal winner Simone Manuel making the water do her bidding:


And here’s artist Kevin Wada giving Simone Biles a Spider-Man-esque treatment, showing her flipping around a city with a powerful grin on her face:


Jeff Dekal drew Katie Ledecky swimming with some of the only creatures in the sea that can keep up with her:


And Afua Richardson created this inspiring image of Tamika Catchings rising above a metropolis to dunk a ball:


Seeing these athletes get the superhero treatment they deserve is pretty neat. The portraits offer a different way to appreciate both the athletes’ talents and the talents of the artists commissioned to create these works — and the results are both inspiring and powerful.

You can see the rest of the portraits at espnW.