During the 2016 Rio Olympics, artistic gymnast Laurie Hernandez became a household name in the U.S.
Then only 16 years old — just old enough to compete in that year’s Olympics — Hernandez played a key role in helping the U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team win a gold medal in the team finals. She also earned the silver medal individually on balance beam.
Her fame, popularity and personality were enough to keep her in the spotlight following the international athletic competition. After the Olympics, she followed in the footsteps of other Olympic gymnasts Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Aly Raisman by competing on “Dancing with the Stars.” She went on to win her season with Val Chmerkovskiy as her partner.
The 2016 Games, however, were the last time Hernandez competed in a gymnastics event until this year.
After time away from the sport, Hernandez returned to competition earlier this year in pursuit of making it to another Olympic Games. While doing so, she has been paying homage to some of her favorite Marvel superheroes.
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Gymnasts’ leotards are a way for the athlete to further express themselves and add an extra sense of style to the artistic sport. For Hernandez, it has become a way to show her love for some of Earth’s mightiest heroes.
In February, she competed for the first time since Rio at the 2021 Winter Cup. It was at this meet that she debuted the first of her numerous superhero-inspired leotards for the season, noting that the inspiration means “colors and vague resemblance” to the character.
She first wore a Captain Marvel-inspired leotard design at Winter Cup. It had a blue base with mesh and yellow and red detailing that paid homage to the suit Carol Danvers wears. Then, she followed up with a Black Panther-inspired design at the G.K. U.S. Classic. The white detailing at the collar was meant to mimic the Claw Necklace, which holds the power to instantaneously allow the Black Panther to suit up.
This past weekend, she debuted two more leotards: one inspired by the Scarlet Witch — notably her new outfit featured at the end of “WandaVision” — and one inspired by Captain America.
The latter two designs, however, were not seen during the actual competition.
Hernandez suffered a knee injury while warming up for the first night of U.S. Championships, the day she was sporting the Scarlet Witch-inspired leotard. The injury prevented the Olympic medalist from participating in U.S. Championships as a whole. But she made sure to still show off the Captain America design meant for the final day of competition.
On TikTok, Hernandez mentioned that the Captain America-inspired design was her favorite of the four leotards.
Shoutouts from Marvel
Marvel acknowledged Hernandez’s leotards this weekend, first wishing her luck and then scoring the leotards as a nod to the sport.
Marvel quote-tweeted Hernandez’s tweet with the collage of leotards and the superheroes who inspired them, saying “We give this a 100/10.” The tweet was a play on perfect 10s in gymnastics — though that system is no longer used at the elite gymnastics level that Hernandez competes in.
A Self-Proclaimed ‘Superhero Nerd’
Given the fact Hernandez chose to design leotards inspired by some of her favorite Marvel heroes, she is an obvious fan. However, she is more than that. In her Twitter bio, she has “superhero nerd” listed amongst being an Olympic medalist, “Dancing with the Stars” champion and more.
Scroll through Hernandez’s Twitter profile, and it’s easy to see why she calls herself such. She has tweeted many times about her superhero fandom — most notably that for Marvel — sharing her opinion on various matters.
She would bring back Black Widow if she could bring any Marvel character back. She wants to live in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — specifically the town of Westview featured in “WandaVision” — out of all other fictional universes.
She has even performed her own one-woman Marvel show on TikTok, reenacting a popular scene from “Avengers: Infinity War.”