Fitting the superhero phenotype



The strong and intense nature of superhero, Captain America painted on a wall.

Corea Conner, Photo Manager

When watching superheroes on the big screen, one may wonder, “how do superheroes look so strong?” Surprising is not all editing behind the scenes but the rigorous workouts actors put themselves through months before the actual filming process. 

Every actor has a different routine they take to fit the character they must portray. Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor son of Oden in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), is always working on his shape. He spends much of his free time training and has his own class where he and his team teach clients how to stay fit and healthy. 

Henry Cavill, Superman in the Man of Steel, not only had a body transformation, but he also took on great mental challenges and made psychological strides to become Clark Kent in the movie. Cavill compared the feeling of pushing through boundaries at the gym to the moment Clark Kent learned he could fly.

Zach Snyder, director of Man of Steel talked about the mental and physical efforts that Cavill and his counterparts go through to prepare for a movie. “These actors when they train they are contemplating and experiencing a physical manifestation of their character”, stated Snyder. 

Scarlett Johannson on the other hand had not been to a gym before she was cast as Black Widow. To play Black Widow there is a clear stature that Marvel wanted the actor to fit: Curvy and flexible. Because of the over-emphasis on her character, Johannson has faced inappropriate experiences during interviews

An exception to the thin and over-sexualized body female portrayed in most superhero movies is Captain Marvel. Brie Larson portraying Carol Danvers shows that a woman can play a powerful character and not be overly stereotyped

Senior Jared Jones, a superhero fan, expressed what he sees as the reason for choices in physical characteristics types for superheroes. “I find it crazy how much some of these actors have to work to create their body types in superhero movies. It makes sense because the content source always portrays the heroes as ridiculously muscular, toned, and fit,” he shared.

Jones also hashed out the complicated situation when it comes to looks in these movies. “It’s cool to see but it also is unrealistic for people. The body types are based on fiction. All in all, you can’t blame a fictional superhero movie for being unrealistic. It’s kinda the point”, stated Jones.

Costumes in The Marvel studios definitely fits a certain stature. Many of the superhero stars prepare months before they start filming just to meet the character criteria. The men with impeccable abs and structure and the women with a curvy and flattering fit. 

Looking like a superhero can seem like an unrealistic aspiration. But at one point in time, these actors were kids admiring the same comics their fans now do.