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I do remember watching other earlier superhero movies, and their bodies are changing to more and more unrealistic expectations. The ‘strong man’ or the ‘hunky’ guy from earlier years is now just an ‘average’ guy. Its gotten so stretched that I have a hard time believing that most of the muscled actors are juicing. The expectations of what leading men, and superhero men, are supposed to live up to are getting crazy. How long before all actors have to be CGI because they can’t make the body changes required?

If its affecting all men and their body image, you can bet its affecting gay men.


By the late ’70s and ’80s, synthetics were booming. Spandex, polyester, and Lycra, which were invented in the late ’50s, had been refined, and had found new popularity in the disco era. With these materials in high supply, supersuits finally started using stretchy material—a development that would lead to an emphasis on heightened fitness. It was during this time that Christopher Reeve was tapped to become the new Superman. Producers, concerned by Reeve’s naturally tall and slender frame, pressured him to wear fake muscles under his suit. He refused, instead becoming an early adopter of a now-familiar routine: He hired a trainer and put on 30 pounds of muscle. Reeve couldn’t change his bone structure, but he managed to gain biceps, strong shoulders, and the outline of abdominals, all of which were accentuated by his skin-tight outfits. Reeve’s Superman represents a male ideal shaped by the ’80s jogging craze and Jane Fonda’s VHS aerobics.

Other Scene Buddies Screenings

Magic Mike XXL – The Male Body as Object

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The Legend of Tarzan

Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment. Is masculinity characterized as wild versus civilized?

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When his brother is killed in a robbery, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora.

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The Evolution of the ‘Perfect’ Hero Body

Over the last 60 years, on-screen superheroes have reflected America’s changing ideals for men’s physiques.

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In a world of avatars, does it matter what you really look like or who you really are? What is the authentic self in a world of constructed bodies?

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk. That other guy…Does being a hero require super-muscles, meta-human powers or buff robot suit?

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Supermanhood: Geek Guys and Hypermasculinity in Superhero Movies

It is essentially male bonding or friendship-building by way of violence and it usually elicits wild cheers from audiences. It’s a plot point that I think should at least raise questions regarding the kinds of behavior being modeled for men about male relationships and communication.

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