Hello interweb, Nate here! So recently a Huffington Post writer named Alanna Vagianos has written an article titled “This Is What Superheroes Would Look Like With Realistic Bodies” and proceeded to feature these characters with their photo-shopped “realistic” bodies side-by-side for comparison. Most of these make little to no sense and I’ll explain why in this response to this terrible article. So let’s just jump in, shall we?
Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own any of the images in this article. All art belongs to their respective owners! The research from Recovery.org can be found here.
Now the articles opens with Superman (who I will talk about in a sec), but it also explains the purpose to this article so I thought I should touch upon that first. Somebody from Recovery.org talked to the Huffington Post about Superhero and their bodies as well as the impact of these visuals to kids who suffer from body image issues. The quote goes as follows:
“With new releases every summer, we can see how these films positively affect their younger audiences. But, it’s hard to have such positive takeaways when the bodies represented on film don’t mirror what a typical body looks like. This especially rings true for a younger audience considering research has found that some children are struggling with body image by the time they reach kindergarten. We conducted this project to see how our favorite heroes might change if their bodies were a bit more realistic, and hopefully more relatable.”
Now let me make myself clear here, I sympethise with what is being said here, I really do, but I disagree largely with how this article goes about things. I get how many people often don’t feel comfortable in their own skin and feel like they may be too fat, or too thin, or too scrawny. I mean, I’m human and while I’d like to think I’m comfortable in my own skin I do see the flaws in my own body and wish I can change. A lot of kids do! And maybe seeing their favorite characters with “ideal” bodies may make them more self conscious about their own flaws and imperfections. But the problem here is instead of changing superhero bodies to make them more “realistic” (which they’re not, but I’m getting ahead of myself) they should teach kids that superheros are a fantasy. The reason Superman has huge muscles and a six-pack is so you can imagine yourself being that strong and explore having those powers in the stories. So don’t try and compare yourself to superheroes because you’re just going to walk away disappointed. Instead, read a comic and just have fun imagining yourself in one of these character’s shoes.
Now the biggest reasons these bodies aren’t as “realistic” as the Huffington Post claims is because they seem to think that a “realistic” body is one with added fat to it. Even though superheroes are doing physically stressful activities on a daily basis and fighting villains who are often times stronger then they are, Huffington Post seems to think that they wouldn’t have any muscle but instead have beer bellies. I discussed this a bit in my response to that one BuzzFeed video, but superheroes are often drawn in ways that reflect the types of activities they do on a daily basis. If a superhero did not have the body necessary to fight crime than it could very well mean death for them.
So according to the Huffington Post, a “realistic” Superman body is a dad bod. Like seriously, this body reminds me of my dad (no offense dad, love you!). You know what my dad doesn’t do? Carry vehicles over his head, rips giant robots apart, rip trees out of the ground, etc. You know who does do that? Superman! I mean, Superman is one of the strongest heroes out there and he needs to have the muscle to match that strength. Hell, technically a realistic Superman body would actually be super thin because there’s nothing on Earth heavy enough for Superman to exercise his muscles. But regardless there’s one important factor in all of this: Superman is an alien! His biology isn’t human and therefore his musculature could theoretically operate differently. At the end of the day, regardless of the “realism” behind any of this, Superman looks strong as a way for artists to tell their readers that the character they are looking at is extremely strong.
Ok, like Superman, Gamora is an alien. So regardless of how “realistic” her body is, you can’t honestly compare her biology to ours. But for the sake of argument, let’s act as if her biology is the exact same as ours except she’s green. Why is she bigger than 90% of girls I know in real life? I mean, most girls tend to be on the thin side. And considering the physical activity Gamora does on a regular basis, any fat she has should be burned away fairly quickly!
Huffington Post logic: dad bods represent “realistic” male bodies and fit men don’t exist! Like, have these guys ever been to a gym? Or seen a swimmer’s bod? Aquaman is an Atlantean and swims all the time! And he’s a whole lot stronger than people give him credit for. Not nearly as strong as Superman, mind you, but much stronger than even the strongest of humans. Honestly, I’m not even sure Atlanteans can get fat considering their civilization and how much they swim.
Why do you need to make Harley Quinn chubby? I mean, skinny girls do exist believe it or not! Are you trying to imply that skinny girls don’t have realistic bodies? And Harley is constantly running around, carrying giant mallets, and dealing with characters like Joker and Batman. Plus a big aspect of her character is her sex-appeal so she’d have a sexually appealing body to match this aspect of her character.
Black Panther is the king of Wakanda. He is a warrior! A warrior would not have a beer belly and chipmunk cheeks! (Seriously, what’s up with those cheeks?) H0w can you expect someone with this body type to fight in the jungle and jump from tree to tree?
Black Widow is a spy! She’s trained in martial arts, stealth, and I believe she even has been effected by a super soldier serum. So why would she have a chubby body if that would make things more difficult for her to do her job? Scarlett Johansson even has a skinnier body than this “realistic” one!
This is the only one where I kinda give Huffington Post a pass on because Scarlet Witch uses magic more than martial arts or fighting. This could mean that she doesn’t do as many physical activities as other superheroes so she might not get the same level of exercise and therefore might not be as fit. I still don’t think the image on the left is unrealistic since I’ve seen women with similar bodies as that in real life, but either of these technically could work.
To be completely honest, I don’t know much about Captain Marvel. She just never interested me as a character. Plus I’ve been hearing that she’s a really bad character right now in the comics and Civil War II is kind of a glimpse of that for me. But regardless, I do know how her powers work which includes super strength so a fit looking body would be appropriate. In addition, she’s a member of the US Air Force and you need to be physically fit in order to get that job. I’ve never been a part of it, but I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a fat soldier.
Ok, Spider-man is gymnast. He swings around New York using webs so of course he’d have to be fit enough in order to handle swinging at high velocities with one arm and sometimes extra weight if he’s carrying somebody else. There is no way someone who swings around the city and can stop cars with their bare hands can be that fat. He needs the muscle and lean body in order to do what he needs to do.
Isn’t Cyborg mostly robot at this point? Why would you need to make his torso that thick? I just don’t even see why he would look like this. How much of his body is organic and how much is robotic anyways? Is he capable of getting fat in the first place?
So what do you think? Agree with me? Disagree with me? Let me know!