Superhero Bodies, Hollywood and the Search for Perfection
You can't avoid it, superheroes are everywhere: Wolverine, Captain America, Thor, Batman, and Superman. Hugh Jackman and his superhero brethren all share sculpted abs, bulging veins and cut arms. You’ve also got modernized uber-buff vampires and precision-cut cowboys with nary a shirt to be seen.
It's like Adonis on steroids, literally.
Rewind back to the 1960s when superheroes like Adam West's Batman and George Reeve's Superman were fit but not 'cut' by today's standards. They were nothing like the hulking superheroes of today. The 1960s heroes look more like pre- liposuction patients with their steroid-unassisted soft midsections.
But has the ideal male physique changed?
Enter the steroid-filled 1970s with Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Ferrigno… literally real life muscle-bound giants. Testosterone, growth hormone, focused bodybuilding and dietary routines radically altered the male figure! And it never looked back.
Every sport from competitive bodybuilding to cycling to baseball and football was permeated with steroid use. Our image of the ideal male body changed into what we expect of superheroes, and that look is apparently here to stay.
So how do the superhero celebrities do it? Certainly it involved an extremely rigorous, focused exercise program, in some cases hours a day. Christian Bale lost 30 pounds for a role, going from buffed to anorexic. That's willpower! Couple that with great dietary restraint and you have the ingredients for a very cut body. It doesn't hurt to make millions per film to afford a personal chef and personal trainer to help things along either!
Excellent discipline and all those perks can only take you so far, however. Celebs in their 40s often need a little help from their plastic surgeon to keep their superhero body going. Liposuction, tucks and nips become de rigueur after 50.
So what about Regular Joe who wants to have his own superhero body? It's an almost impossible task to compete against Hugh Jackman's or Mario Lopez's abs. There is a cost in time, effort and plain old sweat.
So when patients come in for a consultation with their plastic surgeon, the message should be about what they can generally expect as a good result - but not a miracle. They shouldn't expect to come out of the OR with Brad Pitt or Gerard Butler's body unless they were reasonably close to Brad Pitt and Gerard Butler to begin with!