There’s never been a better time to be a superhero film fan. Between the next phase of Marvel films and shows, the rising excitement about Robert Pattinson’s The Batman and the release of the long-awaited Snyder Cut of Justice League, there has been a lot of news in this space and it’s mostly pretty fab.
We’re drowning in superheroes at the moment and while we’re seeing some things change – more diverse casting, more female-led productions and a wider range of storylines to dive into – one thing is consistent: the superhero rig is as impressive as ever.
The likes of Chris Hemsworth, Kumail Nanjiani, Jason Momoa and Brie Larson grace our screens like gods carved from stone and while it’s a treat for the eyes – no doubt – there is more that goes into the superhero physique than a couple of deadlifts and raw eggs.
It’s easy to look at these chiselled bodies and think, “man, I’ve got to get to the gym”. And cool, if it works as positive inspiration for you, that’s all well and good, but it’s also important to take a realistic view of these kinds of physical results.
The act of becoming a superhero
Kumail Nanjiani recently sent jaws to the floor when he emerged with a newly shredded bod, one that he spent an incredible amount of time and effort developing in preparation for Marvel’s Eternals. He plays a god-like being and wanted to get in the best shape of his life for the role.
Speaking with Men’s Health, he shared:
“I’m playing the first South Asian superhero in a Marvel movie. I don’t want to be the schlubby brown guy—I want to look like someone who can hang with Thor and Captain America.”
But once he achieved his goal, Nanjiani made a concerted effort to be clear about how he got there. In an Instagram post from back in 2019, he told fans “I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world”.
“I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Nanjiani’s trainer for the project, Grant Roberts, shared that he trained about four to five times per week and on occasion, twice a day.
He also shifted his diet considerably, opting for intermittent fasting on his days off from shooting. It was a complete lifestyle overhaul. And it took a lot of work.
Similarly, Hugh Jackman has spoken to the degree of effort that saw him become Wolverine for so many years. Between restrictive diets and extreme dehydration before shirtless shots, Jackman has blatantly said he does not recommend following in his footsteps. It’s all a little too much.
Brie Larson was also praised for her fitness feats leading up to the release of Captain Marvel. The actress trained for nine months for the project, and throughout, challenged her body with rock climbing, tire tosses and at one point even pushed an entire Jeep (yes, a car – you probably saw the video) during a training session.
Trainer Jason Walsh explained to Men’s Journal that in preparation for Larson’s titular film, “it was game on”.
“We got deep into heavy progression, doing two-a-days, four days a week, sometimes five days a week unless Brie was feeling destroyed. She did the work—nutrition, recovery, sleep—everything required of her. The whole process took nine months of training…”
He went on to share that there were times that he “made her [Larson] cry in the gym, but she was able to push through that because of how dedicated she was to this”. This was no simple physical challenge; it took a mental toll as well.
So, yeah. Achieving a superhero body is certainly impressive, but it requires a near-impossible level of dedication, time, access (in terms of professional support) and sacrifice. I’ll stick to workouts suited to mere mortals, I think.