There’s no denying that superheroes have dominated both TV and the cinema. There have been a ton of superhero TV shows and movies this past decade, and we aren’t complaining. We love the gripping storyline and the intense action sequences that would make even John Rambo look like a wimp. Of course, at the heart of every show by Marvel or DC are the heroes that make everything blend together.
The life of a superhero in the DC and Marvel universe is hard. It’s a life filled with peril and insurmountable tasks but somehow, our favourite crusaders manage to pull through most of the time. In the MCU and DCEU, our heroes still undergo the same trials and tribulations like their comic book counterparts, but these superheroes are nothing without the actors that brought them to life.
It’s tough being a part of the MCU and DCEU because to play a superhero, you’ve got to be built like a superhero. Take a look at Chris Hemsworth, his body is chiseled like a god’s! This is not a body he got naturally, and had to work very hard to achieve that body. He’s also not the only one.
20. Chris Hemsworth As The God Of Thunder
Thor Odinson in the comics is a huge hulking god. While Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor is on the smaller side, he’s still built like a superhero. With arms and a torso like that, it’s obvious that Hemsworth worked for months, years really, considering his Marvel contract.
An intense CrossFit training is a must for any superhero actor. As for Hemsworth, he’s often seen playing around with a suspension band attached to his torso while he works with a medicine ball. Aside from that, he also lifts to give more shape to his arms and chest area. To cap it all off, he said in an interview that he had to eat every 2 hours.
19. Tobey Maguire As Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Many may have forgotten Tobey Maguire‘ Spider-Man but as the star of one of the best superhero trilogies to date, he also had to work out to keep his body as close to Peter Parker’s as possible. Unlike most heroes, Spider-Man isn’t buff but he does have a rather slim but cut body type.
To get Parker’s body, Maguire had to workout twice-a-day, six-times a week. He started out with an hour on the treadmill, and then proceeded to lift weights for about two hours. Aside from this, Maguire had to train himself in various forms of martial arts so he could keep up with the action scenes. He also had a personal trainer so that he wouldn’t become too buff for his super suit.
18. Sebastian Stan As The Winter Soldier
Though he’s had a few run-ins with the Avengers, Bucky Barnes, also known as the Winter Soldier is a good guy. Sebastian Stan had to work hard for the role and his biceps had to be big enough so that the Winter Soldier’s metal arm would look better on the big screen.
Stan starts out his day with a few body-weight exercises including handstands, Turkish get-ups, arm bars, and front levers. As if that wasn’t exhausting enough, Stan also did heavy lifting so that his arms we perfectly shaped. Like most actors, Stan had to make sure that his body was well-rested and fed so that he wouldn’t collapse during the workout.
17. Chris Evans As Captain America
If there’s one MCU superhero that’s built like Hercules, it has to be Steve Rogers. In the comics and in the film, Captain America got his superhuman skills through a super-soldier serum. In real life however, Chris Evans‘ body is all natural and he worked very hard for it.
Evans’ first superhero stint was the Human Torch in the original Fantastic Four. Back then, Chris didn’t have to meet the same requirements that he had to meet under his role as Steve Rogers. For Cap, Evans had to maintain his body fat at around 10-12% while he was building muscle. To achieve what many consider to be the ideal male body, Evans’ training consisted of heavy weight, and low rep workouts for his torso and legs. That’s not as easy as it sounds, as building a lot of muscle mass is harder than losing weight.
16. Andrew Garfield As Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man 2.0
Before Tom Holland and after Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield was chosen to wear the mantle of New York’s favourite superhero. Again, like Maguire and Holland, Garfield didn’t have to become buff for his role but don’t be fooled by Spider-Man’s lack of huge muscles. Garfield and the other actors who became Peter Parker had a hard time becoming slim and ripped.
He had a planned workout routine for him. On Mondays, it was upper body conditioning, Tuesday was High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Wednesday was lower body conditioning, Thursday was core training and for Friday, he had HIIT again.
15. Chris Pratt As Star-Lord
When Chris Pratt was cast as Star-Lord, not many comic geeks were too happy. As Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, Pratt was more on the heavy side. With comic geeks growing angry and expectations growing high, Pratt had to work hard to completely change his body.
Coming out of Parks and Recreation, Pratt had to lose a lot of fat. For the first film, Pratt worked out 4-hours a day, 5-days a week, and he had to eat 4,000 calories a day. He lost 60 lbs. in eight months! Not only that, he had to build a lot of muscle to gain his physique that he maintained till now. To lose the weight, Pratt had to do a few hours of cardio, while squeezing in bodybuilding every workout day.
14. Robert Downey Jr. As The Iron Man
Tony Stark, played by the brilliant Robert Downey Jr., is one MCU hero that we rarely see without his top off. Whenever there’s something going on, he’s in his Iron Man armor, covered from top-to-bottom. Despite not having the need to flaunt his body, Downey still had to work out intensely to keep up with the shooting and the other actors.
Before the release of Iron Man, Downey never had any action roles, partially because he was too skinny. In order to develop his muscle mass, he began training 40-90 minutes for several days throughout the week. Aside from martial arts, he also had to undergo heavy and light weightlifting. For his body to accept the mass he was starting to build, he had to eat every 3 hours and he had to take in 5000 calories per day.
13. Ray Fisher As Cyborg
As Cyborg in last year’s Justice League, Ray Fisher had to play a role where he was covered from head-to-toe in CGI. We don’t get to see the fruits of fisher’s labor in the film but despite his CGI-oriented character, he still had to work out for the role.
Victor Stone is an athlete in the DC universe and for Fisher, this meant he had to step up and become fit for the role. He went from 190-lbs to 223-lbs. All the weight he added was muscle. To achieve the freak physique, he had to focus heavily on heavy weightlifting. According to Fisher, the toughest part of his transformation was the diet.
12. Tom Holland As Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (Again)
Out of all the heroes in the MCU, Tom Holland‘s Peter Parker is the skinniest and smallest. Thankfully, considering he plays a younger Parker, maintaining a petite and fit frame was better suited for the role.
Holland keeps his fans updated on his workout routine on his social media accounts. While there’s less focus on bodybuilding for him, he had to exert a lot of effort into gymnastics and martial arts. Like his character in the MCU, Holland is capable of insanely high jumps and tricks! He partnered his training routine with cross training to maximize his body mass.
11. Dave Bautista As Drax
Out of all the actors in the MCU, Dave Bautista is the one who had his work cut out for him. Long before joining the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy, he was already a buff guy coming off of his pro-wrestling career. Aside from being a pro-wrestler, Bautista also trains in martial arts, including jiu-jitsu.
As Drax the Destroyer, Bautista had to be topless for all his scenes. This meant he had to ensure that his body was as buff and ripped as it could possibly be. With his body fat not surpassing 10%, he managed to become even bigger for his MCU role. Baustista focused heavily on lifting and improving different parts of his body per day. One day would be dedicated to legs, another for his arms, and another for his chest. Each set was short but intense!
10. Jason Momoa As The King Of The Seven Seas
Yet another display of the ideal male body is Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman. On-screen, Momoa’s Aquaman is ripped and buff all around but his chest area is more chiseled than the other parts of his body. As the ruler of Atlantis, Momoa worked hard to have a body fit for a king.
Momoa’s favourite workout is rock climbing and he put the activity to good use in becoming Aquaman. To build the physique that he has for the character, Momoa supplemented his favourite workout with a lot of heavy lifting, focusing on his arms and legs. In one post, Momoa says he had to do a workout counting from 10 reps to 1 rep and then 1 rep to 10 reps in total, and that’s after 2 hours worth of back workouts!
9. Stephen Amell As The Green Arrow
Stephen Amell‘s Green Arrow is yet another fine example of the ideal male body. For the role, Amell burns as much fat as he can while building muscle. To achieve this, he had a rather demanding workout schedule that’s not for the faint-hearted.
His workout routine consists of 3 full body strengthening days. For the other days, which he considered “rest days”, he engaged in various demanding activities such as jiu-jitsu, archery, kickboxing, and parkour. You know your routine is hardcore when your rest day is still mainly based in physical exertion.
8. Christian Bale As The Dark Knight
If there’s one actor who’s a master of body transformations, it has to be Christian Bale. He was super skinny and malnourished in The Machinist. He was fat for American Hustle. For his three Batman films, he was ripped, which is what we expect from Gotham’s finest.
For The Machinist, Bale weighed in at 120 lbs. A year after the release of The Machinist, Batman Begins released and for that, he had to weigh 190 lbs, made mostly just of muscle!
His nutrition played a big part in getting Bruce Wayne’s body. For his workouts, he worked on a different part of his body per day 5 times a week. His workouts focused on heavy lifting done with a few reps.
7. Ezra Miller As The Flash
Carrying a very slim physique naturally, it was tough for Ezra Miller to take on the role of The Flash because he had to build some muscle. It’s harder for slim people to become ripped but it’s doable. Miller had to undergo a rigorous training to become Barry Allen.
Miller had a calorie-heavy diet along with his intense training routine. Unfortunately, after a few months of training, Miller still wasn’t packing enough muscle. It was then that his coach decided to give Miller a few natural supplements. The results were amazing. It just goes to show that everyone has their own needs when it comes to bodybuilding and a personal trainer is very helpful in figuring out what these needs are.
6. Ben Affleck As Batman
Ben Affleck’s Batman may be an aged version of the Gotham superhero but that doesn’t mean he should have the body of a middle-aged man too. While we barely get to see Batman without any clothes on in his recent films, we can tell from the shape of his suit and clothes that he’s pretty built.
Affleck’s Batman is larger than the previous iterations and the actor had 2 years to achieve and maintain the body. Affleck had to bulk up and gain more muscle mass. Nutrition was a big part of achieving his body. As for his workout, it consisted of 3 blocks of exercise routines filled with heavy lifting, and body weight exercises.
5. Henry Cavill As The Man Of Steel
Becoming Clark Kent, also known as Superman is no joke. Henry Cavill had to put in a lot of work to achieve a Kryptonian’s body. While Cavill can never achieve the strength of Superman, he does come rather close to looking like The Man Of Steel thanks to his workout routine.
To build lean muscle mass, Cavill had to endure a tough Olympic weightlifting based routine. He had 4 phases for his physique: preparation, bulking, leaning out, and of course, maintenance. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that an Olympic based routine is tough. Cavill had to do complex and effective weightlifting exercises to get and maintain the body that we see on-screen.
4. Grant Gustin As The Scarlet Speedster
Just because he’s the fastest man alive, it doesn’t mean that The Flash is all skin and bones. CW’s The Flash puts Grant Gustin in the shoes of everyone’s favourite speedster. For the role, Gustin couldn’t allow himself to be faster than the speed of light, but he could at least have the build of a superhero.
Gustin looks pretty slim on screen, in fact, some fans even told him to put on a few pounds. However, under the slim physique is a well toned body. Staying true to his character, Gustin was assisted by an Olympic running trainer. Aside from running most of the time, Gustin did bodyweight exercises to reach his goal.
3. Chadwick Boseman As King Of Wakanda
As one of the latest additions to the MCU, Chadwick Boseman had a lot of expectations to meet when he had to become Black Panther. Unlike most of the Avengers, Black Panther relies heavily on agility and speed over strength, and this means a slim figure is what Boseman needed to prepare for his part.
To make his muscles toned, Boseman had a lot of HIIT sessions. Even before becoming Black Panther, Boseman’s body was already well built, and little work was left to be done. He instead focused on capoeira, jiu-jitsu, karate, and kung-fu so his body was capable of the demanding moves that Black Panther would have to do.
2. Hugh Jackman As The Wolverine
While many superheroes have been represented by several actors already, Hugh Jackman has given the world a Wolverine that can never be replaced. From the first X-Men to Logan, we’ve seen Jackman develop more and more into the hero we saw in the comic books. This, of course, is the result of fantastic acting, and hard training.
For his last stint as Wolverine in Logan, Jackman went all out with his version of the mutant, giving it his absolute all. To get as built as humanly possible, Jackman lifted weights like a real mutant. All were heavy weights with a few reps each time. On top of this, Jackman also did a lot of cardio training to keep his body fat to a minimum.
1. Ryan Reynolds As Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds is one of the very few that have been a part of both the DC and Marvel movie universes. Although Reynolds was already toned for Green Lantern, his body was put to the test as he played Deadpool in 2017.
Becoming the merc with a mouth wasn’t easy. Aside from getting his body more defined, Reynolds also had to make sure he was capable of doing most of the action scenes. Working out 5 days a week is not easy especially for Reynolds who just became a father at the time. Like most actors taking on superhero roles, Reynolds focused more on heavy lifting and bodyweight training.
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