Marvel Star Warns Against Unrealistic ‘Superhero Body’ Expectations For Men

Left: Actor Will Poulter, Right: Marvel Comic’s Adam Warlock, newest comic character to be introduced into the MCU. (Credit: The Cosmic Circus)

Will Poulter is one of the latest stars to join the incredibly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. The most recent MCU release was the dark Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and will soon be followed by the seemingly comedy-focused Thor: Love and Thunder.

Thor: Love and Thunder will allow audiences to see The Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time since Avengers: Endgame. This will be the lead-up to the long-awaited follow-up to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 promotional title card. (Credit: Marvel Studios)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, set for release May 5, 2023, will feature actor Will Poulter as Adam Warlock, a genetically engineered superhuman. Director James Gunn has said that the upcoming film will be dark, deep, and go into all of the characters, including Poulter’s Warlock.

This particular character’s earliest appearances were in The Fantastic Four and Thor in the late 1960s Silver Age of comic books. Adam often teeters between the lines of hero and villain in his original storyline, even occasionally facing off with alternate versions of himself — a concept which is in keeping with the Multiverse as it was introduced in the MCU.

Adam Warlock, AKA “Adam” or “Him” seen wearing the Infinity Gauntlet with Thor and Thanos looking on in Marvel Comics. (Credit: Marvel Comics)

Will Poulter is a great choice for a role like this, as this is not his first time as a part of a major film franchise or Disney property. In 2010 he played the character Eustace Scrubb in the third installment of the film adaptations of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The 2010 film followed Disney and Walden Media’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005, and its sequel Prince Caspian in 2008. Disney initially sold the rights to the film franchise to 20th Century Fox for the third installment but regained all three films as a complete trilogy upon their acquisition of Fox.

Will Poulter as Eustace Clarence Scrubb, Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie “King Edmund the Just”, Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie “Queen Lucy the Valliant”, and Ben Barnes as King Caspian (formerly known as “Prince Caspian”) in The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  (Credit: 20th Century Fox Studios)

Poulter has grown a lot since then, but still understandably had to put in a lot of time and effort to get his body fully “superhero body” ready. It has been a rigorous process that he describes in detail in his interview with The Independent,

I’m in a very privileged position in that respect, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone do what I did to get ready for that job…It’s been a lot of gym work and a very, very specific diet. Quantities of food you wouldn’t necessarily want to ingest, and other times not enough food. I’ve gone through a series of different diets over the last few months. Now I’m in a maintenance phase, which is quite nice. I’m not eating copious amounts of food to bulk, and I’m not cutting. I’m just maintaining my weight. I’ve gone through periods of looking at food and feeling like I can’t face it, and then you blink and the next minute you’re ready to eat furniture because you’re so hungry. …The whole social side of your life has to take a back seat. I’m in a routine that is so rigid that being able to go out for dinner with friends is not something I’ve been able to do. I’m looking forward to being able to again.

Pictured: Will Poulter was interviewed about his upcoming projects, and delivered comments on the process to gain a “Superhero Body.” (Credit: Shannon Finney)

Poulter was sure to take time to say that he appreciates the position he is in as a part of a major film franchise, but he also was sure to say that the actual process of looking like a perfect superhuman being is (understandably) not easy.

Although the bodies shown by actors on the big screen look ideal, attaining them would be nearly impossible to realistically attain for many normal everyday men. Hours of working out at the gym every day, constant management of food intake, and calculating calorie values are all a part of the kind of routine that someone with a nine to five job could not realistically do.

Many characters in the MCU, like Captain America himself, got their physical forms not from their own exhaustive efforts, but from an outer source. Steve Rogers got his bulging biceps and six-pack abs from a bottle of super-soldier serum formulated to fight the Nazis in World War 2. Thor is a literal God of Asgard who attained his god-like physique at birth. Hulk gained his massive strength and size (and green-ness) from accidental overexposure to gamma radiation.

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers first emerges after being injected with the Super Soldier Serum that gave him his Captain America body. (Credit: Marvel Studios)

But each and every one of the actors who played those heroes had the aid of personal trainers, expert dietitians, costume and lighting effects, and post-production digital effects and enhancements (which Tom Holland calls a “beauty pass”). Though Chris Evan’s real body was very impressive during the filming of the 2011 movie Captain America: The First Avenger and the 2014 follow-up Winter Soldier, the costume department would purposefully dress Evans in T-Shirts that were too small to make him look even larger, giving the illusion he could bust out of his shirts while going about his everyday life.

For those men who still desire to train like their favorite heroes, Poulter offers a word of caution:

…your mental and physical health has to be number one, and the aesthetic goals have to be secondary. Otherwise, you end up promoting something that is unhealthy and unrealistic if you don’t have the financial backing of a studio paying for your meals and training.

There you have it! A nice display of male body positivity from the actor.

About Maggie Koch

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