Why Are Comic Book Superheroes So Muscular?

In this video, we look at the cultural reasons why comic book superheroes today are drawn with more muscle in comparison to the heroes of the golden age and …


17 replies on “Why Are Comic Book Superheroes So Muscular?“

  • Ty Willinganz

    Here's my theory — in 1989 everyone freaked out when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman. He's a scrawny sort of comedian (he was at the time known for comedies) this is gonna be another jokey Batman. However, this was wiped away IMMEDIATELY when people saw him in the suit — the producers cleverly supplied the "buffness" with the suit… everyone loved it… now comic book artists assume ridiculously developed muscles (Evander Holyfield in his steroidal prime couldn't get the muscles comicbook Batman has) are part of the costume

  • TheJohno95

    All of your reasons are very valid! I would like to add that I feel like comic creators were also learning more about science as the years went by. In the old days, just being irradiated made you strong without any difference in physicality. I think as the years went by, creators learned that there had to be some physical sign that a person was strong. You can definitely tell a difference in how they draw Spidey's musculature now versus how Steve Ditko drew him. The times they are a changing…

  • Nighttiger Comics

    Lol, great fun vid. As a comic book artist one of the first things you do is learn to draw the anatomy as real as possible. For me as I develop the scene or panel the more muscle tone I add the superhero starts to look so much cooler.

  • Jacob Staten

    It's especially bad in the Arkham games. Even Joe Average is a brick shithouse, so a really powerful character like Bane just looks stupid.
    That, and when it's so common in the comics, you just sort of get numb to it. On top of that, everyone has a weird body image thanks to the idea from comics and movies where everyone looks so muscular while laying about, drinking beer, and eating junk food.

  • Vince Hudson

    Lmao… Arnold talking about the pump… classic!! Cool video, never really thought about how bodybuilding could have affected comics. Learned a lot, thanks for posting!

  • Matthew Weflen

    Isn't the real question why YOU are so muscular?

    Anyhow, something I really came to appreciate in all of this is more "retro" art styles. David Mazzuchelli's art on Daredevil and Batman Year One springs to mind. Part of what made those stories so "gritty" was how real their heroes seemed, as opposed to inflated walking anatomy charts. Darwyn Cooke is another example of a more streamlined look for heroes. I'm not saying I dislike muscular art styles, but I find that artists who focus on them are often hiding deficiencies in their art that a more stripped down look would reveal.

  • Muddy Boots

    So Arnold was basically ejaculating all over the place. LOL. Anyway, I started working out coz i wanted to have that superhero look and i'm pretty close to it by now. Possible topic for next show: What's more important the artwork or the story?

  • Robert T

    SuperHeroes are still large and bulky in comparison to the silver age, but I think on average it's less so than the 90s. Definition is still over the top.

    I think part of it was like you said about imitating the action heroes of their time, but they have to be bigger because they are SUPER heroes, so they were very jacked up in the Action Hero era.

  • Brian Luciano

    Great article. One would just really notice that Spider-man was skinny under Ditko, but little by little grew some muscle ( and for some part became more handsome) under Romita Sr.

  • Gator

    Prime was supposed to be a deconstruction of oversized muscular characters but instead set the standard for how big comic book muscles could be

  • Lowell Lucas Jr.

    Looking jacked yourself bro! Your workout looks like its working out! Also, I think the idea behind why Muscular superheroes are jacked because it represents the peak of human conditioning: to have a powerful tone and form exudeds the ideal body. Sure scrawny characters can also be powerful ( notice spidey can be scrawny then suddenly jacked) but ideally they wanna show how visually powerful they are. Eddie Brock and even Street Fighter encourages me to work out because I do desire a body like theirs.


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