Superheroes Are a Lot More Super Today Than they Were 30 Years Ago

Superhero movies have been all the rage of the 21st century. In the past 10 years alone, we've seen Hollywood offer refurbished versions of Superman, Spiderman, Batman, X-Men, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four ... to name a few. Things don't look to be changing any time soon either.

Perhaps some of the lapses in screenwriting and liberal plot changes can be compensated for by cutting-edge special effects and more realistic superheroes. Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton smashed it in their renditions of comic book vigilantes, but Henry Cavill and Christian Bale look more like what you'd expect an actual superhero to look like. The graphic below spills details on the training regimens of these famous masked actors and offers a winner for the four most popular series.


(Created by Direct2TV)

Reeve's ability to bench 320 pounds can't be forsaken, and had he tried out for the role of Superman this year, you have to think that he'd beat out Cavill. A good two inches taller and worlds more charismatic, Reeve suffers from a lack of cinematic technology in the 80s.

When it comes to Batman however, Bale is the clear-cut winner over Keaton. Accountable for 16 of his own fights, Bale's figure and mass look far more realistic for a hero who operates on his own physical strength and cunning to overpower Gotham's wrongdoers. The fact that Keaton was on no notable diet and lacked Bale's workout resume makes this a no-brainer. That voice may be a dealbreaker for some, but most admire what Christopher Nolan did in the re-upped Dark Knight series.

Lou Ferrigno is another easy choice for the Hulk. The computer-animated version lacks any sense of humanity, appealing for pure size and brute strength but hindering the film's theme of man vs. beast. Ferrigno's mammoth biceps, coupled with the fact that he beat out Arnold Schwarzenegger (physically?) for the role are pretty awesome. One can only wonder what Ferrigno would look like in his prime today.

As for Spidey, this one's awfully close. Both actors are lanky and nimble, but Garfield's Pilates and plyometrics create a very different character than Tobey Maguire's martial arts training. Ultimately, Spiderman requires more personality than some of the other superheroes, making figure less important here. Still, Garfield's sleeker frame just gets the edge.

What will these heroes look like in 2020? How about 2050? As each series is inevitably remade again and again, the physical training will likely get increasingly intense. For those that think new-age Hollywood means less muscle mass and more flexibility, you may want to think again.

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Steven Goldstein

New York native, junior at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. I'm a beat writer for FOX Sports Next's Purple Wildcats, a Scout.com coverage site. I'm also a featured columnist at Bleacher Report, a top national sports destination, and a contributor to HipHopDX, TD Daily and KevinNottingham.com. I'm a freelancer for Liberty Mutual's Coach of the Year award in college football. I was an intern at PolicyMic's Manhattan office for the summer of 2013.

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