Share this article on your social media

Are Male Movie Stars Too Muscular Now?

Written by E. Alex Jung


The past few years have seen our male stars’ physiques inflate at a level unmatched by anything but college tuition. It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly this started, but my mind jumps to the early 2000s, when Tobey Maguire flashed a blink-and-you-miss-them set of abs in Spider-Man, and Will Smith’s chest looked appropriately puffy in Ali. Later, we watched in awe as Gerard Butler screamed “Sparta!” with abs that inspired Dionysian glee, and Taylor Lautner blew up his body in the manner of a figurative (but sadly, not literal) Stretch Armstrong. But what began as a charming summertime diversion has become a full-blown epidemic in the new decade, as superhero franchises engage in a literal arms race, with actors pushing their bodies beyond their natural proportions.

It’s hard to see this trend slowing down in the immediate future, not with more superhero movies on the assembly line and already talk of another Baywatch sequel [starring Zac Efron pictured above]. Besides, the contemporary rush toward onscreen swollness is only mirroring what’s happening in the real world, where a number of very American preoccupations — the idea that “more is better,” the fetishization of self-reliance, the ascendance of social media — have come together to create a generation of protein-chugging fitness buffs. Hot male bodies proliferate across Twitter in ways their female counterparts can’t, and they act as avatars for all sorts of feelings the internet loves, like pride, humor, political solidarity, and horniness. READ MORE

Share this article on your social media