The Hollywood superhero industry has killed a lot of things. In its wake lie the mid-budget studio film, the notion of an actor who can open a film on star power alone, and any semblance of an interesting career for Anthony Mackie after The Hurt Locker. But the thing it has destroyed most effectively is the male body.
Chris Evans, Jonathan Majors, Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck, Kumail Nanjiani, and countless others in the pages of Men’s Health and GQ Hype (whatever that is) all look nuts right now. Over the past 15 years, being an actor has become less about passing as a normal guy in an unlikely situation, and more about embodying a superhuman for whom unlikely situations are the norm. There was once a time when you could look like Dustin Hoffman and be the most bankable star in America, but that era has been left behind. Before you know it, Timothée Chalamet will be ignoring the advice of Leonardo DiCaprio — one of the few leading men who to have made it out unscathed, meaning he can still plausibly star as a regular-guy math professor — and putting on 30 pounds of muscle to play Blop the Destroyer or whoever the fuck.
It’s time to stand up for what’s right. Timothée, Lucas Hedges, every Stranger Things boy, hear my plea: Do not get jacked. It will not look right, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of dangerously bulging veins and body image issues, and you will no longer be able to act naturally in a movie that isn’t shot entirely on green screen. If you don’t believe me, I have compiled mountains of evidence showing actors we’ve lost to action hero beauty standards. Let’s take a look and see if it’s humanly possible to look better after switching your diet to boiled chicken and (possibly, allegedly, whichever word I have to use here) a steady stream of HGH.
Wow, look how cute Evans was at the premiere of The Notebook in 2004 in his voting T-shirt. He still appears stronger than the average man, but this is the kind of body that is almost achievable for Joe Schmo. On the right, we see that years of playing Captain America has done irreparable damage to Evans’s neck. It’s so thick. None of these clothes look right on him because no one is designing garments with this body shape in mind.
Political affiliation and overall horrible energy aside, Chris Pratt used to have a really good thing going for him. He looked sweaty all the time and had a sweet smile, which, in concert with genuine charisma, used to be enough to make you a movie star. Then he got ripped to play a less sharp Han Solo in Guardians of the Galaxy and everything went downhill. Guys who look like store-brand Tom Brady have a harder time pulling off silly, so they often veer into snark and sarcasm with diminishing returns. Had he stayed away from the Marvel universe, perhaps Pratt would have had the much more interesting career of someone like Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill. Instead, we will be watching him do that “settle down” hand gesture to various dinosaurs until we are all dead.
God has turned his back on us.
This one isn’t as egregious as some of the others, but remains off-putting nonetheless. You might remember that McAvoy got ripped for Split and has remained ripped in the ensuing years. Why? It’s unclear. The Scottish actor is best at playing quiet guys with lots of inner turmoil, and the alchemy of that is thrown off when he also looks like he could lift a car if need be.
Remember when Miles Teller was having an interesting indie career in movies like Whiplash, The Spectacular Now, and Rabbit Hole? Well, that’s done. Top Gun: Maverick turned him into pure muscle, and now what is he supposed to do? A subversive adult drama directed by Todd Haynes? Grow up.
You know what, he’s actually pulling this off. Congrats!