When an audience watches a male superhero, they have certain expectations for how they’ll appear. And unless they’re a lithe acrobat like Spider-Man or in a suit of armor like Iron Man, they want muscle. Just look at the monstrously jacked bodies of Chris Hemsworth in Thor, Christian Bale in Batman Begins, Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine, Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger, and Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The official story is that these bodies are the product of months of hard training and dietary management. But many have quite reasonable doubts that their training is getting a boost from anabolic steroids, saying that it’s an open secret that they’re widely used in the entertainment industry. A revealing example was when a reporter asked Tom Hardy if he’d juiced to play Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and he sarcastically replied:
“No, I took Smarties. What do you f*cking think?”
Now, Eternals actor Kumail Nanjiani has come under scrutiny as many have accused him of using them to attain his current look. The Stuber star wasn’t previously known for his physique, after all, making it a big surprise when he appeared last year looking incredibly ripped.
So, is Nanjiani juicing? Well, opinion is split. Some fans say accusing him of using steroids is racist, claiming that he’s being subject to a level of scrutiny that white actors wouldn’t be. Others insist that his look is simply a matter of discipline, diet and the use of a personal trainer. Still, many point out that the dramatic photos are carefully staged, the shoot would have required him to intentionally dehydrate himself for days and that this wouldn’t be representative of his day to day appearance, and below, you can see just some of the reactions.
Chris Evans gets jacked for Captain America: “????”
Chris Hemsworth gets jacked for Thor: “????”
Chris Pratt gets jacked for Star-Lord: “????”
Kumail Nanjiani gets jacked for Eternals: “He’s clearly using steroids”
I can’t qwhite see what’s the difference.
— alias (@itsjustanx) January 3, 2021
Chris Pratt can bulk up for a marvel movie and everyone is cool with is.
Kumail Nanjiani does it and people call him “grotesque” and assume he’s using steroids.
I hate it here. pic.twitter.com/9LSfvreUtc
— Michelle (@meesh_llegos) January 3, 2021
Henry Cavill was able to get HUGE for man of steel without steroids. He has said this publicly.
So it’s impossible that Kumail Nanjiani had the same result from hard work and exercise? And Cavill looks slightly larger than Nanjiani at 1 point?
Sounds like racism is afoot. pic.twitter.com/NagaC7nPjN
— Where the $ DOESNT reside (@ValerieComplex) January 4, 2021
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Then there are commentators in the world of bodybuilding who say it’s naive to think a man in his forties can achieve this look in such a short time without steroids, as you can see below:
No way these folks aren’t using gear. Yes they have access to nutritionists and trainers and stuff. But, also gear.
— Scott (@marioistluigist) January 3, 2021
Yeah, kumail is most likely using performance enhancing drugs(like every other guy in a superhero movie). unless hes acting like a fake natty and saying it’s all the chicken breasts he’s been eating, I dont have a problem with it. Dudes transformation is inspiring, clean or not
— FCT | Dr.Bagman (@DoctorBagMan) January 4, 2021
Racial aspects aside, it's silly that people would think Kumail Nanjiani potentially using steroids for a role is a moral issue. Steroids are a problem in sports because it skews fairness – if an actor needs to exhibit strength beyond a human level, it's their body/their choice.
— TheBestDavy (@TheBestDavy) January 5, 2021
The real answer is that this doesn’t matter in the slightest, as Nanjiani is not in a sports competition, he’s an entertainer preparing to play a role. Steroid use isn’t innately immoral and I’m willing to bet that many (if not most) prominent action stars are secretly juicing to maintain a superhero physique. And as long as they’re doing it under the supervision of medical professionals and personal trainers, they’re probably going to be fine.
Eternals hits theaters on November 5th, 2021.