Whether you think Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a hot, jumbled mess or worthy of one of the greatest opening weekends in movie history, there’s one thing we can all agree on: the two main superheroes got, like, ripped.
Ben Affleck bulked up bigger than any on-screen Batman yet, while the already-buff Henry Cavill got even more muscular for his second turn as Superman.
“This isn’t the Adam West Days. You can’t just roll out of bed and put the suit on,” Affleck said during a red-carpet premier for the film. “Audiences expect you to look like a superhero. And that took me about a year of training to do.”
From West’s Batman to Affleck’s version of the Dark Knight, and from George Reeve’s 1950s portrayal of Superman to Cavil’s Man of Steel today, every on-screen iteration of both heroes seems to get bigger and brawnier.
Here’s a look at how Batman and Superman have bulked up over the years:
According to Muscle & Fitness, Cavill bulked up to about 190 pounds for his Superman debut in 2013's Man of Steel, cutting down to about 6% body fat. Before filming the shirtless scenes, Cavil pushed his body fat to 3-4%
Before stepping into Christopher Reeves’ red boots for this revival of the original Superman series, Brandon Routh wasn’t big on lifting weights. “When you’re new to it, your body really can put on a lot more muscle easier the first time,” Routh told Men’s Fitness. He said that he “put on 20 to 25 pounds in about five to six months.”
When Tom Welling brought Superman’s younger days to the small screen, the TV drama’s producers made sure he stayed swoon-worthy. Welling wasn’t allowed to gain weight, according to a profile in Seventeen, and couldn’t even play pickup basketball. "What would happen if I got a black eye?" Welling said.
Credit Dean Cain’s physique in the '90s TV series to his days as a football player. Cain played defensive back at Princeton before signing with the Buffalo Bills in the late '80s. But a knee injury prevented Cain from ever playing in the NFL, which led him to acting.
Filmmakers behind the classic Superman series first thought Christopher Reeve was “too young and maybe even too skinny” for the role, according to one documentary. Reeve recalled wearing a giant shetland sweater to his audition to hide his “string bean” physique. After landing the role, he hit the weights and ate four times a day, mixing a meat-heavy diet with vitamin pills.
In this TV series, Reeves’ barrel-chested Superman displayed a classic physique that seems almost quaint by today’s superhero standards. But even he had help, using a padded suit that augmented his size, according to Den of Geek.
At 43, Ben Affleck is the oldest actor to debut as Batman. He’s also the biggest. He points to daily 6 a.m. workouts and the do-or-die pressure that comes with donning the iconic cowl. “I knew the camera was going to be looking at me, and the guillotine was there so I knew I had to be ready,” said Affleck, who claimed he gained 20 pounds of muscle for the role.
When cast as Batman, Christian Bale weighed 130 pounds, thanks to a previous role as an insomniac, Today notes. It took him six months to pack on 100 pounds before his debut in 2005’s Batman Begins, which ended up being too much muscle for director Christopher Nolan.
“(I was) eating, just eating like crazy, just trying to put on pounds and pounds and pounds,” Bale told Sci-Fi Wire. "I actually went … way overboard. By the time I arrived in England, you know, Chris kind of looked at me in shock and kind of went, 'God, you're like some grizzly bear.'”
In sequels to Tim Burton's Batman movies, both of these actors inherited the rubber-muscled Batsuits made famous by Michael Keaton. And while both filled them out just fine, we just remember one thing: the nipples. Their Batsuits had nipples. Why?
Tim Burton’s modernization of Batman for the big screen debuted a suit with rubberized muscles, requiring little of the wearer's physique. Keaton had played mostly comedic roles before Batman, and didn’t bulk up much, if at all, for the role. Action hero Sylvester Stallone later lamented Keaton’s Batsuit, which he said ushered in a new era. “The action movies changed radically when it became possible to Velcro your muscles on,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
Laugh all you want at West’s goofy take on Batman. But at 6 feet 2 and 210 pounds, West’s physique was the closest to that of Batman’s in the comic books, according to an analysis by the Economist. And while his spandex Batsuit wasn’t the most flattering, West didn’t look too shabby underneath.