Superpowers, super costumes, super gadgets – it’s easy to see why America has a fascination with superheroes.
Nowhere is that fascination more evident than Hollywood, where the recent rash of superhero movies have become among the most profitable films ever made.
Now Hollywood’s leading hunks are offering tips on what it takes to become a superhero.
For most of these men, it began with rigorous physical training.
Hugh Jackman, for example, had to bulk up dozens of pounds when he went from musical theater (“Oklahoma!” and “Beauty and the Beast”) to playing Wolverine in the “X-Men” films. He told Men’s Health his regimen included eating as many as 6,000 calories and working out 90 minutes every day, including bench-press variations, barbell lunges, light squats and leg presses until he could bench-press 315 pounds and leg-press 1,000.
That much work, the on-screen superhero said, was no picnic.
“I don’t really enjoy training,” said Jackman. “People say it’s addictive, but I’m like, ‘not so much.’
“If I weren’t getting paid or didn’t have a character like Wolverine to maintain, I would just be a tall, lean, fit guy,” Jackman said.
WND’s inspiring TV series “Zero to Superhero” included a U.S. National Guard video on the training actor Henry Cavill underwent to become Superman for the “Man of Steel” movies:
"The training has been a genuine discovery, just like Superman's journey of discovery," Cavill said. "Superman learned he could fly. I learned I could do all sorts of things in the gym which I never thought possible."
Once the muscles are ready for action, a superhero just isn't a superhero without the supersuit. Spandex and science-fiction gizmos, however, aren't always as fun as they look in the comic books.
Simon Kinnear of Digital Spy explains actor Robert Downey Jr. had to shoot the close-up shots from inside his "Ironman" suit without his co-stars present, forcing to emote while a battery of screens was pointed in his face from every angle.
"They're just screaming direction at you," Downey said. "It's like irritation therapy."
And Christian Bale, who played Batman in three movies, recently revealed his advice to actor Ben Affleck about taking over the iconic Batsuit: "The only thing I said to him was to make sure to [be able to] take a p-ss without having anyone help him, because it's a little bit humiliating."
To really play a superhero on film also requires working with a "green screen," which uses green costumes and backgrounds that moviemakers can overlay with computer-generated imagery, or CGI, to enhance what audiences see in the theater.
Mark Ruffalo, who played the Hulk in Marvel's "The Avengers," joked about how donning the CGI costumes requires both faith and humility: "I'm growling at them in my man-canceling unitard, everyone's laughing at me and, you know, we don't know what we're making. Then you see it come together and … it's incredible. This is what we made?"
Cavill also shared how special effects helped him to "fly" on screen: "It's just a movement I do, which is then taken over by CGI, and they use my movement to create the effect. Mechanically, very, very simple. There's some of the wire stuff as well, which we use, and some of the green screen and lying on what we call a belly pan, which is like the mold of the front half of a human body, and I lie in that and they jig me around for the flying stuff."
In the end, however, the actors say playing a superhero in the movies is rewarding in real life.
"As much as it may feel uncomfortable at points, you get over it. You get to play Superman," Cavill marveled. "Every time you turn around and look in the mirror, you are Superman. Those are special moments."
Andrew Garfield, who plays Spider-Man and his alter ego, Peter Parker, summed it up, "Peter Parker has inspired me to feel stronger. He made me, Andrew, braver. He reassured me that by doing the right thing, it's worth it, it's worth the struggle, it's worth the pain, it's worth even the tears, the bruises and the blood."