From Greek warriors to superheroes, this is how movies have portrayed the ideal man from age to age.
WHAT DOES THE ideal physique look like?
The answer to that question isn’t a simple one, and it all depends on your frame of reference. But that’s a question that movie makers have searched to answer over the years. As the most popular films have shifted from historical epics to action flicks to comic book sagas, the standards that audiences have held for the way the protagonists of their favorite stories look have shifted, too.
Some of the men who fill these roles have been ridiculously muscular, some of them have high-level physical training and skill, and some simply exude a mysterious sense of cool that imbues their bodies with some intangible power. In the case of arguably the most famous Hollywood body, Brad Pitt’s turn as Tyler Durden in 1999’s Fight Club,
a rare alchemy of factors came together to create the standard that remains relevant today.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the ideal Hollywood body has changed over the years, from the 1950s to the present.
Gordon Scott (Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, 1955)
Steve Reeves (Hercules, 1958)
Reg Park (Hercules and the Captive Women, 1961)
Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon, 1973)
Clint Eastwood (Every Which Way But Loose, 1978)
Sylvester Stallone (First Blood, 1982)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator, 1984)
Jean-Claude Van Damme (Bloodsport, 1988)
Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier, 1992)
Wesley Snipes (Demolition Man, 1993)
Bruce Willis (Die Hard with a Vengeance, 1995)
Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, 1999)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, 2016)
Brad Pitt (Fight Club, 1999)
Hugh Jackman (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor, 2011)
Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, 2013)
Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 6, 2013)
Kumail Nanjiani (Eternals, 2021)
Michael B. Jordan (Creed, 2015)
Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.
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