Bonding with Batman could make you stronger
Study participants were shown either a scrawny or buffed-up version of these comic book characters.
September 18th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Bonding with Batman could make you stronger

It was hard to keep track of all the superheroes hitting the big screen this summer: Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises." Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and Thor in "The Avengers." Peter Parker in "The Amazing Spider-Man."

And each character seemed to have bulked up for their latest comeback.

"Over the last few decades, superheroes' bodies have become extremely muscular with body dimensions that are impossible for most men to attain," write the authors of a new study that analyzes the effects of superheroes on male body image.

Past research has shown that seeing muscular figures can make men feel badly about their own bodies, similar to the way seeing stick-thin supermodels can make women question their weight.

But the same effect may not hold true for our favorite comic book characters.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests watching superheroes can actually increase males' self esteem – and might make mere mortals stronger.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were brainstorming in 1962 about the character that became Spider-Man, Kirby could not draw him as a skinny kid. He kept wanting to give him more muscles. Finally Stan, Jack and Stan's brother, Larry Lieber, called in Steve Ditko to try. The result was the skinny Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man we have learned to love. Even when drawn by artists more used to "buff" characters, they kept Spidy skinny.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  2. KajinPL

    Obviously it could work either way with Spider-Man, but Batman should always stay ripped. He looks like an adult Tim Drake malnourished.

    September 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm |