Sure, Thor and Captain America look buff in the comic books. But have you ever wondered: What’s their BMI?
If so, a pair of researchers have crunched the data. The study “Captain Dorito and the bombshell: Supernormal stimuli in comics and film,” was published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences just as the blockbuster movie “Avengers: Endgame” was topping the box office.
The researchers studied 3,752 Marvel Comics male and female superheroes from various sources and examined their physical dimensions.
The results? You’re fat, dude. As in the males’ extreme upper-body muscles created obese bodies, whereas females’ exaggeratedly slim waists crafted underweight bodies.
“We expected that comic book art would accentuate certain body types and emphasize certain features,” said Rebecca Burch, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of human development at State University of New York at Oswego. “We were not expecting such exaggerations, however. The comic bodies were really outside human scope.”
Exaggerated body types in comic book characters have long been criticized, but people are attracted to them because they are supernormal stimuli; exaggerated unrealistically but in all the ways we want. It’s “visual cotton candy,” Burch said.
“Cotton candy is the sugar that we are already attracted to, but so concentrated and refined that it barely resembles real food,” Burch added. “But we love it, even more than healthy food. Comic book bodies are so exaggerated they are impossible, but we still find them attractive, perhaps even more than actual human bodies.”