Year after year fans have seen Marvel transform their favorite actors, with tight training regimens and strict diets.
Getting into superhero shape is not an easy task, and MCU actors have made that known, calling it "brutal" at times.
Hemsworth might be the biggest example of this, building up to a god-like figure for his role as Thor, something the actor has said he doesn't "wanna [do] again" (or at least to the same extent) if he plays the character in another film.
Are Thor's Muscles All Natural?
In an interview with Vanity Fair, associate professor of clinical physical therapy and director of the University of Southern California Clinical Exercise Research Center at the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, Dr. Todd Schroeder revealed his thoughts on MCU actors like Chris Hemsworth potentially using steroids.
On the subject, Schroeder remarked "I would say that fifty to seventy-five percent" of Marvel actors are using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) of some sort to get in shape for the MCU:
“At least for the short term. I would say that fifty to seventy-five percent do."
"Nowadays, it’s kind of expected," Schroeder added, letting slip that, "A lot of actors won’t talk about it openly," but it happens:
“Nowadays, it’s kind of expected and, working under a doctor’s care, it’s really been accepted. A lot of actors won’t talk about it openly, but they will work with a physician as well as a nutritionist and a trainer, and it’s a team. It’s not smart for an actor to do that alone."
He clarified though, "You can take steroids" for a short time "without any lasting effects on the body," speaking to the normality of the process:
"The big thing is, you can take steroids, testosterone, different androgens, growth hormone for a short period of time without any lasting effects on the body. It’s not like you become addicted to it.”
There is the possibility of "long-term health concerns," but the lack of "short-term [side effects]" makes it a viable option for actors:
“There’s long-term health concerns, but short-term, there really isn’t. So if you’re preparing for a role, and you’re going to get paid ten million dollars to look a certain way for a role? Then why wouldn’t you do it under a doctor’s care? Take some things that aren’t natural but will change your body to look the way they want it to look, and gets you the recognition?”
Schroeder said that "as you get older" the Marvel physique is harder to sustain, and he "feel[s] for these actors" as they age in the franchise while trying to maintain that super-powered look:
"Especially as you get older. Like Robert Downey Jr., all the Iron Man [movies] he’s done, and some of them he’s gotten in really good shape for, but maintaining that is challenging. It’s a tough, tough world out there. What people expect of you and how you need to look, and trying to maintain that. I feel for these actors, especially if you’re in a Marvel role, where you’re going to be in multiple films.”
However, with all that said, speaking to Chris Hemsworth specifically, in Shcroder's professional opinion he would say, "No, he does not [use steroids]:"
“He’s always been in really good shape. His family, his genetics—they all, if they work out a little bit, they get in really good shape, and so he’s taken it to the next level. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, he does steroids, for sure.’ And my opinion? I would say, ‘No, he does not.’ ”
The Moral Quandary of Steroids in Hollywood
The use of PEDs in Hollywood has been long talked about. And as the world of mega-sized superheroes became the dominant form of entertainment on the big screen, steroid use has only seemed to climb.
It is heartening to hear that Chris Hemsworth, perhaps the actor with the most god-like physique in the MCU, does not use PEDs. But as Dr. Schroeder said, he can thank "his genetics" to thank for that.
But not all stars' bodies react to working out like that of the Thor actor.
From a health standpoint, there seem to be not many short-term side effects to the use of PEDs for a project. But there could be some risks when looking at the long-term.
Overuse of anything can result in serious health concerns and - in the case of steroids - addiction. But, according to Schroeder, these actors can work these substances into their training regime fairly naturally.
It should be mentioned though that no use of PEDs will be better for health than any use.
Yes, these superheroes need to look like superheroes, but to what extent? How far is too far? And does the use of PEDs to get there really make the potential health risk worth it?
Chris Hemsworth can be seen now in Thor: Love and Thunder on Disney+.