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Saturday, May 04, 2019 

Binghampton University writes dreary "study" of Marvel superhero weight proportions

Phys-Org says the university at Binghampton's written a time-wasting "study" of the weights superheroes have, mainly at Marvel:
Superheroes like Thor and Black Widow may have what it takes to save the world in movies like Avengers: Endgame, but neither of their comic book depictions has a healthy body mass index (BMI). New research from Binghamton University and SUNY Oswego found that, within the pages of comic books, male superheroes are on average obese, while females are on average close to underweight.
I don't think that's been the case of recent, when Axel Alonso saw to it the heroines would now have smaller breasts, wider waists, more covered clothing and be overall less attractive. In any event, this is extremely petty, and - it goes without saying - insulting to Stan Lee's memory, since he was the one who came up with a lot of these characters in the first place.
Binghamton University Ph.D. student Laura Johnsen and SUNY Oswego Associate Professor of Human Development Rebecca Burch, lead author of the study, collected BMI data for 3,752 Marvel Comics characters and examined the visualization of male and female superheroes, paying attention to physical dimensions and costuming that accentuated hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine features such as shoulder-to-waist ratio, jawlines, upper body muscularity, waist-to-hip ratio and breast morphology. They found that male comic book superheroes were on average "obese," whereas females averaged at the low end of normal weight. The male higher body mass was caused by extreme upper-body muscularity, with male shoulder-to-waist ratios far above human limits. This is in stark contrast to low weight female superhero bodies with far-lower waist-to-hip ratios than average humans.
I don't think Spider-Man and Thor looked particularly fat the last time I looked at their recent illustrations, no matter how dismal the art quality could be today. Come to think of it, neither did the ladies with really thin figures look overly thin; just sporting surreal figures, is all. In any event, regarding the male heroes, when did they begin to look like the Blob does in the recent X-terminators series?
"The main findings were that comic book characters are an expression of supernormal stimuli, and they have body morphology that is beyond what humans are capable of having," said Johnsen. "For male and female characters, there are certain characteristics that are associated with masculinity and femininity; for males, that tends to be wide shoulders and a narrow waist, and for females that tends to be a small waist-to-hip ratio, and a larger bust. These are traits that humans tend to find attractive, but for comic book characters, artists take those traits and make them super-exaggerated. The male characters are hypermasculine and the female characters are hyperfeminine."
I get the feeling they don't think it possible for an artist with no connections to comics to draw the same way. Or an animation director, or a video games programmer. They're also behind the times, or oblivious altogether - under Alonso, girls like Kitty Pryde were being drawn to look masculine, though Carol Danvers suffered even worse with the "Carl Manvers" design. In fact, they don't even consider C.C. Beck and Otto Binder, as creators of Fawcett's original Captain Marvel, wanted him to look more like an athelete but not overtly muscular, even though, just like Superman, he had tremendous strengths. Of course, in science-fiction worlds, it doesn't matter.

This is just another indication of how low universities have fallen under liberal policies and influence, to waste their time on something so petty. Maybe the most mysterious part is why they seem so much more interested in Marvel than DC, even though they've often had a lot of the same stuff on display in their illustrations to boot. I can only assume these buffoons are the kind of social justice advocates who see Marvel as the perfect victim to target with their petty whining, though DC obviously has come under attack as well if you know where to look, recalling the time Greg Rucka became so petty himself, he had Frank Cho's Wonder Woman illustration showing her rear end pushed off panel from the coverscan he drew. As though it never happened before with any other artist. As far back as the late 1970s, Joe Staton drew Power Girl with her posterior in sight in an issue of the revived Showcase #99 in a scene where she battled a mad scientist's beastie, and nobody was shrieking in panic then. That's not saying trivial issues didn't exist even at that time, but still, nobody was that hysterical during that old era.

When will universities learn it's better to teach more challenging subjects like agriculture than worrying about how superheroes are illustrated?

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Body image is a serious problem that affects the Health of a lot of people, men who take steroids to look like bodybuilders, women who suffer from anorexia. There is nothing petty about studying it.

Don't blame the hypersexualized look of some characters on Stan Lee; his artists knew anatomy, even when they exaggerated it for effect. It was later artists, especially the Image era ones, who drew these bizarre monstrosities that looked like female impersonators, with impossible breasts and waists. As one comic book artist, Roberta Gregory put it, some guys are embarrassed to admit they've never seen a woman naked; these guys proclaimed it in every drawing.

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