The Biggest Summer Blockbuster Body Transformations

Whether they’re playing superheroes or male strippers, these celebs bulked up big time for their roles

By: Emily G. W. Chau 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Everett Collection and Warner Brothers

scrawny to brawny

It’s the unspoken rule of summer movies: The bigger the blockbuster, the bigger the actor’s biceps (see: Chris Hemsworth). This year, Hollywood’s finest will light up the silver screen in the usual mix of superhero movies, action flicks, and body-baring films. (Search: Summer 2012 movie release dates) In anticipation of this season’s cinematic lineup, we’ve compiled a list of leading men who are bigger and better than ever—literally. 

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Chris Evans

Captain America may have gotten those enviable pecs from Super-Soldier Serum, but Chris Evans bulked up the old-fashioned way—hitting the gym and eating lots of lean protein. While Evans trained two hours a day, four to five times a week for four months for Captain America, he reportedly put on 20 pounds in four weeks when he reprised the role in The Avengers.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Chris Hemsworth

The only thing larger than Thor’s god-sized ego is Chris Hemsworth’s right arm—maybe his left one, too. For his role in this summer’s The Avengers, Hemsworth once again teamed up with trainer Mike Knight who got him into Nordic shape for Thor. He added bulk with kettlebells and reportedly ate up to 6,000 calories a day before going on a month-long fat loss plan so that his muscles would really pop.

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros

Christian Bale

Donning the suit of the Caped Crusader one last time, Christian Bale is no stranger to transforming his body for a role. He gained 60 pounds of pure muscle in six months for The Dark Knight after shrinking down to a dangerous 130 pounds for The Machinist. This time around, in preparation for The Dark Knight Rises, Bale reportedly went through training geared for Olympic-caliber athletes.

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros

Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum has shown that his acting credentials are more than skin-deep, but the fit celeb’s body is taking center stage in Magic Mike. Playing a male stripper, Tatum had to really buckle down on his training. He told MTV News, "I think pre-movie is pretty intense because to get butt naked, you have to — there's a different regimen for getting butt naked, but thank god, it was a short shoot.”

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Photo Credit: Universal Studios

Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner reportedly trained for The Bourne Legacy at the same time he was prepping for The Avengers and Mission Impossible 5. Playing a CIA operative, Renner’s goal was leanness and agility, not size. Accordingly, his training routine was said to have included boxing and martial arts.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Tom Hardy

Bane, Batman’s nemesis in The Dark Knight Rises, is known to be a ball of brute force, and Tom Hardy bulked up to look the part. Hardy had about three months to pack 30 pounds of muscle onto his 5’10” frame. Since his goal was size, Hardy went light on the cardio.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. has always been on the slight side, and even though The Avengers’ Tony Stark isn’t huge, the actor went into superhero training mode. Thanks to a 5,000-calorie a day diet and a workout routine that emphasized heavy lifting over cardio, Downey Jr. gained 25 pounds of muscle for the role.

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