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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

biles superhero final

First off, Olympic athletes basically are superheroes. Or at least superhumans. They’ve been the standard for physical perfection since Bruce Wayne started his weightlifting regime in the 1930s.

Of course Olympic gymnastics have changed a bit since then:

And though this could be a test whether skimpy little masks can really keep anyone’s identity secret, here’s my superhero in her civilian clothes:

And sporting her favorite bling:

Oh, and in actual flight:

I snipped her ponytail in my image. Otherwise you might notice I flipped one of her photos. Simone Biles prefers to fly upside down.

Aside from all of the Olympic gold medals (she brought home five in August), one of my favorite things about Biles is her height. At 4′ 9″, she’d be one of the shortest superheroes of all-time (excluding of course Atom, Ant-Man, and the rest of the shrinking crowd). Imagine standing her next to one of Rob Liefeld’s creations:

biles on podium

Or, speaking of disproportionate proportions, next to just about any rendering of Power Girl:

power girl and biles

At a 104 pounds, Biles is just a ball of muscle. For male superheroes, if not males in general, muscular is pretty much the definition of sexy. It wasn’t always, which means we’re talking culture, not biological programming. For female superheroes, it’s been oddly the opposite. They tend to be strong and yet not look strong. It’s the difference between this:

And this:

And then of course you can always leave the fantasy of Photoshop and look at the real thing:

vImage result for meng suping lift over her head

Gold medalist Meng Suping could throw me through a wall. She has literal superhuman strength. But no female superheroes look much like her. Too muscular. Now imagine if Bruce Wayne hadn’t bothered with all that pesky weightlifting and stayed like the skinny guy in all those old Charles Atlas ads:

A scrawny Batman would not look like a superhero. Muscles are part of the standard package:

Though I appreciate the occasional adolescent exception:

So how about an exceptional 4’8″ ball of female muscle joining the next incarnation of the Avengers or Justice League? It would be nice if comic book “physical perfection” included the world’s current definition of actual physical perfection.

biles superhero final

 

 

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