The MCU has a well-documented track record using an intense diet and fitness regimen to turn its actors into something resembling the implausibly jacked comic book counterparts of the characters they portray. One of the latest to come out the other side of such a regime, Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani, has been on the receiving end of steroid use accusations.
Prior to joining the MCU, it wouldn’t be uncharitable to suggest that Nanjiani was not in the best of shape. He was best known for a variety of comedic roles, primarily in TV shows Franklin & Bash and Silicon Valley, such parts being where actors not fitting into American media’s absurdly narrow standards of conventional attractiveness often find acceptance (which leads to a whole other conversation I don’t have the time or space to go into).
Fans have leapt to his defense and pointed out the double standard at play, making their thoughts on the reason for the claims more than clear.
Chris Evans gets jacked for Captain America: “😍🤩😍🤩”
Chris Hemsworth gets jacked for Thor: “😍🤩😍🤩”
Chris Pratt gets jacked for Star-Lord: “😍🤩😍🤩”
Kumail Nanjiani gets jacked for Eternals: “He’s clearly using steroids”
I can’t qwhite see what’s the difference.
— alias (@itsjustanx) January 3, 2021
Henry Cavill was able to get HUGE for man of steel without steroids. He has said this publicly.
So it’s impossible that Kumail Nanjiani had the same result from hard work and exercise? And Cavill looks slightly larger than Nanjiani at 1 point?
Sounds like racism is afoot. pic.twitter.com/NagaC7nPjN
— Where the $ DOESNT reside (@ValerieComplex) January 4, 2021
Chris Pratt can bulk up for a marvel movie and everyone is cool with is.
Kumail Nanjiani does it and people call him “grotesque” and assume he’s using steroids.
I hate it here. pic.twitter.com/9LSfvreUtc
— Michelle (@meesh_llegos) January 3, 2021
Kumail Nanjiani gets canceled for bulking up for a superhero movie and people claiming his using steroids..
But in the same breath they fawn over all the Chrises for setting the standard of male bodies and praise them for looking buff?
Qwhite interesting. pic.twitter.com/tKf72OWBqD
— The Battinson (@BattinsonBatman) January 3, 2021
Look, the fact that Marvel (and most movie studios, really) expect their stars to get and stay really ridiculously buff is something worth interrogating – but body shaming Kumail Nanjiani by staying he’s “on steroids” is…well, it’s not a good look.
— BEETLE (@beetlefella101) January 3, 2021
Anyone wanna talk about how we’re so eager to lather people like Chris Evans and Chris Pratt for getting beyond jacked for movie roles, but once Kumail Nanjiani does it, it’s grotesque and shame-worthy?
— Sammy, Wastin Away In Meningitisville (@DoctorVeeMD) January 3, 2021
— Andreas Samuelson (@andy_samuelson) January 6, 2021
It’s weird (and racist) that people are coming for Kumail Nanjiani and accusing him of taking steroids. Also he’s been jacked for a few years now.
I’m just happy for him that he got the marvel gig and could now bend me like a folding chair if he wanted to.
— Black Lives Matter (The Nintendo Nerds) 🏳️🌈 (@_NintendoNerds) January 3, 2021
seeing how much kumail nanjiani is being ridiculed & body shamed as he gets ready for his marvel role is really fucked considering white men in marvel are idolized & don’t get asked if they’re on steroids
— farzeen 🏹 (@farzeenather) January 4, 2021
people are seriously being hypocrites. chris evans, chris hemsworth and chris pratt balked up but when kumail nanjiani does it they assume steroids. seriously?
— Katie / let happiness reign in 2021 (@katieskrsgard) January 3, 2021
White people are making fun of Kumail Nanjiani, who is a Marvel Superhero, for getting in Marvel superhero mode.
And they’re throwing out steroids as the cause and doing this feigned “we say this out of concern” bit.
Stop that shit. You didn’t care about the Chrises, so stop. pic.twitter.com/bRV8Onhn8D
— Randi White (@RandiWhite) January 3, 2021
As several of the comments suggest with varying degrees of subtlety, many are of the opinion the accusation is down to race, with the MCU’s other, distinctly less brown leading men having received no similar accusations regardless of transforming into even greater beefcakes.
It’s not even as if Nanjiani’s buff final form was even that sudden. After beginning his journey he documented his progress on social media where his transformation was evident and gradual, and at the end when the official stills were published he gave credit to the dieticians and personal trainers the studio provided him with to allow him to achieve it.
Even if he did use performance enhancers it certainly won’t detract from his performance as Kingo, and when Eternals is released in November we’ll get to see how his fitness translates to convincing as a superhero, while demonstrating Nanjiani’s further acting talents he has only now had the opportunity to use.