The days of Captain America's biceps ruling the Marvel Universe may be over, thanks to Marvel's new Thor. That's arguably the biggest reveal from the first Avengers: Infinity War trailer, which is saying something, considering the film will be uniting most of the MCU's favorite names and faces for one massive battle. But when the hordes of Marvel fans the world over got their eyes on the footage, the REAL battle being waged became clear: has Captain America finally found the biceps to dethrone him as the MCU's buffest?
Knowing how deep loyalties run among superhero fans, even suggesting that Thor's display of muscular fortitude could rival the emotion, the drama, and the bulging cotton of Steve Rogers could be tantamount to heresy. But knowing full well that a new Civil War might be sparked, we have no choice but to ask the important questions. Given how many hours of dieting and weight lifting went into producing these two shots, it would be wrong for us NOT to determine which is the most mouthwatering.
No matter how much of a Chris Evans fan, Captain America fan, or simply a 'fitness' fan, there's no denying that this scene changed the game of superhero-actor-ogling. Audiences around the world watched in suspence as Steve Rogers's best friend Bucky, suddenly lost to his Hydra brainwashing, dismantled every hero who stood between him and his escape from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. When Bucky planted behind the controls of a helicopter, all seemed lost until Steve reached out to the escaping chopper, and decided to let his biceps be as broad as the stars and stripes, and let audiences everywhere watch them gallantly steaming. Not since the climactic scenes of Sylvester Stallone's Over The Top (1987) have so many focused solely on an actor's bicep. And when Steve switched his grip from overhand to underhand... the world stopped breathing.
The euphoric display of biceptual excellence in the moment it's witnessed is one thing, but if Marvel Studios intends to make this a war, then more than emotion must come into play. It's time for science to be the deciding factor. And even before we get to the musculature of Steve Rogers's arms, recognition is due to all other crew members for the assist - particularly to cinematographer Trent Opaloch and his lighting crew and artists. Lit directly from behind by the setting sun, the contouring and tone of the short head of Steve's biceps bracchi is topped only by the rimming of sunlight, as if kissed by the angels themselves.
MVP of The Shot: The biceps bracchi is what we're all staring at, as if someone shoved a cordless phone under Steve's skin during his super soldier procedure. The long head of the triceps bracchi also helps emphasize the 'trunk-like' nature of Steve's arm.
Most Underrated Performer: Without question, the long head of the triceps bracchi, brachioradialis, and the flexors of Steve's right arm. Being backlit by the sun draws the eye to Steve's left, but the sculpt on his right is what's really keeping Bucky from escaping.
The Challenger: Thor
With the release of Ragnarok coming just weeks before the first trailer for Infinity War, it's surely Thor's arms that are freshest in the audience's mind - which could be an advantage or drawback, given the unavoidable nostalgia for Winter Soldier's brach-popping climax. Regardless of this isolated shot, we're also willing to assume that each Marvel fan will have their preference out of the gate. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an all-you-can eat buffet of man meat at this point, so whether you like your cuts American farm-fed or imported Australian may have little to do with the mythology behind them. Super-soldier serum or Asgardian physiology, it makes sense that Marvel rarely makes fans choose.
But choose we must, and so we set our sights on the recent Infinity War trailer (and try to look past Captain America's new beard, again, for science). Specifically, the shot of Thor, the God of Thunderhand Grip doing his best to hold together... well, we're not sure. The helicopter and roof were simple enough, but this shot looks like Thor is trying to pull two opposing levers manually. What handles could give an Asgardian such trouble is a riddle in itself, so we must press on and put nothing but his godlike muscles under the microscope.
MVP of The Shot: We'll be somewhat controversial and say that it's actually the supremely rare tri-bi-tie, with both halves of Thor's left arm being showcased. It speaks to Chris Hemsworth being famous not for "his biceps,"but for his entire arm and shoulder, forearm to deltoids. If we're being technical, we have to give the award to the sunlight apparently bursting through the doors behind Thor, since it knows to hit at just the right time to accentuate the cleft between Thor's bicep and tricep for maximum impact. Bonus points for vascularity.
Most Underrated Performer: Thor's deltoid mass really can't be understated here, since it's a big part of why his top-heavy, V-shaped silhouette stands out, despite the overexposure making his right arm look like Stretch Armstrong's. The same goes for Thor's pecs, with his armor cut enough to bring them into full view, along with - dare we say it - his coracobrachialis muscle, the unicorn of even the fittest heroes. We suppose Steve's t-shirt makes that comparison impossible... so costume designer Judianna Makovsky is the real recipient.
The Winner: Steve Rogers (For Now)
Given the momentum behind the god of thunder coming out of Thor: Ragnarok, it's a shocking result. But aside from the inherent character and heroism of Steve Rogers (even that extending beyond his muscle fibers), the fact that we only have a small sample of Thor's answer is the deciding factor. Where Steve had close to ten seconds to exert himself, and even switch grip on the fly for the all-powerful 'pop' of his short head, Thor has only showed a glimmer. Should the brachial action extend past ten seconds towards twenty, thirty, perhaps even a full minute of bicep footage, Steve has no hope. But what a day for movie fans that would be.
The powerful war cry of Thor gives him an edge over Steve's scrunched face and gritted teeth, which means those loyal to the Asgardians can start counting the days to vindication. And when that day arrives, trust that we'll be there to start the real research.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018