Supposedly Hollywood loves superheros, and yet the actors who play them are routinely put through hell. For starters, many of the costumes that look intimidating in the pages of a comic book are absolutely ridiculous in real life. It’s incredible that Lynda Carter managed to become a ’70s sex symbol while wearing what’s essentially a star-spangled diaper and a sparkly tube top, and George Clooney will be fielding questions about Batman’s nipples for the rest of his life. However, in addition to potentially career-ending humiliation, the actors who play superheroes face an even bigger obstacle: Wickedly uncomfortable costumes.
Andrew Garfield is the latest actor to endure a torturous shoot as a masked crime fighter. On Ellen, Garfield revealed that his Amazing Spider-Man suit is so tight that he was forced to go commando. Plus, “It’s made of something that is designed to make you irritated,” he said “I don’t know the material name, but that’s the description underneath.”
Garfield isn’t the only superhero suffering these days. On the set of The Avengers, Mark Ruffalo described the indignities of wearing a motion capture suit to play the Hulk. “It was smoky, it was hell and I felt really uncomfortable,” he explained. “I’m not well-endowed, and those suits don’t really show you off in the most…”
While CGI has advanced leaps and bounds in the past few decades, it seems stepping into superhero garb is as embarrassing as ever for the mere mortals who play them. Here are a few other stars who’ve suffered a very private kind of pain for their craft. Hopefully having their own action figure (not to mention the hefty paycheck) made it all worth it!
Michelle Pfeiffer, Catwoman in Batman Returns
In 1996, Michelle Pfeiffer was asked if she had any advice for George Clooney about playing Batman. “I said, ‘Make sure they give you a trapdoor in your Batsuit,'” she answered. “They get you in this contraption, and in order to go to the bathroom you have to completely disrobe, and it takes an hour to get it back on.”
Malin Akerman, Silk Spectre in The Watchmen
While Akerman wore one of the skimpiest costumes in comic book history, like Pfeiffer, she encountered some bathroom trouble. “You dread it more and more every day. The first day, it’s exciting and it’s fun, and by the end of it you just want to burn the thing,” she said. “In many different ways, they were all uncomfortable. Mine was made out of latex. It’s always freezing, and they were always hot because they had the foam. It would have been [difficult to go to the bathroom], but I figured out the ‘slide to the side’ technique, because there’s no other way. Sorry to get so graphic, but it’s a graphic novel.”
George Clooney, Batman in Batman and Robin
The nipples weren’t the only thing about the Batsuit that bothered Clooney — he couldn’t even stand up without assistance. “If Batman had to wear the suit that you have to wear, everyone would die,” Clooney joked. “You’re laying on a board and you can’t move and they just prop you up and you’re like, ‘I’m Batman.’”
Rebecca Romijn, Mystique in X2: X-Men United
Though Rebecca Romijn didn’t have to deal with layers of rubber and spandex, she endured with a different kind of discomfort. While playing Mystique, Romijn was essentially nude, aside from a bit of body paint. “I’ve been in denial about the nudity: ‘No, no, I’m VERY covered up,'” she explained. “I kept checking with the rest of the cast, ‘You guys, I’m totally covered up, right?’ And they’d tell me, ‘No, Rebecca, you’re naked.’ I’m hoping by X3 they can do it digitally. Maybe I won’t even have to show up [laughs]. One time, [director] Bryan [Singer] opened the tent where I was literally bent over a chair getting my crack touched up. And I was like, ‘Don’t come in here, Bryan! You don’t need to see this.'”