Anyone who went to film school knows of the the male gaze, the lens with which a male artist both views and conveys a fictional world. This perspective places women to a passive role, essentially relegating them to sexual end wallpaper. It’s not hard to find the sexualized comic book characters, all you need to do is Google the names Cat Woman, Emma Frost, or Psylocke to see artists creating unrealistic depictions of the female body.
Does this happen with male characters? Absolutely, because the male gaze makes everyone feel inferior. Note the way their costumes hug their nether regions. Let your eyes drift down from your favorite hero’s six (or eight or 12) pack to their lovingly illustrated groin, and you see just how the male gaze creates a comic book world of oversized superhero genitals.
The Watchmen was a groundbreaking comic book, and not only because it took a look at what it means to simply be a superhero. In creating Doctor Manhattan, a character who no longer felt connected to humanity, Dave Gibbons posed the question of why a superhero would even wear clothes. Truly if you’re a superior being then why would you care about people looking at your body? The most interesting thing about the design of Doctor Manhattan – specifically his junk – is that he appears with what looks like a kind of normal package.
Many artists would be tempted to draw a hulking mass onto this all-powerful character, but Gibbons shows incredibly artistic restraint in the design of Doctor Manhattan. If only some of the other artists detailed here would have taken a page from his book.
Is it important to comic book fans for their characters to be well endowed, or even endowed at all? Does it make a comic more enjoyable if you know the Punisher packs heat? Despite the perception of comics as a male-centered form of entertainment, male superheroes look just as hyper-sexualized as the women if not more so. Sometimes, the only place lacking any visible swelling is the groin, which looks a little strange when the hero’s spandex clings to his abs and a** tighter than a cat clinging to a life raft.
Maybe writers think a hero will move faster than a speeding bullet without balls to provide wind resistance. Does Superman need a yellow sun to activate his powers, or a raging hard on?
Artist Rob Liefeld takes the blame for the overly bulging body parts that overtook comic book art of the ’90s. Although comics obviously portray a world different from the one you live in, Liefeld’s proportions come from a completely different dimension. Biceps ripple like basketballs, chests require yardsticks to measure, and the bulges look… bulky. ’90s comic book art in general puts an emphasis on big muscles rivaled only by professional bodybuilders and people with next-level body mods.
It makes you wonder what the artists from this era saw when they looked at another person, or what they studied to create their art. Every drawing gets drenched in a layer of unrealistic expectations which cause you to look at yourself and wonder if perhaps you’re the one with the “weird body.”
If anyone knows what Reed Richards’s (Mr. Fantastic if you’re nasty) member looks like it would be his creator – Stan Lee. When asked in a 2011 interview about whether or not the Thing had rocks for junk, Lee answered: “ I always thought it was more interesting to think about Reed Richards. As you know, he had the ability to stretch, and sexually, that would seem to be a great asset in many areas.”
So there you have it from the man himself, Reed Richards has a great set of junk because it can be everything to everyone.
In Seth Green’s excellent short run comic, The Freshmen, a group of college freshmen receive ironic super powers that play on their personal fears. Ray, who goes by the superhero name Long Dong, is self-conscious about his size, an insecurity which gives him a giant indestructible wang. How big is it? That’s pretty much the joke. Green seems to delight in never answering the question, despite showing his goofy bulge every chance he gets.
The interesting thing about Long Dong is that he’s never happy with his junk. It’s either too small or it ‘s too big – either way his insecurities keep him from using it.
According to Jason Smith, the visual effects supervisor for The Avengers, no. He revealed his team modeled every part of the Hulk except for his junk.
But what about the Hulk in comics? Does Bruce Banner’s junk grow and shrink with him? Does he turn into The Hulk when he gets erect? Banner’s member may or may not be alternatively huge and then normal, but you probably don’t really want to know anyways.
The question on everyone’s minds: is Logan circumcised, or would his healing factor just cause the skin to grow back? Being born in the late 19th century means that he probably wouldn’t be circumcised. However, if Logan’s parent did decide to circumcise their son, what about his healing factor? It’s well regarded X-Men lore than mutant powers kick in right around puberty, so even if he was circumcised would his healing factor heal a wound from 13 years earlier?
This question actually opens up more questions about Wolverine’s healing factor than anyone probably knows how or even wants to answer. What does his healing factor consider to be a wound? Can he have surgery? If he wanted a nose job could he have one, or would his nose fix itself? It’s probably best we stop thinking about Wolverine’s dick.
Batman, Bruce Wayne, whatever you want to call him, has no time for a love live. He spends his days putting on airs as a billionaire while running Wayne Corp and feeding into the military-industrial complex. By night he patrols the streets like a modern army of one. It doesn’t make sense to have a comic book representation of his stuff because he probably keeps it under a Luscious Fox-designed Kevlar cup. So what do artists think of his Dark Knight?
In an issue of Catwoman Wayne and Selena Kyle finally hook up and while you don’t see Bruce Wang you do see his insane body. Wayne boasts abs on top of abs. Front abs, back abs, side ads. He is an ab. But is his member an ab? Has it been worked out, pilled up and erected like a Roman column? Or does he sport the stuff of a mere mortal? Whatever it looks like, judging from Bruce Wayne’s penchant for throwing money and science at any problem in his way he probably bought some kind of super robo thing to uses whenever he needs to get his swerve on.
The Punisher is the walking, talking, id of the Marvel Comics world. The most alpha of alpha males, he makes sure to place a skull on literally everything he owns. It’s safe to say that Frank Castle’s reliance on automatic weapons, grenades, and all things deadly means he either has a micropenis, or, even if his stuff is totally normal, he fears it doesn’t measure up.
In the same 2011 interview where he says Reed Richards sports the best member, Stan Lee also finally answered the question that’s been on comic book nerd minds since Mallrats graced the theaters (and probably since the ’60s). When asked if the Thing’s thing was orange rock like the rest of his body he answered: “ I guess common sense would say it was made of orange rock too.”
There’s literally nothing positive that anyone can say about Frank Miller’s art. It exists, and that’s about it. With that in mind, what’s happening here with Superman’s junk and what does it say about Miller? Is Superman’s member a horrific cylinder? Does he keep a flashlight in his shorts? Does Frank Miller’s design style provide a view into his thoughts on the perfect wang?
If you go off the idea that Superman is the perfect character, then he probably has the the perfect junk, but this Frank Miller cover makes it look like Supes keeps a sack of bicentennial quarters in his shorts.
Of all the superheroes who wear form-fitting costumes, Spider-Man hides his bulge the best. It’s entirely possible that he tapes down his junk, or uses his web fluid to keep himself in place while swinging around New York City. Keeping anything in place in the kind of high impact world in which Peter Parker lives can’t be easy, but securing himself using web fluid and maybe a cup thing would keep him safe.
Or, as every comic artist draws him over the course of the character’s history – he has no member. However he does have a fantastic butt and you can’t take that away from him.
In pretty much every piece of promotional material for the Deadpool movie, his member is represented by a gun. The “merc with a mouth” constantly talks about hooking in the comics, so are the writers and artists of Deadpool equating violence and sex? Deadpool’s creator, Rob Liefeld, said on record as that Deadpool’s regenerative quality could definitely bring his junk back to life even after the worst of attacks – clearly, the healing factor questions even incite discussion among comic book writers .
But what are the Deadpool creators trying to say about male anatomy? Are the ads for Deadpool a semiotic message stating that sex, and particularly Wade Wilson’s member, is just another tool in his tool kit?
The question as to whether Swamp Thing does in fact hook up gets answered in issue #34 of Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, “Rite of Spring.” In this issue, Mr. Thing doesn’t appear to have a member; instead he has a fruit which grows from his body that his lover eats. This allows her to experience everything that is Swamp Thing.
But does he have a member? Maybe. In the issue “Anatomy Lesson” coroners cut up Swamp Thing after he’s presumed to be dead, and they discover a series of organs inside his body including a set of lungs. Maybe he does have something inside of his leafy husk, but as stories show, he doesn’t use it.
Johnny Storm carries himself like an all-around normal guy with a normal member, except for that whole thing where he’s on fire for approximately 50% of his appearances. This is less a deep dive into the the look of his junk, and more of a practical question about how the science of his anatomy works in this scenario.
Has he started waxing since his body began catching on fire? Can he get rid of unsightly blemishes on his junk by simply burning them off? Does the fire hurt, or is it nice and warm?
Maybe all of this intellectualizing comic book penises has gone too far, but there’s no turning back now. When it comes to the intergalactic tree man known as Groot and his member there are so. Many. Questions. Does he have a root? Once Groot breaks into a million billion pieces saving his the rest of the Guardians, do those twigs grow their own junk?
This is one superhero groin that’s truly maddening.
Some super wangs, like Doctor Manhattan’s, feel like they were created to comment on the very existence of the member. Others, like Wolverine’s, raise more questions than they answer. Artists project themselves onto their work, and if the male gaze has enough impact on their self-image, it likely influences how they depict the dick. Or, maybe, sometimes junk is just junk.