It takes a lot to be considered for a superhero movie and luckily, fans have been graced with the presence of greatness. There are so many strong female leads in the Marvel and DC movies that convey fierce heroes, as well as some villains.
All of this ferocity doesn't just come naturally, though; these women all had to work hard to train both their minds and bodies. Many days on and off-set included grueling workouts and strict meal plans that would ensure they were getting the fuel they needed.
Here are some of the most well-loved characters from popular comic movies to showcase what it takes to really become a hero. These actresses haven't just acted, they've transformed and many of them still follow their workout routines outside of filming. It takes dedication and determination to bulk up like a hero before they even act as one, and all of these actresses have totally nailed it.
With the motivating factor of turning oneself into one of the greatest comic book characters known to this generation, these 20 women have successfully represented each character they've elected to portray.
They have plenty of tips and tricks, so continue on ahead to see what all these actresses have in common when it comes to not only acting like a superhero but being one, too.
20 Scarlett Johansson As Black Widow
With Avengers spanning over so many years, the women of the Marvel universe needed to take some serious measures in order to stay in shape to play their characters.
Scarlett Johansson had a fairly traditional yet rigorous routine to follow to keep up her martial arts action.
Her workout starts around five in the morning during which she hits the gym and does just about every workout that the men of the Marvel universe do for their own training. A little friendly competition is key for her and she doesn't mind being one of the guys... As if she could get any more awesome.
19 Lupita Nyong’o As Nakia
Nakia was another well-loved character in Black Panther and she also thoroughly enjoyed her training to fill that role. For the most part, many of the actors and actresses enduring the same intense boot camp for six weeks and while some weren't thrilled, Nyong'o actually enjoyed the experience. Waking up at 3 AM was no issue for the soon-to-be warrior star and she loved learning various martial arts styles, mainly ju-jitsu and judo. She actually added so much bulk to her previously strong physique that she noticed a significant difference in her clothing size by the time filming was nearly over.
18 Gal Gadot As Wonder Woman
It's no easy feat taking on one of the DC Universe's most loved and popular superheroes, but Gal Gadot was up for the challenge. Not only does she look unimaginably strong in the movies, but that appearance was pretty legitimate. Similar to Brie Larson, Gadot also spent about nine months of training in preparation for her big premiere as Wonder Woman. In case you're feeling unmotivated, you should know that she could barely even do a pull-up when she first started her training. Amazingly, she had gained an insane 12 pounds of solid muscle by the end of her training when it was time to film the movie.
17 Brie Larson As Captain Marvel
We haven't seen Brie Larson in action yet but if the new trailer is any indication, she's going to be tremendous. In keeping up with the strength we can expect from Captain Marvel, Larson had to go through a pretty hefty round of training for this role. After a whopping nine months of full-on gym training, Captain Marvel was ready to hit the scene. And we're not talking about any ordinary workout, either. Her training consisted of 300lb weight lifts, push-ups in chains, and a serious dedication to research on the Air Force in order to be as authentic and believable a character as possible.
16 Pom Klementieff As Mantis
It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that the actress who plays Mantis knows how to kick some serious butt in real life, too. Pom Klementieff uses martial arts to keep herself in shape both during filming and outside of work. She takes the role seriously and firmly believes in the notion that Marvel women are epic and amazing, and she certainly lives up to that outside of her acting. You can catch a glimpse into the life of Klementieff when she's training on her social media accounts, and this makes us excited to see what she accomplishes in the next movie.
15 Cate Blanchett As Hela
Being a villain is hard work but Cate Blanchett had the role of Hela in the bag from the get-go. Her training varied a bit differently from the others and was based more around strength training to appear athletic rather than muscular. Her weight training was quick but efficient and kept her in shape before and during filming.
Some kickboxing was added to her training in order to make for more convincing fight scenes but overall, she stuck mostly to weights in order to keep her strength up.
She combined this with a well-rounded meal plan that allowed her to get the calories she needed while staying healthy at the same time.
14 Tessa Thompson As Valkyrie
Being Valkyrie isn't an easy job and it's one that comes with plenty of hefty training. Tessa had a personal trainer throughout her routine and added a whopping 15 pounds of muscle to her already slim physique before and during filming. She did her best to devote roughly six days a week to weight and CrossFit training and revealed that she didn't believe female superheroes can be solely attractive... She wanted Valkyrie to be strong, fierce, and toned, just as the comics represent her. Her idea worked because, by the end of filming, she was a buff and toned superhero in real life, too.
13 Anne Hathaway As Catwoman
Similar to Natalie Portman as she trained for her role in Black Swan, Anne Hathaway did her own excruciating training for her role in Les Miserables.
For her role as Catwoman in The Dark Night Rises, Hathaway experienced first-hand what it's like to go through some serious combat training.
She learned how to kick butt and do it in style, with her personal trainers showing her how to use finesse and grace to deliver the most devastating of blows. She was also restricted to eating according to a strict meal plan in order to give her body what it needed during her training days. She gained inspiration from an interesting source as well, watching her stunt doubles in order to learn as much as she could.
12 Elizabeth Olsen As Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch is all about mind power and her workout routine doesn't stray too far from her personal mindset.
Elizabeth Olsen doesn't perform as many martial arts as her fellow actresses, but she still needs to remain healthy and in shape for the active role.
Her trick is a variation between mind and body sports, such as ballet, yoga, and even Bootcamp. Training her mind was just as important as training her body, so her trainer helped her to achieve a balanced meal plan as well. This allowed her to gain muscle and tone up rather than just working out to burn calories.
11 Karen Gillan As Nebula
Surprisingly, Karen Gillan is no stranger to the idea of intense workouts for a role. After receiving her part in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Gillan began a rigorous workout routine that she claims was even more full-on than what she went through for Guardians of the Galaxy.
Just because filming ends, however, doesn't mean that this actress stops.
A regular workout is still part of her daily routine whether she's with a trainer or not. After a full two months of training just to be strong enough to play both roles, we wouldn't expect anything less from this super fighter.
10 Jaimie Alexander As Sif
Towering at a height of 5'9", Jaimie Alexander is just a stunning as she is toned. The reason for this is her workout regimen which she kept up throughout her role of Sif in the Thor movies. She's a vegetarian which meant that her meal plans had to be tailored to her workout routine, during which she was occasionally crushing 4,000 calories per day. Protein shakes that were packed with everything she needed were her go-to, but this inspiring warrior also reveals that she doesn't deprive herself of anything, either. She claims that being "skinny" isn't her goal and as long as she feels good and is in shape, she's already confident. Go, Alexander!
9 Hayley Atwell As Peggy Carter
You've seen Hayley Atwell reprise her role as Peggy in the Captain America movies, but you probably don't know how she stays so in shape. For her most recent role on the show Conviction, she follows a pretty thorough routine that actually started with the first Captain America movie.
In order to shape up for the film, she needed to work with a personal trainer who actually had her complete military circuits in order to gain muscle.
Detox, tons of cardio, and muscle-targeting exercises such as squats and lunges were what kept her in shape throughout, and we're cringing just thinking about it. She keeps up a similar yet more relaxed routine nowadays, and if that's not enough to convince you of how tough she is, she also plays rugby.
8 Maria Hill As Cobie Smulders
Although she's not a major character in the Marvel universe, Maria Hill has an interesting history when it comes to her own personal workouts. Obviously, she needed to stay just as in shape as the rest of the actresses, but she has no issue doing that. She can also be seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and there's a reason for why her stances and action scenes look so legitimate. She actually hired a Black Ops trainer to show her how it's really done. This shows some pretty incredible commitment as well as determination to really bring her character to life.
7 Zoe Saldana As Gamora
Zoe Saldana takes a simpler approach to her workout routine. Whereas other actresses are fully committed to an intense workout, Gamora likes to live life a little as well. Her workouts only make up roughly three days out of her week and she admits that she's far too busy to commit any more time than that.
Rather, she believes in a healthy balance of active workouts as well as eating healthier and taking care of your body.
As someone who already leads such an active life, it's easy to understand how this logic would apply and why it works so well for her.
6 Letitia Wright As Shuri
Shuri was a well-loved character in Black Panther and she truly epitomized what a strong and intelligent woman can look like, as did her co-stars. This movie was her first segue into training for a role and really helped her to tune into her own determination and motivation both in and out of the gym. Similar to the rest of the Marvel women, Letitia Wright trained with some serious martial arts moves and plenty of hand-to-hand combat in order to bulk up and film action scenes. While the routine wasn't grueling, it was hard work, but she seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the education from it.
5 Danai Gurira As Okoye
You likely know Danai Gurira as Michonne on The Walking Dead. Though her combat is mostly due to her own personal training, for her Marvel role, things were a bit different. Comparatively, her fighting style on The Walking Dead and the combat style in Black Panther are both distinct in their movements.
So while her own fitness and strength helped tremendously, she still needed to learn the finesse of being a warrior as opposed to a survivalist.
Even with this newly learned training, Gurira is one of the strongest icons out there for women. She's strong, confident, and not afraid to push herself.
4 Evangeline Lilly As The Wasp
Evangeline Lilly is still somewhat new on the scene when it comes to Marvel women but that doesn't make her any less epic. Her training consists of a varying routine that she can do at home. It's nothing stressful and doesn't require serious gym time or a personal fitness trainer to teach her insane martial arts moves. Her personal routine consists mainly of making good use of her own staircase for cardio, kickboxing which is a great calorie-burning workout, ab exercises, dumbbell dances, and just normal stretching. Keeping herself toned but active is the way this actress finds she feels most comfortable and confident in herself, and we'd have to agree.
3 Brianna Hildebrand As Negasonic Teenage Warhead
In her breakout role as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Brianna Hildebrand is one heck of a girl. In addition to doing many of the movie stunts herself, Hildebrand also stuck to a pretty solid workout routine as well. Prior to filming the movies, she was committed to Muy Thai training, which goes back to her roots as a dancer. This helped her in her role as a superhero but she continued training with boxing, as well as sprinting, which her character does fairly often throughout the Deadpool movies. Additionally, her look as a whole was welcomed and accepted by directors as it only added to the epic character that Negasonic really is.
2 Gwyneth Paltrow As Pepper Potts
While Gwyneth Paltrow is already tall and slender, that doesn't mean she didn't commit to any workout routines for her movie roles.
You may have noticed that she looks strong in the Iron Man and Avengers movies, and for good reason.
She trains with Tracy Anderson and sticks to a serious dance cardio routine. While she leads a routinely healthy life, her dance cardio is the trick to ensuring that she has a lean and muscular figure, committing to these sessions every single month. After almost ten years, she has plenty to show for it, and that's mostly due to v-punches and walking planks.
1 Natalie Portman As Jane
Known for her role as Jane in the Thor movies, Natalie Portman had already gained experience with a challenging fitness routine due to her role in Black Swan. While very different, her fitness routine consisted of all the things a professional dancer goes through in order to achieve a lean yet muscular shape.
Her training lasted roughly a year, during which she actually learned how to be a dancer and was dedicated to dancing at least five hours per day, every single day.
Once filming started, her training was even more intense, making her more than ready for her Marvel role.
Sources: The List, Healthista