Being a superhero is bad for your health

Trauma from all the fights and falls and lack of sleep can harm a superhero’s slide into retirement

It may not be a concern for most people, but being a superhero is bad for your health, scientists have claimed.

Fighting supervillains, and the injuries picked up in the process, could lead to problems in later life, they found.

After watching every Marvel superhero film they could find, in the name of science, of course, the team noted the heroes' serious life-limiting habits.

There were positives. Being physically active, such as Black Widow or Iron Man, with lots of chasing down bad guys can help increase their lifespans. Socialising as part of the Avengers was seen as a good thing for longevity.

But trauma from all the fights and falls and lack of sleep – looking at you Spider-Man, Black Panther – can harm a superhero’s slide into retirement, the team from The University of Queensland found.

Thor was excluded because he’s a god with a get-out clause on ageing.

The researchers examined if superheroes were optimistic, with a psychological resilience or a sense of purpose, all factors associated with healthy ageing.

Super heroes

Iron Man
Reduced risk of dementia
Alcohol consumption could be an issue

Hulk
Cardiac disease, stroke and dementia from high heart rate

Spider-Man
Agility reduces risk of falls
Increased risk of obesity and mental health issues

Black Panther
Vegetarian diet reduces obesity
Unknown risks of potion drinking

Black Widow
Childhood traumas increase risk of mental illnesses

Thor
He's a god

With the exception of Thor and Iron Man, the superheroes do not drink heavily or smoke, so that’s another mark in their favour.

But the heroes also come with health weaknesses.

The repeated exposure to loud noises and air pollution, and several head injuries puts the superheroes at increased risk of dementia, life-changing physical injury and disability.

Black Panther and Iron Man are wealthy and intelligent, reducing their risk of dementia. Black Panther is also vegetarian, which is known to support healthy ageing.

Hulk, however, has heart problems, high body mass index and his rage puts him at risk of several chronic diseases.

Black Widow’s traumatic childhood experiences increase her risk of physical and mental illnesses.

Spider-Man’s strength, flexibility, and agility should reduce his risk of falls in old age but his nightly crime-fighting means he is unlikely to be getting the recommended sleep, which can lead to obesity, lower mental health, and higher rates of unintentional injuries.

The team reviewed 24 Marvel movies, from Iron Man in 2008, to Black Widow in 2021.

Updated: December 14th 2021, 11:13 AM
Super heroes

Iron Man
Reduced risk of dementia
Alcohol consumption could be an issue

Hulk
Cardiac disease, stroke and dementia from high heart rate

Spider-Man
Agility reduces risk of falls
Increased risk of obesity and mental health issues

Black Panther
Vegetarian diet reduces obesity
Unknown risks of potion drinking

Black Widow
Childhood traumas increase risk of mental illnesses

Thor
He's a god