Not content with wasting Dwayne Johnson's considerable talent and charisma on a tepid retelling of the Hercules legend, Hollywood has now set its sights on ruining our happy, hand-drawn memories of Tarzan. And it's doing it with a seriously buffed-up Alexander Skarsgard in the leading role of a reformed Victorian gent returning to his jungle roots. This brings up a number of important and relevant questions.
Firstly, where in the jungle does Tarzan find the steady and reliable source of protein that allows him to build up such a towering physique? Skarsgard stands nearly 6 feet 5 inches tall, and he's carrying a lot of glistening muscle on that long frame. Granted, the gorillas that have brought Tarzan up are pretty damn muscular too, but unlike him, they spend the whole day eating to maintain that body mass and don't make a habit of swinging through the vines like a throwback Spider-Man. The new movie is supposed to see Tarzan "fully entrenched as a British gentleman in 1880s Victorian London," as USA Today reports, but those guys had even worse diets than the simians. There's just no conceivable environment in which Tarzan develops this sort of amazing ab definition.
Secondly, why does Tarzan have a smoothly shaven face and chest (but not arms)? As it happens, the era in which this movie is set was subject to a beard craze not unlike the present hipster epidemic. Charles Darwin, who died in 1882, had a famously bushy beard, which was very much in keeping with the style of the time. And I don't recall the notion of chest shaving being particularly popular during the period before the invention of the disposable razor. The cynic in me is inclined to think that we're being fed yet another unrealistically muscular and hairless male lead just because that's the done thing.
We now live in an age where Thor and Tarzan are, physically at least, interchangeable. Even Batman's pecs have been inflated to bodybuilder levels. Why? Han Solo didn't need to show off impeccable abs to be a badass. Marty McFly didn't have to beat anyone up to be cool. And before Daniel Craig took over the role, James Bond was beloved for his cleverness and charm, not the size of his deltoids or biceps.
I miss the days when we could believe regular humans could be heroes.