Ever since Tony Stark made himself a special suit of armour in a cave in the desert, it was obvious Marvel Studios had turned a corner. The franchise had found its footing, and was about to blast off into the cinematic stratosphere, culminating in the recently released Avengers: Endgame.
In the decade following Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) went from strength to strength, and continues to do so.
And as with many long-running franchises – from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, Star Wars to Toy Story – the level of fandom surrounding them ranges from mild enjoyment to obsessively devouring every detail, and everything in between.
Some people may hang posters of their favourite film in their room, or even get tattoos. While others will draw inspiration from certain characters and adopt certain lessons from the films into their own lives.
Anurag Chaurasia is one such person. After seeing Captain America in 2011, he was inspired by not just the physical transformation the character undergoes, but his mentality too.
Anurag told UNILAD:
I have been fan of Avenger superheroes since Iron Man came in 2008. Being the skinniest guy I always felt so good when innocent ones were saved from bullies. When Captain America came in 2011, I felt like this is exactly what I want to become – a beacon of hope and commitment who never gives up. Like Steve Rogers before transformation, I was skinny too. And everything after that just connected me to him so much.
Anurag connected with Captain America right away, saying it felt ‘like I was watching my biography’.
Of course, that’s not to say he was injected with a special serum that made him grow in size, but that he was eager to do whatever it takes (yep) to grow mentally as well as physically.
I tried to change my physical form since 2011 but failed every time. I tried the gym but failed due to lack of proper guidance. [I] felt like giving up after so many failures.
Then I met someone really special. I don’t know what happened then but I dedicated myself completely this time. 100% commitment to gym workout, proper diet and everything according to the plan. And my body responded amazingly.
Being an ectomorph I didn’t gain much mass but whatever I gained was lean muscle. My body strength and fitness amazed people and myself. From that day I have committed myself to my body 100%. It’s been two years since I’ve been regular and dedicated.
As the photos show, Anurag underwent quite the transformation:
Speaking about the transformation he has gone through over the past couple of years, Anurag told UNILAD:
The only thing I can advise for people wishing to undergo a similar transformation is that if you have a dream, don’t give up. You may fail hundreds and thousands of time but you will succeed if you have the will to keep doing it until you achieve it.
Like Cap always stood up for his friends and his beliefs, even when entire world was against them. You should believe in yourself too. If you know you’re doing right thing then forget what people are saying. You have to look for the qualities beyond physical to transform yourself. Will power is everything.
Of course, the clue is in the name, Avengers: Endgame could be the last time we see Cap and the gang on our screens, but that won’t stop Anurag being inspired by him.
Speaking about the new movie, Anurag said:
Excited is really very small word for what I feel for Endgame. I have an idea of some of the things that are going to happen in the movie but I still don’t think I could shake that.
And there’s no doubt that I won’t be inspired by Steve Rogers afterwards. He’s in my soul. I have no reason of giving up and I won’t either.
Much like our fateful Avengers, Anurag, an engineer and fitness model, has been on a transformative journey over the past few years, and believes Captain America is to thank for it.
As he said:
Caps is my role model. I could feel his anger, disappointment, love, hope. I cried with him, laughed with him.
However, as the end of the third phase of the MCU comes to a close with Endgame, Anurag reckons ‘this is going to be my last MCU movie I’ll be watching because as it is said: ‘Part of the journey is the end’.’
Still, that doesn’t mean Anurag will be forgetting Captain America any time soon, as he says: ‘I owe my happiness and soul to Captain Steve Rogers’.
Levels of fandom come in all shapes and sizes. Much the like the Avengers, really. And while we may not all look like Captain America or Anurag, we can all learn a lesson or two from our favourite superheros.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.