(LOS ANGELES) — While much has been made of his transformation to comic actor to muscled onscreen superhero, Kumail Nanjiani tells Men’s Health that at first getting that kind of role, let alone reshaping his body to play one, wasn’t something he believed could be done.

As he tells the magazine, “It was a pipe dream, but I was very strategic about it. I was like, ‘I don’t want to be just part of the Marvel movie; I want to be a Marvel superhero."” 

The actor, who transformed his physique in preparation for his starring role in Marvel’s The Eternals, nearly broke the Internet when he unveiled his ripped bod…and attracted some unexpected compliments. 

As Nanjani’s wife Emily V. Gordon explains, after the pics went public, ‘Half the messages I got that day were from people being like, ‘Hey, I want to have sex with your husband, and the other half were from people making sure I was okay with my husband’s naked body being everywhere,” she reveals.

Nanjani says of his grueling physical regimen, which included electro-shocking his biceps to boost their size, “I had to change my relationship to pain. You’re so designed to avoid it, but in that situation you really have to be okay with it. You have to want it. It’s almost trying to rewire your brain.”

The Men’s Health photoshoot shows he hasn’t lost his #gains: Kumail’s posed in a series of shredded shots made to emulate various characters — including Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and Bruce Willis in Die Hard, a personal favorite of the actor.

Nanjani tells the the magazine that Kingo, the character he plays in The Eternals was inspired by Bruce Willis’ unlikely action hero John McClane. 

He explains, “I was like, ‘How can a character crack wise but still have tension, and not make it feel like you’re making fun of the whole thing?"”

The Eternals opens May 6 from Marvel Studios, which is owned by ABC’s parent company Disney.

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