Captain America and Iron Man changed the lives of these fans
With superhero blockbuster Captain America: Civil War opening here today, we meet Captain America and Iron Man superfans whose lives were changed by these iconic characters
When young soldier Steve Rogers was deemed unfit for military service, he volunteered for a top-secret project that transformed the scrawny weakling into superhero Captain America.
While no Super-Soldier Serum injection was involved, Mr Gordan Tay was so inspired by Rogers, he took it upon himself to become his very own muscleman.
At 1.67m, he weighed his lightest at 40.8kg during his army days when he was 20 years old.
Now, the freelance personal trainer and administration executive weighs 70kg.
The 25-year-old told The New Paper: "I've been skinny my entire life.
"During national service, I was also going through a rough time as my family was facing some problems.
"I had a bad break-up and I tore my shoulder ligament. It felt like everything in my life was going wrong."
To cheer him up, one of his friends took him to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, the first Marvel film Mr Tay had ever watched.
He recalled: "I wasn't really looking forward to it because when I watched the cartoons, Captain America struck me as a funny character with two wings sticking out from his head."
Little did he know that the funny character would change his life.
"When the movie started, I was struck by it," he said. "It was so relatable because Rogers was skinny and he was being body-shamed, bullied and insulted, much like I've been my entire life.
"He also had an inferiority complex and a low self-esteem, which reminded me of myself then."
Mr Tay said he used to be bullied in secondary school. His bullies would hold him by the collar and press him against a wall. They also wrapped book straps around his neck.
During NS, his bunkmates would make fun of his every move.
He said: "I wanted to be just like Rogers when he stepped out of that body-transforming machine.
"There was so much going on in my head when I saw how he transformed and began to help people yet he remained humble and grounded. That really inspired me.
"I thought if I could change physically, I could achieve greater things."
Mr Tay's shoulder injury hindered him from changing his lifestyle immediately, so he started with changing his diet and moved on to exercising four months later after getting approval from his doctors.
"I bought 10kg dumbbells to work out in the bunk," he said.
"I didn't go to the gym because I was afraid people would taunt me or laugh at me, so I did push-ups while carrying my field pack filled with the dumbbells."
His efforts paid off. He emerged champion in his height and age category in the Singapore Fitness Model Search - PhysiqueWar 2015.
"Captain America is optimistic and this trait rubbed off on me. He is also morally upright and kind, which I hope to be," said Mr Tay.
In Captain America: Civil War, former allies Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) end up on opposing sides due to differing opinions.
Rogers believes superheroes should be allowed to work without regulation while Tony Stark supports government supervision.
Mr Tay, who is obviously on #TeamCap, concedes there will be "some kind of off-screen rivalry" among fans. "There will be those who would say, 'Iron Man is better because he's smarter and richer,' and I'd love to argue back.
"For me, Captain America is more handsome, fitter, bigger, kinder, more loyal to the girl he loves, and an excellent tactician in a fight.
"I will always tell Iron Man fans they are gold-diggers who like witty guys.
"But the banter will be just for fun."
"When the movie started, I was struck by it. Rogers was skinny and he was being body-shamed, bullied and insulted, much like I've been my entire life."
- Captain America fan Gordan Tay
Enamoured with Iron Man armour
SUPERHERO SUPERFAN: Mr Terence Tee (top) has a room dedicated to his Iron Man collection, including acrylic figures (above) that cost $1,500 each. TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
His shrine of Iron Man memorabilia, worth more than $50,000, would make any superfan green with envy.
Mr Terence Tee, 35, a real estate agent, started collecting Hot Toys figurines in 2012 and now has more than 65 figurines.
The father of two buys collectible figurines and modifies some of them by spray-painting them.
Mr Tee said: "In 2008, I watched the first Iron Man movie and I took a liking to some characters, had a good time and left without thinking much about the movie.
"It was only in 2012, when I walked past a storefront displaying Iron Man figurines that Iron Man really caught my attention. I was amazed and impressed by all the parts and details of each figurine."
Each Iron Man armour is designated with a Mark number and the Mark XLVI Armour is Tony Stark's 46th and latest Iron Man suit.
Mr Tee said: "I like Tony Stark's character and the armours are really very cool. It's not every day you find a superhero who is so arrogant yet intelligent.
"I love how the armour is created not just because he's rich and has the means to create such things, but (because) he has the ability and the intelligence to construct something like that.
"And the armour keeps getting better with each Mark."
He is so fascinated by the armour that he has bought several of them - each costs an average of $400 - just to take them apart and display them piece by piece.
He said: "To me, it's also about the chest plate, the boots, every detail. I have a frame of all the individual parts that make up the armour.
"Some days when I'm caught up with work, I take a breather by looking at my displays. It's really a stress reliever for me."
Mr Tee's most expensive buys are five transparent acrylic figures with holographic-like effects, which cost $1,500 each.
He said: "I've always supported Iron Man, but I think for the new movie, fans are more worried about the ending and Captain America's mortality than the Captain America-Iron Man rivalry."
"Some days when I'm caught up with work, I take a breather by looking at my displays, it's really a stress reliever for me."
- Mr Terence Tee on his Iron Man conllection
Helmet with 'A' on it started it all
OBSESSED: Mr Ong Chee Kong has a collection of Captain America items, including four suits, five shields and six helmets. TNP PHOTO:TRACY LOW
In 2012, he went to a costume rental shop to find something to wear for his company's annual dinner and dance event.
One ensemble, with the letter A on its helmet, caught his attention immediately.
Although he was not sure which superhero it represented, he decided to take it home anyway.
Civil servant Ong Chee Keong, 31, went on to rent the same costume two more times for other work events as it was a big hit with his colleagues.
Today, Mr Ong boasts a collection that includes four suits, five shields, six helmets, comic books and figurines.
He has spent about $20,000 on his collectibles. His first full suit cost $3,000 and took six months to be shipped from the US.
Mr Ong also started cosplaying and taking part in competitions as Captain America.
He said: "In three years, I got pretty obsessed with Captain America memorabilia.
"I was never a Marvel fan. I hadn't watched any of the movies and did not know any of the superheroes before I rented that first costume, but there was just something about it and being in it that made me feel like the best version of myself.
"I then began to do my research and found out the costume is that of Captain America's. That's when I started to watch the movies and realise that the man in the suit was inspirational.
"His beliefs, principles and values were very much in line with mine and I immediately felt connected to the character."