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Atlas Pose

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A strong or superstrong character picks up an object that is obviously too bulky, if not also too heavy, for him to carry properly. This character holds the object in question between his head and the supporting shoulder. This is at least Older Than Steam, since the earliest atlas had Atlas in the Atlas Pose on the cover holding up the globe. The most famous incidence of this trope probably the Atlas statue in front of the Rockefeller Center in New York city.

Of course, in the original myth Atlas bore the weight of the heavens, not the world. The object he is holding is not a globe, but a celestial sphere.

Will often be adopted by a Load-Bearing Hero, though in their case they're more likely to be holding up the ceiling than the Heavens.

Bears minimal relation to Atlas Shrugged, though this pose is mentioned once and shows up on the cover of some editions.



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     Anime and Manga  
  • Dragon Shiryuu in Saint Seiya, when the tunnel underneath the Sagittarius House collapses and he stays behind to support it as the others escape.
  • A literal titan does this with a boulder roughly bigger than itself in Attack on Titan. bonus points for the boulder being a symbolic macguffin. to explain, Titan!Eren has to carry a boulder to cover a hole in the breached wall to prevent other titans from coming in. while other characters comment on how important this task (and the boulder) is in retaking the Trost district.

  • Support columns carved in the shape of a man carrying the floor/ceiling/object are called atlantes.

     Comic Books  

  • This pose is one of the iconic images of Superman. Superman #28 in 1944 even features a status of Atlas himself. (including #28, where he seems to be helping out a statue of Atlas himself!). Discussed in the novelisation of Superman Returns where Jimmy describes him catching the Daily Planet globe as "Atlas holding up the world", but the scene, like the iconic Action Comics #1 cover, technically are not Atlas Poses because he is only holding onto the weight with his hands. Compare with the island scene in the same film, which is closer to the pose.
  • Fantastic Four: The Thing has been known to do this when moving lab equipment around for Mr. Fantastic.
  • The cover to Incredible Hulk Special #1, homaged many times since.
  • Spider-Man did this while trapped under a bridge (later homaged in a similar scene with him in a subway). While he has super strength, it is not as vast as someone like Superman so for him, this was a monumental feat.
  • Secret Wars (1984): The fourth issue cover has Hulk holding up a mountain that's been dropped on the heroes, with most of the other unconscious. He's the only thing standing between them and one hundred fifty billion tons of rock, and he's not happy.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Hercules finds Atlas himself in this pose as he carries the weight meant to imprison him. To Hercules' consternation Atlas is even more snarky than he was when they met in antiquity despite Herc getting the best of him then.



  • The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible catches and lifts a robot on his back, briefly mimicking the Atlas pose.


  • All the Troubles of the World: The cover of the Creative Classic novel shows a circuit/control board (representing Multivac) supporting the Earth. It isn't humanoid, so instead of holding the globe as Atlas does, the board is cracking under the weight, suggesting the stress faced by the computer is too much to endure.


  • Pictured atop this page is the cover of Van Halen's 5150, with its version of Atlas hoisting the Van Halen globe logo.
  • Alluded to in Coldplay's "Atlas":
    Carry your world
    I'll carry your world
    Carry your world, and all your hurt...
  • Metallica also alludes to it - while referencing correctly the myth - in "Atlas, Rise!":
    All you bear, all you carry
    All you bear, Place it right on, Right on me
    Die as you suffer in vain
    Own all the grief and the pain
    Die as you hold up the skies
    Atlas, rise!


  • The "Odyssey" table of Silverball features an Olympian holding up a giant pinball in this pose.

     Video Games  

  • BioShock's Rapture features a giant Art Deco Atlas statue in an early level, and one of the main characters is named Atlas.
  • City of Heroes has their very own superhero named Atlas. He died defending Paragon City during the sneak attack that started World War II, and was immortalized with a life-sized statue of Atlas holding up the globe outside City Hall. Considering Atlas was a couple-hundred feet tall...
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape and the explosive kegs.


     Western Animation  

  • In Chaotic, a Combining Mecha that went on a rampage after being given free will did a last minute Heel–Face Turn and used itself to support the section of the Underworld ceiling formerly propped up by the Iron Pillar which it just destroyed moments ago. The robot assumed the Atlas pose as it held up the section of the cavern ceiling. But it also had another dose of Atlas in that the robot was petrified by Chaor (Atlas Mountains, anyone?), permanently becoming the new Iron Pillar.
  • Done by Megatron, of all bots, in episode 5 of Transformers: Prime (but it's with a chunk of Dark Energon).