A day after the annual Comic-Con extravaganza in San Diego, a report from Variety revealed some trouble brewing in the DC Extended Universe. It seems that the film’s intense reshoots are taking longer than usual, costing Warner Bros. a hefty $25 million. But the most newsworthy item, the one that caused Twitter to go wild with Photoshop gags, is that a small portion of the budget is being spent to digitally remove Henry Cavill’s newly-grown mustache.
Between Ben Affleck’s possible exit as Batman and a lot of other headaches concerning Justice League, Cavill’s face fur, which he can be seen with all over his Instagram, is just the latest headache, even if it’s a minor one. But is everyone behind the next DCEU installment overthinking this? Is spending CGI money to zap Cavill’s grass grin necessary? Maybe not. Because, as it is often the case, there’s precedent in the comics for a returning Superman to sport a ‘stache.
Chief among the many inspirations for the current DCEU continuity has been 1992’s The Death of Superman, the infamous multi-authored storyline in which Superman met his demise (or so everyone thought) in a fatal battle with the monstrous Doomsday. A year later, after four posers tried to replace Superman, the real Man of Steel made a triumphant comeback in a sleek black unitard with a silver “S” (and no cape), and with longer hair because it was the ‘90s.
That explains the black suit; expect something like it to show up in Justice League this November. But the beard is different, and more complicated, as comic books tend to be.
In 2015-2016’s Superman: Lois and Clark written by Dan Jurgens (Jurgens was also one of the writers of The Death of Superman and created Doomsday), a Superman from a pre-reboot reality wears the same black suit while rocking a nice beard. This “pre-reboot” Superman lives to replace another recently deceased Superman. The beard was a visual choice to differentiate the two men from each other, with pre-reboot Clark Kent shaving when he makes himself known to the world and to the Justice League.
When Henry Cavill took on the role of Superman for 2013’s Man of Steel, a deep promotional tie-in with razor brand Gillette inspired the look of a bearded Clark Kent prior to his awakening as a superhero. So on top of the comics, this very continuity of the DC Universe has given us a glimpse of a hairy Superman.
In Zack Snyder Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman sacrificed himself in a final stand against Doomsday. This November, Justice League will pick up where Dawn of Justice left off, and without a doubt, fans will witness the return of a Superman reborn — just like in the comics. But at the insistence of Warner Bros. who are probably sweating over continuity issues with the reshoots and what was already filmed, Superman will not have a beard to go with his resurrection. That’s really odd; hasn’t Warner Bros. read the comics?
Justice League will be released in theaters on November 17.