Five times we found out that facial hair and superheroes just don’t mix
Midway through the new trailer for The Untitled Deadpool Sequel, Ryan Reynolds stops the action when Josh Brolin’s Cable appears with a green forearm: “Dale, why are the visual effects not done? It’s a metal arm! It’s not like we’re trying to remove a mustache!”
That’s not just an irreverent jab by a Marvel Comics icon at the DC Comics competition (more on that later). It’s also a reminder that facial hair has been wreaking havoc on superheroes for more than half a century.
Here’s a look at five times when a little movie magic was needed when a trip to the barber just wouldn’t do.
Superman, “Justice League” (2017): The most infamous cinematic mustache may be the one that didn’t appear in last year’s “Justice League.” DC’s superhero ensemble was plagued with production difficulties, but none quite as peculiar as Superman’s mustache.
When principal photography wrapped, Henry Cavill moved on to his next project, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout.” In that film, Cavill plays the hirsute August Walker, a CIA operative who faces off against Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Cavill grew his own mustache for the role, and when “Justice League” reshoots overlapped with “Fallout” filming he was forced to do new Superman scenes without shaving. That meant digital VFX artists had to go in after the fact to remove every follicle frame by frame.
The Joker, “Batman” (1966): Cesar Romero became the first actor to play DC Comics’ Joker, recurring on the hugely popular “Batman” television series and in a feature film released between the show’s first two seasons. The star, famous for his big-screen Latin lover roles, was excited to play the crown prince of crime, but he had one demand: He wasn’t going to shave his mustache.
The “Batman” solution was a bit inelegant compared to the high-tech trickery of “Justice League,” but it worked. The Joker’s white face paint was applied heavily over Romero’s entire face, mustache and all.
Captain America, “The Avengers” (2012): Chris Evans may be rocking a full beard in the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War,” but did you know that he already had a beard in an MCU film?
Although director Joss Whedon had seemingly finished production on “The Avengers,” the final post-credits sequence was a last-minute surprise — it wasn’t even shot until after the movie had screened for critics. The cast went straight from a press conference for the movie to a Century City restaurant to film a quick, dialogue-free coda that showed the Avengers sharing shawarma after saving New York City.
Most of the Avengers were able to easily step back into their respective roles for the scene, but Evans had grown a beard for “Snowpiercer” and was still filming the Bong Joon-ho sci-fi thriller. Marvel’s solution? A prosthetic jaw to cover his facial hair. That’s why Cap isn’t eating in the shawarma scene. Instead, he’s leaning on his fist to hide the lower part of his face.
Wolverine, “X-Men” (2000): Hugh Jackman wasn’t the first choice for his most iconic role. He wasn’t even the second choice. Dougray Scott had initially signed on for the part in Bryan Singer’s film but dropped out before filming began because of production delays in “Mission: Impossible II,” where he was starring alongside Tom Cruise.
Russell Crowe, who had been Singer’s first choice for Wolverine, turned down the part but recommended fellow Aussie Jackman, then a relative unknown. Jackman didn’t have time to grow Wolverine’s signature mutton chops and was forced to wear a wig and fake sideburns.
When Jackman finally said goodbye to Wolverine in 2017 after completing work on James Mangold’s “Logan,” he celebrated by sharing a video on Instagram in which he shaves off his (real) mutton chops for the last time.
Lex Luthor, “Superman” (1978): In preparing to bring “Superman” to the big screen in 1978, director Richard Donner knew he wanted Academy Award winner Gene Hackman to play Lex Luthor. Hackman was interested but was reluctant to shave for the role. Donner didn’t mind having a Luthor with hair, but insisted that Hackman get rid of his mustache. He offered the actor a deal: if Hackman shaved off his mustache, Donner would then shave his own. Hackman agreed and, after shaving, looked for Donner to fulfill the bargain. Donner simply reached up to his upper lip and peeled away what had been a fake mustache the entire time.
“[He] looked at me and his neck went four sizes bigger and the veins in his temple started to throb,” Donner recalls in John Badham and Craig Moderno’s 2006 book “I’ll Be In My Trailer: The Creative War Between Directors & Actors.” “He’s a big mother, I knew he was going to knock me through the wall. Gradually a smile came to his face and he laughed and he said, ‘I see what this picture is going to be like, but I owe you one.’ And from there on in he was a doll. He was a doll on the set with ideas. He was easy to work with. We broke the problem. He had put the chip on his shoulder and I knocked it off and I didn’t get hurt, and he became one of the dear friends of my life.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you properly dispose of an unwanted mustache.