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16 Pressing Questions About Superman’s Upper Lip in ‘Justice League’

There is a lot of CGI in this movie, but we’re mostly just absorbed by matters relating to the erasure of Henry Cavill’s mustache

Superman with a mustache Getty Images/Warner Bros./Ringer illustration

Justice League is not a good movie, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fascinating. Not because the CGI villain Steppenwolf’s plan to take over the world is compelling (it is not); not because Ben Affleck gives an elite performance as Batman (he does not); not because the action scenes are breathtaking, realistic, and coherent (they are not). No, Justice League is a fascinating spectacle because of Superman, specifically Henry Cavill’s appearance. And more specifically, the appearance of Cavill’s upper lip.

Faster than a speeding bus! London press here we come! #JusticeLeague #London

A post shared by Henry Cavill (@henrycavill) on

You see, Cavill had to sport this glorious mustache for his upcoming role in Mission: Impossible 6, due next year. That wouldn’t have been a problem, except the reshoots of Justice League overlapped with filming of M:I 6. Superman does not have a mustache, but Paramount Pictures, the studio producing M:I 6, refused to let Cavill shave for Justice League while he was making their movie. What this meant for Justice League and Warner Bros. is they had to spend millions of dollars digitally removing Cavill’s mustache in post-production. And now Superman looks like he had an allergic reaction that affected only his upper lip.

It is impossible to watch the last act of Justice League — when Superman shows up — and not be distracted by a million questions related to the area of skin between Cavill’s nose and lips. For the sake of brevity, I narrowed down those many questions to the most pressing 16.

1. Cavill’s CGI’ed upper-lip is introduced from the opening frame in a flashback of some kids asking Superman what he loves about Earth. (We never get his answer, but I hope it was “Popeyes chicken.”) It’s immediately fixating but not in a good way — did anyone from Warner Bros. actually watch this footage?

2. What’s the Real Lip to CGI Lip ratio here?

3. Was there ever a point that Warner Bros. considered keeping the ’stache? Hear me out: DC’s trying really hard to be more light-hearted, because everyone loves Marvel movies and one reason Wonder Woman was good is that it was uplifting. So if Superman had a thick, curly mustache in Justice League — but nobody even addressed it onscreen — wouldn’t that be great?

4. Was there ever a moment when Joss Whedon, who took over the film’s reshoots after Zack Snyder stepped away for personal reasons, took Cavill aside and was like, “We really need to eliminate the power of your mustache”? And was Cavill like, “But Tom Cruise will be so upset!”?

5. In the comics, does Superman ever have a mustache? I didn’t read a lot of comics growing up, but I’d imagine most iterations of the Man of Steel are quite puritanical when it comes to facial hair. However, I’d 100 percent support a limited series where Clark Kent has a mustache, and, instead of working at The Daily Planet, he’s interning for a digital media company in Williamsburg.

6. Aside from Superman, which Justice League character would benefit the most from a mustache? I think the Flash (Ezra Miller) would look great speeding through action scenes with a curly, thick ’stache flowing gently in the wind.

7. Was thespian Amy Adams a fan of Cavill’s mustache? As Lois Lane, I figure she got the best view.

8. Wait, what did Cavill’s face look like when they were filming? Was he wearing a strip of green screen over his mustache? I would very much like this unedited footage available as a DVD extra, thank you.

9. Wait, again, why was Cavill’s mustache so integral to M:I 6 anyway? Is the secret to Ethan Hunt preventing nuclear armageddon burrowed in Cavill’s thick cluster of mustache hair? Does Hunt hide a GPS tracker in his mustache?

10. Was the mustache non-negotiable when Cavill signed up? Was Paramount like, “And please initial here. This is the Mustache Clause”?

11. Can we refer to M:I 6 as Mustache Impossible instead?

12. Is all of this mustache hullabaloo why Cavill seems lifeless throughout Justice League?

13. Was #MustacheGate a cry for help, much in the way Affleck’s mopey interviews make it clear he doesn’t like being Batman?

14. Is this the worst CGI re-creation of human skin this year? Does it rank above or below Sean Young’s cameo in Blade Runner 2049?

15. Will the mustache fiasco somehow extend to Justice League 2? Cavill’s Instagram makes me think he’s attached to it.

16. Is Henry Cavill’s concealed mustache the only interesting thing about Justice League? I answered this above. It is.