This year, a certain presidential election has trumped November’s usual trends and headlines. Specifically, November is often dubbed “Movember,” as men around the world use the cooler weather as an excuse to grow facial hair.
Lest we not forget this important annual custom, in the spirit of “Movember,” here is a list of my favorite examples of facial hair in superhero comics (in no particular order).
This first entry is actually comic book adjacent, but the movie versions of our favorite superheroes is how many people know these characters today. Both Henry Cavill’s Superman and Christian Bale’s Batman prove that the world’s finest team is also capable of growing the world’s finest facial hair, but only in times of distress. Cavill and Bale boast beards when their characters are at their lowest, establishing a visual cue in superhero films for years to come. Most people wear their hearts on their sleeves, but the superhero? He wears his heart on his face.
J. Jonah Jameson
Few people in history have been able to pull off the toothbrush mustache. Adolf Hitler gave it a nefarious reputation, while Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy made it a comedic prop in classic film. J. Jonah Jameson, who, as Spider-Man’s fist-waving editorial naysayer, is appropriately somewhere in the middle of that spectrum as both oppressor and comic relief to our web slinging hero. I’d like to think JJJ’s bravery for touting the toothbrush all these years is what inspired Michael Jordan to do the same in that random Hanes commercial.
The genre of police parody owes a lot to Commissioner Gordon. From the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” video to Reno 911, the thick mustache is the definitive cop look, and I can trace its roots back no further than Gotham’s own Commissioner James Gordon. In his earliest appearances, Commissioner Gordon boasted a thinner stash, but he later he adopted the look we know him best for today. When Ben McKenzie from Gotham finally grows his lip badge, it will feel just as fulfilling as finally watching Tom Welling don the Superman tights in the last episode of Smallville. We know it’s coming. It’s the philtrum of destiny.
When Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon lost his girlfriend in a senseless act of violence, the Dragon brooded for several issues, growing a mustache not unlike that of WWE star Hulk Hogan. As a kid, I thought it looked very tough and cool. One of Dragon’s supporting characters, KillCat, sports a similar ‘stache, so Larsen must STILL think it looks very tough and cool. These days, as our country grows more divided, I think we can all agree on one thing. He’s right.
Longtime fans of Doctor Strange have always known him to don a goatee, but the evolution of Strange’s facial hair in his recent feature film is as poignant as his own character development. The arrogant Stephen Strange is clean-shaven at the beginning of the movie, and as his life falls apart, so does his penchant for personal hygiene. Before he meets Mordu and the Ancient One, Strange has clearly taken a page from the Cavill Book of Brooding Beards (swiping pages is apparently a common practice for sorcerers). When he regains his grasp on life, Doctor Strange also regains his grasp on a razor, crafting the goatee that distinguishes him as today’s Master of the Mystic Arts.
Believe it or not, Green Arrow wasn’t always goateed. Oliver Queen was clean-shaven in his Silver Age appearances. Arrow’s goatee grew with his liberal-leaning views of our country’s most dire issues, when he and Green Lantern toured America, making Oliver as much Al Frankin as Erroll Flynn. Yes, Green Arrow’s goatee may reveal his roots as a Robin Hood derivative, but few men can wear it any merrier in the 21st century.
Your ‘Movember’ picks?
Those my personal facial hair favorites from superhero comics. Are you partial to the Maestro’s muttonchops from the Hulk’s imperfect future? Perhaps you’re an Abraham Ford fanatic? Leave your favorite superhero soup strainers in the comments below!