One of the big jokes heading into Justice League’s disastrous release was footage and pictures of a mustachioed Superman making their rounds across the internet. It was bizarre, to say the least, but I honestly never thought anything of it. It looked like the kind of thing that people would photoshop into a meme for a cheap laugh at a movie whose protracted post-production was already infamously troubled and expensive: an easy laugh at the expense of a franchise that even Wonder Woman couldn’t save (and God knows that she tried).
But no. That wasn’t some joke some bored blogger cooked up while waiting for the movie to release. That was a real thing that happened, which further complicated Justice League’s already tiresome reshoots. Instead of shaving off the ‘stache, Warner Bros. spent an inordinate amount of money to digitally edit out his facial hair in post-production.
Keep in mind, this movie was still being edited in the eleventh hour of its release. The film was reshot no less than three times, the last of which had a replacement director remake as much as half the movie for only $25 million: less than a tenth of the movie’s overall budget. They didn’t have the time to carefully clean-up Cavill’s upper lip, let alone the money to throw at such a pointless exercise. And given how frequently is poorly CG-ed was criticized in the wake of the film’s release, it didn’t turn out as well as $5 worth of razor blade and shaving cream would have.
For once, though, this terrible, short-sighted and ultimately detrimental decision wasn’t Warner Bros. fault. I know that they get (justly) ragged on for a lot of things, but even they knew better than to devote what precious little of their already thinly stretched resources remained to giving one of the films lead actors a digital haircut.
The blame actually rests with Paramount: a studio whose level of abject pettiness I now actively aspire to demonstrate in my own life. Since landing his breakout role in Man of Steel, Cavill’s become a solidly popular actor (far more than the movie itself). Probably the biggest project he landed since his DCEU debut is a role in the upcoming Mission: Impossible 6 which, you guessed it, features him with a massive, now-infamous mustache.
Things were fine during Justice League’s principle photography. He shot his scenes – cleanshaven – and went on to the next big thing when production wrapped. When they came back for reshoots however, Cavill was already working on the next Mission: Impossible and Paramount pettily, bafflingly, refused to let Cavill shave it off. No matter what compromise Warner Bros. actively tried to reach in the matter, Paramount refused to budge, costing Warner Bros dearly in the process.
Was Paramount just interested in making their movie as good as possible, right down to Cavill’s uncompromised facial hair? Were they trying to stick it to Warner Bros, who clearly couldn’t afford to digitally touch up Cavill’s face in a solid half of the movie? Either way, Paramount’s petty line in the sand is as impressive as anything that contributed to Justice League’s failure.