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The Awful CGI On Henry Cavill’s Superman In Justice League Has A Ridiculous BTS Story


Summary

  • Henry Cavill’s Superman in 2017’s Justice League has a memorable but peculiar CGI face due to the removal of his mustache.
  • The behind-the-scenes production issues, including director changes and reshoots, had a lasting impact on the DCEU.
  • Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League, released in 2021, showcased a different portrayal of Superman and received a much-improved reception.


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Henry Cavill’s Superman looks admittedly strange in 2017’s Justice League, with the CGI reason behind this having a ridiculous albeit hilarious behind-the-scenes story. 2017’s Justice League was set to be a home run for DC on film, with Cavill leading the team in his third movie as live-action Superman. That said, the film’s many production issues included director Zack Snyder leaving the project due to tragic personal issues only to be replaced by Joss Whedon, who drastically altered the film’s story, tone, and visual style in extensive reshoots. These Justice League problems had a lasting effect on the DCEU, essentially leading to James Gunn’s rebooted DCU movie slate.

Concerning the sole depiction of Superman and how it ranks among other Superman movies though, Justice League is squarely middle-of-the-road. The brightly colored costume makes for one of Superman’s best, and the more light-hearted portrayal of Cavill’s Clark Kent goes a long way to fixing the DCEU’s wider issues with the Man of Steel. However, one ridiculous element of Superman in Justice League has persisted above all else: the CGI face of Henry Cavill. Now lovingly dubbed “Mustache Gate,” Henry Cavill’s CGI face is one of the few aspects of 2017’s Justice League audiences remember, with the ridiculous behind-the-scenes story making it even more humorous.

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Henry Cavill’s Mission Impossible Mustache Had To Be Digitally Removed For Justice League

Henry Cavill as Superman in 2017's Justice League with a CGI lip and the actor in Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The unavoidable CGI on Henry Cavill’s face during Justice League came entirely from the post-production team of the film going through the actor’s shots and editing out his mustache. Originally, when the film was in production under Zack Snyder, this was not an issue as Cavill was clean-shaven. However, when Joss Whedon entered the production and reshot a vast majority of the film, Cavill was also in the middle of production of Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Cavill’s character in the latter film sports a mustache, something that Whedon and Warner Bros. demanded the actor shave for the reshoots of Justice League.

However, in a hilarious turn of events, Cavill revealed that he was contractually obligated to keep the mustache until shooting had completely wrapped on Mission: Impossible – Fallout. At the time, Cavill was traveling back and forth between reshooting Justice League and shooting Mission: Impossible, meaning the mustache was present throughout both. Paramount and Mission: Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie refused to adhere to Warner Bros. demands, meaning the facial hair was there to stay for the Man of Steel.

This led to the creative decision of Justice League‘s post-production crew to CGI the mustache out of Henry Cavill’s shots. This meant that, throughout the film, the appearances of Superman would range from normal to the jarringly obvious CGI face of Cavill. While some mid-to-long shots meant the CGI was not always entirely apparent, multiple scenes including close-ups of Cavill were subsequently memed online for the hilarious, frankly ridiculous nature of «Mustache Gate.»

How Henry Cavill’s Mustache Became The Face Of All DC’s Problems

Henry Cavill as Superman in Justice League With and Without Mustache

Unfortunately for Cavill – who was one of the more unanimously loved castings of the DCEU’s Justice League members – the mustache became the face of all DC’s problems. Above all else, the mustache scenario was emblematic of the constant slew of behind-the-scenes issues that faced every single DCEU installment besides the franchise’s first, Man of Steel. Be it the studio meddling in Snyder’s future movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League to the similar situation involving David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, Warner Bros. exemplified how not to run a franchise that had all the tools needed to rival the most successful in Hollywood.

This led to the hiring of Whedon in a mad scramble by Warner Bros. to needlessly “fix” Justice League by adding more humor, a bright color palette, and CGI upper lips.

The removal of Snyder from Justice League was mostly down to the tragic passing of the filmmaker’s daughter, though it is no secret that Warner Bros. took its chance to switch the DCEU to a more light-hearted tone. The studio was unhappy with the response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, attributing this reception to Snyder’s style of filmmaking as opposed to the executives’ own choice to remove almost 40 minutes of the film in the edit. This led to the hiring of Whedon in a mad scramble by Warner Bros. to needlessly “fix” Justice League by adding more humor, a brighter color palette, and CGI upper lips.

Another instance involved David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, a film extremely similar in style and tone to those of Snyder’s DC movies. Given the switch in production of Justice League, the same was done for Suicide Squad in order to align it more closely with Warner Bros.’s new direction for the studio’s feature films. Studio executives essentially took control of the film, meaning it was made by those at Warner Bros. rather than the director himself. Neither Suicide Squad nor Justice League worked out for Warner Bros., with these various behind-the-scenes «fixes» unfortunately being emblemized by Henry Cavill’s CGI mustache.

How Henry Cavill’s Superman Is Different In Zack Snyder’s Justice League

After endless years of fan outcry, Warner Bros. decided to allow Zack Snyder to finish his version of Justice League for a then-HBO Max release in 2021. Dubbed Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the behemoth four-hour movie was released to a much-improved reception from fans and critics alike. Gone were the uncomfortable jokes, unnecessary moments of levity, and the jarringly bright color scheme as Snyder’s true vision for the film was released. Also not present in Zack Snyder’s Justice League was the CGI face of Henry Cavill, with the film offering plenty of differences between Whedon and Snyder’s iterations of Superman.

The primary change between the two different but same versions of Superman was the Man of Steel’s black suit in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The 2021 cut focused much closer on the revival of Superman by the titular team, leading to an extended sequence of Clark coming to terms with his resurrection not found in the theatrical cut. This led him back to the Kryptonian ship from Man of Steel where he was presented with a slick black and grey Superman suit for the film’s final act.

The other main difference between 2017’s Justice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice League concerning Superman is his portrayal. Whedon’s reshoots opted to change Cavill’s Superman into a much more quippy, happy-go-lucky version of the character. From the aforementioned brightly colored suit to the lines of ADR inputted over the final fight scenes with Steppenwolf to emulate the good-hearted Superman of DC Comics, the version differed greatly from Snyder’s more stoic portrayal of Superman in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

What Happened To Henry Cavill’s Superman After Justice League

Given the unanimous love of Henry Cavill’s Superman, it was incredibly disappointing to see how the character was treated after Justice League‘s release. Cavill’s future in the role became increasingly unclear as Warner Bros. attempted yet another course-correct by moving away from the characters Snyder introduced, mainly Superman and Batman. While Superman was still present in the DCEU’s other movies via reference or cameo, Cavill’s tenure was in doubt given the lack of announcements for a Man of Steel sequel and few actual appearances from the actor himself.

Henry Cavill’s DCEU Appearances After 2017 Justice League

Release Year

Shazam! – A faceless cameo of Superman in the film’s final shot

2019

Zack Snyder’s Justice League – The intended version of 2017’s Superman as an HBO Max exclusive.

2021

Peacemaker – Another faceless cameo of Superman in a brief Justice League cameo.

2022

Black Adam – Cavill’s first actual appearance since 2017 in the film’s post-credit scene.

2022

The Flash – Another faceless cameo as well as a CGI recreation of Cavill depicting Justice League‘s events.

2023

As evident, the only physical appearance of Cavill as Superman after 2017’s Justice League came in Black Adam‘s post-credit scene. This moment was incredibly well-received by audiences who longed to see Cavill’s version of the character continue. This excitement was met with an announcement from Cavill that his iteration was back for good after the big plans that he, Dwayne Johnson, and Warner Bros. had formulated for the character going forward.

However, this excitement was incredibly short-lived. Not even a month after Cavill’s announcement that he would be returning, Warner Bros. hired James Gunn and Peter Safran to completely reboot the franchise. This meant that Cavill would once again be out as Superman in favor of a recast for the rebooted series, now confirmed to be actor David Corenswet. As evident, the issues surrounding 2017’s Justice League were the beginning of the end for Cavill’s Superman, no matter how great the actor was in the role.

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