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elbanditoroso's avatar

Why are so many superheroes clean-shaven?

Asked by elbanditoroso (33223points) 2 weeks ago

Superman / Clark Kent – NO beard

Batman / Bruce Wayne – NO

Robin – NO

Green Hornet – NO

Kato – NO

Blank Panther – maybe, hard to be sure

Any-Man – NO

Aquaman – NO

Captain America – NO

Conan the Barbarian – NO

daredevil – NO

Green Lantern – NO

Incredible Hulk – NO

Iron man – hard to tell, but doubtful

Spiderman – NO

Wolverine -> YES but short cropped

Why are so few hypermasculine superheroes non-bearded?

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24 Answers

LadyMarissa's avatar

Interesting Q!!! I hadn’t noticed so I’ve not really thought about it. My initial thought is that some suit in a top position of the movie decided that women preferred a man without facial hair. I think that there are studies that prove the exact opposite. With Wolverine, they gave him just enough hair to make him look menacing instead of so freaking sexxxy!!!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Gillette. razors backed them . . . .

Jaxk's avatar

Most of the comic book generation (50s & 60s) were clean shaven with short hair. That’s how their heroes were depicted.

filmfann's avatar

Iron man? Bearded
Dr Strange? Bearded
Thor, Wolverine, Star Lord, Captain America? Sometimes.

smudges's avatar

So they can display their chiselled jaws.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

^^and chin dimples (cleft chins).

cookieman's avatar

Some are. @filmfann has some. But, from your list…

Blank Panther – Goatee or Beard
Aquaman – Sometimes Beard
Daredevil – LOTS of stubble
Iron Man — Goatee or Beard
Wolverine — Mutton Chops and Stubble

Green Arrow – Beard
Reed Richards – Sometimes Beard

MrGrimm888's avatar

As an artist, I would opine that repeatedly having to draw the same image sometimes results in simplification.
A great example, would be Mickey Mouse. Especially in the early days of animation, a “cell” was drawn, for each frame of a cartoon.
If Mickey had 4 fingers, it would have been more time consuming to produce cartoons.
The Simpsons filled suit, SouthPark is done with a animation computer with simple images.
A clean shaved man, would be easier to draw, without any facial hair.

We see simplification often, like capes. Another thing, that isn’t a coincidence is that capes can cover a large area.

Sunglasses, or a mask, is easier than detailing eyes.
Hats, Headwear, or a braided/simpler hairstyle also can help.

These things are done for mainly one of two reasons;
The artist has trouble with certain things, like hands, or eyes, so they are covered or out of frame.
And like I said, it’s less time consuming, especially in the animation world. Which is practically dead now. Replaced by CGI. The images typically used in CGI, use some of the same tricks, to cover or cut corners, but can really add lots of detail now.

But think about it.

Find an image of Batman.
A nice clean one, from like an old cartoon.
Just the bust, will be needed to “illustrate” my point.

Once you’ve found the image, draw it 9 times, about the same, on a sheet of paper.

Do the same, with a different character, like Wolverine with the 5 o’clock shadow and sideburns. Again, just the bust.
Draw his likeness 9 times in another sheet of paper.
You will notice early on, that you are still poking in facial hair on your first image, when if it were Batman like before, you may be on the 3rd or 4th image.

Homer Simpson is an example, inside an example. As his facial hair (always 5 o’clock shadow,) is represented by just a solid color, with no detail.
Sane with Bart and Lisa’s hair.
Simplification, for production sake, is a factor.

Plus. Earlier heroes, only masked their eyes.
So their identity would be in jeopardy if they have unique facial hair.

I have a big beard. If I were going to rob a bank, I would dam sure cover my beard somehow.

It’s worth noting, that most characters did not have body hair, either.

When Seth McFarlane drew arm hair, he did just simple lines on his character’s forearms, and did address facial hair.

Kropotkin's avatar

The era they were created in were when beards were unfashionable.

Beards went out of fashion because during the two wars the wearing of gas masks was sometimes needed among male soldiers, and for the masks to create a more effective seal the soldiers had to be clean shaven.

JLeslie's avatar

Partly because of the norm when the comics were written I would think. Men were mostly expected to be clean shaven at work, and Superman was a reporter and I don’t remember what Spiderman did, wasn’t he a teenager in school when the comic begins? Batman is wealthy in a big city, they are typically clean shaven. Captain America is a soldier, soldiers usually are clean shaven, it’s basically part of their uniform, except while in the trenches with no easy access to being able to shave, but they still often do shave even in combat zones.

Fun fact: all of the above were originally written by Jewish men. Maybe that’s another reason. Wanting the characters to fit in with the main stream American expectation at the time. I don’t know if the creators were immigrants to the US or their parents.

seawulf575's avatar

It just wouldn’t feel the same if you got rescued by ZZ Top as opposed to Fabio.

seawulf575's avatar

Or possibly: drawing the characters is easier without having to add a beard. And those in masks present another problem altogether. Can you imagine Iron Man’s beard getting caught in his armor/mask? How about Spiderman cramming a ZZ Top beard into his mask? What would THAT look like? What would Batman look like if he had his cowl covering his head and something that looks like a dead squirrel sticking out? You’d lose credibility immediately…go from ominous and dangerous looking to just looking goofy.

ragingloli's avatar

They are supposed to be paragons of virtue, and beards signify uncouthness, barbaric ess, roughness, uncivility.
Captain colonies for example only wore a beard when he went rogue. Thor is a warrior. Tony Stark is a man of questionable morals.
It is similar to Greek statues only having tiny penises, because big fat c*cks were associated with barbarians.

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seawulf575's avatar

The one “superhero” I could never understand having no facial hair was Tarzan. He lived in a jungle, raised by apes. Facial hair would have come with the territory.

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Blackberry's avatar

Just like police and military….certain jobs require clean shaven, non drug users. It goes into the image of being a stand up citizen that always stands for what’s right.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Blackberry I must admit that I don’t get the association.

What’s the logical connection between having no facial hair and being an upstanding citizen on the side of what’s right?

Is there some strong correlation between beards and anti-social behaviour that I’ve not heard of?

Blackberry's avatar

It’s probably from old stereotypes. For example, skaters being unkempt and causing a ruckus, but a clean shaven man wearing khakis with his shirt tucked in is a “straight laced” citizen that follows the rules etc.

Or think about a “corporate” guy waking at 5am everyday to workout, shave and shower then grab his briefcase, versus a college kid that wakes up, eats cold pizza and grabs his books.

It’s just old stereotypes about what a clean shaven man does versus a man that doesn’t.

Kropotkin's avatar

So psychopaths like what Bale played in American Psycho.

seawulf575's avatar

@Blackberry When I was in the Navy, we were allowed to have facial hair. Most guys didn’t because we also had to wear SCBA masks. It was part of training we had to pass. If you have facial hair you can’t get a good seal. But I knew a few guys that had beards that they kept trimmed to still allow the seal. Just seemed like an awful lot of work to me. Easier to shave.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes I was gonna use the gas mask example as well but forgot to type it.

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