Henry Cavill's Hairy Chest In Man Of Steel Was A Tribute To A Classic Superman Comic

Henry Cavill is no longer Superman. Despite Cavill confirming his departure from the role almost a month ago via his Instagram, it feels important to get that news out of the way before we get into the reminiscing, and there's plenty to reminisce about! Zack Snyder's DC filmography might rouse divisive opinions to the surface but Cavill's casting meant that a true fan was going to don the cape and crest. Shield? Symbol? The "Big S" thing. It's one of those words. 

Cavill has made a name for himself as an actor dedicated to respecting the source material. That particular trait might have come more to light during his stint with Netflix's "The Witcher" but he clearly carried that same fandom fervor during his tenure with DC. Sure, he didn't have the social power to stop Snyder from axing Superman's bright red undies of justice, but it was plenty to keep another aspect of the character alive. Take a quick trip down memory lane with us, if you will, as we remember why Cavill insisted that Clark Kent stay a hairy dude in "Man of Steel." 

Henry Cavill loves his source material

During a 2013 interview, and as part of the "Man of Steel" press tour, Henry Cavill shared he held a very specific reason for maintaining body hair during his tenure as Superman — not to forgo the arduous task of shaving or waxing (although it would be difficult to blame him if that had somehow factored into the decision process) but rather to feature a little bit more comic accuracy. Specifically, Cavill said:

"It's something which I wanted to do because in the comic book, '[The] Death of Superman,' there's this bit where his costume's ripped, and he's making the ultimate sacrifice, and he's got this hairy chest. And I was like, 'Okay, why is the perception that because he's muscly he must have no body hair?' And I thought, 'Why can't we just do that, like it is in the comic books?' So, we did."

A quick Google confirms that "The Death of Superman," the comic which Cavill is referencing here and the loose inspiration for the ending of Zack Snyder's "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice," is literally bursting with Kryptonian body hair. Good ol' Supes' trademark tights get shredded while he does battle against Doomsday and, wherever the suit falls away, the illustrators drew Clark Kent with the kind of follicle genetics that would make even Gaston froth at the mouth. 

Superman's hairy, hairy history

It would be easy to write off Henry Cavill's decision here, on this comparatively small aspect of Superman's character, as just another instance of his marketable obsession with detail ... but it goes deeper than that. Hilariously deeper. Did you know that there are entire story arcs in the DC comics canon about Clark Kent's hair? Turns out, his hair, along with his nails, are just as indestructible as the rest of him. 

The poor guy literally has to shave his beard and cut his hair with heat vision because nothing else is strong enough to do the job. It even gets his Clark Kent persona in trouble with Lois Lane, who almost stumbled upon his secret identity before he realized that heat vision focused through a reflective surface did the trick. 

Unlike most modern depictions of superheroes, Superman isn't a ken doll. He's a towering, fuzzy farm boy who learned how to dress nice for the big city. From a narrative perspective, it makes zero sense for him to be smoother than Lex Luthor's shiny dome. Sure, he's still designed to be conventionally attractive, just to a different generation. 

Okay, that's probably enough words about Superman's body hair. Suffice it to say that Cavill usually knows what he's doing.