To help him keep a striking profile, Batman typically keeps a clean-shaven face so as not to distract from the power of his iconic mask. However, every once in a while, he's pushed to the absolute edge by crime and threats, and he sometimes forgets to do little things like shaving. On the handful of occasions he's grown a beard, it's usually a sign that things have gotten difficult for the character, or that he's gone through a serious shift in character.
On the Arrowverse's upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, legendary Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy will finally portray Bruce Wayne in live-action, and recent pictures suggest that his older take on the Dark Knight's alter ego will sport a short beard. Before that version of Wayne officially makes his debut, we're taking a look back at some of the most memorable times Batman has had a beard in comics and film, and why he grew his hair out.
Batman has occasionally had stubble in stories, but one of the earliest instances of Bruce Wayne growing a full-blown beard came in Batman: Venom. The story happens across five issues of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. The story, by Dennis O'Neil, Trevor Von Eeden, Russell Braun and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, introduced the concept of the strength-nicreasing drug Venom. After failing to save a child's life, Batman decides he needs an additional edge in his battle against crime. To that end, he starts taking the drug to enhance his body.
However, the drug proves incredibly addictive, leading Bruce to develop a dependency for the pills. When the producers of the drug begin to try and blackmail him, Batman decides that he has to get over his dependency for the drug. Bruce detoxes by locking himself into the Bat-Cave for a month and going cold turkey. By the time Alfred eventually lets him out of the cave, Bruce has kicked the habit and grown a genuinely massive beard in the process.
The Return of Bruce Wayne
Following the events of Final Crisis, Bruce Wayne was sent spiraling through the time stream by Darkseid. He was sent across various periods, taking on new lives with each time period. In many of the periods, Bruce is shown having at least stubble if not a full beard. His first stop is in ancient times. With a developing beard, he works alongside a group of cavemen to fight Vandal Savage. One of his next trips sends him into the American old west, where he ends up fighting against Savage once again. He has a good deal of stubble in this period as well.
The most impressive beard in the miniseries, however, doesn't actually appear in the story. Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3, by Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette and Michael Lacombe, centers on a group of pirates led by Blackbeard as they approach the beaches of the future Gotham. Although the Bruce of this time period doesn't have a beard in the actual issue, the cover by Andy Kubert instead creates a pirate captain version Batman who has a braided and thick beard. While it may not appear in the issue itself, the majesty of the beard alone is worth mentioning.
After "Endgame," Batman and the Joker were believed dead by the world. This led to 2015's "Super-Heavy" by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, where Jim Gordon assumes the mantle of Batman by using a large robotic suit. During the story, it's revealed that Bruce Wayne actually survived the final battle thanks to the pool of Dionesium found by the Joker in the Batcave. However, the substance also wiped Bruce's memory, destroying the traumas that helped create Batman.
Bruce lives a pleasant and uneventful life with Julie Madison, who works at a center to help the children of Gotham. The calm Bruce keeps a well-grown and trimmed beard, having a happy respite from his typical commitment to his mission towards justice. Unlike many of his other stress-related bears, the cleanness of the beard is proof of his calmness in life. But after he has his mind restored thanks to the Final Invention, Bruce shaves off the beard as a sign of leaving that phase of his life behind.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Initially based on the fighting video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, the comics world was developed in a number of different series. In a world where the Joker turned his attention to Superman and led to the deaths of Lois Lane and Superman's unborn baby, Superman put his fist through the criminal clown's chest. This led to an extended civil war between the heroes of Earth. Some heroes allied with a corrupted and tyrannical Superman as he took over the world, and the others joined Batman's insurgency, trying to prevent the spread of his influence.
Injustice: Year Four by Brian Buccellato, Bruno Redondo, Juan Albarran, and Rex Lokus features a brief time of peace for Superman's empire. Following a massive battle with Trigon, the Insurgency has been broken. Batman is in hiding, seemingly not in contact with many of his allies. Spending all of his time out of costume, Bruce has developed a full beard. But following the death of Renee Montoya, Bruce shaves it and begins recruiting a larger force to work with him to bring down Superman's forces.
Batman has also worn a beard outside of comics, notably in the first act of 2005's Batman Begins. Starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, the film spends much of the early sections of the film focusing on Bruce's state of mind and training to become Batman. This includes a trip around the world, where he learns more about the criminal element by living with them. During this period, he grows a dirty and scruffy beard.
Bruce ends up in a Chinese prison, regularly fighting against the other inmates in the muddy grounds. His beard is grimy as a result. He has it when Ra's al Ghul sneaks into the prison to speak with him. Once he's released, he treks up to the home of the League of Shadows. Once there, he shaves the beard and remains clean-shaven for the rest of the film. By the time of Dark Knight Rises , however, he's grown a stringy beard to coincide with his self-imposed exile. He shaves it when he resumes his role as Batman.
Batman's beard has become synonymous with Bruce reaching a dark personal place before he can return to being Batman, something the films have played with across various series. The most recent cinematic incarnation of Batman was played by Ben Affleck. By the events of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, this version of Bruce Wayne has not been Batman in years. In his time away from the role, he's grown a fair amount of stubble. He keeps it for his initial preparations against Superman, but decides to shave it all off by the time he dons the cowl once more.
This keeps with the tradition of Batman shaving before he puts his mask back on. The pattern even repeats just a film later by the time of Justice League. Despondent after the loss of Superman in the previous film, Wayne has grown a full beard. He has it as he recruits the various other heroes for the superhero team to protect the Earth. But, like the previous films about the character, he shaves the beard when he finally decides to come out of retirement.