WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Mission: Impossible — Fallout, in theaters now.
When the extensive reshoots for Justice League overlapped with the filming of Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, no one could have predicted the drama, and expense, that would arise from Henry Cavill's mustache. The actor grew facial hair for director Christopher McQuarrie's film, which meant Warner Bros.was forced to digitally remove the offending mustache from Superman's additional scenes. But what began as jokes by Cavill and his Justice League co-stars grew into ridicule with the release of the finished product, which was distracting, to say the least. It may make everyone involved (including the audience), wonder whether it was all worth it.
Watching Cavill's performance as the sinister CIA agent August Walker in Fallout, we have to say it wasn't. The "despotic 'stache," as Cavill once called it, was hardly integral to the role.
Ironically, Cavill was the one who pitched the look to McQuarrie as a stylistic choice, as he wanted to seem more intimidating. That said, facial hair doesn't necessarily make anyone really look villainous. No one says that Jason Momoa's Aquaman looks evil, right? At the end of the day, Cavill's Walker is an American double agent, working for the terrorist group known as the Apostles. But they're secret agents, so they should want to be better disguised, so as to not draw suspicion.
Had Paramount Pictures permitted Cavill to shave, it actually would have worked better for Fallout's plot, where he's trying to blend into Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) group to recover his war leader, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). There were quite a few instances in Fallout where Walker had to divert attention away from himself and appearing more clean-shaven could have helped build the deception as he would have come off as a baby face.
Instead, the 'stache sold him out as someone waiting to stab Hunt in the back. It's not like Cavill's character is a Middle-Eastern terrorist or say, Hitler, where facial hair builds a sinister look and could be considered an ironic trait. Even when Walker was revealed to be a traitor, he could have changed his look, and it wouldn't have mattered to the script.
When Warner Bros. engaged Paramount to discuss a solution for reshoots, shaving and wearing a fake mustache to finish Fallout's filming was simply out of the question. Due to the physical nature of Cavill's role, all of the stunts involved, and also, the facial prop would have had to defy physics, seeing as Cavill would be in several shots experiencing high-speed winds.
To his defense, McQuarrie tried to help Justice League because when Cavill went for reshoots, he entertained the prospect of his actor shaving. Warner Bros. even offered to pay for any CGI needed to digitally re-add the facial hair (rumored to be around $3 million), but Paramount was against it, as the studio wanted to meet Fallout's scheduled July 2018 release date and couldn't afford any potential delays in post-production.
Given that Warner Bros. also couldn't shift its November 2017 release date for Justice League, the clashing calendars made things seemingly impossible. The only other option was for Cavill to finish Mission: Impossible without facial hair, or at least, with it growing back, something Paramount apparently wouldn't entertain.
In retrospect, that would have been the best move, because everyone would have been a winner. Justice League would have gotten an Upper-Lip of Steel that wasn't a visual disaster, and Fallout would have still had its scary brawler of a villain whose mustache had no bearing on McQuarrie's narrative.
Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt, joined by returning co-stars Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell, and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, along with franchise newcomers Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett and Vanessa Kirby. Also starring Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Sian Brooke and Frederick Schmidt, director Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout is in theaters nationwide.