Digitally removing Henry Cavill’s infamous mustache he’s sporting in the Justice League reshoots should not be a very expensive endeavor, though there are other issues at hand. It seems every time a big budget comic book film goes into reshoots, rumors begin swirling that the movie is a disaster and needs a major overhaul. Since Justice League‘s return to the set also includes a change in director, with Joss Whedon (Avengers) taking over for Zack Snyder, both fans and critics of the DCEU have wondered if extensive changes to the film are required.
Aside from the estimated $25 million pricetag for Justice League reshoots, the latest chatter involves an unexpected wrinkle in getting the cast back in front of the camera — Henry Cavill’s inconvenient mustache. Contractually obligated to maintain his facial hair while filming Mission: Impossible 6, the actor is unable to shave for any new scenes as Superman.
This means an extensive amount of digital touch-ups will be required for the final cut of Justice League. In an interview with Business Insider, 3D visual effects expert Dave Fleet described the intricate process of editing out facial hair.
“If we were to remove a beard we would have to digitally re-build the actor’s face behind the hair mass. We would need to build a 3D model of the face and then shade the surface of the skin to look realistic. We would then need to track the 3D model to the movement of his head and potentially re-animate his mouth. The amount of lip animation would depend on how much of the original beard occluded his lips. We would need to paint out the parts of the beard that extend beyond his shaven face.”
To put the volume of work into perspective, Fleet said it would take approximately six weeks to get rid of Cavill’s mustache from a one-minute clip, and a whopping 25 weeks for a five-minute clip. As amusing as the response to the Mustache Issue has been on social media, it’s easy to see how this seemingly minor issue could cause major headaches for the filmmakers — especially considering that the release of Justice League is only a few months away.
The good news for the studio is that if reshoots are as “brief” as the cast reported at San Diego Comic Con, the facial hair editing shouldn’t add too much more to the ever-escalating budget. That’s due to both time and effort being saved by work that’s already been done on such an effects-laden film, with a 3D model of Cavill’s face likely already available for digital touch-ups.
With a possible time crunch and added pressure from a portion of the audience who will be on the lookout for any mustache remnants in Justice League, the effects crew definitely has their work cut out for them. The latest trailerreveals what looks to be an action-packed and visually-stimulating film, however, so hopefully most moviegoers will be too busy enjoying the superhero adventures to notice something that may only be an issue for a tiny portion of screen time.