Warning: SPOILERS for Action Comics #1009
The world may be trying to forget Henry Cavill's Justice League mustache, but the comics books have found a better solution. The bearded Superman actor isn't something to forget--he's just become DC Comics canon, in the strangest way possible.
The jury of Superman fans will likely remain split for years to come. For some (including his director) Cavill is the best Superman since Christopher Reeve. For others, the studio can't move past Cavill's incarnation of Superman or the now confirmed Snyder Cut of Justice League fast enough. But at least the talented storytellers of DC's Action Comics can have a sense of humor about Cavill's indelible mark on the Man of Steel.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Steve Epting may never outright confirm it, but their shift from superheroics to the undercover spy game seems to be taking some clear inspiration from Henry Cavill directly. The current world of DC's covert organizations and government agencies is in disarray, meaning the mystery can only be solved from inside. It isn't a job for Superman... it's a job for Chaz Donen, the suave, bearded, and English accented super-spy that fans now learnrealize has been one of Superman's aliases all along. See if "Chaz" looks a little familiar:
While the idea of Superman with a beard isn't entirely new for the world of DC Comics, the larger movie/entertainment context is hard to ignore. There have been different kinds of Kryptonite over the years, but no previous hint of any "Kryptonite Technology" that would instantly change Superman's hairstyle and beard length between panels. For her part, Lois Lane is thrilled to see her husband suddenly sprout a thick beard, a head of black curls... and even an English accent, too. The fact that Chaz Donen is an international super spy only compounds the similarities to Henry Cavill.
The fact that Henry Cavill has been suggested for James Bond will make Superman's sudden, secret agent code speak feel like a dream come true. But the reference is buried in the message Superman first sends to his--sorry, Chaz's superiors at Spyral: "Section 971--Code Word: Hamilton Bartholomew Entourage Genosworld. This is Chaz Donen, Agent of Spyral, 4565. Reporting for duty." Spy movie fans will recall that "Hamilton Bartholomew" is the leading role in Charade (1963), from director Stanley Donen. And while it isn't directly linked to the original The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV series--the source for the movie reboot starring Cavill and Armie Hammer--it's born of the same 1960s spy craze all the same.
Whatever the intention, the resulting artwork, dialect, and overlaps between comic and film speak for themselves. From here on out, the image of a bearded Henry Cavill, equal parts English secret agent and Kryptonian superhero isn't just a Hollywood reality... it's the secret identity turned to be Superman when his muscles weren't enough to get the job done. Well played, DC Comics.
Action Comics #1009 is available now from your local comic book store, and directly from DC Comics.