Avengers: Endgame is finally upon us, the grand culmination of 11 years of Marvel moviemaking. It’s had us at io9 looking back at over a decade of memories, epic moments, the path that led us to this very climax. But forget all that: It also has us thinking about Marvel’s Mightiest Mustaches. And beards. And facial hair in general.
Yes, the bushier qualities of the heroes and villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have long been the topic of debate—both among fans and even in the films themselves. As the stakes have gotten higher, the men of the Marvel world have gotten beardier. So to celebrate, we’ve looked back at the most notable and iconic facial follicles from the Marvel multiverse, and ranked them by their glorious quality. Enjoy!
25) Peter Quill
Full disclosure: I, the writer of this here blog about about facial hair, cannot grow it to save my life. It’s a patchy, shameful mess. It doesn’t connect up, it’s thin and sparse. It’s just overall a bad situation, my friends. So I go beardless. I hate it. It’s my most consistent shame.
All that said, I’d rather live this life than have Peter Quill’s facial hair.
24) Rocket Raccoon
This is more of an honorary mention than it is an actual ranking, because technically, I guess, Rocket is 100 per cent beard. He is a sentient, talking pile of fur. I mainly wanted to rank Peter Quill behind him just to further express my disgust, so here we are.
23) Ivan Vanko
22) Tony Stark
Tony Stark is a genius. He’s a billionaire. He’s also clearly someone who preens in front of a mirror for way too long every morning to create this consistently weird-looking goatee sitch. You’d think with all that time, money, and smarts, it’d end up looking better.
21) Howard Stark
Like father, like son—but at least Howard, regardless of age, knows to stick to a classic mustache instead of mucking about like Tony does.
20) Ulysses Klaue
Points added for bushiness, points immediately taken away for the lack of a connecting mustache. It just looks wrong.
19) Bucky Barnes
Oh Bucky, I know you’ve been through a lot—a lot—but this is just “didn’t shave for a few weeks lol” tomfoolery. It’s patchy. It’s scruffy, but not in a hot way. Also, how does facial hair grow during cryosleep, or was this growth while he was out in those Wakandan fields feeling sorry for himself?
18) Stephen Strange
Iiiiiiiiit’s... fine? It’s fine. It’s a decent take on Stephen’s iconic comic book goatee. Competent, if just a bit boring. Where’s the extravagance, sorcerer supreme?
17) Obadiah Stane
The OG villain beard of the MCU! Bushy, but not unkempt, and pulling off a full beard with a clean-shaved head really creates a great contrast.
Dangerously straying into patchy territory around the outer parts, but an otherwise fine bit of follicle action here. Okoye should probably convince him to buzz it down to just the goatee though. For Wakanda? Without question.
15) Stan Lee’s Various Cameos
OK, so it’s also not a full beard, but excuse you if you think Lee’s iconic mustache has no place on this list. Technically the most present facial hair of the MCU, really.
14) Dum Dum Dugan
Bold—bold—work here from Mister Dugan. Once again, not a full beard, sure, but it’s a standout showoff bit of facial hair. A centrepiece ‘tache, if you will.
A solid beard. Good textural variety between the lip sections and the bushier base. Lovely two-tone effect with that dash of grey. Blends well with his ceremonial makeup, too.
12) Sam Wilson
Technically, it’s hard to fault Sam’s meticulously tapered chinstrap. But there is such a thing as too perfect, and when it means tapering to the point of nonexistence? You’re playing with fire, Sam Wilson. Although he let it grow out a bit for Infinity War, which was nice.
Both old and young T’Chaka have great beard game, but I think his younger self edges out. A good, strong beard, plus, unlike W’Kabi, he apparently knew when to give up the full beard and just go straight to goatee.
10) Henry ‘Hank’ Pym
This is a good, full goatee—thick, but the right amount of unkempt that says “look at me, I’m a maverick genius scientist who’s spent one too many late nights in the lab” without straying too far into “those one too many late nights mean I no longer care what my beard looks like” territory.
A regal beard, fit for a king. Strong, defined lines, great texture—let down a little by the top half, but made up for with a strong, rugged base.
There’s a reason we say “By Odin’s Beard!”, right? The Allfather’s glorious mane is like Santa Claus on spacegod steroids. Big, bold, and beautiful.
Turns out the MCU can do old guy beards pretty well! This is in many ways similar to Odin’s beard, but what Ego’s may lack in terms of sheer size in comparison to the Allfather he more than makes up for in structure and bushy texture. This is a classic, full-bodied beard, and one that blends into the hair of Ego’s chosen form pretty nicely to boot. Also? Kind of a better Santa look than Kurt Russell had when he actually played Santa.
Honestly rude that this spent so much of the MCU being hidden away by that helmet—admittedly, it framed it rather spectacularly. Heimdall’s had it both ways over the years, offering both his well-maintained beard as well as the more rugged aesthetic (yet never too rugged) grown out beard seen when he goes on the run from Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.
5) Nick Fury
Frankly, how dare Steven Strange think he can walk in as a pretender to the MCU Goatee throne when Nick Fury’s been here since the start. In a universe that loves itself a goatee, Nick’s is still the one to beat.
4) Erik Killmonger
I’ve knocked prior beards on this list where they don’t quite connect up the lip hair and the chin hair, but at least Killmonger’s delicately-trimmed beard doesn’t just leave a patchy trail between them—the sharp, defined break instead works incredibly well, a risk that pays off.
Rugged. Full-featured, but not unkempt. Immaculately sculpted, with a gloriously thick texture contrasted with the boxy, sharp lines. Am I talking about M’Baku’s beard any more, or just M’Baku? Who can say, friends.
Who. Can. Say.
2) Steve Rogers
Oh, the beard that launched a thousand incredibly dirty thoughts the minute it stepped out of the shadows in Infinity War’s first trailer. Majestic. Triumphant. Rich and full-bodied, like a fine wine. This is well-groomed, facial-hair-as-character-development action. Captain America the boy scout was gone—he’d fought with one of his closest friends, he’d had to put one of his others on ice. He’d been on the run secretly avenging things. This is Captain America the man. A lion amongst goateed cubs.
The only reason it’s not number one? They made him shave it off for Endgame. Perhaps the worst mistake that entire film could possibly make, and whoever decided that should feel terrible about themselves.
And so thanks to Endgame’s fatal misjudgment of Steve Rogers, we fall to the best beard of the MCU, attached to the Odinson himself. Thor’s beard has been through a hell of a journey since whatever the hell that fake-looking mess was in the first Thor to its true apex when paired with the excellent Ragnarok haircut, blending in with the shorter locks to create a new, iconic look for Thor. It’s been well-groomed, it’s been unkempt, but rarely not glorious. God of Thunder? More like goddamn of Thunder.
[Editor’s Note: As of publication, James had not yet seen Endgame. Please do not spoil it for him, or other fans, in the comments. We’ve got a spoiler thread for that! - Jill P.]