The trailers for the upcoming Man of Steel pose plenty of questions about Superman’s long-awaited return to the big screen: Did Pa Kent really just say that it might have been better if Clark had let those kids die? Are the Kryptonians invading in those giant machines? Does Lois get to call him Superman at all? But one question looms over all others: What is Superman doing with a beard in some scenes?
We know that he loses the beard before too long — we see him in the Superman costume clean-shaven, after all. But that presents yet another question: How does a man who is invulnerable actually shave? Wouldn’t his facial hair be as invulnerable as the rest of him? To answer that question, Gillette has turned to a team of experts for their analysis with a video series, launching today, called How Does He Shave?
Among the experts offering their theories will be Kevin Smith, Mayim Bialik (A real-life neuroscientist as well as regular on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory) and Bill Nye, self-proclaimed science guy. The series launches, however, with the MythBusters team of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who talked to Wired about analyzing the Man of Steel’s personal grooming routine.
“We ponder the impossible all the time, but on the show we only really deal with the probable/improbable, said Savage. “The mythology of superheroes and the physics involved are a whole ‘nother thing, and they’re a fun category to let your imagination run wild.”
Or, as it turns out, kind of wild. “Superman, while he is fictional, is pretty mainstream,” Hyneman pointed out, and Savage agreed: “We all instinctively understand the ground rules, and thus when we fly far from our current reality in ideating what might or might not be possible in this alternate universe in which Kal-El exists, we have a verbal shorthand with the public already in place. It makes it like a license to fly far from reality, while still hewing to much of what we already know — the way comic books do.”
As it turns out, comic books have already tried to answer the question of Superman’s shaving techniques, with a 1980s issue of Superman suggesting that heat vision and a mirror does the trick. “The heat vision and mirror is pretty much the first thing that everyone comes up with for Superman’s shaving,” Savage said. “That and Kryptonite shaving cream. Those were our first two as well.”
Although the theories that ended up in the video are somewhat out there, the theories that the duo discarded were even more outrageous. “I had thought that shaving with Occam’s razor would be clever,” Hyneman admitted, “but then that leads to all sorts of philosophical questions that would perhaps be perplexing to someone just interested in having a good shave.” According to Savage, that was far from Hyneman’s only unexpected solution. “Jamie was thinking that perhaps he might fly back in time to when he didn’t have a beard but that solution is fraught with paradoxical contradictions,” he explained. “Can’t have Superman fighting General Zod as a mid-pubescent teen who’s all powerful. That would be weird.”
As weird as the suggestions that did make the cut? Judge for yourself — Jamie and Adam’s video is below:
Theories from Nye, Smith and Bialik are already available at HowDoesHeShave.com, where you can also vote for your favorite theories so far, or even share your own. Considering everything that Superman does for us, helping him stay clean-shaven really seems like the least we could do, doesn’t it?