Steve Rogers shirtless

We Need To Talk About Marvel’s War on Chest Hair

I am a humble servant of the people, and with that, I must bring the knowledge that Marvel and the MCU have a problem, apparently, with chest hair. Never have I stopped to look at the chest hair situation of Marvel before (shocking for me as a person, I know), but suddenly, I realized that it seems as if all our favorite heroes have regular appointments with their waxer.

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For pectoral evidence (get it?), please gaze upon these shirtless comparisons. It seems as if Marvel continually makes the conscious choice to wax the chests of its male stars, and I just have a lot of questions because of all the beauty standards to uphold, why is this the one they make an effort to keep up with? I’d also like to personally apologize to my older brother. I know your fear was me falling in love with muscular superheroes, and I’m just making it worse by talking about their chest hair. My thoughts and prayers to you.

The battle of the shaved-chest Chrises

First, there is Chris Evans. As Johnny Storm over at Fox in their Fantastic Four movies, Evans showed his chest hair as he yelled “flame on,” and there seemed to be no problem.

Chris Evans standing shirtless in a hallway
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

But then, as Peggy Carter lightly taps Steve Rogers’ chest upon Evan’s arrival in Marvel movies, poof! Chest hair is waxed. Who in the 1940s used waxing for men’s chests? It’s also a strange choice because, yes, small and sick Steve Rogers not having chest hair tracks, but wouldn’t the “idea” of a man who is, essentially, a super man, be okay with chest hair? (To be fair, it’s okay either way, but Chris Evans himself has chest hair, so why not just … keep it?)

Chris evans standing shirtless in front of hayley atwell while she tries to touch his chest in captain america: the first avengers
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

You then go to Chris Hemsworth and the reality is that we don’t know whether or not his shaved chest is a personal choice or one asked of him by the Marvel overlords. Hemsworth does, in pictures of himself out and about, seem to have just a shaved chest regularly though so it might be his personal choice but still, there is no chest hair in Asgard apparently.

Shirtless Chris Hemsworth standing in Thor: Ragnarok
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Which then brings us to Chris Pratt. Now as someone who rewatches Parks and Recreation every chance I get, you can see that Pratt has a smattering of chest hair when he’s shirtless on that show. So why then when he is sprayed down and heavily breathing in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie does he suddenly have no chest hair at all to speak of?

Chris Pratt looking angry and standing shirtless
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Bucky Barnes, chest hair wonderer

The one that really got me thinking was Bucky Barnes. If we look at him in Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky has a lot of chest hair when he comes back from Hydra with Steve. It’s peeking out of the top of his shirt as he’s yelling “Let’s hear it for Captain America” and he looks like a right American hero.

Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes ship stucky in Captain America
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

But then, compare that to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I have to ask: Whose job at Hydra was to wax the Winter Soldier?

bucky sitting shirtless as the winter soldier
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Those who didn’t really have chest hair before

Now, there are a few heroes that I could not find sources of chest hair prior to their involvement with the MCU, and some who had a little that is now gone when they’re shirtless on screen—one of which is Robert Downey Jr., who does have chest hair, but it just happens to be exactly where the arc reactor lies.

You can see it in movies like Sherlock Holmes but his little circle of chest hair has been there since his career in the 80s and on. So when it comes to Iron Man, he clearly has a reason there is no chest hair.

robert downey jr and gwenyth paltrow together in the lab in iron man
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

From there, there is both Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, who both have been kind of shirtless in their Marvel careers as well as outside of them, and it doesn’t seem like they have chest hair either way.

killmonger standing shirtless ready to fight
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

We cannot go without pointing out that Tom Holland has been shirtless during his time in the Marvel universe. He has no chest hair but I am 99% sure that is because Tom Holland just cannot grow it. He’s talked about not having facial hair and how he can’t really grow a beard so I don’t think this is part of the MCU’s larger war with the chests.

Peter Parker shirtless standing in shock in Spider-Man far from home
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The rom-com turned Marvel hunks

Surprisingly though, one of the few who actually got to keep his chest hair is Paul Rudd as Scott Lang. Maybe because we were all more concerned with the knowledge that Paul Rudd has a six-pack that none of us were aware of. (At least I certainly wasn’t.)

What we saw in the first Ant-Man movie was Rudd displaying his abs and all of the rom-com girls and comedy nerds were screaming about how right we have always been about Rudd.

Paul Rudd standing shirtless putting on some kind of medicine
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Another man rocking chest hair in the MCU is Mark Ruffalo, and to be fair, I think it was widely known that Mark Ruffalo had chest hair long before he stumbled into our Bruce Banner-loving lives, so to wax him seems like a daunting task.

Mark Ruffalo standing shirtless in the Avengers
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Charlie Cox of it all

If you look at Charlie Cox in other work, you can see his chest is covered in hair. When he was in a Harold Pinter play in 2008, his chest had plenty of hair.

If you rewatch Stardust, you can see his chest hair popping up above his shirt. That was released in 2007. Now, I don’t know what happened between 2007/2008 and when Daredevil was released in 2015, but somewhere in between, Matt Murdock found that having a shaved chest was more aerodynamic.

You can see, in every shirtless shot of Cox as Matt Murdock, his chest is completely shaved. Who made this decision!?

charlie cox laying on a couch hurt in daredevil shirtless

What does the evidence show?

This shows, more than anything, that Marvel is upholding an extremely strange beauty standard for men. I can only speak for myself, but there was never a part of me that hated the idea of chest hair. So, for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to take such a stand for nearly every man they have shirtless? It’s a bit strange. If it were just Steve Rogers or just the bit of Robert Downey Jr.’s actual chest hair shaved (because it’s where the arc reactor is)? Fine, I guess.

But it is almost every man who dares to walk around with muscles out, and I have to know who made this decision, because I have some questions.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.