It’s been a long and fruitful decade for pop culture, especially if you’re a lover of genre fiction and handsome men with facial hair. The thirst was real for bearded men in the 2010s, so if you were a fan of fresh-faced fabulousness, our apologies. Now that the 2020s are just around the corner, it’s only right that we take a look back at the beards we spent our sleepless nights thinking about.
Here’s to you, beards of the world.
Chris Evans’s Cap Beard
It’s been over 20 months since we were given the gift of bearded Captain America emerging from the shadows of Edinburgh’s Waverley train station in Avengers: Infinity War and some of us have yet to recover from the experience. There he was, the ultimate boy scout Steve Rogers, the embodiment of hope and all-American good clean living, but now with a rugged facial cover that screamed angsty character development. This was a Steve who was sick of f**king around and we felt that. Sadly, he shaved it off in Endgame, another tragic victim of Thanos’s snap.
John Wick's Killer beard
You know who had a great 2010s? Keanu Reeves. The ageless hero of this decade received a long-overdue and much-deserved resurgence in popularity and pop culture relevance thanks to a few select memes, our desperate need for just ONE unproblematic man, and, of course, John motherf***ing Wick! The assassin on a one-man rampage against the ones who killed his dog stole our hearts thanks to some of the best fight choreography in cinema and world-building so unexpectedly complex that we couldn’t help but be taken in by this labyrinthine bureaucracy of killers and tokens. It seemed only right that Reeves’s Wick had a beard and he wore it so damn well. It’s a beard that means business, much like everything else about John Wick.
Fat Thor's braided beard
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor was no stranger to great facial hair this decade, although that tended to remain the same style throughout various films as the hair on top of his head (dang, that Ragnarok short cut). Fans continue to have mixed feelings on Thor’s evolution in Avengers: Endgame. Was his narrative just an excuse for an endless series of fat jokes or was he the perfect embodiment of grief as entwined with apathy and guilt? Whatever you thought, it was hard to deny that when Thor’s long and giddily Viking beard got braided for style and practicality as he readied himself for battle, we cheered just a little.
Seneca Crane’s Show-Off Capitol Beard
If you’re in the Capitol of Panem and your personal style isn’t ludicrously overdone and kind of impossible to replicate in the real world then you weren’t doing it correctly. Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games, as played by Wes Bentley, didn’t just have a beard: He had artwork on his cheeks. It was the kind of style that you couldn’t help but be impressed by, even though you knew that only the vainest of people could spend all that time putting it together. How the hell do you keep that up? What’s the daily shaving routine like? What happens in Seneca’s hungover and slips with the razor and a big chunk of swirly hair comes off? Nah, he definitely has a poor beleaguered stylist servant doing it for him. Still, respect, purely from an aesthetic point-of-view, and death to the Capitol.
Tormund Giantsbane’s mega ginger beard
Game of Thrones wasn’t short of a great beard or two. If you were a guy in Game of Thrones over the age of 18 and not named Joffrey, then the chances are you had half a face of hair covering your scowl over the fear of the impending Winter. We probably could fill this entire list with A Song of Beards and Fuzz but when push comes to shove we have to give it to our ginger fave Tormund Giantsbane. It was a truly majestic beard, full of secrets and his overwhelming love for Brienne of Tarth (sorry, Jaime fans, but I preferred Tormund and so should you).
M’Baku’s beard, the best in Wakanda
Black Panther was a thirst trap of a movie in so many ways and beards were just the tip of that particular iceberg. Killmonger’s beard and ‘stache combo was sexily villainous while T’Challa’s neatly shorn beard gave him a suitably regal presence. However, we have to give the top honors to M’Baku, as played by Winston Duke. Big beard, big body, big presence, and big love from us all. It’s a beard as immense as he is and we’d happily crane our necks upwards to stare upon its majesty.
Spock’s sullen beard
This decade gave us a new Star Trek TV show to geek out over and nerd panic reached all-new levels when it was revealed that Star Trek: Discovery would include young Spock. When we first meet him, he’s going through some rough times and that’s exemplified by his unexpected beard. How could the ever-so-stoic Spock suddenly have the kind of beard that a teenage boy grows to show how totally done with the world he is? Sullen Spock was a delight for many reasons, and we love how basically everyone on the show read him to filth for his attempt to grow a moody hermit beard. Of course, another icon of sci-fi did it a whole lot better this decade...
Luke Skywalker’s hermit beard (complete with blue milk)
For most of the Star Wars saga, Luke Skywalker is baby-faced and smooth, a reminder of his often youthful petulance as he grows from Tatooine farm boy to regal Jedi. By the time we are fully reintroduced to him in The Last Jedi, he’s gone full crazy cave hermit and, we must say it, Mark Hamill wears it well! Even when it’s dripping with blue milk, it’s a complete look that we admire. If you’re going to exile yourself then you have to commit to that aesthetic and Luke certainly didn’t half-ass it. If he had only known how good he looked with that beard before then he would have gone blue milk exile years ago!
Honorary Mention: Henry Cavill’s majestic mustache
Never has a world mourned a mustache so dramatically as it did when Henry Cavill shaved off the sharp number he had grown for Mission: Impossible – Fallout. There aren’t many men handsome enough to pull off the kind of ‘stache that makes you think someone’s suddenly going to demand pictures of Spider-Man on their desk by noon, but Cavill managed it. Somehow he became even more attractive, something previously thought inhumanely possible. The Cavill ‘stache is also notable for how much damn trouble it caused Warner Bros. Paramount contractually obligated Cavill to keep his mustache, even when Justice League reshoots came a-calling and Clark Kent is one of pop culture's most iconic smooth-faced heroes. Never fear, because VFX stepped in to conceal the stache, but at the cost of making Cavill look like the bad guy from Lazytown. That is why the mustache reigned supreme this decade. Could any beard lay claim to such drama?
Another honorary mention: Paddington’s facial fuzz
Yes, we know this is cheating but come on, which gentleman wore a full face of hair better this past decade than our dear Paddington bear? At a time when pop culture and the world at large became darker and more hopeless, the adorable and ever-so-welcoming fuzzy face of darkest Peru’s most famous bear proved to be the calming salve we all needed. Paddington’s cuddly optimism and belief in a better world brought us light during the darkness, something few beards could claim. Take Paddington’s ethos into the next decade and remember that the fuzziest of faces are often the shining beacon we covet the most.