More often than not, pop culture fans tend to fancy dress as fictional people or historical figures that they think they look like or at least, could easily resemble come convention season. But sometimes, half of the fun of cosplay is how imaginative you can get with it. With that in mind, who’s to say that women can’t dress up as male characters and men aren’t allowed to channel more female figures? Well fortunately, attitudes towards such things are much more free nowadays, and more and more entertainers are creating impressive gender-bending looks inspired by comic books, movies and video games.
Nevertheless, it takes a particularly inventive individual to interpret a costume of the opposite sex and thanks to social media, it’s not so hard for the costume makers that do take the plunge to share their creations around their world. To celebrate the creativity that’s out there, we’ve scoured the internet and chosen our 15 favorite genderswapped cosplays that consist of ladies dressing up as Hellboy or Doctor Strange and dudes disguising themselves as Harley Quinn or Spider-Gwen. If we’ve missed any great ones though — (the web is a big ol’ space after all) — we’ll be sure to mention them next time!
15. HELLBOY – GABRIELLE
Move over, David Harbour! We have another idea as to who could be a great Hellboy in the upcoming movie reboot… Australian cosplayer Gabrielle. For her costume, she painted her whole body red, dressed in a black tank top and cargo pants and sand-colored leather duster coat, making sure not to forget those iconic sawed-off horns and Right Hand of Doom.
We particularly love the way Gabrielle embodied the character in her photo shoot with Lorenzo So Photography; images that saw her sitting on the curb with a cigar half-hanging out of her mouth. While she usually sticks to female characters such as Maleficent, Harley Quinn and Jessica Rabbit, Hellboy isn’t the only “guy” Gabrielle has cosplayed as either. On her DeviantArt page, you can see she’s also transformed into Garth from Wayne’s World in the past.
14. LOKI – MISCHIEVOUS JANE
Self-confessed geek Jane is no stranger to cosplaying as male characters. You only have to look at her Instagram page to see that she’s transformed herself into The Hobbit‘s Tranduil, Harry Potter‘s Draco Malfoy, The Force Awakens‘ General Hux and Sherlock‘s Moriarty. But our favorite has got to be Loki because of her insane likeness to Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character and her attention to detail.
With her slicked-back black hair, high cheekbones and stand-offish expression, she looks exactly like the MCU trickster in the photos taken by Reflektierte Wahrheit at Poland’s FotoCon 2017. Just because she resembles the actor that plays Loki, Jane’s cosplay is not easy to achieve, mind you. She handcrafts all of her costumes herself, putting in hours and hours of work before debuting each look. Now THAT’S dedication!
13. DOCTOR STRANGE – KAY PIKE
With 281,000 followers on Instagram, and even more on her Facebook page, Kay Pike is pretty well-known within the cosplaying community, which is no surprise given her unique style. All of her cosplay is done entirely with body paint, as she transforms her whole body into characters as diverse as Iron Man, Thanos, Superman and Skeletor. And those are just some of the mind-blowing looks she’s created over the years.
Of her more recent ones, we’d have to say Doctor Strange was our favorite due to how much detail she included. She painstakingly painted each and every crease in her make-believe shirt, the shimmers of the Eye of Agamotto on her chest and each wrinkle on her face. She even made a high-collared cape and painted her hair black and gray too.
12. THOR – ALEX WAR
While superhero fans will know that there has been a female version of Marvel hero Thor within the comics, Canadian cosplayer Alex War choose to look like Chris Hemsworth’s edition from the MCU and that deserves respect. In photos taken by Soulfire Photography, she can be seen wearing the Asgardian God’s battle gear, complete with red cape and body armor, while wielding a replica of his hammer, Mjolnir. Our favorite part though? It’s got to be the authentic-looking blonde wig and stubble. Both finish the whole costume off perfectly.
Thor is certainly not the only male figure that Alex has dressed up as either. In the past, she has brought Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk, Beyblade’s Tyson Granger, and characters from Dragon Ball Z to life too.
11. CAPTAIN AMERICAN AND WINTER SOLDIER – CARLY AND EMMA
Cosplaying duo Carly and Emma — also known as Carma on social media — regularly dress up as paired characters such as Green Arrow and Black Canary, or as Frozen‘s Elsa and Anna. But one of their standout collaborations has got to be Captain America and Winter Soldier which is so great, it could even be from the Avengers‘ movies themselves.
Their photo shoot — done by the talented Jason DeSomer — highlights their awesome costumes, with Emma’s Winter Soldier looking menacing with her metallic-looking arm and bloodied face and Carly channeling Cap’s stoicism perfectly. What’s so great about their version of the Marvel characters though, is that they’re not trying to look exactly like the male versions but rather interpret them so they appear more female. Genius.
10. HARLEY QUINN – CAPTAIN CODY
It’s certainly not just the women who dress up as men that deserve to get some recognition on this list. If anything, it’s slightly more difficult for a guy to become a female character due to obvious issues such as existing costumes being too small or unaccommodating for a man’s build. Because of that, dudes who want to cosplay as women need to be a little more innovative and that’s exactly what cosplayer Cody did with his male-spun Harley Quinn and a look lifted straight out of Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad movie.
In an image snapped by Captain Puerto Rico, Cody can be seen wearing a Puddin’ choker and a slogan man’s fit tee that reads: “Mommy’s Lil Monster.” In the film, Margot Robbie’s version wears a T-shirt that has “Daddy’s Lil Monster” on it, so he’s even gender-bent the costume to brilliant effect.
9. DEADPOOL – SHIV
With his head-to-toe costume, you’d think Deadpool would be one of the easiest cosplays. Fans can just buy ready-made suits, put them on and be good to go. Some fans like to challenge themselves by dressing as an unmasked Deadpool, which sees them attempting to recreate his disfigured face. Australian model and cosplayer Shiv was one of those fans and the result was amazing.
Surprisingly, Deadpool was Shiv’s first ever cosplay and the reason why her account is so popular today. Recently, she reminisced about her earlier days alongside an image of her as Wade Wilson, saying: “Happy 3 year cosplay anniversary world. How far we’ve come and how quickly this snuck up on me (shh. I didn’t forget). This day 3 years ago exactly I put on my first outfit, which immediately went viral and sparked the coolest things I’ve ever seen happen for me.”
8. ASH – LEEANNA VAMP
Not all cosplayers get their inspiration from comics, video games or movies based on them. Sometimes, cosplays look to cult corners of pop culture to find who they want to dress up as. Looks like self-proclaimed Queen of the Nerds and producer LeeAnna Vamp did just that when she transformed into Ash Williams, Bruce Campbell’s axe-wielding character from Sam Raimi’s horror comedy film Army of Darkness.
The movie is the third instalment in the Evil Dead franchise and follows on from Evil Dead II, as the time-travelling Ash continues to battle the undead in his quest to return to present day. We love the feminine spin LeAnna put on the character, evidenced in the photo by John Kim that she posted on Instagram. She swapped out Ash’s blue long-sleeved shirt for a low-cut version and completed the look with leather shorts and high-heeled boots.
7. KING ELSA – DANIELE
Cosplayer Daniele from Italy proves that men can cosplay just as good by showing off his striking interpretation of Elsa from the Disney animated film Frozen on his DeviantArt page and boy, is his finished look is fierce. Calling his take on the character “King Elsa”, Daniele wears a light blue zip-up overcoat, embellished with jewels around the collar and midriff, and white arm warmers.
In Neko Hiba’s photo shoot, Daniele has been edited to create the illusion that he’s making ice particles with his hands too, which adds to the effectiveness of his costume. The best thing about his Elsa look though? His attitude. You can tell from the images that he’s fully-embodying the character and feels powerful in himself. Cosplay that also makes you feel good? There’s no better kind!
6. NIGHTWING – LINDA LE
Ever since the news broke that The Lego Batman Movie‘s Chris McKay is set to helm a movie all about DC Comics’ Nightwing, the character has seemed to have been on everyone’s mind and has therefore been the inspiration behind many cosplay looks during convention season this year. It’s no wonder then that in June 2017, a cosplayer known as VampyBitMe online dressed as the Dick Grayson figure to attend Johannesburg’s ICON Games and Comics Convention.
Interestingly, Nightwing is one of the only male characters that VampyBitMe has chosen to dress up throughout her life as a cosplayer. In the past, she has seemed to opt for more feminine looks, embodying characters such as Marvel’s Black Cat, D.Va from Overwatch, Underworld‘s Selene and Major from Ghost in the Shell.
5. SPIDER-MAN – SAYLUM
Okay, so it doesn’t take much to become Spider-Man given that his costume is basically a glorified onesie, but what we love most about Saylum’s version is how feminine she makes the typically boyish character look. Instead of posing with that iconic crouch, a battle pose or just a leap into the air, she laid down on the floor for photographer James’ shoot, spread her hair and looked pretty soft as the red-and-blue web slinger.
When she’s not dressing as a slinky Spider-Man, Saylum has recreated looks for characters such as Lara Croft, Final Fantasy‘s Gladiolus, Princess Mononoke and a steampunk-inspired Sith. She regularly attends conventions all over California and encourages her many followers on Instagram to introduce themselves and “say hi” if ever they see her.
4. AQUAMAN – SIMONE CLEARY
There’s nothing we love more than women being brave enough to don full facial hair in the name of creative cosplay, so when we stumbled on Simone Cleary‘s take on Aquaman, we couldn’t help but be impressed. As part of the gender-bending Express Yourself Transform contest, run by bodypainter Crystal in celebration of her hitting 4,000 followers, Cleary became Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, complete with beard, scarred bushy eyebrows and stony-faced expression.
What’s so brilliant about Cleary’s creations is that they are almost all exclusively done with just make-up and body paint. In the past, she’s even decorated her chest like armor (when she cosplayed as Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow), a Hogwarts uniform (when she channeled Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger) and a laced red dress (when she became Lydia Deetz from the Tim Burton movie Beetlejuice).
3. HAN SOLO – NICOLE MARIE JEAN
Star Wars‘ Han Solo is a relatively easy character to dress up as, which makes him the perfect person for both men and women to transform into whenever they need a no-fuss costume. All you need is an off-white shirt, a utility vest and blue trousers to complete the look.
So we loved that San Diego-based cosplayer Nicole Marie Jean double-billed her simple Solo look with a Princess Leia outfit in honor of Star Wars’ Force Friday recently. The cool thing about Jean’s costume though, is that she didn’t make her Solo look like a man. Instead, she unbuttoned her shirt to show off a bit and tucked her tight trousers into some black knee high boots to complete her womanly take on the scruffy-looking nerf herder.
2. SPIDER-GWEN – REALTDRAGON
When he’s not cosplaying as his favorites The Flash, Raiden from Metal Gear Solid or Spider-Man, Youtuber, filmmaker and self-confessed “web head” Thien Vuong isn’t afraid to bring a more womanly character to life. Back in 2016, Vuong — known to his fans as RealTDragon — took to Instagram to share his photographs from Dallas Comic Con; an event which he attended as Spider-Gwen.
Unlike in the comics, Vuong’s suit does look more red than pink, given it a slightly more manly look but still, we can’t help but dig that he’s so into Spidey, that he’s as passionate about dressing up as the Friendly Neighborhood hero’s former lover just as much as him! He even named his version of the character Spider-Glenn… what’s not to like?
1. THE JOKER – CHRISTINA DARK
Some of the best cosplays are the ones that flip a character’s gender on its head, and create a more “boyish” or “more girly” version. That’s exactly what actor and model Christina Dark did, with her take on Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad.
In a eye-catching photoshoot by V Bencomo, Dark drew the same tattoos on her arms, chest and face that Leto has in the film and colored her hair green, but instead of a white shirt or a crocodile-skin coat, she wore a skimpy white dress and purple fur coat. She completed the look with gold chains around her neck, grills covering her teeth and a cane. Alongside an image of herself in the costume on Instagram, she revealed that “bad and boujee” was her theme… Looks like she nailed it!
Which of these genderswapped cosplays is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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