Along with Deadpool, Batman and Harley Quinn, the Joker is one of the most common faces you’ll see at any Comic Con. Though he’s been a popular choice for cosplayers for a very long time, the release of The Dark Knight seems to have bolstered his appeal to an even wider audience over the last few years, with his introduction into the new DCEU by way of Suicide Squad only serving to secure his place as a favorite among comic book and movie fans alike. But, perhaps one of the other big draws of the Clown Prince of Crime is his constant reinvention through so many mediums, meaning costume-addicts are spoiled for choice.
From a playful clown slapping smiles across fish faces, to a scheming anarchist who just wants to watch the world burn, to a hardened gangster leading Gotham’s underworld, to an unpredictable psychopath with a face that would make Freddy Krueger cower, the Joker has as many variations as he does scars. Sometimes strangely alluring and nearly always pants-wettingly terrifying, these talented cosplayers prove that Batman’s most famous rogue can look just as dynamic (for better or worse) as he does in the pages of a comic book. Brace yourself for eight terrifying Joker cosplays, followed by seven tantalizing ones that might just appeal to your inner freak.
Joker’s new look in Death Of The Family was undoubtedly his most horrific to date and this horribly realistic rendition only serves to prove that. The comic series imagines a Joker whose preoccupation with hiding his real face has grown far beyond a make-up palette, or acidic bleaching, or even facial scarring. No, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Joker wears his actual face as a mask.
This incredible cosplay was created by Cinema Make-Up School, who specialize in bringing the seemingly impossible to life, as well as passing their SFX secrets onto students hoping to make a career for themselves in Hollywood. They’re often seen at conventions showing off their skills with amazing work like this, although something this bloody disgusting could just as well put people off than draw them in.
14. JOKE’S ON YOU
This dramatic image is one of a set that fills in the blanks left tantalizingly open by one particular scene in Batman v Superman. As Bruce does what he does best — broods in a cave — his eyes are drawn to the haunting sight of a graffiti-covered Robin suit. Fans surmised that this had to be a reference to the second Robin’s murder in Death In The Family, the costume a continual reminder of Bruce’s greatest failure.
In this shoot, Crimson Coscrafts (featuring Marcelo de Moraes) brings the DCEU’s version of Jason Todd’s final moments to life at the hands of the Joker with shocking realism. The cinematic quality of the images only enhances the terrifying spectacle of the event as the troubled sidekick fights for, and ultimately loses his life, leaving the Joker to scrawl the punchline to his killing joke for Batman to find.
13. ZOMBIE JOKER
The only thing scarier than the Joker is an undead Joker, as cosplayer Luvecat proves here. Her gender-bent, zombie version is especially impressive considering it’s really just a clever use of body paint, plus a wig and contact lenses. As a fantasy SFX and make-up artist, her Instagram feed — where she shows off her amazing work — is filled with similarly spooky creations.
Her spin on the Joker’s classic color combo of green and purple is a lot brighter than you’d expect a brain-feasting version of the character to look like. The neon green hair and pastel tones give it an almost carnival feel, which only makes the painted illusion of the huge, eponymous Joker grin and the exposed fleshy parts all the scarier by juxtaposition.
12. GODFATHER JOKER
“I’ve been expecting you, Bats.” Usually, the more nightmarish depictions of the Joker focus — understandably — on his freakish face. One of the most striking things about the villain is undoubtedly his ability to send shivers down your spine long before uttering a single twisted joke. His smile really says it all. That’s perhaps what makes this particular image so compellingly different.
Taken by Low Carb Media, the shot features the Internet’s most famous Joker cosplayer, Anthony Misiano, better known to his hundreds of thousands of fans as Harley’s Joker. The composition, inspired by The Godfather according to Misiano, catches the character in a rare, quiet moment; the high-contrast lighting obscuring his famous face and projecting an unsettling aura of mystery. You can only imagine the kinds of dark thoughts running through his mind.
11. LOBOTOMIZED JOKER
This absolutely disgusting cosplay is the stellar creation of SFX and make-up artist extraordinaire, Charlie Short, better known online as Pinkstylist, who reveals the secrets behind his horrifying work like this one through popular video tutorials on YouTube. Though the effects are mainly achieved through specialized paint, Charlie’s laundry list of tools shows how next-level cosplay like this is.
Additions like the Joker’s elongated nose and chin, reminiscent of his classic design, are predominantly latex prosthetics with extra detail to blend them seamlessly into the rest of his face supplied by high-quality make-up. The grossest part — the exposed brain — is a jelly mold soaked in an unhealthy amount of fake blood and sitting on top of a bald cap to create the flawless, “lobotomized” illusion.
10. SHATTERED JOKER
This incredible photo is as stunning as it is scary. Another creation of Anthony Misiano, aka Harley’s Joker, the image is a painstakingly accurate recreation of a famous Alex Ross piece, “Shattered.” The fine artists’ painted depictions of the Joker are among some of the most recognizable to comic book fans, and Anthony has gone to impressive lengths to recreate many of his — and other artists’ — work in the past.
The image is powerful because of the narrative it tells. Joker, probably in a fit of particularly manic anger, lashes out at his own reflection, the mirror shards distorting his features to become even more freakish and inhuman, as fragmented as his psyche. As a testament to Misiano’s skills, he told fans on Facebook that the photo was achieved in “one shot” with no editing.
9. ARKHAM ASYLUM JOKER
The Arkham Asylum video game series are considered to be among the best Batman adaptations, and Rocksteady Studio’s version of the Joker is no exception. Partly helped out by Mark Hamill’s pitch-perfect voice acting, their digitally realized version incorporates the villain classic features — the comically elongated nose and chin and the pinstriped suit — with his modern, psychotic obsession with the Bat.
This cosplay copy is the work of Lee Joyner of Joyner Studios, whose impressive make-up and prosthetic work here makes you realize just how freaky those exaggerated features would be in real life. These are elevated to even scarier heights by the dramatic lighting, cloaking the more human areas of his face so you can only just make out the murderous glint in his eyes.
8. HALLOWEEN JOKER
Proving that Joker cosplay is not just for the convention floor, body-painting guru, Jordan Hanz created this startling look for a Halloween make-up tutorial video as part of her “Hanzoween” challenge, creating a new terrifying look for every day in October. The huge, Cheshire Cat-like smile and manically wide eyes make it almost look like Joker has accidentally unleashed his own Joker Grin toxin on himself.
What is particularly impressive about this work is that — unlike other cosplay artists who similarly rely on painting as a fundamental tool in their costume-making — Jordan hasn’t used any prosthetics or other 3D enhancements (other than a wig) to craft this shocking look. Even the clothes are made from body paint. This is just fine brush work for a terrifying 2D illusion.
7. DAMAGED JOKER
“Damaged” goods never looked so… well, good. Swedish make-up artist Miranda Hedman specializes in making some of YouTube’s most glamorous cosplay tutorial videos. She’s replicated iconic, sultry female villains in other videos like Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Maleficent, and this female spin on Jared Leto’s Joker for Suicide Squad makes a great addition to her collection of spooky-sexy characters.
Given Leto’s more androgynous features — only enhanced by the Joker’s not-so-subtle choice in make-up — it’s not that surprising that his take on the classic villain is so ripe for genderbending. Miranda doesn’t have to change much when translating the look from masculine to feminine other than the fuller lips and longer hair. One of the most impressive details are the grills, which she molds to fit her teeth using thermoplastic.
6. SMOULDERING JOKER
Behold, yet another entry from Anthony Misiano, aka Harley’s Joker, aka The Internet’s Most Famous Joker Cosplayer. Anthony’s various cosplay photoshoots over the years have proven how capable he is of capturing the character’s many, complicated sides, from playful, to dangerous, to playfully dangerous. One of the things that perhaps separates Anthony from the pack of other well-known Joker cosplays is the effortless charm he oozes, even through still images like this one.
While others prefer to emulate Joker’s modern, monstrous designs, Anthony seems to prefer sticking with his more classic, suave looks, reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s costume from the Tim Burton Batman movies, which clearly seem to suit his naturally expressive face more. With glances like this, it’s no wonder Dr. Harleen Quinzell was charmed into madness by the character.
5. CRAZY, SEXY CLOWN
Kseniya, known as HydraEvil online, is a seriously talented cosplayer based in Belarus. Her impressive, gender-bent Joker look in this alluring shot was captured by professional photographer, Alexandra Kaminskaya (aKami777) who specializes in cosplay photography and photo-manipulation. Though the image is part of a series this particular shot is a stand-out thanks to Kseniya’s creepily enticing expression.
The purple, pin-striped suit and orange carnation nod to the character’s classic clown-meets-mobster look from his earlier appearances in the comics. But — being a male to female interpretation — the costume also features lots of little unique details added to feminize the look, including more precise make-up around the eyes and lips, the longer, stylized hair and showing a little more skin to lure you to your doom.
4. STRIPPED DOWN
This ABSolutely amazing cosplay is the creation of Italian cosplayer, Giulio Nardozzi, better known as GNefilim online. Giulio is making use of his six best assets here to beef up his Suicide Squad look, which he credits partly to fitness trainer and make-up artist, Alessio Proietti. As well as this still image, Guilio created a video on his YouTube channel where he also shows off his performance and lip synching chops.
Though it’s certainly a bulkier look than Jared Leto was rocking in the film, Guilio’s Joker looks fit enough to exchange a few blows with Batman — even Batfleck’s heavyweight version. Cosplay as stripped down as this often seems deceptively simple but with so few elements on display there’s little to hide behind if one of them is off, and this brooding image certainly leaves very little to the imagination.
3. FEMME JOKER
Canadian cosplayer, Vera Bambi (formerly known as “Vera Baby” before rebranding) is known for her glamour-model inspired looks, and this gender-swapped Joker costume is no exception. The photo was taken by Colin Douglas Gray and full design credit goes to Vera herself, including for the make-up and custom-made accessories.
The cropped, curly hair evokes the Martha Wayne Joker from the alternate continuity in Flashpoint, in which Bruce Wayne’s parents fulfil the roles of Batman and the Joker in the wake of their son’s death. But, Vera has opted to leave out the more freakish elements — that slightly unattractive carved smile, for instance — to keep her interpretation erotically “on brand,” while the smeared make-up and suggestive lip curl retain the character’s edginess.
2. HURT YA REAL BAD JOKER
Jared Leto’s modern make-over of the Joker wasn’t to everyone’s tastes (much like the film it first featured in) but the sleek, “gangsta” redesign has proved endlessly popular among cosplayers, both old and new to the character. This menacingly sultry take comes from cosplayer, Key Of Jay with credit for the atmospheric photo belonging to Heidi Maetrix.
Some fans bemoan the “sexing up” of a character who isn’t known for being classically handsome. Different redesigns of the villain usually land somewhere between hideous disfigurement or manic terror. But, with the focus of Suicide Squad and follow-up movies being on his twisted romance with Harley, it’s possible this new, more visually appealing look that Key Of Jay is emulating here is meant to make that relationship more palatable for cinema goers.
1. SASSY JOKER
Yugana is a professional cosplayer and graphic designer known for her spooky, fun and often sassy spins on popular characters. Her gender-bent Joker costume here is certainly dripping with her signature charm and creativity, helped out by the excellent photography skills of Forat Shot, and some well-chosen props for the shoot.
You can tell from the prosthetic scarring around the mouth, the smudged make-up, and the purple, leather of the gloves and long coat that Yugana has taken most of her cues for the design from Heath Ledger’s Joker here, though she’s proven to be a fan of the Martha Wayne Joker too in the past. Even while brandishing a knife with that freaky, dead-eyed stare, Yugana’s female Joker still has an undeniably creepy-cute appeal.
Which Joker cosplay terrifies or tantalizes you the most? Let us know in the comments!
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