There are a lot of lousy cosplays out there. For every good one, there are probably about a million bad ones. It requires a lot of talent, time and money to replicate costumes from the comic books, TV series and movies and not everyone is up to the task, especially when they choose to cosplay as a character with a particularly elaborate costume. Most people fail, but some succeed wonderfully. There are countless DC Comics characters that you would rightfully assume are impossible to cosplay, because anyone who tries would look foolish if they tried to replicate what was on the page. Some characters just can’t be replicated physically.
That’s why in so many of these big budget comic book movies, the filmmakers resort to using CGI to create those complicated characters. However, as the following cosplayers will demonstrate, you don’t actually need CGI to replicated the incredibly intricate characters that are often massive in size and personality. There is a good reason why some filmmakers choose to stick with practical effects and that is because it still looks more convincing. Let’s take a look at 20 cosplayers who did the impossible and brought some DC Comics characters we never thought could work as cosplays to life.
20. KILLER CROC
Killer Croc, also known as Waylon Jones, is part of Batman’s rogues gallery of supervillains. He was created by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan and made his first appearance in 1983. He is a frequent member of the Suicide Squad and was in the movie of the same name in 2016 where he was portrayed by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
This cosplay by Damaris Degen gender-bent the character and it is absolutely incredible. It showcases Killer Croc in his prison attire and the makeup and prosthetics are out of this world. It must have taken Degen an exceptionally long time to get the makeup done and it must be really frustrated when she has to take it all off after all the work it took to get it so perfect.
Of all the bad things people had to say about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the way the film handles Doomsday was probably at the top of most people’s list of grievances with the film, right next to Lex Luthor. Lots of people took issue with the fact that Doomsday was a CGI mess that looked absolutely ridiculous.
This cosplayer proves that you can bring the horrible monster to life effectively without resorting to CGI. Also, we have to commend this cosplayer on his dedication, because it can’t be easy to breathe in that costume, and chances are that it’s also really hot in there. It doesn’t sound like the funnest time you could have at a Comic Con, unless he has a cooling system underneath all that.
18. THE PENGUIN
When Tim Burton’s Batman came out in 1989, there was a huge effort to keep Jack Nicholson’s makeup and costume as the Joker under wraps, and people were incredibly impressed with the look of the character as well as Nicholson’s performance. For Tim Burton’s sequel, the creative team wanted to replicate that success with their villain and kept Danny DeVito’s look as the Penguin shrouded in mystery.
When revealed, audiences saw just how gothic and grotesque they made the Penguin and it was fantastic. Cosplayer Rj Haddy, a self-proclaimed “that guy from that show” actor, F/X artist, director, writer, producer, puppeteer, and entrepreneur, expertly replicated the look. From the greasy hair to the makeup, you would almost believe that Danny DeVito came out of Penguin retirement.
This cosplay is based on a character that has probably had the briefest comic book history of the characters featured on this list. Atrocitus is a Red Lantern sporting villain created by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver in 2007. Unlike Green Lantern Rings which are powered by willpower and Yellow Lantern Rings that are powered by fear, the Red Lantern is powered by rage, which makes any character who possesses the ring absolutely terrifying.
The character has made an appearance in various Green Lantern storylines over the years including “Green Lantern: Secret Origin”, “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day”. This cosplay created by Josh who goes by the name senses_cosplay on Instagram is quite awesome –it looks just as grotesque as the Red Lantern character he is portraying.
The Enchantress, also known as June Moone, made her underwhelming big screen debut in Suicide Squad as the main villain of the film. She was portrayed by actor and model Cara Delevingne. Say what you will of that movie, the terrible script and characterization, but at least they created a pretty cool look for the Enchantress (which is more than we could say for other characters in the film that looked pretty terrible — we’re looking at you, Joker).
This cosplayer did a great job of recreating the Enchantress’ design from the movie. In fact, when looking at the picture above, it is such a good job that many would probably assume that it’s a still from the movie, which says a lot about this cosplayer’s talent.
15. BLACK FLASH
The Black Flash can most simply be described as the Grim Reaper, but for speedsters. He isn’t exactly evil, but rather an impartial force within the universe. He appears before the death of any speedster in order to return their power back to the Speed Force. Fans got a glimpse of the Black Flash in live action as the character has recently appeared on The Flash TV show on the CW.
His getup is essentially a black Flash costume, but his face underneath the mask looks like it is decaying. This cosplayer did a fantastic job with his makeup and captures the look of the comic book character perfectly. It is a different take than the one we’ve see in the show, but it’s still very cool.
Clayface, who once went by the name of Basil Karlo, was first created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in 1940, making him one of Batman’s oldest foes, and he is probably also one of Batman’s most popular villains. Karlo is an actor who turned to crime and his superpower is that he can shape-shift into anyone else. When he is in his natural form, he looks exactly like the gruesome clay monster depicted by the cosplayer above.
This cosplay is incredibly impressive. The amount of detail and the ripples in the clay are fantastic. Plus, the mace for a hand is a nice touch. It doesn’t look like it’s very easy to put on so the cosplayer is clearly going to great lengths to pull off this look.
Tomar-Re is a member of the Green Lantern Corps and was created by John Broome and artist Gil Kane. The character made an appearance in the 2011 Green Lantern film and was voiced by Geoffrey Rush. He has also made appearances in various animated shows and films over the years and has had a prominent role in as a member of the Green Lantern Corps in Green Lantern comics.
This is another character that could easily become a terrible cosplay. He has a beak, a large fin on top of his head and orange skin, which is a great recipe for a bad cosplay. However, this cosplayer did an incredible job that proves once again that practical effects can be really amazing when done well. The makeup and prosthetics job looks incredibly realistic.
Here we have another cosplayer who is very committed to having life-sized wings. At least his wings can come down to his sides so it’s far more easy for him to navigate the Comic Con grounds when he goes to conventions. Ruby Rinekso‘s creepy Man-Bat cosplay is pretty awesome. Man-Bat is famously a Batman villain whose alter ego is Kirk Langstrom, a zoologist who was specialized in bats and who was interested in bat sonar in order to cure his crippling loss of hearing.
Of course, there were side effects to his little experiments and he ended up turning into Man-Bat. The character was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams with the help of editor Julius Schwartz. Rinekso did the creators justice when he brought their creature to life.
11. MARTIAN MANHUNTER
There are countless horrible Martian Manhunter cosplays out there and that is because he is definitely not an easy character to dress up as. If you just slather green paint on your face, you will end up looking really ridiculous. This fantastic cosplay by Redwood Creations and captured by photographer Carlos Adama, manages to avoid all of the pitfalls that most inexperienced cosplayers succumb to when they cry to dress up as characters who have a strange skin color.
The prosthetics used and the makeup look incredibly realistic. It looks so great that we could actually see this in a DCEU movie alongside the rest of the Justice League. We can’t imagine how many hours it took to put on all those prosthetics and makeup to put this look together, but it was well worth the effort, because the results are really professional.
10. BLACK MASK
Black Mask is a relatively new Batman villain (in comparison to some of his most famous ones) who was created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake in 1985. He has been featured in various media included animated shows and the Arkham game series, however he has yet to appear in any live action form. The character would certainly do well on the big screen as he has a distinctive look and a long, interesting backstory that would make for a great on-screen Batman story.
This great cosplay by marsxcosplay shows that the character can translate very well to live action. The cosplay all comes down to the mask because it makes or breaks the character, and his mask is really cool. Marsxcosplay also really loves to cosplay as Power Rangers, the Red Hood and Miles Morales Spider-Man.
It can’t be easy to pull of a Hawkman cosplay. First of all, if you go for the topless look, you better be in great shape. Secondly, you have to think logistically. How the heck are you going to put on his wings? Most would stick with smaller versions of his wings so that they can make it around the Comic Con floors more easily, but Cap Santiago is one one to take half measures.
His Hawkman cosplay is the real deal and he really looks the part. We can’t imagine how long it took him to make those wings or how impractical it must be to move around with them on but we commend him on his commitment to his craft, that’s for sure!
Raven was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez and appeared for the first time in DC Comics Presents #26 in October of 1980. She is the daughter of a demon named Trigon and a human mother named Arella and is often portrayed as a member of the Teen Titans. Her powers include the ability to sense and change people’s emotional state, teleportation, flight and magic.
She will soon appear in the live action television show Titans, where she will be portrayed by Teagan Croft. In this case, it’s not the costume that is impossible to pull off, but the feat displayed in this picture. We’re still trying to figure out if this is a camera trick, Photoshop or the real deal (it’s probably just a chair). In any case, it’s not something you would expect to be possible for a cosplayer.
7. SWAMP THING
Swamp Thing is another character that most would assume is impossible to pull off as a cosplay, because the costume would be incredibly complicated to produce. Plus, it’s easy to make it look really cheap looking. This cosplay looks very realistic because it actually looks like it is made of vegetation found in a swamp.
However, we certainly hope that cosplayer Michael Knightmage Wilson didn’t use real plants from swamps, because then he would stick up the Comic Con and it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience for anyone involved. Also we can’t figure out how he would be able to stick plants together for the costume to work. Wilson also has a few other cosplays that are pretty fantastic like the Mask, Judge Dredd and Robocop.
Any fan of the Teen Titans or the Justice League know that trying to replicate Cyborg’s costume cannot be easy. First created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez in 1980, Victor Stone is a young man who was involved in an accident and had parts of his body replaced by mech prosthetics.
Most recently, fans have had a chance to see him in live action films in the DCEU, first in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and then in Justice League and portrayed by actor Ray Fisher. As you can imagine, that kind of getup doesn’t sound very easy to make. It must have taken this cosplayer quite a bit of time to create a realistic Cyborg costume equipped with a cannon for an arm.
This Darkseid cosplayer makes us pray that they don’t use CGI and ruin another character the way the DCEU created terrible versions of its villains to date. They went that route with his right hand man Steppenwolf, but we hope they don’t for the big bad boss. Although it would require a lot of camera tricks to pull off Darkseid’s immense size, this cosplay proves that it is possible to make a convincing version of the villain using entirely practical effects.
Cosplay Grabanski Workshop, who designed and wore this costume has a remarkably small following on Instagram, which is quite shocking given the great content he posts. Apart from his cosplays, he also posts art which he produces himself. He clearly has a knack for this!
4. MR. FREEZE
So technically Mr. Freeze doesn’t have hair or sport a beard, but that doesn’t make this cosplay any less cool. Cosplayer vegasfreeze does a great job of bringing the Batman villain to life without making him ridiculous like when he was portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the now infamous Batman & Robin movie. There were too many terrible puns to count.
In any case, vegasfreeze makes a perfect Mr. Freeze that is a very creative take on the character that we haven’t seen before. There are a lot of nice details to the costume that bring it to life, like the grime on the metal parts of the suit and the glowing red goggles. The touch screen pad on his right arm is also a nice touch.
3. RED HOOD
In the comics, the Red Hood often looked like a goofy character, especially when he was first created in 1951. This red globe of a mask just looked silly. Over the years, his look has been reinvented numerous times and he has definitely been looking like a far more intimidating character these days. This Tim Thornton cosplay does an incredibly job of bringing a cool version of the Red Hood to life.
Thornton is an architect, a prop builder and designer which explains why his cosplays look so fantastic. He is also a huge Jason Todd fan, so you know that he spared no expense when making this one. His other fantastic cosplays include the Arkham Knight, Deathstroke and Crossbones, all of which look just as fantastic as this one.
Cosplayer evolvebynick clearly put a lot of effort into this red-eyed Batman. The eyes obviously remind us of Batman Beyond‘s Terry McGinnis and “Flashpoint” Batman Thomas Wayne, but the design remains original as evolvebynick made the character completely his own. The suit features a lot of small details that make it unique and quite the accomplishment.
Although he doesn’t explain what it is made of, we can’t imagine it is very easy to put on. Apart from cosplaying, evolvebynick is a prop-maker (now you know how he was able to make such an amazing suit). He is also a certified personal trainer and nutritionist, meaning he has the superhero body to prove that it’s not just the suit that makes a superhero. Judging from his Instagram, he clearly keeps in shape.
1. GORILLA GRODD
Gorilla Grodd is a supervillain and Flash villain who was created by writer John Broome and illustrator Carmine Infantino in 1959. As the name suggests, he’s a giant gorilla. He became super intelligent and telekinetic after being exposed to radioactivity from a meteor. The character has been featured numerous times on The Flash and even on Legends of Tomorrow.
He has also made an appearance in various animated shows and video games. As you might have guessed, the fact that he’s a gorilla doesn’t make him a particularly easy cosplay choice. However, this cosplay by Ruby Rinekso does the giant ape justice, which is saying something, because it’s pretty easy to end up in cheesy ’60s Planet of the Apes territory with this character. Luckily that is not the case here.
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