Cosplay is one of the ultimate expressions of fandom. People who truly love a character spend significant time and energy recreating their costumes, accessories, and weapons, often by hand. They then don the costumes and attend events that are centered around celebrating fandom, usually comic book or anime conventions. These people are known as cosplayers.
Cosplay has become a very popular way to celebrate fandom. Over the years, some cosplayers have become so good at their art that they have become professionals. The world of professional cosplaying entered the mainstream consciousness years ago when shows like "Heroes of Cosplay" and "King of the Nerds" aired.
Cosplay has become somewhat of an obsession on the Internet, and many professional and wannabe professional cosplayers have taken to Instagram to show off their art.
A subtype of cosplay, called crossplay, involves people dressing up as characters of the opposite gender: a person who identifies as female dressing up as a male character or a person who identifies as male dressing up as a female character. These costumes are particularly interesting because the crossplayer often comes up with really interesting modifications of the costume in order to fit their gender.
Here are some of the best examples of female identifying cosplayers who completely transformed in to male characters.
15 TaLynn Kel as Blade Runner
The character Blade Runner, originally played by Wesley Snipes, is a kick butt vampire hunter in a post apocalyptic techno-punk world. In the movies, Snipes wears all black, lots of leather, and carries some super intense weaponry.
Cosplayer TaLynn Kel manages to totally nail this iconic character with her crossplay. TaLynn has been a part of the cosplay scene since she attended DragonCon in 2005. Since then she has attended multiple conventions, sometimes in costume and sometimes not. The world of cosplay is often filled with thin white or Asian women, so TaLynn is a refreshing change from the typical cosplay 'look.' And, of course, her costumes are amazing.
TaLynn is also a writer with an advanced degree in public health. Her interests in all things nerd inspires her writing, which often examines the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and pop culture. Check out her website to read some of her writing and check out her Instagram to see some of her other amazing cosplays.
14 Angela Maycon as Dr. Facilier from "The Princess and the Frog"
In case you haven't seen Disney's "The Princess and the Frog," Dr. Facilier is the main villain of the movie. He's an evil witch doctor who plans to use his dark magic and contacts in the spirit world to rule New Orleans. He's got a real creepy voodoo vibe going on that Angela Maycon manages to completely capture.
Angela Maycon is the creative mind behind Copricapo Designs out of Ohio. Her specialty is custom made headdresses and hats, hence the amazingly designed top hat for her Dr. Facilier costume. She is completely self taught and she designs all her own costumes. She's not a professional cosplayer, but her expertise in and passion for costume creation makes her a cosplay enthusiast and occasional cosplayer.
Check out her Instagram to see her interesting headdresses and costumes, and check out her Etsy shop to see what's for sale or to commission a custom made piece.
13 Kit Quinn and Melinda Catherine as Superman and Lex Luthor
Superheroes and villains are common choices for crossplayers and regular people who just like to dress up for a costume party or a night out on the town. Typically when you see women dressing up in superhero or villain costumes they choose the 'sexy' version of the outfit rather than the traditional outfit, which may say more about how these costumes are produced and marketed to women than the women choosing to wear them.
But Kit Quinn and Melinda Catherine's amazing costumes have gone the traditional crossplay route: recreating the male costumes for their female bodies. Melinda Catherine's costume is particularly well crafted with the armor accompanying the costume.
Kit Quinn is the costume designer and creator for this duo. Hit runs her own costume design and production business called SoloRoboto. Her costumes are are such detailed replicas of character costumes that she has actually been accused of stealing costumes off sets that she's worked on. (She didn't, of course, she's just that good!) Check out her shop in Etsy to order a custom costume. Melinda Catherine is a writer and a cosplay enthusiast and all around nerd.
12 Ve'loria Solo as Falcon
If you've seen the Avengers movies then you'll know that Falcon is the super awesome hero who works for S.H.I.E.L.D. along with the rest of the Avengers. He's a good friend of the one and only Captain America aka Steve Rogers. His custom built wings allow him to fly.
This is a particularly difficult and involved costume to make because of the wings, but Ve'loria Solo totally nails it. The wings in this costume had an eight foot wingspan! Veloria is a semi professional cosplayer who crafts amazingly intricate and elaborate costumes, most of which involve some sort of mechanical or armor components. She often cosplays with her partner, who can be seen in costume with her in multiple photos on her Instagram.
They're particularly fond of Captain America and Avengers themed costumes. Her partner is almost always Steve Rogers himself, but Ve'loria switches it up between Falcon and the Winter Soldier, aka Bucky Barnes.
Check out her Instagram for all her amazing costumes.
11 Steggy Stardust as Green Lantern
Green Lantern is a DC comic book character who has multiple different identities. The Green Lanterns are given their multiple powers by alien rings. The most famous Green Lantern is Hal Jordan, a pilot. The Green Lanterns are also part of The Justice League, which is DC's superhero alliance. The comic was made in to a film that starred Ryan Reynolds.
Steggy Starduust is a studying to be a professional cosplayer and is part of the cosplay group Chicago Bombshells. She is currently an apprentice, learning the art of cosplay. The group often attends conventions together in group costumes they have crafted themselves. Steggy Stardust is also a model for Cosplay and Babes, a company that features professional shots of cosplayers in costume.
The impressive part of this costume is that the 'mask' Steggy appears to be donning is actually completely done with makeup. Many cosplayers put just as much effort in to their detailed makeup as they do their costumes.
Check out Steggy's Instagram for all her cosplay photos and check out the Instagram for Chicago Bombshells to see all the women in her cosplay group.
10 ghostxscript as The Winter Soldier
Unless you've been hiding under a rock or isolated in the wilderness for quite some time, you're familiar with the Marvel movies. Many argue that Captain America and the Winter Soldier has been the best movie thus far. The Winter Soldier, a mind controlled version of Captain America's best friend, Bucky Barnes, is the main protagonist of the film and his costume prominently features a mechanical arm to replace the one he lost.
The Winter Soldier is a common cosplay and an even more common crossplay. Many female cosplayers have taken on the costume, but ghostxscript really nailed it. She came up with the majority of the costume, but actually teamed up with another cosplayer on this list to create the arm. She commission SoloRoboto, Kit Quinn's costuming and prop making company, for The Winter Soldier's iconic prosthetic arm.
ghostxscript is not a professional cosplayer, but she does love to get all dressed up and go to conventions on a regular basis. She also puts a great deal of time and effort in to producing her own costumes. Check out her Instagram for some more awesome shots of her Winter Soldier crossplay and her other amazing costumes.
9 Amanda Winter as Owain/Odin from Fire Emblem Games
Owain/Odin is a playable character in the very popular Fire Emblem video games that were originally released in Japan. The most recognizable cosplays are usually characters from popular movies, animes, books, or comic books, but many avid video game fans will also dress up as their favorite video game characters. Some famous cosplayers, like Jessica Nigri, got famous by embodying video game characters as the game's spokesmodel.
Amanda Winter's interpretation of the costume is a particularly impressive cosplay. When I stumbled on the picture above while browsing the #genderbentcosplay hashtag on Instagram I didn't believe that this was a crossplay, until I followed the image back to Amanda's Instagram. Many female crossplayers choose not to hide their feminine figures in their costumes, but Amanda has done an impressive job transforming her whole body to appear male for the costume. The contoured, flesh colored shirt, exposing the character's chest and abs is particularly well done.
8 vixpan as Newt Scamander
If you're a Harry Potter fan you'll immediately recognize this as Newt Scamander, the British wizard and fantastic beast enthusiast. Even if you're not a Harry Potter fan, you'll probably recognize the character from the trailers for the movie that came out late last year. And just in case you still didn't know who this is, the wonderful Wanted poster that vixpan created let's you know exactly who she is.
vixpan has done an amazing job capturing this character for her crossplay. Not only is the costume recreated in painstaking detail, she's standing a trunk that looks amazingly like the magical trunk that Scamander carries in the movie, which hides a magical world of fantastic beasts.
vixpan is not a professional cosplayer, but she's definitely a cosplay enthusiast and a geek of the highest order. Scamander isn't the only cosplay she's nailed, and Harry Potter certainly isn't her only fandom. Head over to her Instagram to check out the other awesome costumes she's put together.
7 Jessica Thomson as Cloud from FF7
Cloud is the main character of the seventh installment of the Final Fantasy video game series that has long been one of the most popular video games out there. Any gamer worth their salt has beat FF7 at least once. Cloud's messy blond hair and his giant sword are iconic in the video game world.
Jessica Thomson has nailed every detail of Cloud's costume, down to the leather armor accents and the iconic blond mop. Jessica is a British professional cosplayer who frequently works with professional photographers to show off her cosplay creations. She new to the cosplay game, she just started cosplaying in 2015, but she's committed, as her costumes clearly show. Her recently started cosplay business is called Jinxy Dragon Cosplay.
Head over to her Instagram page to check out other costumes she's put together and view some of her professional work with photographers.
6 Kelzey Mo as Jareth the Goblin King
Jareth The Goblin King is, of course, the main villain in the 80's cult classic "The Labyrinth." It's also one of the most iconic looks for David Bowie, who played the character in the movie. The costume is a very common cosplay and actually a very common crossplay as well, probably due to the fact that Bowie's own gender seemed so fluid at times.
Kelzey Mo completely aces David Bowie's iconic look with her crossplay of the Goblin King. The hair, makeup, and accessories are also completely spot on, which is incredibly important to a good cosplay. The costume is really important, but the look is never complete without the right wig, or hairstyle, makeup, and accessories. Especially with a relatively simple costume these things matter a lot.
Kelzey Mo is a professional cosplayer who has put together a wide variety to meticulously crafted costumes. She's particularly adept at matching her 'look' to her costumes. She regularly attends conventions in costume and works with professional photographers to capture her looks. Check out her Instagram to see some of the amazing looks she puts together and to find out which con she'll be attending next.
5 kitsunekuma as Doctor Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch recently brought the comic book character Doctor Strange to life in the Marvel movie that came out in 2016. Comic book characters from movies are often the most popular characters for cosplay.
kitsunekuma is actually a cosplay team that works together to create amazing costumes and props, and they've done amazing job with their interpretation of Doctor Strange. As many crossplayers choose to do, they have adapted the costume to be a female version of the male character they're portraying. These costumes are often very interesting because they require a lot of creative though to adapt the costume while still keeping it authentic.
Kitsune is the costume maker of the duo. She designs and sews all of the costumes that the duo wears. Kuma is the genius prop maker, who painstaking recreates the props and accessories that make the character portrayals completely authentic. The duo has created a plethora of amazing costumes and regularly wears them to conventions and works with professional photographers to document their work.
Check out their shared Instagram to view their truly unique creations.
4 madwwilson as Thor/Deadpool
At first glance this character might be hard to identify. That's because this cosplay is actually a mashup of two popular Marvel characters: Thor and Deadpool. Their characters were brought to life in the Marvel movies by Chris Hemsworth and Ryan Reynolds respectively. This is by far one of the most creative cosplays I have ever seen.
The idea of blending two character costumes is truly unique and madwwilson has accomplished it in an impressive fashion. The bodysuit of the costume is a replica of Deadpool's iconic red and black bodysuit from the comics and the movie. On top of the bodysuit madwwilson wears meticulously crafted armor, which is a replica of the armor Thor wears on his home planet, Asgard.
madwwilson, also known simply as J.J., is a maker of all sorts. She is a writer, an artist, and obviously a very talented costume creator. J.J. is a professional cosplayer whose specialty is mashup costumes like the one above. Another one of my favorite creations of hers is a Deadpool/Jon Snow mashup. Head over to Instagram to check out all her amazing mashups.
3 Romi Mondal as Yurio from Yuri!! On Ice
Yurio is the main character from the popular anime series Yurio!! On Ice. For many this is a pretty obscure reference, but sometimes these end up being the best cosplays. One of the amazing parts about fandoms is connecting with people who love something just as much as you do. The more obscure the better. You may think you're the only fan of an obscure piece of pop culture, but go to a con and you're sure to find someone else who loves that thing as much as you do and lifelong bonds are created.
Romi Mondal is not a professional cosplayer. She describes herself as an "aspiring cosplayer," and I'd say she's doing a pretty great job. She also self identifies as an Otaku, which is basically a fangirl of Japanese culture, especially anime and Manga, Japanese comic books. She's created a few pretty amazing cosplays despite the fact that it's a hobby for her rather than a profession. The most amazing thing is that she finds the time to put together these costumes even though she's a med student!
Head to her Instagram to check out some of her other wonderful costumes.
2 Annachiara as Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren is the main villain from the newest chapter of the "Star Wars" franchise. He is the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, who was lured to the Dark Side by his admiration for his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker, also known as Darth Vader.
Annachiara is an Italian professional cosplayer, writer, and artist, who has masterfully recreated Kylo Ren's costume and iconic lightsaber. The most impressive part of the costume is the mask that she created to finish out the costume. Well, the lightsaber is pretty impressive as well. She frequently works with professional photographers to capture her costumes and one of her favorite activities at cons is finding other "Star Wars" cosplayers to pose with.
Annachiara is a massive "Star Wars" fan and its definitely her favorite cosplay inspiration. Her Instagram is filled with pictures of her Kylo Ren cosplay as well as other cosplays she has done from the franchise. She also frequently cosplays Rey, from the same "Star Wars" movie.
1 Eva Kernan as The Joker
The Joker, in all his various incarnations, is one of the most frequently cosplayed and crossplayed characters. The Joker's iconic green vest, purple suit, white face, and green mess of hair can be seen at every convention.
Of course, an essential part of a good Joker cosplay is the makeup and Eva Kernan has completely captured the look with her white face, blackened eyes, and bright, smudgy red smile. Eva's choice of vest and suit are also spot on. The true icing on the cake, however, is Eva's hair, which is dyed green and red to match the Joker's look.
It's definitely one of the best Joker crossplays I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot. I'm an avid Batman fan and I've been known to dress up as Harley Quinn, Joker's girlfriend, though I'd never go as far as to call myself a cosplayer. My skills are nowhere near that level.
Eva frequently cosplays as Harley Quinn as well as the Joker. She's not a professional cosplayer, but her Instagram shows that she definitely does quite a bit of cosplaying and regularly attends conventions in costumes. Her Instagram is almost entirely devoted to her cosplays of various Batman villains.
Cosplay is definitely a fun, and unique experience that requires a lot of creativity and artistic skills. These cosplayers, professional or not, are absolutely slaying the game, especially when they're dressed as male characters.
Sources: Fire Emblem Wikia, Personal experience of comic books and movies, Personal experience with cosplay, Cosplayers' Instagram and Facebook pages