Comic books and cosplay have gone hand-in-hand since time began. Well, that’s a big exaggeration—there were no Comic-Cons going on when the dinosaurs when roaming the earth—but you get the idea of it. Both are intricately linked, and none more so then than Marvel’s heavy roster of characters that have been prevalent in the industry since their inception in 1939.
Nowadays though, that company are at an all-time high in popularity due to the box-office that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is raking in, not to mention this summer’s no contest event movie was Avengers: Infinity War, becoming the pop-culture phenomena that’s twists-and-turns everyone is still going on about.
It’s standard for the well-known heroes to be easy and common for cosplayers to take on and adapt for a real-life iteration. But when it comes to the most ardent and dedicated fans in the field, what separates the wheat from the shaft, is the ones that decide to take on the obscure, the obscene, or the plain impossible—those are the real hardcore cosplayers that operate on a whole different level.
It's not a question of just throwing some scrappy materials together for a cute recreation piece for your local Comic Con. These cosplayers took time, dedication, money, and a whole lot of passion to build live-action practical adaptation of their favorite Marvel characters. Some choices here are like the cosplayer equivalent of climbing Mount Everest—but where there is a will, there is a way—so let's honor these professionals in all their glory.
30 Carnage: This Ain't CGI
The Spider-Man nemesis Carnage has yet to make it to the big screen. When it happens, the filmmakers will likely go the all-CGI approach as Venom has done. Carnage's unpredictable mental state is reflected in his suit as it constantly contorts like melting cheese, with itself becoming a full-blown form of weaponry for the character—making it difficult to make that suit work in practical terms.
Not according to cosplayer Alex Brenot, who concocted this stunning suit adaptation of the villain in full-on battle mode. It’s impressive how still-material can feel alive and moving with just some expert precision.
29 Dr. Doom: A Worthy Foe
Doom is one of the all-time great villains in the Marvel universe; so how come in both live-action iterations he’s appeared, they managed to mess up his appearance and character?
Maybe Doom's presence only works via the comic book format in the reader's hands?
No, not really—as seen from this unknown cosplayer—with a little bit of imagination, patience, and passion for the great villain, you can concoct one heck of a fearsome costume that rightfully does this classic bad guy the justice he deserves in a real-life adaptation.
28 Beast: The Blue Menace
Cosplayer E’Toro Bolados (photographed by Elkhan Art & Photography) has flawlessly applied make-up that fits him well and comfortable, as he personifies our favourite fluffy and blue X-Man. With the added bonus of the black leather vest (the uniform the character sported in X-Men: The Last Stand), it manages to even fit more comfortably than when Kelsey Grammar wore the same get-up in that film’s final set-piece.
Sporting also the necessary contacts and dental additions, this is an all-out impressive DIY version of a character difficult to pull off.
27 Green Goblin: Obsessed With Power
Well, take a look at this unnamed cosplayer (photographed at San Diego Comic-Con by William Tung)—ugh, that’s a pretty creepy look huh?
Yep, that's one completely faithful and photorealistic re-enactment of Green Goblin from the comic's page.
Sporting an incredibly on-point prosthetic mask with all the classic garb fitted on the rest of the body, fans can finally get a good gander of what that classic Marvel character would like if you were to run into him face-to-face—let’s hope that doesn’t happen, please.
26 Apocalypse: Bring It On
This all-powerful Marvel villain had his big-screen debut—2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse—but the costuming and make-up were a was considered a messy disappointment.
The cosplay beneath the make-up is Mick Ignis, yet his contribution is only a part of the sum; with the armour built by Walter Welsh, Kelton Ching, and Courtney Vanderpool, and Lee Joyner responsible for the stellar costume design and make-up. It’s a stunning piece of work that brings the scale and fearful presence of this terrifying mutant into actual real life.
25 Galactus: The Powerful
So the gigantic scale of the planet-eating god Galactus would be a hard task for anyone to do the character justice in a real-life variation. Well, time to call in a dedicated cosplayer in for the rescue—designed and costumed by Brett Hill using materials from Wal-Mart.
This impressive piece of cosplay was purposefully fitted by the designer for a ridiculously tall (and unnamed) model.
The effect is fetching; sure, he’s not going to convince anyone he dines on planets for a living, but by golly is a great adaptation done with a DIY slant.
24 Hulk: The Strongest Avenger
That big old green meanie is a Marvel classic character all-around. His various live-action have been many, but ever since he moved away from the green painted visage of Lou Ferrigno, all his cinematic ventures come down to motion capture effects.
Leave it to a dedicated cosplayer seen at San Diego Comic-Con 2009 to build a Hulk sit that perfectly fitted the physique and conveyed that behemoth Hulk-ing physique. The built muscles, bulky profile, those ever-durable purple sweats, and even the addition of the classical ripped lab coat are all impressive features.
23 He Is Groot
Before 2014, who would've thought one of the most beloved Marvel characters would be a talking tree? Yeah, not many. Groot is a character that appeals to the majority when it comes to building a cosplay recreation at present.
Yet, the task of creating a real-life practical version for showing up at your local convention? Not the easiest job.
Luckily cosplayer Lee Hurley was up for the task and created this incredible piece of costuming that totally encapsulates Groot in all his full (adult form) glory. Talk about barking up the right tree!
22 Ghost Rider's On Fire
Anyone who knows and loves Ghost Rider as a comic book character is pretty aware of what a difficult character he would be to achieve as a live-action cosplay character; sure, the traditional bike leathers and skull face can be pulled with a decent effort, but what about the whole aspect that the character is literally on fire?
Well, this unknown cosplayer was down to go the full distance as he’s successfully done an awesome job of creating the Johnny Blaze rendition of Ghost Rider as full-blown reality, with impressive flames emerging from all sides. Plus, that's an awesome motorbike too.
21 M.O.D.O.K.: One We Thought We'd Never See
This baffling sized villain has never ever been in contention to make a live-action appearance—how come? Well, he’s basically a gigantic head in a hover chair with limbs strapped onto him.
Still, that won’t keep a good cosplayer down.
This unnamed gang spotted at a San Diego Comic-Con do some tricky moves to pull it off—M.O.D.O.K. is in fact only a movable prop, but the people dressed as Agents of A.I.M. would cart the gigantic real-life recreation of that jaw-droppingly bizarre bad guy. Talk about some serious dedication to your art.
20 Human Torch: Pretty Fantastic
Cosplayer Mark Smith here did an incredible job of fully recreating Johnny Storm in a flaming super-powered state, excellently recreating the visceral nature of the flames emerging out of the suit in a chaotic and energetic look and feel. The fact that he designed it to look mid-transformation, as only the upper part is lit up, was an interesting choice in giving his cosplay showcase an unpredictable energy.
Also extra points for those awesome looking glowing eyes—all round great stuff.
19 Lego Spider-Man: A Special Variation
All cons smattered worldwide are littered with people dressed as Spider-Man. Heck, a wearable outfit of his is pretty easy to obtain if you want, and not that difficult to wear if you can deal with tight places. The mask might have you walk into walls at times, but you can kind of find your way around.
Well, this unknown cosplayer decided to take it to the next level—who needs Lego Batman when you can have Lego Spider-Man? It looks like a living breathing human-sized piece of Lego, with the trademark toy hands taking first prize.
18 Wolverine: This Is Great, Bub
Sadly, since Hugh Jackman has officially retired following the Old Man Logan storyline, we’re likely to never get a proper payoff to that enticing alternative ending of The Wolverine, the one where he is finally given his trademark yellow and brown mask and uniform.
As great as Jackman’s run is, sadly his classic outfit never got its due.
This cosplayer is able to bring that fanboy dream into reality as he elevates the possible silliness of the uniform into a full-blown piece of awesome. It looks layered and metallic like an effective piece of battle armor for our favourite Canadian mutant.
17 Iceman: Frozen Heart
Famed cosplayer Chris Villain created this impressive take on Iceman in his completely iced-out state. Decked out in the movie's trademark black leather uniform (this one taken from Iceman’s X-Men: The Last Stand costuming) and colourfully applied with some light make-up and subtle frost effects, the whitened out contacts are a nice subtle touch which slaps on the icing on this cake.
This one is in a line of several other cosplay recreations that he has put out on the inter-webs—this one, though, stands as one of his best and is an impressive feat that’s well… pretty cool.
16 Mr. Fantastic: Stretchy!
Reed Richards a.k.a Mr. Fantastic would, at first, be thought not be a difficult guy to personify in a cosplay session; he’s a lean and average looking middle-aged man in blue spandex.
Yet, a truly dedicated cosplayer is going to take it that extra step further and show Richards in mid-display in his superhuman stretching powers.
Such was the mandate taken for this unknown but inventive cosplayer spotted at Comic-Con 2006 (photograph by Doug Klein), where he fills in the spandex suit like second nature, sports the slightly greying side-burns, and rocks those crazy long arms in impressive fashion.
15 Red Skull: Back From The Grave
Any comic book fan worth their salt knows of the Red Skull, and they also know that he’s going to be a tricky task to pull off as a worthy costume. It’s not just a question of shaving your head and painting your face red; no, it is literally an actual skull for a face, that happens to be red.
This fan (an unnamed cosplayer from Comic Con 2014 in Salt Lake) went through a patience breaking process of applying layer by layer of make-up and prosthetics to his face, and then strapping on that trademark WW2 garb to seal the deal.
14 There's Something About Thing
Another Fantastic Four member, another impossible Marvel cosplay. This choice, though, might be the toughest of the bunch by far. The Thing is a big old chunk of orange rock with abilities of super-strength, near indestructibility, and a trademark catchphrase.
Also, he remains a notoriously difficult character to cosplay well.
This unknown Comic Con participant sports one of the best variations on the costume. The only way to be The Thing is to fit on a practical latex suit over the model, yet they tend to fit quite awkwardly—not this one, as it looks like it stepped off the workshop of some high-budget blockbuster.
13 Hulk-Buster Is Here
The trademark armor that Tony Stark built and utilized against his green friend has become part of the mainstream knowledge due to its memorable film variations. The scale and heavy metallic nature make it one ridiculously difficult task to replicate if you're planning wearing it at a Comic-Con.
Not so for the Extreme Costumes cosplay team, and more specifically Thomas DePetrillo who built and designed this jaw-droppingly impressive recreation of the only machine that could have any form of a chance of defeating the Hulk in full-blown rage mode. Imagine showing up in that at your next Halloween party?
12 Vision: Making A Man
The A.I. that had materialised into a full-blown android superhero was personified by Paul Bettany in the last couple of Avengers outings. His comic design is simpler—red face, and green and yellow spandex.
Yet the cinematic version has a complex facial design that makes it harder to achieve as a costume.
Not for this Comic-Con participant, who refused to be named despite several venues photographing him. His re-enactment of the cinematic version of the costume is so on-point you would be amiss to think it wasn’t Paul Bettany secretly drumming up hype for that year's Avengers outing.
11 Mystique: A Little Two-Faced
The blue shapeshifting meanie is a well-known quantity in the world due to Jennifer Lawerence playing her in the recent X-Men prequel trilogy—although they twisted the character unnecessarily into a good guy due to the actress' box office. Still, for cosplayers, if they’re willing to slap on some paint and are comfortable with their body's curvature, Mystique is no high mountain to climb.
Well, it is if you're going for next level stuff, like this unknown cosplayer who re-enacts Mystique mid-transformation in an impressive 50/50 split. Add bonus points that it’s the outfit in the original comic book, and you have an incredibly inventive get-up.
10 Thanos: The Mad Titan
This intergalactic over-lord and his ruthless quest to complete the Infinity Gauntlet is all the hype nowadays due to Josh Brolin’s recent incredible performance. No doubt, this year's cons are going to be packed full of attempts at recapturing the character as real-live cosplay.
But very few are going to be able to pull it off, due to the design's high-maintenance and complex nature.
Well, not if they had the cosplayer group of designers Mnamna Cosplay behind it, as this impressive photo showcases their results. All the elements, from make-up to costume materials, result in a peak quality and all-around awesome piece of cosplay.
9 Man-Thing: Watch Out!
Man-Thing is a bit of an odd duck in the Marvel comics backlog. Swamp Thing (who was a rip-off) stole his thunder, and an attempt at live-action in 2005 was an utter joke, with the character sinking into obscurity unless you are a hardcore Marvel comics fan.
Well, cosplayer J.Purvis is one of those dedicated fans who took on the major challenge of the materializing the highly unorthodox design of this benevolent swamp monster and making it into a believable and impressive showcase for a deeply unloved hero in Marvel’s backlog.
8 Nightcrawler: A Throwback To The Comics
Nightcrawler happens to also be one the noblest X-Men around, despite looking like your trademark demon. The spandex, heavy blue paint, and makeup features make him a difficult character to do justice in a real-life variation, and although many have tried—not many have succeeded.
Sadly, this cosplayer remains unknown because he has pulled off a version of Nightcrawler that is, by far, the best one I’ve seen.
Great use of paint, contacts, and elongated teeth with the addition of him pulling off the traditional 80s style X-Men uniform from the comics. This brought this costume out the park, for sure.
7 Mojo: A Strange Choice
This odd and, let’s face it, kind of gross, cosmic Marvel villain, Mojo, is not an ideal candidate for taking to your Marvel Comic-Con. He’s excessively fat, pretty weird looking, and sports a bevvy of arachnid legs as his go-to way to travel. It’s a design that sounds cumbersome and headache-inducing in wearing and being mobile.
Not so for cosplayer Scott Whipple, who manages to execute on the impossible; plenty of latex and smart craftsmanship and clever use of hiding his own legs create this entity in feeling alive.
6 Rocket Racoon: Don't Call Him Rabbit
The tough fur-ball from Guardians Of The Galaxy was a scene-stealer from the outset of the movie and his several reappearances since. Helped by his endearing friendship with Groot, his dual packing pIstols, and Bradley Cooper’s voice acting, you will believe a racoon can be awesome.
Believing a decent cosplay costume can be made is another story, though.
Yet, luckily, passionate cosplayer Warren Goodwin was more than up for the task in this stellar coaction that looks like it literally stepped off-screen from Avengers: Infinity War, and that was a full-on CGI creation.
5 Red-Hulk: Unfathomable Power
Everyone knows the Hulk: green, mean, and uh… full of beans? He’s the classic Avenger with the short-fuse. What about the Red-Hulk, though? The same kind of guy except red? Nope, he manages to be even more powerful and invulnerable to damage than his green counterpart—and even has the option to grow stronger the angrier he gets.
This unknown cosplayer (photographed by AdamBMorgan) is an ingenious adaptation of the lesser-known Hulkster. Instead of going the full prosthetic route, he’s left his real head out as part of the costume, with simply fitted muscles stacked around his frame.
4 Nebula: The Sister
The roster of Guardians Of The Galaxy characters is filled to the brim with colourful, memorable, and unique characters, yet one that doesn’t get her due often enough (especially in cosplay) is Gamora's adopted sister Nebula. Maybe because she was a full-blown villain in the first, only to be swayed into a good guy for the sequel?
Or maybe because the costume is a pain in the neck to pull off.
Cosplayer Karin Olava was up for the challenge though, as she applied the complex layout of facial props, varied colour palette, and went the whole hog by getting that shaved head.
3 Throg: A, Well, Frog
An understandably bizarre if fondly remembered sub-plot in The Mighty Thor comics featured the Asgardian hero tricked into becoming a toad and having to survive Central Park. He also manages to meld his hammer and became known as the variant Throg. It’s a hilarious and surprisingly involving sub-plot for the big lug, but not one that beckons good cosplay.
That’s not the case with this unknown cosplayer, photographed by Midnight Sky Photographer at the Great Allen Town Comic-Con. He sure is rocking a human-sized variation of Throg, with some carefully placed eyeholes to make it easily manoeuvrable.
2 Venom: Still Better Than Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man’s longtime antagonist and fan-favourite anti-hero Venom is going to be enjoying a second live-action appearance. This time as Tom Hardy in his own solo movie. Yet, of course, that suit's going to be full-on CGI.
Yet what if the Studio was tasked with making the symbiote-suited long-tongued vigilante by practical means?
Even with all the full force of Hollywood, it most likely wouldn’t be as great as this costume by famed cosplayer Alex Brenot. He’s an expert in recreating the alien suit in an impressive display of visceral craftsmanship.
1 Korg: Rock, Paper, Scissors
This fierce alien rock warrior emerged as one of the most memorable characters from the Incredible Hulk’s iconic comic storyline Planet Hulk. Although movie viewers will know him to more controversial effect in Thor: Ragnarok.
Cosplayer Rawrbomb designed an impressively low-tech suit that looks like a million bucks. Based off the movie version (in the comics his design is the same but sports yellowish rock) this display of dedication, talent, and passion for recreating impossible Marvel characters is showcased in full glory for this cosplayer.