Continuing a yearly tradition that began at the defunct movie blog Spout, this is my 5th annual list of mostly original yet highly unlikely Halloween costume ideas. You can take any of these suggestions if you want, especially if you want to avoid having the same outfit as another person at the party you attend, and particularly if you want something that needs a lot of explanation — these tend to be good conversation starters for people looking for excuses to hit on you.
Mostly, though, the following ideas are not to be taken too seriously. Some are really just stupid jokes. But they’re primarily intended to visually remind us of some of the trends, criticisms, immediate icons and zeitgeist of the past year in film. For instance, last year‘s “Forrest Gump wearing an X-Men uniform” costume illustrated 2011’s penchant for Gump-like revisionist history in blockbuster movies. And back in 2008, there was a costume called “Nuke the Fridge.”
Sadly, in looking over 2012 for this year’s ideas, I realized that it’s been a very weak year for movie references worth calling back. Where are this year’s “nuke the fridge,” Antichrist fox, “Why cookie Rocket?” and “Winklevi”? Before too long, I might need to spin-off a TV version of this tradition to make it easier on me and more interesting to readers. Because we all know film culture is dead anyway, right?
Recycled Spider-Man from The Amazing Spider-Man
Starting with the cheapest shot of all, this costume is for all the people whose issue with The Amazing Spider-Man rehashing the wall-crawler’s origin so soon was their singular issue before, during and after seeing the actual movie. It’ll definitely be a good one if you’re out to start a fight at an event filled with movie and/or comic geeks, because this movie is one of the most divisive releases of the year. Just buy a regular Spidey costume and throw on some “recycled” stickers all over it. Add a toy T. Rex with its snout cut off to your shoulder for extra certainty that people will know which Spider-Man movie you are.
The Dark Romney from The Dark Knight Rises
Speaking of recycling things, here’s a call-back to the 1st of these costume lists in 2008, when I included a costume called “The Dark McCain,” because Entertainment Weekly had posted a cartoon of the then-presidential candidate in Batman’s suit (Obama had been depicted as Spider-Man). And people had been comparing the Caped Crusader to other Republicans, namely Bush and Cheney. So, with another Dark Knight movie out in another presidential election year, that’s mostly the reason for swapping in a Mitt Romney mask.
The other new twist could be to put a little model of the U.S. Capitol wearing a spidery respirator on its face, because this year the media made a big deal about how the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane, was a reference to Romney’s connection to Bain Capital and so the GOP hopeful was somehow meant to be aligned with the evil Occupy-to-the-extreme revolutionary. No, Romney is Batman, an inconsistent multimillionaire who changes his mind about his role in the protection and health of citizens in need.
The Avengers Assembled from The Avengers
Rounding out the third of this list devoted to superhero movies, here’s an idea for those who want to represent The Avengers but can’t decide which character to go as. Inspiration appropriately comes from Stan Lee, whose Marvel Universe trading card featured the legendary creator of Avengers members Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk rendered in a drawing incorporating pieces of all these and other heroes. You can go further by involving your whole body, so maybe each arm, leg and other sections of your costume assemble recognizable segments of the suits and masks of each major player, including Nick Fury (an eye patch), Captain America (“A’ on your forehead), Hawkeye (archery arm band) and Black Widow (red wig?).
Old Flash Gordon from Ted
I guess this is kind of a superhero costume, too, but not from a superhero movie. No, this one is an oldie but a goodie, thankfully brought back in style by the surprisingly gangbusters feature film debut of future Oscar host Seth MacFarlane. Dust off that 1980 store-bought Flash Gordon costume (they must have existed) you’ve been storing away in hopes of a re-release. But you need to age yourself with some eye makeup (or maybe you’ve actually aged enough, yourself). Dust some flour by your nose, because cameo-version Sam J. Jones is a cokehead, and maybe attach a teddy bear and a Mark Wahlberg action figure (I think the Planet of the Apes figure is his only one) and your 32-year-old movie reference is now a perfectly relevant new movie reference.
We Need to Talk About Katniss from The Hunger Games
One for the girls. Obviously there is going to be plenty of Katniss costumes out and about this year, but you can better them with a touch of satire. One of the biggest, most apparent commonalities in 2012 movies is archery — including The Avengers and The Brave — but the only other one besides The Hunger Games in which bow and arrow are used to kill kids is We Need to Talk About Kevin. Of course, in the former it’s for Katniss’s survival in a death-sport of the future, and in the latter the title character shoots up his high school with arrows intead of bullets. I recommend you mainly just braid your hair like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and then wear a high-fiving ketchup and mustard t-shirt and jeans. Don’t forget the bow and arrow, obviously. Why is this strictly a female costume? To keep it Katniss, and Kevin‘s Ezra Miller is kinda feminine looking anyway.
Loop Closer from Looper
I don’t want to mention too much about this film, so as to avoid spoilers, but this costume is very simple. Just wear whatever, but strap a bunch of gold bricks (probably best to make them not real ones, for the weight and the danger of being mugged) to your back.
Killer Unicorn from The Cabin in the Woods
There are so many monsters, villains and creatures to choose from in this movie. The merman is probably difficult, though, and slow moving. The Sugarplum Fairy might also be hard to pull-off, at least for the mask or makeup or however you want to do it. And a lot of others aren’t so distinct to this film alone. With this idea, you just need a basic unicorn costume and some fake blood for the horn. It’s good for furries who don’t want to change but want to add a bit of horror flair.
This is Not a Costume from This is Not a Film
The most obscure film on the list will probably get you the most points with hardcore cinephiles, especially if they’re in tune with documentary and Iranian cinema. Here you’re dressing up as filmmaker Jafar Panahi, whose government has banned him from making movies and put him under house arrest. You need a black v-neck t-shirt — for explicit detail you might want to specifically order a “this is not a costume” shirts (they already exist!) — and some jeans and flip flops. Maybe some reading glasses. For the last touch, put an iguana — real or fake — on your shoulder. Just watch out for any Iranian officials who mistake you for the real deal and try to lock you up.
Jack Jansen from The Paperboy
Also fairly obscure, since Lee Daniels’s new film just opened Friday and only in limited release, if you pay attention to movie sites and reviews you’ve probably heard about the movie and the relevance of this easy costume even if you haven’t yet seen it (I hear you don’t want to do that anyway). Like Zac Efron’s character throughout, you want to just wear some whitey-tighty briefs. To make sure nobody mistakes you for a guitar-less singing cowboy, however, you should also slap a jellyfish on somewhere — maybe your shoulder, since shoulder accessories are big this year, says I. If you’re lucky, by the end of the night a woman will pee on you.
Sexy “Engineer” from Prometheus
Another one for the ladies. To be honest, it was hard to find good, clever female costume ideas this year. But, of course, you can always take a male costume idea and turn it “sexy.” That is what Halloween is all about, right? There are even sexy Gizmo costumes! Actually, though, I think this one is important, because where were all the female engineers, sexy or not? Such an advanced race of humanoid creatures and their scientific/military missions are men-only? Well, maybe this will be a jump on Prometheus 2, which like Aliens could potentially introduce us to their “queen.”