10 Unlikely Halloween Costumes Based on Recent Movies

By  · Published on October 6th, 2013

Welcome to my 6th annual list of halloween costume ideas. These are mostly original, yet also mostly unlikely suggestions. One thing a lot of them have in common is the fact that you’ll need to explain exactly what you are, even if there is some mainstream-recognized foundation. For example, if this was a list of costume ideas based on movies that haven’t come out yet, one might be “Justin Bieber as Robin in Batman vs. Superman.” The basic Robin uniform would probably be easily understood, but the fact that the colors have been changed to purple, white and black, and why you’ve got a mop top will require the clarification that it’s based on a casting rumor the singer made up.

I’d like to preface this year’s list by saying that I feel the past 12 months have either been uninspiring compared to other years – and/or I haven’t seen the hip movies of 2013. And I didn’t bother with much from the last quarter (as in post-Halloween) titles from 2012, because they all just feel like they’re from a century ago. Seriously, if you see anyone dressed as Abraham Lincoln and mention Spielberg’s movie, you’re sure to get a reaction of “oh yeah, there was that movie.”

Feel free to borrow any of the following ideas for your Halloween festivities, especially if you want something that’s a conversation starter. But you must send us pictures. And if you don’t like my suggesions but you come up with your own very original, very clever, very ridiculous costume, you still must send us pictures.

Superman With Blood On His Hands from Man of Steel

First up is a pretty easy one. Superman costumes are all over the place. It doesn’t even have to be anything resembling the uniform in this year’s movie. Wear blue pajamas with a red ‘S’ spray painted on the front for all anyone cares. He’s that iconic. Now just cover your hands in fake blood or red marker or whatever will indicate they are bloody. Why? Because people will not shut up about the idea that Supes killed not only Zod (did everyone forget he killed Zod in Superman II also?) but also thousands of others in Metropolis by way of the destructive fight sequence.

Jaeger Pilots from Pacific Rim

Here’s my couple’s costume for the year, which would work for hetero or same-sex partners depending on which characters you go with. Actually, you don’t even have to be any specific duo, though people like when you give them precise explanations, so just try to look like Raleigh and Mako (for the heteros, that is). There are even Gypsy Danger pilot uniforms for sale out there. Buy one or make your own. Now, connect your arms and legs to poles that are then also connected to your partner’s arms and legs, so you can only move in tandem. You’ll basically be like one of the Amazing Christopher’s shows (if you don’t know, here you go), except neither of you will be the dummie.

“Take a Knee” from After Earth

This year’s costume based on a movie line is a favorite from an otherwise disliked movie. I don’t know if it’s just people I follow on Twitter, but “take a knee” has caught on as a legitimate yet fairly ironic catchphrase. In the movie, it’s what Will Smith says to Jaden Smith (don’t tell me they had character names, because who cares?) when the kid needs to chill out, basically. What you should wear: a wetsuit with a hood attached to it. What you should do: anytime you’re not walking, get down on one knee. Unless you can figure out some way of making it look like you’re always on one knee, or if you can move about always on one knee. Careful not to accidentally become engaged to marry anyone who thinks you’re proposing.

Kris from Upstream Color

The hip highbrow movie of 2013 is the long-awaited sophomore feature from Shane Carruth. If you want to impress at a film studies department’s Halloween party and don’t want to be the umpteenth Travis Bickle, Nosferatu (uh, Herzog’s) or, more recently, Alien from Spring Breakers, then try out this simple idea. Just dress like how Amy Seimetz dresses in the movie, have a fake kitchen knife sticking out of your thigh, carry a plush pig and, with some of that skin putty stuff, make the shape of a nemotode on your neck or whatever visible fleshy area makes the most sense. Maybe your forehead. Feel free to fit the orchids in there somewhere.

Tilikum from Blackfish

If the documentary about killer whale captivity is going to be sold like a horror film, it’s only natural for Blackfish to lend itself to Halloween costumes. There are not surprisingly a good amount of orca outfits available, from the very chintzy to the very expensive mascot variety. You just need to make yourself more menacing with blood dripping from your teeth or a human leg coming out of your mouth. Just don’t let anyone assume that you’re supposed to be from the movie Orca. Tilikum, the mistreated killer whale turned killer whale is the new Jason Voorhees. Let’s make him a holiday staple. And if you want a good couples costume that sort of combines movies, you can get your girlfriend to be a legless sea park trainer, as Marion Cotillard’s character from Rust and Bone.

Sexy Enterprise Science Officer from Star Trek Into Darkness

Just a blue bra and black panties. No need to even bother with slipping one of those Starfleet logos on there. And it makes perfect sense. Halloween is a time for women to exploit themselves for sexy costumes, and the J.J. Abrams Star Trek sequel was a time for one woman in particular to be exploited for the drooling male Trekkie gaze.

The Mandarin, aka Trevor Slattery, from Iron Man 3

Who wants to dress up as a villain who turned out to just be playing dress up himself? Yeah, he’s an awful character, but the layers with such a costume are at least more interesting than what’s in the actual movie. Spoilers be damned, you have to act as Ben Kingsley does when it’s revealed the Mandarin is actually a British actor named Trevor who is just half a step away from Sir Ben’s character from The Wackness. There should be a lot of kids still wearing Iron Man costumes out there this year, and you should definitely taunt them by shouting “ole ole ole!”

The Butler and the Five Presidents from Lee Daniels’ The Butler

It’s a group costume. Or you can do it as a pair with any one of the POTUS portrayals from this historical drama. But you will have less luck finding an Eisenhower mask than a JFK, LBJ, Nixon or Reagan. As for Forrest Whitaker’s title role, I don’t know that it has to be filled by an African American but that might be a totally different sort of conversation starter.

The Zec from Jack Reacher

There are a handful of better known and recognized movie villains introduced in the past year. Calvin Candie. Silver Samurai. The Motherfucker. Possessed Jonah Hill. The proud mass murderers from The Act of Killing (which Herzog executive produced). But how often do you get a chance to do a character played by Werner Herzog? The main reason is so you can do your best impersonation of the filmmaker throughout the night. Now, understand that to really get the part right you need to literally chew your own fingers off (not that he did that, but had he been directing someone else in the role…). Also, you’re only allowed to show up to the party for about two minutes shortly before it’s over.

Astronaut With a Frosty Hole Through His Head from Gravity

If you’ve seen Gravity, you will appreciate the concept here. Not that you’d ever achieve anything close to the make-up job seen in the film on yourself. But costumes don’t have to be perfect, and as long as you have a space suit and put a hole in the visor and apply some simple hole-in-the-head make-up (there’s a tutorial for that) with fake icicles on your face, you’re good. By Halloween, anyone who is anyone should have seen the movie in order to also appreciate the idea. But hopefully nobody mistakes you for an Apollo 18 costume or a Prometheus costume.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.