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And They Were All Harley Quinns and Deadpools: Should Character Popularity Influence Your Costume Decision?

Updated on January 14, 2020
Rochelle Williams profile image

Rochelle has been attending Dragon Con annually since 2006. She has participated in cosplay for over a decade.

One of many.
One of many. | Source

The debate

Every year around contide, you can expect people on the Internet to have opinions about cosplays they're not personally doing. One really common point of speculation is how many of any given character you're likely to see at con this year. The fact is, every year at con there is one fandom that produces one incredibly popular character that seems to populate the con disproportionately over other characters.

All this means, statistically speaking, is that there was a popular thing this year (or perhaps always). All costumes can't have equal distribution, that would be highly improbable. The year the Deadpool movie came out, there were many, many Deadpool cosplayers at Dragon Con. That was the same year Suicide Squad came out. So on that particular year, and many years since, there have been lots and lots of Deadpool and Harley Quinn cosplayers.

There is some debate as to how people should feel about this phenomenon, but in this article I'm going to break down why I'm okay with trendy costumes, and why you shouldn't feel any pressure not to pursue costumes you enjoy just because they're this year's common interest. In fact, I'll give you some info about why I think it's a great idea to join in with others who also loved the thing you like.

Do new things mean that older things aren't cool anymore?

I think one insecurity that causes people to react to large groups of people enjoying a new thing is perhaps a fear that this interest is fleeting, and that people who choose to cosplay something new don't stick with their old favorite fandoms year after year.

I personally don't feel this is true, and I think oddly enough that the best evidence is the Harley Quinn/Deadpool phenomenon. Even though they do get some criticism for cosplaying these incredibly popular characters, they're still in the mix, even on years that there isn't a movie for their fandom. So that interest in these characters isn't as fleeting as some may claim.

Just because you create something new for con this year doesn't mean you can't also fish last year's costume out of your closet and also wear that. New interests don't have to totally replace old interests.

Even if a person is only in a fandom for the moment, I don't think that form of enjoyment of media is invalid. Enjoy the things that are of interest to you right now, even if you choose to participate in other fandoms instead in the future.

Cosplay as a conversation starter

Frequently, the reason people attend cons is to be with other people who like the same things they do. The advantage to having a flock of Harley Quinns is that each Harley Quinn knows that the others are interested in the character, the fandom, the movie, the comics. These are people the cosplayer can have spirited, in depth conversations with. These are people who might have similar interests. These are people who might become friends. Definitely cosplay a character who can help you find new friends at con.

You can't be 100% sure what this year's big cosplay is going to be until you arrive at con anyway.

Even though we can make some educated guesses about what was popular this year and what other people seem to be working on, you're not going to know until actual con time what's going to be out there. Just because there's a new movie out that's well received doesn't mean that people will put the effort in. You shouldn't skip a costume just on the suspicion that the costume will be too popular for that reason.

You shouldn't let people bully you out of having a good time, particularly on the Internet

You are the one who made or bought the costume. You're the one who did the research. You're the one who took the risk to put yourself out their and participate. People who aren't doing that shouldn't have any input in your decision. As long as you're not hurting anybody, listen to your heart and be your Spectacular Spider-Self.

Image how cool it is to walk into a room and see a big group photo op taking place of just one character.

My first year at Dragon Con, I was in (I believe) the Marriott, and I remember walking through a doorway into a room that was full of just Slave Leia cosplayers. There was a fiberglass Jabba the Hutt, and all of those people were posed around it. In all of my years of going to con, that was one of the most impressive and awesome. A single cosplayer is interesting. A huge group of them? Awe inspiring. All of that work, and all of that dedication, and the result is this cohesive thing. Thousands of hours of work collectively, and it all comes together. That's what going to con is all about to me, seeing the collaboration of all these wonderful people.

If you do decide to do a popular cosplay, I really encourage you to seek out others who are doing it on Facebook and come together to create something awesome.

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