Film and TV

The Best Halloween Costumes Based on New Film and TV Characters

At least it's not a Baby Yoda costume.
At least it's not a Baby Yoda costume. Karsten Winegeart/Unslplash
Creativity is the key when it comes to the best Halloween costumes. Sure, every Halloween party has at least one Harley Quinn or Pennywise, but the truly memorable costumes that go viral each year are those which feel original and unique. While online shopping has made it easier than ever to purchase prepackaged costumes, there’s nothing like finding raw materials and creating a fun costume from scratch.

Halloween only comes once a year, so that means a full year full of pop culture passes between costuming opportunities. Twelve months is a long time for new films, television shows, music and viral videos to come out, and it guarantees there will be new costume ideas each year. The last twelve months have taught us a lot of lessons, but they certainly weren’t short on exciting new content.

Of course, this year will be a lot different than any Halloween in recent memory. Trick-or-treating for young kids is limited and adults looking for a night of fun will have to find a socially distanced way to entertain themselves. Thankfully, we’ve got a few creative costume ideas in mind that are perfect for maintaining health guidelines. Check out these social distance-friendly Halloween costumes, inspired by this past year’s film and television.

The Protagonist in Tenet

Tenet is perhaps the most talked-about movie of 2020, and not just because of its mind-bending time inversion and confounding plot twists. Rather, it was seen as the film that determined the future of cinema by being the only major blockbuster event released in the wake of the pandemic. We can’t fully guarantee that it’s safe to see Tenet in theaters, but you might try dressing up as John David Washington’s unnamed protagonist in the film.
Inspired by famous film spies like James Bond and Ethan Hunt, The Protagonist is a suave secret agent who is tasked with stopping a plot to begin World War III. The suit and tie worn by Washington’s character aren’t anything we haven’t seen before, but in several key sequences in the film the character wears a full face mask in order to enter an inverted timeline and fight Russian bad guys. Talk about an exciting way to stay safe.
click to enlarge Gina Carano, Pedro Pascal and Carl Weathers in The Mandalorian. - DISNEY
Gina Carano, Pedro Pascal and Carl Weathers in The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian from The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian became one of 2019’s biggest shows; although a good deal of that attention was thanks to Baby Yoda, it’s also because of the series’ throwback approach to sci-fi storytelling. The titular character was inspired by the stoic gunslingers of classic westerns like Shane or A Fistful of Dollars, but unlike those anti-heroes, Mando wears full body armor throughout the course of the series. Mando wouldn’t remove his helmet and forsake his armor, and you wouldn’t want to take off your mask and do the same.

While there’s likely to be many Star Wars fans dusting off their Boba Fett costumes and repurposing them, The Mandalorian provides variety in its characters, including Mando’s tribe of armored warriors and the many new Stormtrooper designs that appear throughout the course of the series. Just please, don’t dress your dog or infant child up as Baby Yoda, because we promise that you’re not the first one to think of that idea.

Roy McBride in Ad Astra
Astronauts have been a common Halloween costume since the space race, so anyone looking to dress up as an outer space explorer is going to need a twinge of creativity in order to stand out. Consider Brad Pitt’s Roy McBride in last year’s criminally underrated Ad Astra, an emotional space adventure that sees Pitt venturing across the solar system to find his long lost father.

Ad Astra holds a lot of thematic resonance for everything going on in the world right now, as the film focuses on how internalizing emotions and not expressing fears can be damaging to someone’s mental health. It may be easier than ever to relate to a troubled character like Roy McBride, but at least you get to wear an awesome spacesuit. Pitt dons a number of cool outfits in the film as he avoids outer space danger, and none of them requires him to take off his mask.
click to enlarge Regina King as Sister Night in Watchmen - MARK HILL/HBO
Regina King as Sister Night in Watchmen
Mark Hill/HBO
Sister Night from Watchmen
Another layered piece of fiction that is beyond relevant to now, 2019’s Watchmen followed up the seminal 1986 DC Comics series by further exploring the ways in which discrimination and hatred have defined our country’s cycle of violence. Beyond providing new interpretations of classic characters like Ozymandias, Silk Spectre, Hooded Justice and Dr. Manhattan, the series introduced a new generation of caped crusaders, most notably Angela Abar, Sister Night.

Regina King won an Emmy for her performance as a Tulsa detective who masks her face to conceal her identity and discovers an insidious conspiracy that involves a white supremacist group, the cops and a skeevy politician with his eyes on the White House (in case you were worried the series wasn’t politically relevant). It’s an empowering character and a great costume that is equipped to hide your face.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.