Comic-Con isn’t a competition, more a fun-packed celebration of geek culture. Yet it’s very possible to “win” it! This time around it was the turn of an actor from the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, itself a franchise beloved among geeks. Ezra Miller decided to rock up at his panel wearing something that was pretty unusual even for Comic-Con.
Miller began film acting in 2008, with the movie Afterschool. Good things followed on almost immediately. Two years later he starred in the adaption of We Need to Talk About Kevin, which received a lot of critical acclaim. He was suddenly one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors, but there was a box he apparently wasn’t fitting into.
Miller isn’t straight, and identifies with the label “queer.” He came out in 2012 during an interview with Out magazine. Unfortunately, Hollywood was not entirely welcoming about this. “I was told, when I gave that interview… I was told by a lot of people I’d made a mistake,” he told Shortlist in 2017.
When the Shortlist interviewer asked Miller who had advised him not to come out, he declined to name names. “Folks in the industry, folks outside the industry. People I’ve never spoken to. They said there’s a reason so many gay, queer, gender-fluid people in Hollywood conceal their sexual identity, or their gender identity in their public image.”
“I was told I had done a ‘silly’ thing in… thwarting my own potential to be a leading man,” he said. But luckily he proved all the naysayers wrong by landing two huge roles. One of these was as superhero The Flash in the DC cinematic universe, and the other was as Credence Barebone in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Credence Barebone was a fascinating character and one of the most important ones in the movie. He added something new, the concept of an “Obscurial” – someone with repressed magic talents – to Harry Potter lore. Miller told Gay Times in 2017 that his experience feeling like an outsider when growing up helped him approach the role.
But now, Miller celebrates his uniqueness whenever he can. “Those times are really painful, but, of course, also very formative because they prompt us to step outside of society and to look at the world with fresh eyes,” he told Gay Times. So when he attended the San Diego Comic-Con in 2018, no one was going to tell him how to dress.
When he appeared for the Fantastic Beasts panel at the event, he was dressed as Toadette from the Super Mario series. This costume entailed a large pink mushroom headpiece, a pink waistcoat, a skirt and white leggings. It was an excellent piece of cosplay and very flamboyant indeed.
Toadette is one of the lesser-known Super Mario characters, but diehard fans of the game will still recognize her. She’s basically the pink-colored counterpart of Toad, another character. However, in 2014, the producer of one of the Toad games told GameSpot that actually none of the Toad characters officially had genders.
The internet was delighted when pictures of Miller’s costume started appearing. “This picture of Ezra Miller dressed like Toadette is truly what the internet is supposed to be for,” wrote actor-writer Zach Heltzel on Twitter. “King Ezra, not one for restricting gender roles, rocked a costume inspired by Super Mario character Toadette,” announced the website Pride.
Cosplay is a great outlet for self-expression. The concept, which originated in Japan, is all about creating your own costume to represent a character. But within the subculture of cosplay it’s encouraged to put your own spin on a character, and that includes males dressing as female characters and vice versa.
This is sometimes called “crossplay.” It’s been compared to drag and shares some similarities with it. Some cosplayers choose to be open about the fact that they’re dressed as a different gender, some seek to perfectly copy the mannerisms of the gender they’re cosplaying as, and some keep their gender completely concealed.
Miller has actually cosplayed at Comic-Con before, although never as a female character. In 2017 he went to his Justice League panel dressed as Edward Elric from the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist, leaving his co-star Ben Affleck completely baffled over what was happening.
And the year before that he went as a very well-known character, Gandalf the Grey from The Lord of the Rings franchise. He wore a hat and grey cape and carried a staff, but neglected to wear the famous wizard’s beard. Or if he did, not a soul recognized him on the con floor…
Other actors have had the same idea as Miller in years past. In 2013, Hugh Jackman revealed that he dressed as his character Wolverine for Comic-Con and no-one even noticed. “One guy goes, ‘Eh, not bad.’ And another one said, ‘Whoa. Way too tall buddy,’” he said on the X-Men: Days of Future Past panel.
That same year actor Bryan Cranston tried the same thing. He wore a “Heisenberg” mask to Comic-Con and walked among fans to see what their reactions were. A few people noted that his voice sounded just like the “real” Cranston’s, but no one knew for certain that it was him until he took the mask off.
Plenty of other celebrities have sneaked out among their fans at Comic-Con by concealing their features with a mask. They don’t necessarily put a lot of effort into the rest of their costumes, though, leading to many amusing and unscripted moments over the years. It’s just one more aspect of the geek convention.
There were a lot of surprises at the 2018 Comic-Con. Footage from the Wonder Woman sequel was shown, and the Walking Dead crew dropped a new trailer. And Johnny Depp, who plays Grindelwald, showed up unexpectedly at the Fantastic Beasts panel. He couldn’t beat Miller’s cosplay for the sheer delight factor, though.
During the presentation for the Fantastic Beasts sequel, Miller gushed about how excited he was to be such a big part of the franchise. “There’s nothing to not geek out over. Every single aspect of this movie is a geek-out fiasco,” he said joyfully. And after that movie, there will almost certainly be three more in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
In addition to Fantastic Beasts, Miller will also hopefully be playing The Flash for a long time to come. His solo movie doesn’t have a set release date yet, but it’s on its way. All things considered, Miller will have plenty more opportunities to cosplay in future years. He’s truly living his best life right now!