Disguises in modern entertainment

Ever since Sherlock Holmes sported various outfits to operate incognito in the novels of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, disguises have become an important entertainment device to create tension and confusion in the storylines of TV shows and movies.

The most famous disguise in modern entertainment is probably that of the billionaire Bruce Wayne, more commonly known as Batman. As shown in this ExpressVPN infographic, disguises are also worn by villains in the famous franchise. In the latest movie, The Batman, the caped crusader encounters his traditional enemies, who also operate in disguises, in the form of the Penguin and the Riddler. It stars Robert Pattinson as Batman, with Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman. Paul Dano plays the Riddler, while the Irish actor Colin Farrell portrays the Penguin.

Comedy movie disguises

One way in which disguises are used as a device in movies and TV shows is to include the audience in the secret while the other protagonists are blissfully unaware. This is the case for disguises in the comedy genre. Ever since Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressed up as females in the 1959 movie Some Like It Hot opposite Marilyn Monroe, men dressing in disguise to pose as women has been used for comedic effect. This was also very successful when Robin Williams played Mrs. Doubtfire, which Variety reports is now a Broadway musical, in the 1993 movie and Shawn and Marlon Wayans did the same when they posed as two females in their roles as undercover agents in White Chicks in 2004.

Disguises in horror flicks

Of course, there are also examples where the revelation of the man behind the disguise is used for shock effect, such as the Friday the 13th horror franchise. As demonstrated by ScreenRant, the various iterations of character Jason Voorhees, who is usually seen wearing a hockey mask to disguise himself, feature a revelation of his face in order to scare and surprise the audience.

The same tactic is used in the Halloween movie franchise, which was created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill in 1978. The terrifying character Michael Myers stalks the movies with his mask disguise, creating tension among the audience. In 2021’s Halloween Kills, which sees Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her role from the original movie, the finale provides the audience with an impression of the man behind the mask.

Disguises can also play a role in weird and wonderful TV shows, such as the British dating show Sexy Beasts, which recently premiered on Netflix. The show involves blind dates where each contestant wears a disguise in the form of an elaborate mask featuring animals and mythical creatures. The idea behind the show is that people are attracted to personality as opposed to physical appearance.

Disguises are used in TV shows and movies to serve a range of purposes. They can introduce an element of surprise and tension to a storyline in superhero movies and are a staple of horror movies.  Disguises are also a useful device to include the audience in a secret concealed from the other protagonists in classic comedy movies.

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