Iconic Masked Characters

We take a look at the best mask wearing characters from the movies…

FRANK is released in Irish cinemas this week, and features Michael Fassbender having to act his way through a giant Papier-mâché head. Fassbender does such a great job with his Frank Sidebottom inspired character, that we decided to take a look back at other great masked characters from the silver screen.


We know Lecter only wore that incredibly creepy baseball mask when he was being transported in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but it is such an iconic mask that we had to include it in our list. The mask implies that Lecter is almost like a rabid dog, and needs to be utterly contained when out and about in the company of people. The mask accentuates Hannibal Lecter’s chilling eyes, and is so famous that it was recently copied in the TV show HANNIBAL, but it was revealed earlier this year that this particular mask was not always the obvious choice for the character, when video distribution company Criterion Collection released footage of Anthony Hopkins trying on various face coverings – including what looks like a Fencing mask – while trying to find the look for the character.


Oh we bet you thought we would stick with the horror movie route for this article, but there are much more interesting movie masks out there than just the ones used in horror movies.
In Cameron Crowe’s 2001 film VANILLA SKY, Tom Cruise’s character David Aames is involved in a car crash that leaves him horribly facially disfigured. Surgeons attempt to reconstruct Aames’ face and leave him to wear a healing mask as he goes through his recovery. Aames struggles with the mask until he reconnects with the love of his life, Sofia (Penelope Cruz). Of course Aames’ mask is a symbol of the issues and trauma that the character is hiding and yes, there are moments when the mask is rather scary, but it is a useful device for the film and, once it has served its purpose, the mask is quickly discarded.


Stanley Ipkiss is a mild mannered man who never makes much of an impact and certainly never gets what he wants, that is, until he finds a mysterious wooden mask that turns him into a zoot-suited, green faced, human cartoon character, who is able to behave much like the over the top cartoon characters of old.
THE MASK is one of the first movies to being Jim Carrey to a wide audience, and his over the top antics cemented him as a comedian to watch. However, the Loki who inspired THE MASK on screen is obviously very different to the one we have recently seen in the Marvel movies, and never featured in the comic books at all. THE MASK was originally intended to be a franchise, but after Carrey passed and SON OF THE MASK was not well recieved, the idea was dropped.


V, played by Hugo Weaving, is a masked vigilante who takes a stand against the totalitarian government, culminating in a recreation of Guy Fawkes’s attempts to blow up Parliament on November 5th, 1605 and the striking image of an entire street full of people wearing copies of Vs mask.
Unusually, V wears the mask for the entire film; this is one of the reasons why actor James Purefoy walked away from the role, leaving it open for Weaving.
Since V FOR VENDETTA was released, his mask – designed for the character in the comic books by Alan Moore and David Lloyd – has been adopted internationally by groups protesting against politicians and banks.


It was inevitable that another horror movie crop up in here, and although there are older iconic masks used in movies, the mask used in SCREAM has become as iconic as the teen screamfest itself.
The mask, modelled on Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream, was designed to be part of a Halloween costume and was then picked up on by Wes Craven and producer Marianne Maddalena. In the film, the killer hides his face – and the fact that he is not working alone – under the mask, which in itself seemed to mock the terror on the victims’ faces. Ghostface is a bloodthirsty and tricky killer to catch, and takes as much pleasure in chasing his victims as he does catching them.
The mask has had a huge impact on popular culture and has been referenced in seemingly everything, from THE SIMPSONS to THE SOPRANOS to EASTBOUND AND DOWN.

Honourable Mentions to: Batman, Darth Vader, Judge Dredd and The Phantom of the Opera.

FRANK is released in Irish cinemas on May 9th

Words: Brogen Hayes