The year of the ‘blerd’: cosplay edition

Black nerds, or ‘blerds’, have been reimagining their fandoms way before Zendaya’s ‘Spider-Man’ casting

The comic world’s most famous redhead is getting a makeover. Earlier this week, The Wrap reported that actress Zendaya will play Mary Jane Watson, the second most famous comic love interest (trailing only Superman love interest Lois Lane) in the newest Spider-Man reboot Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Predictably, controversy ensued over whether or not Mary Jane should be portrayed by a black woman. But as it turns out, Zendaya is pioneering the big-screen version of what thousands of fans have done for decades — remix their fandoms with their blackness. On the forefront of this movement are black cosplayers — fans known as black nerds, or “blerds,” who are dedicated enough to spend their time and money to embody their favorite characters.

The Undefeated went to Otakon in Baltimore to see these fans in action. Here they are:

The Pokémon first-generation starters
Sarah Fong as Bulbasaur
Maki Roll as Charmander
Byndo Gehk as Squirtle

Friends Sarah Fong, Maki Roll and Byndo Gehk cosplay as Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle from Pokémon.

The Undefeated

Tyler Hoover as Peter Parker, Spider-Man

Tyler Hoover cosplays as Peter Parker from Spider-Man.

Hilton George as Deadpool

Hilton George cosplays as Marvel’s Deadpool.

Chauna Lawson as Princess Mononoke

Chauna Lawson, aka CC the Greek Geek, cosplays as Princess Mononoke from the Studio Ghibli films.

Umbreon and Glaceon from Pokémon

Umbreon and Espeon Screen

Cosplayers remix themselves as Umbreon and Glaceon from Pokémon.

Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A cosplayer dresses as Rae from Star Wars

A cosplayer dresses as Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Ed from Cowboy Bebop

"Ed" from Cowboy Bebop

A cosplayer dresses up as Ed from the Cowboy Bebop anime series.

Harley Quinn from Batman

Harley Quinn

A cosplayer dresses up a “Kunoichi Harley Quinn” from Batman.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of Shield cosplayers

Cosplayers dress up as soldiers from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dark Link and Link from Legend of Zelda

Link and Dark Link cosplayers

Cosplayers fight as Dark Link and Link from The Legend of Zelda video game.

Chi-Chi from Dragonball Z

A ChiChi cosplayer

Chi-Chi from Dragonball Z poses, ready to fight.

Sesshōmaru from InuYasha

Sesshōmaru cosplayer

A cosplayer poses as Sesshōmaru from the InuYasha anime series.

Deathstroke from DC Comics

A "Deathstroke" cosplayer poses in a fighting stance

A Deathstroke cosplayer poses in a fighting stance.

Wario and Waluigi from Nintendo’s Mario

Wario and Waluigi Screen

Cosplayers dressed as Wario and Waluigi pose in photo shoot at Baltimore Otakon 2016.