[[quoteright:350:[[Creator/MarvelComics http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/347c06cf81a4ade9075c185b6019c5d7.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[ComicBook/CivilWar Comics]] vs. [[Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron Movies]]]]

->"''No actor is gonna let you pull a mask over their beautiful face the entire movie.''"
-->-- '''[[WebAnimation/HomestarRunner Strong Bad]]''', ''Comic Book Movie''

If a character is reasonably popular, through cartoons, comics or general folklore, they'll probably have some kind of iconic visage. In the world of Hollywood, however, any actor with the clout to play the character in question is probably recognizable to the degree of bankability, the actors just want the audience to see their faces, or they have difficulty emoting with it. Sometimes, the heavy makeup or costuming is just too uncomfortable or the film makers feel a character in a crazy get-up just looks too silly doing anything but fighting.

As a result, our strange-looking character is reverted back to a less costumed face (often by way of an AntiClimacticUnmasking), and may stay that way until the film's climax. Keep in mind this isn't just about character.

It's not so strange when you consider how important an actor's face is in "selling" the acting in media such as film where body language matters. Thus, it is not surprising that directors might want to be sure the audience has an unobstructed view of that important face at any especially dramatic moment. Comic books or prose narratives offer other methods of conveying the same information, rendering it less important to see the character's true face.

Compare HelmetsAreHardlyHeroic and ComicBookMoviesDontUseCodenames. May also result from ObscuredSpecialEffects.

[[folder: Films -- Animated ]]

* Strangely, ''WesternAnimation/{{Shrek 2}}'' has Fiona turning back into a human for a while (with ''Shrek'' turning into a human as well)--maybe just to get mileage out of the model. Maybe the animators hoped to use it in promotional material that [[LateArrivalSpoiler wouldn't spoil viewers who hadn't seen the first one yet]].


[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]

* Both sequels to ''Film/TheSantaClause'' feature a plotline that turns fat, old, jolly Saint Nick back into Tim Allen. This was at least partly because Tim Allen had an allergic reaction to the makeup used in the first movie and wanted to minimize the time spent in it in the sequels.
* A classic example: Gale Sondergaard was originally cast as the Wicked Witch of the West in ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'', and even did costume and makeup tests. However, she ended up walking away once it was decided that makeup and facial prosthetics would be used to make her look uglier, as she felt it might negatively impact her career.
* Likewise, Creator/ChuckNorris dropped out of ''Film/AmericanNinja'' because he didn't want to obscure his face by wearing a mask.
* While the back-and-forth transformations between Ben Grimm and The Thing are a staple of early ''Comicbook/FantasticFour'' comics, [[Film/FantasticFour the movies]] spend a lot of time with a non-deformed Comicbook/DoctorDoom. The second one goes to especially great lengths to get Julian [=McMahon=] out of his metal mask.
* The ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'' play with this:
** ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} has a mask in the comics but Creator/BryanSinger could not find a suitable reason to give him a mask in the movie, not to mention, they had trouble making it look good in live-action. That said, Wolverine still has an iconic look out of his mask so the effect is not that noticeable.
** Comicbook/{{Mystique}} is played by world famous supermodel Rebecca Romijn, and has the power to take any form. She had at least one "cameo" per movie without make-up.
** Comicbook/{{Iceman}} has an [[IcePerson ice-form]] in the comics that kind of obscures his face. In the movie series, we never see this form until the end of ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'' and even then, he ices up for only a few seconds to take down Pyro. He does ''finally'' ice up consistently in ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'', since by that point, the CGI technology required to pull off the transformation was now much less expensive.
** Pyro is maskless throughout the entire series, even though he wears one in the comics.
** And in ''[[Film/XMenFirstClass X-Men: First Class]]'', ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'' and ''Film/XMenApocalypse'', Mystique (now played by Creator/JenniferLawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) spend more time in human guise than in their blue skinned/furred forms. Lawrence does have more time in her blue form in the middle film, but still has quite a few scenes in her human disguise.
** A very controversial case happened in ''Film/XMenOriginsWolverine'' where we see a maskless {{Deadpool}} (played by Creator/RyanReynolds) for the first part of the film, only to disappear and come back for the climax, still with no mask but with [[MouthStitchedShut his mouth sewn shut]] instead. Though this differs from some cases since the sewn up Deadpool (AKA Weapon XI) was mostly another actor altogether (Scott Adkins), rather than Ryan Reynolds. It had less to do with showing the actor's face and more to do with a bizarre desire to not adapt the iconic costume.
** The ''Film/Deadpool2016'' SpinOff plays with this. Deadpool does wear his iconic costume and mask this time, but there are also a lot of {{Flashback}}s showing a pre-Deadpool Wade Wilson, ensuring that we get plenty of shots of Ryan Reynolds' handsome mug. However, the ''marketing'' focused almost exclusively on Deadpool in costume, except for literally ''one'' poster where his original face is visible.
** Comicbook/{{Cyclops}} subverts this and remains under his glasses/visor in all scenes except for brief glimpses where he has his eyes shut. Justified in that his eyes constantly fire energy blasts so the audience can never get a good look at them.
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'':
** This is a common theory for why none of the live-action Batman films (or the [[Series/{{Batman}} 60's show]]) have Batman and Robin wearing [[IrislessEyeMaskOfMystery masks with opaque white lenses]]. The look works fine in comics and cartoons where the ExpressiveMask trope is in full effect, but doesn't work in live action because it prevents the actors from conveying emotions with their eyes. Creator/LeVarBurton had similar complaints about his VISOR prop from ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', for instance.
** ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' does have Batman wearing white lenses, but the scene is very brief and is basically just there as a MythologyGag. Similarly, he has white lenses in ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'', but only in his armoured costume. His regular one lacks the white lenses, like all the previous films.
* Not transformed back, but after Creator/JackNicholson becomes ComicBook/TheJoker in the 1989 ''{{Film/Batman}}'' film, there are stretches where he puts on enough makeup to pass for normal. Well, [[UncannyValley almost]].
* Used with Batman In ''Film/BatmanReturns''. He takes his mask off when trying to talk Catwoman down from killing Schreck. There seems to be little reason for Batman to show his identity in front of two villains, other than to give Michael Keaton some more face time for the dramatic final scene.
* ''Film/BatmanForever'':
** Creator/JimCarrey spends about half his screentime wearing the famous Riddler DominoMask, which makes sense, considering it doesn't hide much of his face.
** ComicBook/{{Robin}} only wears his mask in the climax but he more than makes up for it in ''Film/BatmanAndRobin'' where both heroes have masks for much of the screentime.
* Examples from ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga'' include:
** In ''Film/BatmanBegins'', Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow spends almost ''all'' his time out of the mask, only putting it on for a few seconds at a time when he's using the fear gas.
** The Joker spends all his time in makeup in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' except for a few seconds where he is without his make-up, although the scene is shot in a way that it is hard to see him clearly.
** More strikingly, Bane spends the whole of ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'' in a mouth-and-nose-concealing mask, with a brief, maskless view in a flashback. In the same movie, Comicbook/{{Catwoman}} wears driving goggles that look a little like her iconic mask but these scenes are few and far between.
** Due to the run time of each movie, we get a lot of Bruce Wayne out of the batsuit as well. Justified in that the first one is an origin story and the third one deals with him coming out of retirement or recuperating from a broken back.
* The ''Film/SpiderManTrilogy'' also contains many examples:
** While he is not particularly abnormal-looking outside the costume, ''Film/SpiderMan2'' has a plot element where Peter loses his powers, allowing a good chunk of the movie to have Peter just be Peter.
** The first ''Film/SpiderMan1'' movie is an origin story so its is understandable that we don't see the costume for the first chunk of screentime. Although, there is at least one scene in which he has little time to change his costume and fights maskless in a dark alley.
** ComicBook/NormanOsborn keeps his face covered during his fight scenes but is sure to have his helmet torn away at the end of the climax, although it's done as a dramatic unmasking moment to lure Peter into a false sense of security.
** Also happens in the end of each movie. Excuses are constantly made to show his face, mostly due to battle damage. Usually thanks to rips and tears that are magically fixed by the credits.
** All the movies ''and'' the reboot are pretty bad about him deliberately taking off his mask at times that nobody who felt the need to wear one so ''bad guys won't learn his identity and go kill his family'' would ever do so. Apparently, keeping the actor's eyeballs onscreen at all times, as if we'll forget what he looks like if he spends two minutes straight in the mask, is more important than the character's actions ''not'' being absolutely nonsensical.
** In ''Film/SpiderMan3'', we get a token few minutes of ComicBook/{{Venom}}'s wonderfully creepy tooth-filled maw before he starts peeling back his "mask" every time he speaks -- probably to give Creator/TopherGrace some more face time.
* ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderManSeries'' was also guilty of this:
** Since it is an origin story, we have several scenes of Peter learning how to use his powers out of costume, including his very first battle, which he stumbles into by accident.
** A less justified example are the scenes in the basketball court or at the football field where he blatantly displays his powers in front of several students.
** In the climax, the Lizard removes Peter's mask and his face is bare for the rest of the movie until the credits.
** Peter does remove his mask in a deleted scene when searching the sewer for The Lizard. You'd think he'd want to keep it on so as to diminish the smell.
** Also in the scene where he is saving a small boy from falling off a bridge, he finds a reason to get rid of his mask: he has the kid wear it so he won't be afraid.
** The cops also manage to take it off when they capture him, forcing him to fight with his face concealed. It also, conveniently, exposes his identity to Chief Stacy, and lets Peter emote.
** The climax of ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2'' has Peter [[spoiler:removing his mask so that we can get a good view of his anguished screaming after Gwen is killed. This is however justified, given that he would want to be closer to his girlfriend and was in denial about her death.]] The rest of the movie avoids this, keeping Spidey's mask on for the majority of the the film.
* In the ''Film/LordOfTheRings'' movie trilogy, Creator/AndySerkis felt depressed about his groundbreaking work as Gollum being relatively anonymous. So the filmmakers shot a flashback scene as Sméagol for him.
* In ''Film/KingKong2005'', Andy Serkis' main role was obviously Kong himself, but he also had an appearance as a human character in the ship's crew.
** Likewise, in ''Film/KongSkullIsland'' Kong is portrayed by Creator/TobyKebbell, who also plays one of the soldiers.
* Creator/SylvesterStallone only spends about ten minutes with his helmet on in ''Film/JudgeDredd'', despite the fact that in the comics we have ''never'' seen Dredd with his helmet off (At least, not when he wasn't wearing some face-altering disguise or covered in bandages).
* Averted with Karl Urban in ''Film/{{Dredd}}'': the only time he is seen without his helmet is at the beginning of the film as he gets dressed for work and it's too dark to see his face at all.
* Billy Zane gets a lot of face time in ''Film/{{The Phantom|1996}}'', considering he's playing a character whose face is never shown clearly in the comics.
* Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse:
** ''Film/IronMan1'': While Tony is seen quite a bit out of the suit, having his mask come off in the final fight seems to be for this reason. The films are also full of shots showing Stark's face from inside the Iron Man helmet, although that may just be because shining some lights in Creator/RobertDowneyJr's eyes is much cheaper than fully animating the suit in flight. Such scenes also serve to make the in-flight conversations with Jarvis slightly less TalkingToThemself-ish, and they're relatively common in the source material anyway. And on a more meta level, we have the very last line of the movie:
--->'''Tony:''' (''to a whole press conference, live on national television'') The truth is...I am Iron Man.
** In ''Film/TheIncredibleHulk'', we get a lot of scenes showing Bruce Banner (Creator/EdwardNorton) untransformed, while the Hulk himself has less screentime. Ditto for Creator/TimRoth's Emil Blonsky, who looks like a normal human for most of the film and only transforms into the Abomination just before the final battle.
** In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'' Steve Rogers spends a lot of time not wearing the half-mask hood—sometimes as himself, and other times with it simply pushed back. At one point, he wears a helmet instead. Probably justified, because it's not like he really ''has'' a SecretIdentity in this 'verse.
** The ComicBook/RedSkull spends about half the movie wearing Creator/HugoWeaving's face before he finally [[DramaticUnmask dramatically peels it off]].
** ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'': Many of the heroes spend a great deal of time unmasked; Tony Stark and Captain America as above. [[ComicBook/TheIncredibleHulk Bruce Banner]] spends most of his time as a human also (though this is what he ''prefers'' in the comics). Meanwhile, ComicBook/{{Hawkeye}} has no mask at all even though he wears them in the comics, though this makes sense since he's not a costumed vigilante here. This is most evident in the posters for the film, which shows bare faces for everyone. On top of that, during the big final battle, a {{Mook}} rips Captain America's mask and he doesn't bother putting it back on. Likewise, [[spoiler:the group tears Iron Man's helmet off in order to try and revive him after he falls back to Earth from space. Both Tony and Steve are noticeably maskless when the team confronts Loki in Stark Tower after the battle's ended.]]
** ''Film/IronMan3'' has an unusual variation on this: [[spoiler:Tony spends most of the climax jumping in and out of several Iron Man suits, which the BigBad keeps destroying.]]
** In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier,'' Cap makes a point of removing his mask/helmet when he is taunted by Batroc on the ''Lemurian Star,'' presumably so Chris Evans can have a good unmasked fight sequence. [[ComicBook/BuckyBarnes The Winter Soldier]] also spends a significant of time unmasked after his mask gets knocked off halfway through the movie. Like Tony in ''Iron Man 3'', Cap also spends a significant portion of the film in street clothes without any sort of costume at all.
** ComicBook/TheFalcon doesn't wear a mask ''at all'', even though he has one in the comics. He does have a pair of goggles, but only wears them while flying.
** Pretty much across the board, the posters for the MCU productions almost never show the heroes who wear masks or helmets actually wearing them (links: [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/37/Captain_America_The_First_Avenger_poster.jpg]] [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f9/TheAvengers2012Poster.jpg]] [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_small/9/99801/2966197-iron+man+3+poster+final.jpg]] [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8f/GOTG-poster.jpg]] [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1b/Avengers_Age_of_Ultron.jpg]] [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11/113509/4236444-8594185204-ogafP.jpg]] [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/0/40/4415304-b-tmpnuviaaxmkj.jpg]] [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/11/113509/4427345-2612939781-B_L9X.jpg]] [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/11/113509/4417516-1821728050-B-zFL.jpg]]).
** ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'' heavily redesigned ComicBook/{{Ultron}} so that rather than having a static Jack-O'-Lantern visage, he now sports a fully expressive and animated face. Creator/JossWhedon defended the choice by saying that it'd be a waste to hire an actor of Creator/JamesSpader's caliber and then ''only'' have him do a voice-over. Steve also ditches his helmet for the entire final battle, which is only explained in a deleted scene (the first thing he sees in Sokovia is graffiti of himself in full costume with "fascist" written over it).
** ''Film/AntMan'' plays with it. Scott actually does keep his mask on whenever he's using his powers (because in this continuity, the helmet is a life-support system, meaning he ''needs it to live'' while shrinking). However, when he has it on but isn't using his powers, he often flips up the face plate so we can see Creator/PaulRudd under the helmet. Like many of the examples above, the movie also has a huge number of scenes where Scott is not wearing the costume at all. {{Averted|Trope}} with Comicbook/TheWasp, who is ''only'' ever seen with her mask on in flashbacks.
** Like ''The Winter Soldier'', ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'' has several action scenes where the characters aren't wearing any costumes. The theatrical posters also often had Cap and Iron Man maskless, but this was taken UpToEleven for the individual characters posters, where ''none'' of the Avengers had on their masks. And of course, we once again have our obligatory scene where Spider-Man's mask is knocked off during a battle.
** Peter has his mask taken off several times in ''Film/SpiderManHomecoming'' as well, while the Shocker straight up doesn't wear one at all. In an inversion, the Vulture wears a face-obscuring helmet despite not having one in the comics.
** In the comics, Hela wears a mask as part of her trademark CoolHelmet in order to hide her decaying face. In ''Film/ThorRagnarok'', Hela only has the mask in a select few scenes (even while wearing the helmet), and is still [[AdaptationalAttractiveness gorgeous without it]].
** Much like the Batman example, Black Panther usually has white lenses on his mask in the comics. In the live-action ''Film/BlackPanther'' film, he has the white lenses, but they can be retracted to show off his eyes. His costume also has an InstantArmor aspect, meaning he can unmask at a moment's notice for scenes requiring dramatic acting. That last part ''is'' straight from the comics, at least.
* The ''Film/{{Hulk}}'' film features Bruce Banner (Creator/EricBana) untransformed prominently.
* ''Film/{{Daredevil}}'' has his mask ripped off right before his final fight with Comicbook/TheKingpin, while Bullseye doesn't wear a mask at all.
* Inverted somewhat in the film adaptation of ''Film/{{Watchmen}}'', where Rorschach spends more time in costume than he did in the comic, specifically the prison break scene (where he originally was unmasked). But then, who'd want to be the director who tried to [[BerserkButton take Rorschach's "face" off him]]?
* During one scene of ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd'', we see Bill Nighy instead of Davy Jones.
* In ''Film/TheFugitive'' the plot calls for Dr. Kimble to spend most of the movie in disguise; the filmmakers deliberately had him start out some distance from Creator/HarrisonFord's usual look, so that when he disguised himself by dying his hair and shaving off his beard he became the Harrison Ford audiences were paying to see.
* In ''Comic Book: The Movie'', the hero appeals to Creator/BruceCampbell, starring in a movie about his childhood idol superhero, to make the movie about the original character rather than the recent DarkerAndEdgier version. He mainly appeals to Campbell's ego, saying the classic costume would allow far more of Campbell's face to be seen than the new one.
* Universal Pictures executives ''wanted'' this trope to apply to Creator/JimCarrey when he played The Grinch in ''Film/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas'', pushing for less-Seussian makeup than what Rick Baker had designed, and Carrey and director Ron Howard got so fed up with this that one makeup test they sent for the executives to consider was just Carrey painted green. The executives finally accepted the elaborate Grinch makeup/costume, the movie was a huge hit and Baker won an Oscar.
* In the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' novels, Death Eaters wear masks when attacking, though the main characters can sometimes guess who's behind the mask by their voice. In [[Film/HarryPotter the films]], the Death Eaters are played by good-looking actors with vocal fanbases, so they usually tend to remove their masks.
* In the rather strange film adaptation of ''Film/TheSpirit'', we see plenty of Creator/SamuelLJackson's face in his role as The Octopus. In the comics, The Octopus' face was never, ever shown.
* Justified in ''Film/GreenLantern'', where Hal Jordan's DominoMask explicitly only appears when he's trying to hide his identity. (Hilariously, in one scene where he ''does'' try and hide it from Carol Ferris, it fails spectacularly as she quickly sees through the act.)
* In the film adaptation of ''Film/TheATeam'', the title team goes through passport control in various disguises. Hannibal Smith, with his usual gray hair dyed black, is essentially disguised as Creator/LiamNeeson.
* Storm Shadow rarely wears his ninja mask in both ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra'' and [[Film/GIJoeRetaliation its sequel]]. Even when he does wear his mask at certain scenes, he'd take his time to take it off when facing Snake Eyes.
** Averted with Snake Eyes himself. His mask never comes off even once on either film. We only get to see his face as a child in some flashbacks, but his adult visage is a mystery.
** An interesting case with the Cobra Commander and Destro. In the first film, Cobra Commander (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has his face covered by a half mask most of the time and the visible part of his face is horribly scarred. When he finally removes his mask he only does so for a few seconds before exchanging it for an entirely new one that covers his entire face (we do get to see his actual face on flashbacks, though). In the sequel, his face is never seen (possibly to cover the fact that he's played by an entirely different actor) as he wears his iconic helmet all the time. Meanwhile, in the first film, Destro's face is always shown as that of a regular human right until the end, where he gets disfigured and Cobra Commander injects him with a compound that turns his face metallic. In the sequel, his metallic face is only seen for a few seconds behind a glass pane at the beginning, and never again.
* Deadshot is rarely without his mask in the comics or on TV[[note]] [[Recap/JusticeLeagueUnlimitedS2E4TaskForceX Task Force X is notable exception]][[/note]], but in ''Film/SuicideSquad'' he almost never wears his mask, lest [[Creator/WillSmith Will Smith’s]] face be hidden.
* Downplayed in ''Film/PowerRangers2017''. The Rangers' helmets cover their faces in battle, but also have open-faced modes, which they default to while piloting their Zords. A couple of teams in the actual show could do that, but not the originals.
* Casey Jones (as played by Creator/StephenAmell) only wears his trademark mask in one scene of ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesOutOfTheShadows''. They actually poke fun at the mask by having him speak with it on, only to find that it heavily muffles his voice. Shredder also spends a lot of the movie not wearing his helmet.

[[folder: Live-Action TV ]]

* Seen often in ''Series/{{Smallville}}''. ComicBook/GreenArrow seems to spend more time out of his hood and sunglasses than in them while in costume [[spoiler: even before outing himself]]. And this could be the reason why the writers took so long to give Clark his mild-mannered, glasses-sporting civilian disguise.
* For the first season or so of ''Series/{{Arrow}}'', Stephen Amell's version of Ollie never wore a mask. It wasn't until late in the second season that he finally started sporting a variation of his DominoMask from the comics. Ditto for Colton Haynes' Roy Harper, who doesn't even start wearing a costume until Season 3.
* In the ''Series/{{Batman}}'' television series from the sixties, Creator/AdamWest and Burt Ward spent most of the episodes in masks, albeit without white lenses like the masks from the comics. Considering the series was aimed mostly at children, this makes sense. It is however, played straight with Frank Gorshin who played the Riddler. Apparently, the Riddler mask was uncomfortable so Frank whipped it off every chance he had.
* Like the Batman examples above, ''Series/PrettyGuardianSailorMoon'' has Tuxedo Mask wearing a mask without any opaque lenses.
* ''Series/TheIncredibleHulk'' often had the majority of the focus on Bill Bixby's Dr. Banner, with Lou Ferrigno's Hulk often only showing up for fight scenes and action sequences. This is simultaneously an inversion, considering that the Hulk is the title character and Ferrigno himself is a name actor.


[[folder: Other ]]

* In the video game ''VideoGame/SplinterCellConviction'', Sam Fisher starts the game wearing a dressed-down ensemble and a standard gun, which is a far cry from the iconic infiltration suit getup he wore in the first three games. Over the course of ''Conviction'', though, he eventually reverts back to the original getup by obtaining several key pieces of equipment (including his signature gun and trademark goggles).
* Yūga Yamato doesn't wear a mask while portraying Tuxedo Mask ([[TheArtifact thus making the name somewhat inaccurate]]) in the ''Theatre/SeraMyu'' musicals. Past actors who played the character usually eschewed the mask as well.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Naruto}}'' manga and anime, Hinata and the other members of Hyuga clan all have white irides and pupils. The live-action stage show instead depicts Hinata with normal-looking eyes, albeit with blue contact lenses.
* Rather famously, the stage adaptation of ''Theatre/ThePhantomOfTheOpera'' altered the Phantom's mask (and underlying deformity) so that it now only covered half of his face.