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Collapsible Helmet

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Heroes or villains who avert Helmets Are Hardly Heroic still rarely want to bother about putting it on, or removing the helmet and carrying it along. For them, there's a simple solution: the Collapsible Helmet.

Picture the scene: the character is wearing their Powered Armor or other such suit. And then they reveal themselves with an unbelievably cool helmet that just slides, clicks, folds and does all manner of other mechanical origami.

It operates by using Applied Phlebotinum, Functional Magic, storing components in Hammerspace, through Impossibly-Compact Folding, or maybe just a Hand Wave. However it works, this helmet can fold or vanish into the armor as if it no longer exists. When needed again, it can be summoned back in the blink of the eye.

The helmet often seems to activate without any apparent interaction or input from the wearer; it just extends or collapses with minimal fuss whenever the situation demands. Very handy for a Dramatic Unmask.

Even if possible in Real Life, this would probably be a bad idea. The multiple moving parts would certainly weaken the helmet and compromise its protectiveness in a fight or a crash — breaking into pieces is exactly what you want your helmet not to do. Also, you wouldn't want to accidentally hit the switch at the wrong time, nor catch your hair or nose in the closing mechanism. Thus, this trope is Awesome, but Impractical, with its impracticality overlooked in fiction thanks to the Rule of Cool.

A Subtrope of Cool Helmet and Cool Mask. Also a minor form of Instant Armor and Technology Porn. Compare with Retractable Weapon.


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  • Iron Kid: Violeta encases her face in a collapsible mask when fighting in order to protect her facial components and look cool.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Guts's Berserker Armor from Berserk. And that helmet? Looks like the head of a stylized hellhound, symbolic of Guts's inner beast. (It didn't before.)
  • Casshern Sins: Casshern has a helmet that retracts into his collar when not in use. Although it's a downplayed example, because in the entirety of the show we never actually see it do this, as he's either wearing it or not wearing it but is never shown donning it on or taking it off. We only know thanks to development material.
  • Zero's helmet in Code Geass. Unusual in that the actual faceplate has to be removed by hand after the rest of the helmet retracts into it. Instead of being built for protection, Zero had the helmet designed so he can conceal his identity while still being able to use his Magical Eye, which needs direct eye contact to work (facilitated by a hidden panel on the mask opening with the push of a button). In the second season he has it further modified with a retractable plate over his mouth so he can eat and drink without removing the mask.
  • Aron's space helmet in Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes, which appears as a metal collar before it's activated, unfolding into an astronaut's helmet in seconds.
  • Fate/Apocrypha: Mordred's Cool Helmet integrates into her armor at will. This actually impacts how she fights, since she can only use her ultimate Noble Phantasm when it's off and while it's on it helps hide her identity; in addition to physically covering her face, it serves as a secondary Noble Phantasm that prevents enemy Masters and Servants from easily discovering her skills or abilities. Using her strongest move requires her to reveal her identity freely, thus it deactivates.
  • Fire Force: Vulcan Joseph is a Gadgeteer Genius who, among his many animal-themed inventions, has a penguin-inspired helmet coming out of his firefighter uniform. It is also equipped with propellers allowing him to make ramming attacks.
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: Downplayed with main character Ledo's helmet, which folds backwards, becoming slightly more compact but still highly visible when not in use.

    Comic Books 
  • Batwoman (Rebirth): Future Kate's Batwoman uniform has one, complete with a built-in wig.
  • Captain Marvel: Carol Danvers has one of these in her Captain Marvel costume as designed by Jamie McKelvie.
  • East of West: The armored suits worn by the soldiers of Mao have a simplified version of this.
  • Iron Man: The Iron Man helmet, like the rest of the armor, can be collapsed in different ways. Traditionally, it could be depolarized, becoming like cloth for storage in his briefcase. Since implementing a facemask with his first red-and-gold armor, it can usually be flipped up over his head as well (or, in the case of the Silver Centurion armor, flipped up and into the helmet). And, of course, more recent developments have allowed the helmet (and the rest of the armor) to collapse into himself when not in use.
  • Nova: The Nova Corps uniform has a collapsible helmet. However, while it doesn't exactly fold into the armor, the usually hard Nova Corps helmet's material can become as malleable as fabric, for easy storage when removed. With a simple "flik", a Corpsman can turn it back into a hard helmet and take on a rigid construction when it is worn, which can keep them breathing in space, among other things.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The original Snowman helmet worn by Byrna Brilyant has a number of parts and seams that allow it to open and retract from her face to a degree. Her second helmet which she constructed while imprisoned by the Amazons is hardier and does not have any moving parts.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Ares helmet can behave articulated and go transparent, though given his entire appearance in the mortal world is something he's constructed and his very much magical how his armor looks and behaves is up to him.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Man of Steel: The helmet part of the Kryptonian armors can collapse or build itself from just a collar, as seen when Lois Lane is given one to allow breathing within the Kryptonian environment of the ship. The helmets seem to be made of form-fitting force-fields that can also turn opaque or transparent as needed.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League:
      • Steppenwolf wears a collapsible spiky and silvery armor. He collapses the helmet part as well as the upper part of his torso in sign of respect when communicating with Darkseid via hologram.
      • Cyborg can fully cover his head, especially when he flies to high altitudes, likely in order to protect what's left of organic in his face.
    • The Suicide Squad: Bloodsport's black helmet with a skull motif uses the same technology as the rest of his IKEA Weaponry and can fully collapse, although it doesn't disappear in his collar: he puts it on or remove it by hand before storing the very compact item in his Utility Belt.
  • Lost in Space (movie adaptation):
    • The normal spacesuits have collapsing helmets that seem practically holographic.
    • Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc) acquires a segmented, full-covering facemask that slides over his head and clings to his skin when about to enter the fight against the alien spiders.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man:
      • Tony Stark has a very simple version of this, where his face plate just slides up or down as necessary.
      • In the second film, Whiplash's armor has a fully collapsible mask, but there's enough room in the considerably bulky suit for this to work.
      • The same film has the Mark V suit where not only is the helmet collapsible, the whole suit is. Even then, the helmet is notably the last part of the suit to deploy.
    • By the time of Captain America: Civil War, Stark's technology has become so advanced that Iron Man's Mark 46 armor, as well as War Machine's, have fully collapsible helmets.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord has a facemask which assembles bit by bit and disappears into a device behind his ear when he isn't using it.
    • Black Panther: The Black Panther's second costume is made from nanomachines, and thus is wholly collapsible into the collar the king is wearing. T'Challa no longer has to remove the helmet part manually, as it vanishes or reforms with a thought.
    • In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scott and Hope's helmets collapse back into their collars.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Beyond the already established examples from previous films (notably, Star-Lord and Black Panther), Iron Man's armor and Spider-Man's Iron Spider suit being now too constituted of nanomachines, the helmet parts can come and go in a blink whenever they need to emote. A new helmet can even reform if the first one is torn off, as happen to Iron Man while fighting Thanos.
    • Captain Marvel: Kree body armor can manifest a helmet at will, allowing the suit to serve as a life-support system underwater or in space. The titular heroine has one of these, just like her design in the comics.
    • Avengers: Endgame: Beyond the usual suspects (Ant-Man, Iron Man, War Machine, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, The Wasp, Captain Marvel, and the unusual ones like Pepper Potts in her "Rescue" armor), the quantum suits are made from nano-tech and can fully collapse. The helmet parts are the first to come off after a trip, even if the rest of the suits stays. This allows the protagonists to show their faces at almost all times, except when the helmets are absolutely necessary, i.e. during trips in the Quantum Realm. Owing to the difficulty of applying this trope to users with long hair, in the case of Thor once more having long hair and now a shaggy beard as well, the movie cheats by only showing him with helmet either already on or off, never forming like the others. Likewise with Rocket, due to being an enhanced raccoon.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Mysterio's iconic Fishbowl Helmet joins the long list of superhero headgear that disappear into the collar of the costume in a blink of the eye. Subverted in that, unlike the others, the fishbowl exists solely as part of Mysterio's holographic disguise.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home: The collapsible nature of the Iron Spider nanotech suit becomes a plot point during the fight against Doctor Octopus. After ripping off the nanobots covering Spider-Man's chest and integrating them in his tentacles, Doc Ock goes for a deadly strike to the heart. The Iron Spider armor reconfigures to provides protection, but it's clearly low on nanomachines at this point and thus takes away those that were constituting Spidey's mask in the process. This ends up as a Dramatic Unmask for Octavius, who now realizes that the superhero he's fighting is not "his" Peter Parker.
    • Thor: Love and Thunder: Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor has an Asgardian helmet that comes and goes as part of her costume. In this case, though, it isn't through technology but thank to Mjölnir's magic.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania:
      • As in the previous Ant-Man movie, the Pym super-suits includes collapsing helmets (including Cassie's). They use it any time there's a pause in the action to show their faces.
      • Kang the Conqueror also has a Power Armor including an helmet that comes and goes, with a face shield that give his face the comic-accurate blue color.
      • As well as M.O.D.O.K., who has a large helmet instantly covering or revealing his giant head. (Well, it ain't like he could remove it with his tiny arms anyway.)
  • Spaceballs. Dark Helmet has a Vader-esque faceplate that slides up and down (often at the worst possible moment).
  • In Spider-Man 3, New Goblin has a facemask that seems to disappear completely in his costume when opened. Not that he wears it that often.
  • In the Stargate movie, the iconic, intricate Egyptian Mythology-inspired helmet/masks of the alien Horus Guards, Anubis, and Ra fold into themselves in an impressive display of digital effects.
  • Transformers Film Series: While there was some precedent in previous works, the films introduced a "battle mask" for a number of the robot characters, allowing them to have more emotive natural faces and then be able to switch to a combat ready mode. This is most notable with Bumblebee, whose mask is appropriately insectoid in appearance, and Optimus Prime, where his iconic faceplate completes the look.
  • In TRON: Legacy, the helmets worn by Clu and Quorra fold back at proper times for a Dramatic Unmask. Sam Flynn's costume also automatically generate the appropriate helmet for the Disc Wars or the Light Cycle match. Justified in this case, as this is in cyberspace where you don't have to obey physic laws nor keep track of extraneous objects.
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Valerian's (and presumably Laureline's) Powered Armor comes with a spaceworthy helmet that builds up from the collar when needed.

  • Riesel Tales: Two Hunters: Ramy's helmet is not able to be put on in the conventional sense: it emits from the collar of the suit as a series of ribbons that weave around her head and solidify.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Radiants have been spotted doing this with their Shardplate. Notably, modern Shardplate can't do this, so Dalinar is left wondering how they keep taking off their helmets and putting them back on the second he's not looking.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Earth-X, Dark Arrow, Overgirl and Reverse-Flash's facemasks can dematerialize with the push of a button, as if they were holographic. This comes in handy for a Dramatic Unmask when they reveal their faces to their Good Counterparts, because they can put them up again quickly for the ensuing fight.
  • The Orville: Krill soldiers have helmets that retract at the push of a button. It's eventually revealed that they have an extreme sensitivity to light, which is why they need the helmets and why they don't use them during an indoor firefight.
  • Commander Kaagh of the Tenth Sontaran Battle Fleet, from The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Last Sontaran". Strangely, there don't seem to be any other Sontarans in the Whoniverse who do this.
  • Space: Above and Beyond. In "Who Monitors the Birds", Hawkes tries Dressing as the Enemy by putting on the helmet of a Chig soldier, which is a partial version of this trope as gill-like neckpieces deploy and seal shut the helmet the moment he puts it on, forcing Hawkes to wrench it off again before he chokes to death.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 series, no doubt for budgetary reason, the intricate helmets of the original movie are very rarely shown. The impracticality of such helmet design isn't really relevant to the Goa'uld; being visually impressive as part of their God Guise is much more important than the helmets actually protecting them from harm. Helmeted Jaffa guards might be Elite Mooks but they're still disposable in the end, and the Goa'uld themselves have personal Deflector Shields to provide their actual protection from harm.
    • The pilot, "Children of the Gods", however, gives the Serpent Guards (and Apophis) more low-key Collapsible Snakeface Helmets that just sorta awkwardly stick up in the air when open. One episode implies that they collapse like the Horuses; Teal'c is helmeted, we hear the helmet-open noise when he's offscreen, and he's then shown with no helmet at all instead of an open one. This, however, never happens again.
    • The classic Horus helmets from the movie, even when they are seen, again due to budget reason, either do not open at all, or just aren't shown to onscreen like the serpent ones — with the exception of a disguised Teal'c on two occasions, with a fully-functioning Horus helmet. Interestingly, and awesomely, the second occasion shows us the helmet closing, which we didn't see in the movie, or on that first occasion.
  • Most Tokusatsu shows have this form.

  • Clu still sports one of these in the TRON: Legacy pinball.

    Video Games 
  • In one of the trailers for darkSector that looked very little like the game that eventually came out, the Powered Armor used by Hayden Tenno has one.
  • Dead Space:
    • Isaac Clarke of Dead Space 2 has various versions of his Resource Integration Gear (RIG), all of which have one of these helmets that can fold away and be stored in his suit. Often however, the helmet appears to unfold at points where it would not necessarily be a good idea, for example, when Stross attacks Isaac. It's left ambiguous as to whether this is the result of a design flaw, Isaac's own suicidal urges, or a little bit of both.
    • Dead Space 3 shows another problem: damage can result in the helmet not deploying. This nearly proves fatal when Isaac crash-lands on a frozen planet.
  • The head coverings for the Hazmat Suits in Death Stranding come on and off automatically when needed. This is more plausible than many examples as they're simply thin hoods to protect from (deadly) rain, not thick plates to defend against attacks.
  • Dino Crisis 3, features collapsing helmets for the protagonists, in addition to other collapsing doo-dads on their high-tech space suits, such as jet packs.
  • The player character of ECHO wears a spacesuit which includes a helmet that swiftly vanishes or reappears depending on the atmospheric conditions, without her so much as pressing a button.
  • Nagoriyuki from Guilty Gear Strive wears a demonic-looking helmet, with horns and an eyeless face. In battle, it comes off when he needs to bear his fangs.
  • Halo 4: The Didact's Helmet takes this a step further by assembling from free floating pieces, along with the rest of his armor.
  • Immortals Fenyx Rising uses a magical variant that's used for cutscenes. It's notably timed so it feels like it was always a part of the scene, such as Fenyx equipping it as she braces for the start of a battle well before the scene has actually ended.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Vanitas' doesn't so much collapse as it does melt away. However, a previous scene shows him putting the helmet on normally.
  • A Fantasy example: Zant from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In one of the final scenes before you fight him to the death, he finally reveals his face underneath the foreboding, evil helmet... among other things. He and his helmet return in Hyrule Warriors, where his introduction and chest-opening cutscenes show it open and close.
  • Mass Effect has helmets like this on all armor. Mostly it's noticeable for having it only seal when entering hostile environments while still having a faceplate that stays up, but if you want to more easily see characters' faces you can set it to fully retract during dialog. Notably, this only applies from a gameplay perspective: in cutscenes helmets don't visibly animate to showcase this trope, outside of characters handling their breather masks momentarily, such as during the Mars level in the third game.
  • While not straight-up helmets, almost all cyborgs in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance have a face plate that snaps on over their eyes and/or mouth, Raiden included, although his can be done manually in VR Mode.
  • Myst IV: Revelation: The spiritual masks that the Protectors wear while "Dreaming". Apparently they also vanish entirely when removed.
  • Prey gives you one as part of your E.V.A. equipment. It also comes in handy if you get locked in a freezer...
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Rather downplayed in the first game: Ratchet's O2 Mask will automatically equip when needed, but it's not given bespoke animations and is more of an auto-equip.
    • Downplayed to a lesser extent in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, where Ratchet's Commando helmet has a retractable oxygen mask that extends in certain locations ingame where breathable air isn't abundant, such as in the vaccum of space, underwater, and at high altitudes. Similar to the Mass Effect example, it's more through story as there's no bespoke animation for this.
    • In Ratchet: Deadlocked, the helmet on Ratchet's suit will collapse during cutscenes when he's not actively shooting something. When the shooting is about to begin again, it goes right back on. For the first time, it's given visible animations in certain cutscenes.
    • Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus features the return of this feature, this time transforming during gameplay rather than cutscenes. This is most visible in the opening level, where the helmet appears and disappears when Ratchet exits / enters the vacuum of space.
    • In Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, both Ratchet and Rivet's helmets do this by dissolving into light at the start of every cutscene and then back at the end. Since they're both in-engine, this often occurs in the seamless transition from cutscene to gameplay. This is especially helpful if the player has equipped a helmet that obscures part of the face, so they can be fully visibly during story scenes. If the helmet covers their mouth, it briefly keeps the radio filter for the brief moment the helmet covers their face!
  • Star Trek: Elite Force has the Hazard Team equipped with optional helmets that can be equipped in case they need to enter an environment with a hostile atmosphere. These helmets are stored in their transport buffers when not needed.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Atlesian Knights are humanoid robots. However, when they enter combat mode, a helmet plate appears over their faces.


    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman's hood can reform automatically, even if his hands aren't free. Quite useful to preserve his secret identity when Lex Luthor unmasks him.
  • The protagonists of Cleopatra in Space all have clear space/crash helmets integrated in their costumes, which collapse by pressing a button in the back. They also have the very useful function of deploying automatically if they're exposed to outer space.
  • In the first Wakfu OVA, The Throne of Ice, Count Harebourg's Xelor mask folds open or closes automatically when he wishes so, along with a block of ice encasing it that he removes or forms with his cold powers.

    Real Life 
  • While a full-head helmet is still considered Awesome, but Impractical in Real Life, folding bike helmets are beginning to hit the market (mostly in Europe). These are mostly three-piece designs with sides that fold or slid into the larger center piece making up the Front, top, and back of the helmet. A four-piece design can be found here.
  • Some motorcycle helmets incorporate secondary hinges so they can either flip up at the visor like normal or the entire front faceplate can slide back like in the film version of Iron Man. They're especially popular with long-distance bikers because it allows them to eat or drink without having to remove their helmet and doesn't muffle their speech.
  • Downplayed versions of this trope have been historically common. Many feudal cultures have developed military helmets with lower-able visors, removable masks, or attachable chain-mail so the warrior wearing it could adjust their degree of protection, visibility, and intimation depending on the needs of the particular situation.
  • There are also folding or stackable hardhats being sold as emergency gear for earthquakes in Japan.
  • There is, or was at some point, someone developing a mix of a bicycle helmet and an airbag. Worn as a collar normally, when its accelerometers detected a crash or fall, it deployed an airbag-like helmet.
  • Ollie's Things made a 3D printed collapsible helmet inspired by Lost in Space, and the model files are available to download. Though its own maker considers the shown model to be Cool, but Inefficient, as the 3D printed plastic panels are too thin to actually be protective, and it has to be manually held to the user's head in order to extend properly.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Helmet Origami


Isaac Clarke's Helmet

When Isaac puts on his Engineering Suit in Dead Space 2 (or any other suit for that matter), the helmet is built around his face. You can even see the small metallic arm placing the front side of his helmet from his chest-plate in this example.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CollapsibleHelmet

Media sources: