It's a new year, and the dead of winter is when a lot of cosplayers start thinking about their costumes for the summer. The new year is also a time when people make predictions. Popular cosplays can be difficult to predict, but there are certain things that make a costume more likely to be popular. Based on these factors, my picks for the likely breakout costumes of 2016 are:
The Legends of Tomorrow
There's a lot of choice for cosplayers who like DC's lesser-known characters. Lesser-known for now, anyway. Both parts of Firestorm, White Canary, The Atom, Heat Wave, Rip Hunter, Captain Cold, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are all fairly practical costumes (as far as cosplay is ever practical) because TV costumes have to hold up under punishment in a way that film costumes don't. There's also a pre-existing reserve of goodwill for these characters because of their appearances in The Flash and Arrow. Vandal Savage cosplayers will likely start multiplying as well, since new villains tend to be very popular on the cosplay scene.
Jessica Jones is one of the easiest potential cosplays of 2016, but she's recognizable despite all her gear being street clothes. It also gives cosplayers an opportunity to cop massive amounts of attitude in photos, so expect this one to be popular. See also: Kilgrave cosplays, because of the spillover of David Tennant fans from Doctor Who cosplay.
Jason Momoa's Aquaman
It's been a while since a Justice League character had this meaningful a physical redesign without totally changing the costume to something stupid. Furthermore, there's a pretty long run for this character - he's said to have a role in Batman v Superman, but his standalone film is scheduled for 2018. When you think about tackling a complicated costume, ideally there's some guarantee that it will be current for a while, so this one's a good fit. Also, bearded, vaguely unwashed-looking characters seem to be popular. I don't want to think about why.
Olivia Munn's Psylocke
Have you seen this suit? It's hot. Really hot. It has that combination of color, immediate recognition, and sex appeal that screams "instant cosplay hit". Other things in this costume's favor: a bodice just complicated enough to be more than spandex but still able to be crafted out of craft foam, and low-maintenance hair that can be copied with a wig style and color that's affordable and easy to find.
I think Black Panther will be the breakout cosplay from Captain America: Civil War, because he's a new character, and his suit design completely obscures a cosplayer's face. This means anyone can cosplay Black Panther without a facial similarity to actor Chadwick Boseman. The suit is just intimidating as anything too, and has just enough detail to be a challenge to make.