Welcome to the day when the spotlight is all about the cosplay, Saturday of Comic-Con Special Edition 2021!
Normally, Saturday is the day for giant group cosplay photoshoots usually arranged by a conglomerate (DC, Marvel, Disney, etc), the performance walk of as many characters as possible for video and picture purposes on the exhibit hall floor of Comic-Con, and it all accumulates in the hotly-anticipated annual Comic-Con Masquerade of cosplay Saturday night. For the Special Edition, I didn’t see any giant photoshoots with hordes of cosplayers, but there were so many incredible cosplayers walking the convention center that I got to take pictures of, and there was indeed a pared-down version of the Masquerade too. Those who performed at and attended the Masquerade were treated to one of the few surprise celebrity appearances at SDCC 2021, when John Cena showed up to demo a clip for his upcoming new series based off his Suicide Squad character, Peacemaker.
The Exhibit Hall where one can buy darn near everything geek and nerd under the sun also boasted a whole bunch of interesting backdrops to take pictures of your cosplay with, like a whole tree setup with NPC actors from Manta Comics’ Under the Oak Tree and feudal Japan-era bathhouses from the anime Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Completely lacking was the usual gigantic setups from DC and Marvel for whatever new movie or series they’re peddling this time and their accompanying endless Mobius-strip-like lines, but other booths brought their smaller but still quite passable A game setups for the con goers. The Pac-Man museum booth had original stand-up style Pac-Man games to play, Upper Deck had a dangling life-size Spider-Man and a lit-up life-size original Iron Man, and Gundam Base Pop-Up gave us no less than 3 different life-size (ish) Gundam robots to pose with.
Plenty of panels were available for the average con-goer to get into, including – a spotlight on Kevin Eastman, creator of arguably the most popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic ever, The Last Ronin; the journey of Mike Uslan’s memoir The Boy Who Loved Batman being made into a Broadway musical; the legacy of Gene Roddenberry and the San Diego Comic-Con Museum; the all-immersive portrayal of indigenous cultures in the upcoming video game from Guillermo Alarcon and Meta Studios, Mictlan: An Ancient Mythical Tale; a panel for the Russian comic book made into the Netflix sleeper hit Major Grom Plague Doctor, and so much more. But the panel with the biggest line should come as no surprise, as one of the few major Marvel associated panels SDCC Special Edition boasted this year – the highly anticipated Shang-Chi: Cultural Impact and Celebration of Fight Choreography. The line was so long that, despite my leaving an hour early and boasting a press pass, I was unwilling to wait for the rather unlikely chance to get in. I did get some great pictures of the cosplayers waiting in line though.
Everywhere the costumes shined, the fans inside them giddy with creativity and fellowship, some in mismatching couples cosplay, some in fan-atical entire groups with practiced dance moves for the Masquerade, as iconic characters gleefully faced off against each other while mugging for the camera. And while the spike heels with 3 inches of the platform may be an integral part of your “I’m too short” Witcher costume, consider doing what I did and carrying a backup pair of shoes, just in case!