C2E2: Matt Dillon, Jason Momoa and ‘Star Wars’ tattoos rule Chicago expo

April 27, 2015 | 7:55 a.m.
Jim Schmid as Groot from "Guardians of the Galaxy" at C2E2. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

Jim Schmid as Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy” at C2E2. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

CHICAGO — Matt Dillon arrived about 15 minutes late for his interviews with media Friday at C2E2 at McCormick Place, but the “There’s Something About Mary” actor — who was promoting Fox upcoming supernatural TV drama “Wayward Pines” along with executive producer M. Night Shyamalan (Shyamalan was halfway done with interviews at that point) — had a plausible excuse when a Fox publicist questioned his tardiness.

“It’s a pretty big complex,” Dillon said with a half-smile.

He was right. Just walking the massive space in McCormick Place dedicated to the comic book and entertainment convention felt like a workout. The rows of tables went on and on, with some featuring comic-related goods and experiences for sale and others featuring celebrities and artists signing autographs. And with thousands of comic fans soaking it all in at a leisurely pace, and repeatedly stopping to take photos with the attendee dressed as Michelangelo from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or the ones wearing Stormtrooper outfits and holding signs that read: “Dude, she’s your sister” and “Clone some chicks,” good luck trying to get to a panel or, in Dillon’s case, a media session, in a hurry.

The sixth annual C2E2, which prides itself on its costumes and wants to become known as the epicenter of cosplay, ran from Friday to Sunday and was on pace to break its previous three-day attendance record, according to a representative for event organizer Reed Pop.

If you weren’t one of the many comic fans on hand (or were there but didn’t get to see everything, because there was really just so much to see and do), here’s what you missed.

Best costume

The winner of Saturday’s C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay was Jim Schmid, who dressed up as “Guardians of the Galaxy” tree and fan favorite Groot. The costume was definitely one of the best I saw all weekend, but my personal favorite was Travis Halsey’s towering Xibalba costume, even though the judges left it out of the final four. Xibalba — for those who don’t know, which I assume is most of you — is the villainous deity who rules the Land of the Forgotten in the highly underrated 2014 animated film “The Book of Life.” Halsey’s winged costume included a light-up mouth, eyes and fake candles, yet somehow only cost him $500, he estimated. “I wanted to do something that nobody else has done,” said Halsey, who owns Halsey Onstage costume shop in the Edgewater neighborhood. “I probably spent 100 hours on it. I could barely get through the crowd today, there were so many pictures.”

Most popular costume

It felt like you couldn’t walk five minutes at C2E2 without seeing someone dressed as The Joker’s sidekick, Harley Quinn. Just imagine how popular a costume Quinn will be at comic book conventions after Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) brings her to the big screen for the first time in “Suicide Squad” in 2016. “I grew up watching her character on ‘Batman the Animated Series’ and read her [in DC’s] New 52,” said C2E2 attendee and burlesque dancer Ramona Mourir, who Sunday dressed up as the version of Quinn featured in the DC bombshells series. “I have her ‘DC bombshells’ cover. The artist who did it, Ant Lucia, is here today. I’m drawn to 1940s pinups.” Other popular costumes at C2E2: Deadpool, The Joker, Captain America and “Guardians of the Galaxy” heroine Gamora.

Samantha Ronero as Poison Ivy poses with Brett Hodgkinson as Firefly at Chicago's C2E2. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

Samantha Ronero as Poison Ivy poses with Brett Hodgkinson as Firefly at Chicago’s C2E2. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

Momoa’s moment

Jason Momoa couldn’t reveal many details about his role as Aquaman in a planned series of “Justice League” movies during his Q&A session Saturday, which is a shame because that’s what people seemed most interested in. The “Game of Thrones” actor did, however, discuss what the role meant to him.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” Momoa said. “I never thought in a million years I would be playing Aquaman. I don’t have too many things my children can see. They’re both 6. My son is obsessed with Batman and my daughter is obsessed with Wonder Woman. It’s really lucky for my wife [Lisa Bonet] I’m going to be basically a superhero the next seven or eight years. I’m going to be living healthy and fit. It’s going to be chicken breasts for, like, the next 10 years.”

One woman introduced herself as a massage therapist during the Q&A session and flirtatiously offered her services, “in case your muscles are sore.” Momoa surprisingly took her up on it. “I’m not going to lie to you — get your [butt] up here.” The woman massaged Momoa’s arm while he answered more fan questions — until his wife came up in conversation. “She’s the fiercest woman I know,” Momoa said, turning to the massage therapist: “You should probably stop, because she’s going to kill you.”

Punk makes memories

The questions for MMA athlete turned comic book author CM Punk during his Q&A panel were all over the map. Fans wanted to know about his new MMA career, if his wife is pregnant (he said she’s not) and what he thought about the first picture of Jared Leto in character as the Joker for “Suicide Squad” (“It looks awful,” Punk said). Acting came up a couple of times, which is surprising, seeing how Punk hasn’t done much of it in his career. But he does seem to be open to it.

Did he audition for the role of Casey Jones in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” sequel?

“I didn’t, but I did audition for another part in the movie,” Punk told the crowd. “I’m not going to talk about it because it hasn’t been cast yet. I don’t think there’s a chance. I’m, like, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ But I’ve [thought] that at least a good two dozen times in my life, and it does happen. I would have loved to play Casey Jones. I thought Casey Jones would be a good fit. I guess I kind of look like him. I can wear a hockey mask and hit people with sticks.”

Rather than ask a question, another fan offered to give Punk the shirt off his back. Literally. The fan introduced himself as a local artist and took off the T-shirt he said he made — which featured the C2E2 name on it with a Cubs logo in place of the “C” — and handed it to Punk (the fan was wearing another T-shirt underneath). The fan then took advantage of the moment and gave Punk a long embrace as the crowd cheered. “Since I was diagnosed with MS in 2012, I live every day like it’s going to be my last,” the fan told Punk.

On the record

The following quotes have been edited:

“I spoke to [Shyamalan] and wanted to make sure he wasn’t just attaching himself to the pilot. No, he was involved and committed. That was super-important to me. I’ve always liked his films. They’re sci-fi films, but the characters are still believable, whether it’s ‘The Sixth Sense’ or ‘Signs.’ I thought he handled that part really well. If he hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be doing this.” — Matt Dillon, who plays a Secret Service agent looking for two missing federal agents in a mysterious Iowa town in “Wayward Pines”

“I’d like to believe [Terrence Howard] got [the part in] ‘Empire’ a little bit because he was so great on our show, and the studio saw that. I actually think it is true. He is amazing in our show. Everybody loved him. And so they were like, ‘Wow, this guy is … [awesome],’ which I knew. Terrence is from Philly, so we’ve been friends. He’s this super, pure, intense actor.” — M. Night Shyamalan on Howard’s role as a sheriff in “Wayward Pines”

“The Batman [comic book] line right now is about taking risks and trying new things. [But] we would never change things for sensational reasons. We would only change things if we thought we had a better story for you.” — Batman comic book writer Scott Snyder during Saturday’s “Caped Crusaders, Dynamic Duos and Darkest Knights” panel

A duo dressed as a Storm Trooper and Spiderman role play during C2E2 at McCormick Place in Chicago on Saturday.  (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

A duo dressed as a Stormtrooper and Spider-Man role-play during C2E2 at McCormick Place in Chicago on Saturday. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

Tattoo trend

I asked three of the artists working C2E2’s Tattoo Pavilion what was the most common request they had received over the weekend. They all said the same thing: “Star Wars” tattoos. “This year it’s been more so because of the new [‘Star Wars’] movies,” said Eric Vie, a tattoo artist at Engine House Tattoo in Germantown, Ohio. “There’s been a lot of hype. I’ve done Jedi symbols and Rebels logos. One guy [was interested in] a mash-up of Jango and Boba Fett as a tribute to his father or son.”

By the numbers

$2,500 to $3,000: Estimated price C2E2 attendee Jason Staadt said he paid for the various parts of his homemade “Ghostbusters” proton pack, which included parts ordered from a prop-maker in the U.K., Staadt said.

9: Number of hours 92-year-old Spider-Man creator Stan Lee was scheduled to sign autographs for, over three days. That was not including the five individual photo ops and Sunday panel he was scheduled for at C2E2.

18 or older: Age you had to be to handle and purchase the swords and blades sold at the Light It Up and the Grand Illumination merchandise table, according to signs.

4: Number of times I flinched during “Into the Further 4D Experience,” which uses Oculus Rift technology to give guests a virtual reality show that makes you feel as if you’re in a room with ghosts. The haunt was created to promote the horror film “Insidious: Chapter 3,” which is due out in June. How can I sit still when a ghost hurls a tea set in my direction?

$125: Price of the most expensive “Star Wars” lightsaber for sale at the Formula 350 merchandise table — or as the sign referred to them, “Glow sticks of ‘Destiny.’”

Sign of the times

Unlike at the Art Institute of Chicago, where selfie sticks are banned, selfies seemed to be encouraged at C2E2. The sign at the Finn Jones (“Game of Thrones”) autograph signing Saturday said: “Autographs $30, selfies with Finn $20.”

— Luis Gomez, Chicago Tribune


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