Now here's something you don't see every day Spider-Man dancing "Gangnam Style" next to the Olympic fountain at the Gateway Mall. Worst of all, The Joker who doesn't even belong in the same universe as Spider-Man was standing right next to him, and the two didn't start a scuffle.
The web slinger's gyrations as the song was blaring over the fountain's loudspeakers wasn't the only thing drawing quizzical looks from passing shoppers during a hot Saturday afternoon. There was a host of comic superheroes parading around downtown Salt Lake City as part of a "cosplay" scavenger hunt to promote the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con convention Sept. 5 to 7.
There was Batman, The Penguin, Bane, Charmander from Pokémon, the Assassin from the video game "Assassin's Creed," and not one but two Deadpools, the mercenary Marvel anti-hero. It was enough to cause a rip in the space/time continuum.
"Some [passers-by] are really excited to see you," said James C. Carlson, 27, an Ebay employee from South Jordan who was dressed in a custom-made Batman suit. "And there were some who say, 'Who are they? What are they doing? I need to get out of here!' "
Cosplay is the term for comic-book and pop-culture fanatics who dress up as their favorite movie, comic book or video game characters in a loud-and-proud display of their nerdom. The Saturday "Cosplay Games" treasure hunt was just a taste of what it will be like when the convention opens at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
"There's something about not being yourself," Jacob Harmon, 19, the dancing Spider-Man from Magna, said about why he likes to cosplay. "You just want to have fun."
Carlson was with his band of friends all dressed up as characters from DC's legendary Caped Crusader universe, including villains Bane, The Scarecrow and The Penguin. Fortunately, they didn't battle it out in front of the kids playing in the Olympic fountain (if you've seen "The Avengers" or "Man of Steel," such encounters usually leave a city in rubble).
Instead, Carlson and his friends picked up raffle tickets for prizes given away at a cosplay party held at the Fear Factory haunted house later in the day. The Gateway was one of 10 downtown locations where cosplayers had to go to pick up tickets.
"Unless you are really into this culture you don't know the term ['cosplay']," said Tamara Elsberry, associate producer for the Salt Lake Comic Con who helped organize the cosplay scavenger hunt. "They're deep into the pop culture, and they love the comic book characters, and they love the movies."
That's why 21-year-old Kat Raines of Heber City was willing to brave the heat in her own homemade Charmander (from the "Pokémon" games) costume made of foam, fabric and hot glue.
"It's fun to walk around and see everyone's reactions," she said, melting in her costume. "It's an easy way to get out of yourself."
Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi