Age of Apocalypse: Making the Coolest Cosplay of Comic-Con 2014
San Diego Comic-Con always brings out the cream-of-the-crop cosplayers, who’ve worked tirelessly — some even over the course of a few months — to become their favorite geek-centric characters. But nothing during this year’s convention was able to top the hulking Apocalypse cosplay that stomped its way through the hallways.
If you were one of the thousands of Comic-Con 2014 attendees, you probably saw this intricate creation by Cinema Makeup School. It was hard to miss! While actor, FX artist and frequent CMS collaborator Mick Ignis was the one inside the immense suit — a slender, 6-foot-tall man made a good 7 feet when fully costumed — the cosplay itself was the creation of a group of CMS students, led by the school’s director of admissions, Lee Joyner
“Originally I had planned to create Darkseid from DC Comics,” wrote Joyner over e-mail. “However, when an opportunity arose to work with Marvel, I quickly switched to Apocalypse. They’re both big bad villains, but Apocalypse’s armor was more intricate than Darkseid’s, so it led me to making sure I chose a partner that had cosplay armoring in their toolset. That person was CMS student Walter Welsh, whom I tasked with the armor and bodysuit sculpture, bringing on fellow student Kelton Ching to handle to bodysuit construction and assist with the armor and body sculpt.”
According to Mick Ignis, the entire process took more than four months, with Joyner, Welsh and their team creating the suit and headpiece, using a body cast of Ignis as a reference. Broken down, that time comprised the two months it took to make the face mask and cowl, and more than three months to make the suit and armor pieces, which were inspired by the classic ‘X-Men‘ comic book images of Apocalypse.
CMS student Kelton Ching, a cosplay enthusiast himself, custom made the stretch fabric costume, while Welsh designed and created most of the armor pieces from scratch, stenciling and then cutting out shapes from EVA foam floor matting (the same material that comprises those blue gym floor mats).
Joyner supervised the entire effort, but he personally crafted the face of Apocalypse. Working late hours after his CMS administrative duties and on weekends, he both designed and sculpted the mask and cowl, as well as patched on its foam latex skin. Three head sets were created, one for each day Ignis transformed into Apocalypse at Comic-Con 2014.
Led by Welsh, the makeup team dedicated roughly two hours to apply the facial makeup — this does not include the time it took the actor to slip into the prosthetics, which added an extra 70 lbs. (and even more once perspiration occurred). According to Joyner and Welsh, the first step in the daily transformation process was inserting the headpiece, described as “a tight hoodie,” and painting on the makeup.
“Turning me into this massive titan took quite a bit of polyfoam, which kept me pretty heavily insulated,” Ignis wrote to ScreenCrush over e-mail. “You could literally see steam pouring off of me when they removed the suit. I did not envy them having to dry that thing out at the end of the day.”
In the end, all the effort culminated in a character that sent some onlookers running away in fear and others, especially the children on the convention floor, staring up in wonder. “There were quite a few adults that I terrified as Apocalypse, but the kids were always in absolute awe,” recalled Ignis. “To them, this wasn’t an actor in an elaborate makeup and costume. This was the real thing. There was a sense of wonderment in their eyes that was absolutely priceless. I wasn’t able to stop for every photo, due to scheduling and pure exhaustion, but I never turned down a picture with a young comic book fan. ‘GREETINGS, TINY HUMAN. DO YOU WISH TO GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN WITH APOCALYPSE?’”
Photographer Eric Anderson was on hand to snap pics of the end results. Check out Ignis in his full glory as the imposing ‘X-Men’ villain below.
Check out even more incredible cosplay from Comic-Con 2014.