Steampunk Star Wars suits, sword-swinging Disney princesses and scantily clad superheroes—anything goes at Comic-Con when it comes to cosplay. The dress-up tradition in San Diego is as imaginative as it is impeccable; cosplayers nail every little pop culture detail in their excellent ensembles during the five-day comic and pop-culture convention.
It was hot in San Diego—maybe not by LA standards, but enough to spot stormtroopers sweltering underneath their helmets. That didn't stop massive groups of cosplayers from assembling on the San Diego Convention Center's back steps, though. The waterfront terrace often became a meeting point for like-minded groups of convention-goers clad in space suits, battle armor and superhero suits.
While much of the Comic-Con cosplay experience is about posing for photos—there's no shortage of photographers stationed backed there (us included)—we were taken aback by just how much of a social gathering it was. Don't let the villain masks and makeup fool you: most of the people we encountered at Comic-Con were pretty friendly folks. A veteran Darth Vader cosplayer showed off the toys fastened to his suit that he'd collected from fans over the years. A grizzled Batman happily modeled his cowl. A pint-sized Gambit fanned out his deck of playing cards. When we asked a colorfully dressed Fred and Wilma to give us their best Flintstones pose, they smooched each other.
Check out some of our favorite cosplay photos from Comic-Con 2016 so far—and check back throughout the weekend to see more of the convention's most creative costumes.
Photographs: Jakob N. Layman