x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Ewoks, Batmen and Ninja Turtles wouldn’t be seen anywhere else than Dubai

It takes a special type to dress as a superhero or movie character … then go out in public. But inhibitions are not what Middle East Film and Comic Cons are about. Afshan Ahmed reports

Crowds browse the huge variety of comics and books for sale at the Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai, April 5, 2013. Sarah Dea/The National
Crowds browse the huge variety of comics and books for sale at the Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai, April 5, 2013. Sarah Dea/The National

DUBAI // It takes a special kind of adult to put on a cape, walk in public with an oversized sword or roll into a room wearing a mutant ninja turtle suit.

But there was no shortage of them. Thousands declared their unrestrained love for fantasy, comics and superhero flicks as the second Middle East Film and Comic Con opened this weekend.

Fans from all over the world crowded the Dubai International Marine Club at Mina Seyahi yesterday to meet and greet Hollywood actors, attend workshops on games development and animation, and watch those in quirky getups cosplay.

Stars included Warwick Davis, the title character from Willow, the Ewok Wicket from Star Wars, Manu Bennett from the TV series Spartacus, Alan Tudyk from Fireflyand Tara Platt, the voice of Wonder Woman.

"Not giving away the spoiler, I can tell you my character is three feet and six inches tall," said Davis, who will star in the newest of the BBC's science fiction series Doctor Who. "I'm slightly taller in high definition."

But the show was stolen by a tiny Batman, who was there with his Manga-adoring family.

Fadhel, 2, earned a spot on the star panel next to Sean Astin, who does the voice for Raphael in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and starred as Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings.

Dr Abdulla Al Mazrouei, Fadhel's uncle from Abu Dhabi, had tried to find his own Batman suit.

"I visited Mr Ben's Costume Closet, set up here, but could not find the suit," said the slightly disappointed Emirati.

"I grew up with my dose of Manga videos and comics, but I used to watch them in French."

Now Dr Al Mazrouei finds some of the mainstream superheroes more to his taste, with Batman, Superman and Street Fighter topping the list.

"In the past, I would have to get my comic magazines fix from outside the UAE. So it's great that Comic Con has finally made it here, and it's bigger this time, with more choice."

Several had descended from the Star Wars universe, with Darth Vaders, Stormtroopers and Princess Leias easily blending in with Motorheads from Transformers.

Even Little Red Riding Hood had no qualms about posing with the Big Bad Wolf for shutterbugs.

Ami Wiggins, 31, steered away from participating in the Cosplay competition, but did not shy away from wearing the Wonder Woman golden tiara and blue cape.

"I love all Marvel and DC comics. It is so much fun seeing everyone else dress up and have a good time," said Ms Wiggins, a Briton who was anxiously waiting to get her photograph of Ioan Gruffudd, Dr Reed Richards from Fantastic Four, signed.

"I have been a fan since his Hornblower days, when he played a midshipman."

The outlandish was upped by The Dark Knight Rises villain Bane, who had stationed himself near an air-conditioning unit holding his nine-month-old daughter in a Yoda robe.

"I fancied shaving my hair off this week, so I thought why not Bane," said Catboy, the Dubai radio presenter. "Betsy Pearl already had a Yoda outfit. It is getting really hot in this mask."

Jack Sparrow - or Nico de Corato from Italy - looked every bit the part from Pirates of the Caribbean, thanks to the make-up skills of a friend.

"Its Capt Jack Sparrow," Mr Corato corrected everyone who approached him.

"I chose this because my friend who did the makeup is the best friend of the famous Jack Sparrow cosplayer from Italy."

There were other competitions to attract gamers and comic book fans to test skills and knowledge. Arafaat Ali Khan, the director of ExtraCake, the company organising the event, said it was a bigger showcase this year.

"Its not about the numbers but about growing the content," said Mr Khan.

"We want this to be a landmark event in the Middle East. Everything is four times larger."

Warner Bros Interactive displayed its Injustice: The Might Among Us game for the first time to the public yesterday, with a competition that will have winners compete in the world finals in Paris.

Comic Con organisers, along with the Dubai International Film Festival and video production company Attitude, also announced a filmmaking competition, inviting ideas for a fantasy, sci-fi or fantasy film that would be funded if chosen.

 

aahmed@thenational.ae