As promised, a post about the construction of the Post-Apocalyptic Avenger costumes which mr. biscuit and I constructed. This is long and wordy and boring and FULL OF PICTURES.
The Scarlet Witch
The first thing I did was Google Image Search. This is what the character looks like in comics:
There’s some variation, notably a two-piece quasi-belly dancer ensemble from sometime in the 90s, I think, but for the most part it’s this. Sometimes the neckline is drawn straight across, and sometimes the pink tights are removed and replaced by bare legs and a thong (yeah, I know). Before I could translate the look into another genre, I had to determine the most iconic elements of it. It being rather simple due to the limitations of the medium, that was fairly simple: a pink and red color scheme, a dramatic red cape, and a weird red head…thing.
The group determined that rather than portraying the superhero-canon Avengers in a post-apocalyptic setting, we were going to go with normal people who became the Avengers, as it were, in the wake of the end of the world; a gang trying to restore some order to the wasteland. So now I had to learn about said wasteland.
I like the idea of the post-apocalyptic genre, but I’m not well-versed in it, having never seen Mad Max nor any of its classic ilk; my major influences going into this were The Road, various zombie movies, and The Zombie Survival Guide. With that in mind, I figured that anything worn after civilization crumbles would need to be practical, functional, and reasonably easy to maintain. I then started my research into the genre, mostly at the Weekend Wasteland site, which has lots of tips and tricks, though I didn’t agree with all of their suggestions, especially regarding hairstyles. The idea of wildly colored hair, which is difficult to maintain and requires gallons of water that would be better used for drinking or cleaning, doesn’t gel with my idea of the end of civilized society. Sure it looks cool, but really? Regardless, the website was enormously helpful. The hairstyle thing was my first real “form VS function” debate, and through the whole process I tried to balance things that looked awesome with things that made sense.
My first concept was a biker. My dad rides motorcycles, and it’s always struck me as enormously badass. Plus, they get great gas mileage, can go almost anywhere, and are reasonably portable even when you’re out of gas. It also neatly solved my major dilemna, which was that weird head thing. Which, let me just say, the weird head thing? I don’t understand it. I don’t like it. No, I hate it. Because it is stupid. But if I did a biker, I could get a helmet and paint the design on it, and never have to think about it again! That left out the cape, though. I really really wanted to do the cape, and through my learnings, I can extrapolate that cape + motorcycle = disaster. So I scrapped that idea.
Eventually I came up with the concept of a bareknuckle boxer. That turned the cape into a duster/boxing robe, and the head thing into a bandanna or a sweatband or something equally easy and not pointy. I got a set of red boxing tape and started learning how to put it on. Meanwhile, I half-heartedly searched for a red leather duster, but found them prohibitively expensive, especially for something I was going to buy only to destroy. I figured I’d prefer to make the thing, and investigated using leather or vinyl or something similar, but see again re: prohibitively expensive. Plus, who wants to learn new skills? Pssh. So I settled on cotton canvas. It gave a nice drape, but was still sturdy, and from
struggling working with canvas before, I recalled that it frays magnificently. Plus, it was just such a spectacular red, and I know shit is supposed to be faded and old-looking, but the color is right there in her name.
As I was coming up with this concept, a friend alerted me to how Ms. Maximoff looked in the X-Men: Evolution cartoon show:
I was super excited about this, and proceeded to use it every time somebody said “but Scarlet Witch looks like XYZ!” Which, to be honest, only happened in my head. BUT.
My duster is made from Simplicity 5386, pieces 2(a), 3, and 4. I intended to use the collar, piece 5, but the instructions weren’t clear, it was late, and I wanted to show off my necklaces (more on them below), so I scrapped it. I originally thought “it’s post-apocalyptic, it’s supposed to look shitty, I don’t have to sew good,” but fortunately, I changed my mind. I wanted a garment that was well-constructed and then destroyed, not just badly constructed, so I took my time, finished all the seams, used a little decorative stitching at the hems, and then went to town with a seam ripper and sandpaper. I finished it, washed it (as hoped, it frayed magnificently), and then left it outside for…about a month, total. The pattern was easy, the duster fits like a dream, and I’m actually planning to make myself another one, potentially with all the pieces, later. I stabbed some holes and laced it with shoe strings after my first idea (chain) didn’t work.
The logo on the back is made from black duct tape, and the safety pins are a last-minute addition or they would have been grodier. Studs are size 13 black metal tree spikes from Studs and Spikes. I got them in bulk. I highly recommend the company; shipping was fast and prices were reasonable.
My next purchase was the pants. Wanda wears pink tights, but there is no way you’re going to convince me that tights are a good idea in the midst of total anarchy. I also wanted jeans, because when the fabric of society crumbles and we all start looting vacant department stores in a desperate attempt to clothe our naked, shivering bodies, we’re not going to find a bunch of leather chaps. No, we’re going to find jeans, and good thing, because denim is long-wearing, durable, and significantly more comfortable than leather. After a little searching, and a lot of time going “I can’t believe I’m about to buy hot pink super skinny jeans,” I wound up with these. As the image would suggest, they were shockingly, vividly pink. Plus, I found a coupon code!
I got them early, tried them on, and washed them. This is when we lived in the country, so I set them in a patch of dirt in the yard where the sun hit most of the time, and left them out through weeks of sunshine and storms. Every few days I would flip them over, like a brisket. Occasionally I jumped on them or ground my heels into them. When I judged they had I took some nasty old scissors to them, ripped them all up, stuck more black duct tape all on them (mostly reinforcing the outer seams, patching up the edges of the holes, and around the pockets and upper thighs, where I figured most stress would be). I wore them over an old pair of black fishnets, because layers and texture and sometimes practicality can be sacrificed in favor of a little sex appeal.
It was hard to get the dirt to stick, so Black Widow went at them with paint. They aren’t particularly comfy, because I’m not built to wear super low rise skinny jeans, but they looked comfy, and with the proper application of a belt they stayed put. And they faded, if I may say so, beautifully. For comparison:
I had a pair of belts (one red studded leather, beaten all up, and one black fabric, bought very last minute) crossed over my hips, with two flasks and two daggers hanging off of them. I wrapped the flasks in plastic and then duct tape for make-shift sheathes:
Also hanging from the belt was my personal favorite bit of the costume, which no one saw: the Vision Memorial Ribbon.
With all this, I wore a black ribbed tank top, which I had laying around. Because the long-sleeved fishnet shirt I ordered on the 18th didn’t ship until the 27th, I cut a pair of black tights in half, cut out the crotch, and wore them as sleeves. They loosely attach to the duster with safety pins, but I was constantly having to pull them up. I tore the hem off the bandanna, colored on it with a black Sharpie, and replaced the boxing tape (which was super bulky) with a pair of black and white checked, zippered fingerless gloves randomly purchased for approximately fifty cents at some store in a mall, I don’t know, I wasn’t feeling particularly well at the time.
Other than the dust, I’m most proud of my necklaces:
The initial idea was a mess of generically witchy charms, which I got, but as I was shopping I decided I also wanted some charms that were more personal to the character. Respectively, the wheel, the wishbone, and the Star of David represent Wanda’s adopted parents (who were Romani), her twin brother, Quicksilver, and her twin children, and her Jewish heritage (from her father, Magneto). This is a picture of the necklaces in progress; eventually I moved the “A” in the center of the middle necklace to the center of the braided leather chokers, and replaced it with a Deathly Hallows charm. Because, you know. Witch. The necklaces are mostly fastened with safety pins.
Makeup was my everyday foundation and blush (Bare Minerals, not super well-applied because I was pressed for time), with heavy black eyeliner (I couldn’t tell you what kind, as it is so old the label has worn off), and Mehron Fantasy FX in black, which was cheap, easy to apply, durable, and easy to remove. Other jewelry was a pair of earrings shaped like atomic bombs. I thought it fitting.
This is probably not necessary, but for the sake of consistency, this is Spiderman:
So what are the basics of Spiderman? Blue and red, a mask, his logo, and he’s covered from head to toe.
Not gonna lie, mr. biscuit and I had some trouble with Spidey. I had no ideas, and I spent a lot of time completely misunderstanding him when he tried to tell me his ideas. We tossed around the idea of chopping up track suits, covering him with fake spiders, covering his unmentionables with cardboard and painting the rest of him, but mostly we just bitched at each other. Protip: if you’re not a very good costumer, don’t try to help people you want to remain friends with.
We were struggling with the loose concept of a very acrobatic, quick individual who doesn’t wear much armor (thus the track suits), and finally, after we talked to the rest of the group about our troubles, Iron Woman alerted us to a deleted scene from Tank Girl:
We really dug what dudebuddy was wearing. Also, Lori Petty is awesome. But that’s not relevant! We dug it, and from there we came to the concept we eventually went with: a tagger. In, ya know, the post-apocalypse. So nearly everything on Spiderman, with the exception of his little spikey mohawk, is spray painted.
So Spidey from top to bottom:
Head: This is a painter’s hood we got at Home Depot or Lowe’s for around two bucks. We put it on a partially deflated vollyball to spray paint it–it took several thick coats and almost an entire can of spray paint, but it turned out well. Sunglasses are mr. biscuit’s own. I whipped up the mohawk out of my leftover canvas and spikes, because the hood fabric wasn’t strong enough to hold the spikes up on its own. It’s attached with hot glue. Giggity.
Neck thing: added last minute to cover the gap between shirt and hood. Fabric is leftover from Esperanza’s cape. I want to make this something better–and again, something a different color that’s been spray painted red–but…I’m not sure what. Yet. Um.
Arms: We hit on the idea of strapping spray paint cans to his wrists pretty early, and were overly pleased with ourselves for it. They are attached with two things: a pair of soccer shin guards and previously mentioned boxing tape for security. We used the red and blue cans we’d emptied while making the costume.
Shirt: Under Armour Men’s Heat Gear Compression in navy, long-sleeved. In retrospect, and considering how the pants turned out, we should have got black and painted it blue. mr. biscuit and Captain America spray painted the logo on front and back, using a complicated system of plastic bags, tape, and various mysteries I was not privy to, as I was inside experimenting with a duct tape corset that I ultimately chucked. I painted the Avengers logo on the back later, and was pleasantly surprised when it did! not! suck!
Pants: An old pair of black cargo pants mr. biscuit had laying around. We spray painted them navy and then added the red stripe freehand.
Shoes: Red high-top Chucks given to us by Iron Woman’s brother after her wedding (he outgrew them). Chucks: appropriate for every situation, from basketball to weddings to avenging human civilization. He’d already colored on them a little with blue Sharpie; we just finished the job. Oh, and replaced the shoelaces.
Dirty It Up(TM)
In our group’s quest to make everything look old and dirty very quickly, we discovered a couple of absolutely indispensable supplies: fine-grain sandpaper, sidewalk chalk in dark orange and brown, and Rustoleum Multicolor Textured spray paint, mostly in Autumn Brown.
Sandpaper is great for damaging things. I used it pretty extensively, especially to age my duct tape. I originally thought the really rough kind would be best, but that’s not the case–coarse sandpaper just makes things look like they’ve been sandpapered. The finer stuff, on the other hand, makes for a nice even aging effect.
The Sidewalk chalk and Rustoleun served the same purpose: making shit look dirty. “Dirty it up” became kind of a rallying cry/generally irritating thing that Hawkeye kept saying. The chalk is great for last minute stuff, as it’s fast and easy, and it comes off after, which is great for things you want to keep. The Rustoleum takes longer and requires a lot of setup (you have to spray from pretty far away to get a nice even dirt-like coat), but it’s pretty much perfect.
Loki is made from a fake severed head and a pair of plastic scythes from Costumes, Etc. We popped the scythes off their sticks, painted them yellow, attached them to the head with duct tape, covered the duct tape with fabric, and Rustoleumed the shit out the whole thing. He rests on 4′ of rebar, because it was cheap and pre-dirtied.
I love Loki. He lives in the backseat of my car, and sometimes I chat to him. When people asked to get in pictures with us at Dragon*Con, I let them hold the Loki Head.
If You Are Still With Us
I would love feedback, even if it’s bad. We have a photoshoot in a couple of weeks, like I said, and we have plans to expand and redo these costumes for next year’s Dragon*Con. Also, check out our Facebook page.