2020 was a rough year for Comic Cons, but many have adapted over the last year to virtual, online events.  But there’s one realm in which Zoom just doesn’t quite cut it: cosplay.

I’m a massive fan of cosplay, and there’s just no real substitute for the energy of a Comic Con, where one can turn a corner to discover five different Thors comparing hammers or 5/7ths of the Justice League waiting for Aquaman and Cyborg to come out of the bathroom.

This vacuum was definitely felt in the WonderCon programming in 2021.  There was only one panel on cosplay, but as an avid cosplayer, I thought I’d shed some light on a fantastic sphere of cosplay that I had not previously considered.

What’s more, the panel offered cosplayers a way to get in more cosplay time, outside of the standard convention sphere.

Causeplay – In Service to Others had a simple message: “By using skills one already has and sharing them with others, people can help others have a better day.”  Seven members of the Avengers Initiative opened up about how they have angled their cosplay into volunteering for their communities.

Funnily enough, I had just recently and completely independently come across a Facebook post for an organization called Costumers with a Cause.  Unflustered by the pandemic, Costumers with a Cause quickly adapted to pandemic restrictions and continued their work, hosting outdoor, socially distanced fundraisers while adapting masks to their costuming efforts.  Costumers with a Cause is a national organization, with branches in Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and the midwest region.

Costumers with a Cause at the Light Up the Night Against Human Trafficking Marathon fundraiser

Costumers with a Cause promoting the Orlando Science Center’s Superhero Night to encourage children’s interest in STEM

For those of us in California, there’s the Avengers Initiative.  Seven of its members hosted the WonderCon panel to shed some light on what they do.  Their organization began in 2012, and has come together to promote food drives, visit children’s hospitals, and give back to their community while cosplaying as Marvel characters.  The panel featured both breath-taking cosplays as well as testimonials and personal stories that really tugged at one’s heartstrings.

A small sampling of cosplayers from the Avengers Initiative

With four chapters (East Coast Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Central Avengers, and Avengers Mid Pacific), the Avengers Initiative has a simple mission statement: “Our organization was founded to basically provide a collective identity for costuming fans with similar interests, the Avengers Initiative is proud to put its resources to good use through fundraising, charity work, and volunteerism.”

If you, like me, have spent the last year cooped up in your house working on cosplays, and are itching to get back out there, then joining a charitable organization like the Avengers Initiative is a great way to get that same Con energy while also doing some real good.  It provides more frequent opportunities to cosplay, to meet other cosplayers, and to use the cosplay to benefit meaningful causes.  There’s no real downside!

To learn more about the Avengers Initiative, follow their Facebook page, or check out their official website.  If you’re a cosplayer, this is your chance to be a hero – both literally and figuratively.