San Diego Comic-Con: Thousands dress eccentrically, celebrate the annual event
One of the biggest pop culture events in the world has kicked off in San Diego, where thousands of attendees are dressed far more outlandishly than at your run of the mill conference. Comic-con brings together lovers of comics, film, TV and more. Mark Niu reports from the heart of the action.
Hours before show time, costumed crowds brave the San Diego heat waiting for the opportunity to strut their stuff.
"Are you a little hot today?"
"Oh yeah, we're sweating. It's like a sauna in these things. At least we use a little bit of weight though."
"We wanted to have a theme though as a family. We wanted to be able to have four characters that are part of a team."
"It's fun to get the little things to contacts to even the haircut. Just every little bit matters."
The holy grail of pop culture conferences is this expo venue, where people have been planning all year long how to make their entrance.
"Rocket pack started out as schedule 40 PVC well casing and had to build it up from there. Maybe three months for the rocket and another six months pulling everything together. Been coming here for five years now and means the world to me to be able to come here."
MARK NIU SAN DIEGO "Many look at the scenes here at Comic-Con and think this event is for adults who are really just big kids. Actually, a lot of attendees take pride in that sentiment. And there are some who believe these characters are worthy of further academic research."
MARK D. WHITE, PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR COLLEGE OF STATEN ISLAND "Every good superhero story focuses on some hard moral choices. And even though they are not mentioning Aristotle, Kant or Plato, people know that's what they are doing. And that's what I try to do in my work."
Philosopher Mark D. White will soon be releasing a book on Batman ethics and has already written books about Marvel Comics' Civil War and the Virtues of Captain America.
MARK D. WHITE, PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR COLLEGE OF STATEN ISLAND "The thing that people have to remember about Captain America is that he always focuses on principle over politics. So it's not supporting whoever is in office, it's supporting whoever is in office if they stand up for the principles."
White says that philosophy is certainly relevant in politics today. He's not alone in finding higher meaning in the world of comics. Psychologist Mara Wood recalls reading 300 Wonder Woman comic books in one summer, which helped her co-author the book, "Wonder Woman Psychology".
MARA WOOD SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST "Like looking at how compassion impacts people, how pro-social role models are so important. The idea of a community of women or a community of friends and how that all boosts people and makes them better."
Wood is one of the few school psychologists to utilize comic book bibliotherapy, that is, helping children to identify with superheroes in a story so they can learn from their situations.
MARA WOOD SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST "Most of psychology is - the therapeutic relationship between a therapist and especially the child -- if you can get them comfortable, if you can get them talking, they keep coming back for more. Usually using superheroes it gets them interested, it gives them a place to start."
So while the multibillion-dollar industry of comics celebrates characters that appear larger than life, academics say their true power is relating to the heroic desires in all of us that are just waiting to be unmasked. Mark Niu, CGTN, San Diego, California.