Although the Covid-19 virus had already begun hitting the news – with many of us probably already walking around with it – we could never have guessed the 2020 C2E2 (Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo) would be our last major gathering before a social Apocalypse. Back then, Corona was just a side story and the only masks seen here were the kinds used to conceal one’s secret identity. If I’d known then what I know now I’d have done all three days of this event rather than just Sunday. But no-o-o-o-o. I had to give in to work demands while saving my vacation days for a Spring break road trip that would never happen. Sadly, “2020” would be an insane year rather than hindsight but it is what it is. So let’s look back on that carefree day that now seems like a lifetime ago.
In truth, after a hellish six days at the office, I came damn close to sitting this event out entirely if not for having tickets to meet an “Avenger.” Last year it was Paul Rudd a.k.a. The Astonishing Ant-Man and this year’s surprise guest was none other than the Incredible Hulk, himself, Mark Ruffalo. My kids and I were all anxious to meet him and celebrated the occasion by watching Zodiac (2007) the night before. It’s a movie that predates the MCU and features Ruffalo alongside Robert Downey Jr. a year before he’d be synonymous with Iron Man.
After making it through the checkpoint, we still had about 90 minutes to kill before the photo op which gave us time (though certainly not enough time) to check out the main ballroom.
Of course, you can’t tour the C2E2 ballroom without running into some spectacular cosplay…
When doing photo ops with MARVEL stars, my kids try to coordinate their shirts with the actor’s signature character. My daughter, Jade, opted for the female version of the green Goliath; Jennifer Walters a.k.a. the Sensational She-Hulk. When it was our turn for the photo-op, Ruffalo quickly reacted to her shirt. “Oh, that’s going to be an awesome series!” And then, just before the camera snapped, “You are really going to love that show!”
Mark was referring to the upcoming She-Hulk Disney + series. His enthusiasm would prove somewhat biased as it was revealed later that week that his Hulk would be making appearances. With better continuity promised between the MCU and its television counterparts I’m hopeful things will flow better than they did with the ABC and Netflix show – although that last season of “Daredevil” was damn near perfection and I’d give anything to see Charlie Cox make the transition.
After the photo-op, we walked to the other side of the hall to get into his autograph line which was already pretty long. Thankfully, some of that time was spent chatting with Jim Roche a.k.a. Svengoolie’s Producer and right hand man. Jim was with his girlfriend, Jen, whom I mentioned during my coverage of Flashback Weekend last year. Jim spotted me in line and came right over which made me happy but also horrible for not being able to help them out this year. Svengoolie appeared at C2E2 Friday/Saturday so, once again, if I had it all to do over…
At least I was at least able to see Jim and the amazing item he had with him – Tom Richmond’s original artwork of Svengoolie’s MAD Magazine page. Jim and the crew pitched in and bought it for his birthday which was a couple weeks later.
We finally made it to Ruffalo’s signing area and watched him interact with fans. One of his handlers was standing nearby and greeted us with a big smile. “He seems really nice,” I told her. “Mark is amazing!” she replied. From what I saw, she wasn’t exaggerating.
When we reached the table, his assistant asks what item we wanted him to sign, what color sharpie we wanted him to use, and where exactly on the item we wanted him to sign. He then wrote our preferences on a post-it note before passing it to Mark. Whenever possible, I like to getting my MARVEL Steelbooks signed and this year I went with The Infinity War (2018). I wanted it signed with a bright green marker in honor of the Hulk but was informed that sharpie had dried up 100 guests ago. Since Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet graces the cover, gold was my second choice.
We told him we’d just watched Zodiac and he responded, “That’s a really great movie!” I asked him if he and Robert Downey Jr. had stayed in touch between Zodiac and The Avengers (2012) and he said they had. “When the opportunity came for me to join the MCU, Robert called me and was like ‘come on over and be part of the family!” There was one big drawback with us chatting so much during this signing – mainly Mark disregarding that aforementioned post-it note and putting his signature on a different spot intended while taking up a huge chunk of the case. Oh well, there’s still plenty of room in the back for any future MCU signatures I’m fortunate to obtain.
Our mission complete (and my legs killing me from standing in line) we left soon after; satisfied with our accomplishments. Two weeks later the world turned upside down. In this regard, C2E2 would prove our “Mardi Gras” where many of us fans could let loose before the coming storm. And when you think about it, it was a pretty awesome one at that!