I have always wanted to be Superman, my girlfriend has always wanted to be Wonder Woman, and we both love Halloween.
For our costumes this year, we wanted to tap into that childhood desire to be our heroes. Wonder Woman was a box office smash this year, and everyone is feeling the energy of female empowerment. Superman is a beacon of hope and justice, one that we need in these harrowing times. The timing just seemed right to us, and we were super excited to do it. But we also wanted to highlight that childhood element--that sense of awe and wonder that we felt as kids, watching and reading about our favorite comic book characters. We figured it'd be challenging, but nothing says childhood quite like LEGO, so we went for it.
- Foam Mattress Topper, preferably 1/2" thick, though for Superman's hair we used 1" thick bed foam and it made a big difference. We got ours at Walmart. It's hard to say how much we ended up using, but we started with two King size ones and tried to economize as much as possible. We definitely went back and bought more, though.
- Some cardboard for prototyping, stenciling, and some of the details. We got ours for free from the cardboard bin at Costco.
- Some white poster board.
- Lots and lots of spray paint.
- Hot glue gun(s) and lots of glue
- Two plastic construction helmets
- An old pair of black stockings to cover the mouth holes in the head pieces
- A store-bought cape and some color-matching long sleeved shirts.
Step 1: Sketching, Measuring, and Conceptualizing
First thing's first: We had to figure out just what the hell we were doing.
We bought some LEGO Superman and Wonder Woman keychains for reference, and found some basic measurements online to work off of. I used some algebra to convert the tiny LEGO metric measurements to human-scale inches (no small feat for me), and created some diagrams of what we'd need. Once we got the ideas down on paper, it was a lot easier to move forward with a plan. This was going to take a lot of time and materials, so we didn't want to make unnecessary mistakes. Drawing things out was key.
Step 2: Cutting the Pieces
Once we finalized our measurements, we created cardboard prototypes to double check. Then, we used them as stencils to get the shapes out of our bed foam. We were making two costumes, so everything was doubled, and we did our best to economize space on the foam mattress toppers.
Step 3: Spray Painting and Stenciling
Once we had all our pieces cut out, we used painter's tape to separate different colored sections and got to work spray painting, which is far more time consuming and difficult than one might imagine. The bed foam takes color beautifully, though, and the pieces were already looking fantastic.
We made drawings of the torso pieces on big sheets of wrapping paper, then transferred them to poster board to use as stencils. This wasn't easy, but with patience and care we managed to do it, and they turned out great! For Wonder Woman's gold bands and chest plate, and for Superman's belt and S shield, we cut out poster board and spray painted it separately. Adding some pieces on top of the foam torso gave some texture and dimension to the look that we really liked.
Once the pieces were dry, we hot glued them together. They were already looking great!
Step 4: The Head Pieces
This was a doozy. The first thing was just figuring out how to turn a 2D strip of bed foam into the very particular, and very recognizable shape of a LEGO head. We did this by cutting triangular darts out of the top and bottom edges of each piece, and gluing it back together to force a curved edge.
To secure our heads to the head pieces we got two plastic helmets and secured them to the inside with paper towel roll tubes and hot glue.
For Superman's hair, I broke it down to smaller pieces, cut them out of bed foam, and glued them together. Wonder Woman's was much more involved, where we had to take a base sheet of foam, and then attach individual strips to layer on in order to create the effect of a full head of wavy locks. Luckily, we saved all our foam scraps and were able to use those!
Once the hair was spray painted (which took at least 10 cans, all together), we glued them onto the heads and got to work on the features. We found straight-on images of our LEGO characters online and were able to print out scaled-up paper stencils of the facial features to use. Superman required stenciled facial features to be spray painted onto the face, which was pretty scary considering we only had one shot to get it right. For the eyes and Wonder Woman's lips we spray painted some flexible cardboard and glued them onto the heads. Again, having some things spray painted on and other things glued on really gave depth and dimension to the costume.
Once the heads were ready, we were finished!
Step 5: Photos and Video!
When we finally put the full costumes on together for the first time, we were positively giddy. We took turns photographing one another in various poses, all while listening to our character's famous theme songs on loop to get more into it. I was beaming under my headpiece, and couldn't help but shout my excitement over and over again, "I've always wanted to be Superman!" My first costume, when I was three years old, was Superman. To finally get to do it again, nearly thirty years later, filled me with joy. To have a big cape billowing behind me and a shiny red S on my chest was all the little kid in me could ask for. My girlfriend smiled back, saying "I've always wanted to be Wonder Woman!" She has two little nieces, whom she adores, and she couldn't wait to show them that their Tía Veronica was their favorite hero.
Halloween came and we waited for midnight to reveal our costumes to our friends and family on social media. My girlfriend suggested we make little videos to show our costumes in motion, and we put them together using photos and video we shot the weekend before. I added our theme music and some effects, and we debuted them online. The frenzy of excited and awestruck people heartened us, and we were happy to share our joy with them. People liked and shared and commented, blown away and asking how we did it, telling us how they couldn't wait to show their kids, friends, and family. Some even asked us to make house calls.
It was a lot of hard work, 50+ combined hours, and probably something like $300 worth of materials, but we are so, so happy with the result. We hope you are, too!