Left to right: Woman dressed as Captain Carter holding a round shield with UK flag, a child dressed as Iron Man, a man dressed as Captain America holding Thor's hammer and a round shield with a star on it, and a child bent down in a Spider-Man costume
Huw Jones dressed as Captain America with his wife Clair as Captain Carter and their two children as Iron Man and Spider-Man. Credit: Brandon Beedon

Many people view cosplaying as simply putting on a costume, but not Huw Jones.

It’s not just a family activity for him as when he puts on his costume, he becomes the character.

He has several characters he cosplays as, three different Captain America costumes from different Marvel movies, a Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Darth Vader, and Gorr the God Butcher from Thor: Love and Thunder.

But he hasn’t stopped there. He is also working on a zombie Captain America from What If…? and a sandtrooper from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

Huw, who is a maxillofacial technician by profession, perhaps appropriately, sees bits of himself in the heroic characters he cosplays as.

“I do tend to say that I’m 90% Cap. The reason why I do Cap is because me as a person is Cap. I’m not a great soldier, I just tried to be the good guy. And I try to look after people out there in the cosplay community.”

That being said, “There is that 10% that wants to tear up with the world and that comes out as Vader, that comes out as Gorr and God Butcher, because I get in people’s faces,” he admits, adding that even his wife, Clair, finds him “bloody scary.”

As a member of the UK Garrison of the 501st Legion Star Wars cosplay group and its offshoot Reel Icons, Huw puts on the helmet, make-up and other paraphernalia of a galaxy of characters in cospplay, including everybody’s favourite heavy-breathing intergalactic villain, Darth Vader.

‘Vader is a way of thought’

And as Vader, he melts away into the suit and out comes an angry person.

“I literally will pick on people for existing. Especially if you get a family unit that comes up, I always pick on the dad. The mum will crack up and the kids will love it. And dad is firmly put in his place.”

“Vader is a way of thought,” he adds.

His Vader costume, which Huw constructed over four years and includes four speakers built into the suit, cost him £5,000 to build.

“It’s a lot of money. And my family, my parents and my sister, they kind of go like, ‘what are you spending all that money on? You could be doing better things.”

But there’s much more to the UK Garrison than dressing up at weekends. The group of cosplayers attend Comic Con’s and other events as well as visit children’s wards in hospitals to entertain patients. They have even attended funerals at people’s request.

“Everything we do is for charity. We get no personal gratification, other than the joy of being able to be there and put smiles on faces,” Huw says.

It’s part of the reason why the 46 year-old cosplays, along with taking a break from his work at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where he helps patients with very serious conditions.

“We’re seeing patients who are life-limited. It is tough.”

Darth Vader holding a red lightsaber against a black background
Huw in his £5,000 Darth Vader costume. Credit: Samantha Jones

His wife, Clair, has a screen accurate Mara Jade costume from Star Wars as well as Agent Carter from Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Carter from What If…?.

Clair got into cosplay as she enjoyed doing musical theatre with Huw, though it was hard to continue after they had a family.

“We did a lot of musical theatre together and I loved being on stage and being in costume. When you then have kids, all of a sudden, doing rehearsals two, three times a week for three months becomes really pressure on your time as a family,” he said.

A woman dressed as Captain Carter with a round shield with the UK flag on it and a man dressed as World War Two Captain America with a pointy shield with three stars on it stood in front of an old car
Huw and Clair dressed as and Captain America from Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Carter from What If…? at a World War Two event. Credit Gillian Ann

Just before the pandemic in 2020, she dressed up as Agent Carter alongside Huw’s World War Two Captain America at a comic-con event.

“She came out to MCM London with me and we were just mobbed. People kept on stopping us. ‘Can we have photos? Can we have photos? Can we have photos?’ And that was the point when she sort of said OK, I get it. I understand where it comes from now,” says Huw.

Huw’s two boys, 9 and 5, also join in the fun, as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Doctor Strange.

“Last year at Megacon in Manchester, we were this family of Captain America and Captain Carter, Spider-Man and a mini-Iron Man walking into the conference. And that’s us, our whole family unit.”

Cosplay is more than dressing up, even though some people don’t realise it.

“It’s a family thing and it’s a real joy to do together,” Huw adds.