Superheroes descend on Sunderland as Empire Minicon strikes back

Sci-fi and fanstasy fans flocked to Sunderland's Empire cinema today for its second annual Minicon.

Held to mark the release of Avengers: Infinity War and the upcoming arrival of Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story, the free event attracted hundreds of guests.

The North East Avengers

The North East Avengers

More than 20 stalls, selling movie and comics memorabilia, were on hand and fund-raisers The North East Avengers posed for pictures with delighted visitors.

Event co-ordinator Adam Hodge was delighted with the response from the public: "It has been great," he said.

"We have distributed just over 600 tickets and people have really enjoyed themselves.

"We did one last year and hopefully the plan is to make it an external event next time so we can move it to a bigger venue and expand it even further."

Helen Simm as Hela and Chris Kemp as Loki

Helen Simm as Hela and Chris Kemp as Loki

Gwyneth Griffiths, from the North East Avengers, said the group was delighted to be involved.

"We just love it," said Gwyneth, who was dressed as Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow character.

"It is amazing when you see the kids' faces light up. They really think you are the character."

Joining the group had been a boost to her self-confidence, she added: "Before I did this, I was quite shy, I did not get out much.

"It is nice to be part of something and to have a character that you can play."

Gwyneth is a seamstress and makes costumes herself, but some have to be specially created, such as Chris Kemp's Loki costume, which was handcrafted by a company that makes outfits for TV.

"Costumes can be anything from £200 to £600, depending on what you want," said Gwyneth.

"We have raised thousands of pounds for charity. We do a lot of work with the Odeon group, who raise money for Mind, and we did a lot with Bradley Lowery."

Mum Bethany Forster had brought Evie, six, and five-year-old Leon to the event.

Evie was dressed as Darth Vader, while Leon was Guardians of the Galaxy's Star-Lord.

"They have loved it, absolutely loved it," said Bethany.

"They really enjoyed seeing all the adults in their costumes - normally it is just the kids who are dressed up."