By Peyton Liebler
High fashion. Astonishing abilities. One bombastic blowout. Every year, there is one night when mutantkind invites fellow mutants—as well as the outside world—to an unforgettable celebration of mutant culture. Held on the mutant-haven island of Krakoa, this occasion is leaps and bounds beyond anything you can possibly imagine. It’s an evening unlike any other. It’s the Hellfire Gala.
As the top social event on any mutant’s calendar, the Hellfire Gala is not just an invitation to party, but the ultimate opportunity to dress to impress. Powers are the ultimate accessory, and it’s expected that you will arrive in an outfit that reflects your unique mutation—whatever that may be. This fan-favorite event made its dazzling debut in the world of Marvel Comics... but for the first time ever, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club and Marvel came together to bring the living island of Krakoa to San Diego, California, on Saturday, July 22. This was also the perfect opportunity to celebrate 60 Uncanny Years of X-Men—marking the anniversary of the team’s debut in Marvel Comics!
When creating this “uncanny” event, it was a top priority to incorporate the iconic comic vignettes that make the setting of Krakoa so unique. In addition to outlandish fashions and superpowers, the Hellfire Gala needed to make fans feel like they had just stepped into the pages of these beloved stories. With that in mind, this Gala was split into three distinct areas—each offering unique experiences and opportunities for fans to create unforgettable memories with their fellow mutants.
As fans entered, they were greeted with a credential and an official invitation to the Gala. This gilded summons included an exclusive “X” pin, allowing attendees to incorporate the quintessential “X” insignia into their outfit if they hadn’t already done so. Then, the green carpet was open to all—with some of the most recognizable mutants from Marvel Comics already striking a pose and inviting all guests to join them. Whether they were shining diamond-bright like Emma Frost or serving mutant mystery like Mystique, this was the spot to make an ultimate entrance. Centered around the majestic symbol of the X-Men, it was a prelude unlike any other.
After entry, Gala guests walked into the Green Lagoon—an island hideaway inspired by Krakoa’s eclectic watering hole. There, guests could find an instantly recognizable step-and-repeat direct from Hellfire Gala Variant Set by Russell Dauterman, which allowed fans to connect with covers featuring the mutants in their Hellfire formalwear. Complete with tiki-inspired décor, a red-hot lava wall, and even the scent of sweet tropical air lingering, the Green Lagoon gave guests the chance to exchange compliments on outfits and immerse themselves further in Krakoa’s kaleidoscopically colorful culture.
Upon exiting the Green Lagoon, Gala guests next walked through a shimmering Krakoan gateway—marked with traditional Krakoan flowers on display—into the glorious Hellfire Ballroom, the location for the event’s main festivities. Guests danced the night away in fierce mutant fashion thanks to music curated by Lights Down Low. With an opening set from DJs Corey Sizemore & Richie Panic, the night began with amazing house music and closed out with a sensational set from superpowered DJ sister duo Coco & Breezy. Full of unbelievable beats and marvelous dance moves, the party in the Hellfire Ballroom was rocking the island nation every which way! We would even bet this mutant music was heard all the way on Arakko! Favorite heroes and villains were occupying the dance floor and surrounding areas; guests could “hang around” with wall-crawler Miles Morales one minute, and strike a pose like lightning with Ororo Munro (aka Storm) the next, or even defy gravity with telekinetic marvels including Jean Grey and Wanda Maximoff (aka The Scarlet Witch). There was absolutely no shortage of superpowered Gala guests occupying the Ballroom...
With this many mutants present, guests had to have the chance to celebrate where the X-Men began—and the 60 years of history they’ve brought to the pages of Marvel Comics. The party continued downstairs in the splashy and flashy Lair X; this “underground” space offered an array of photo opportunities, larger-than-life reproductions of quintessential X-Men artwork, and even a few of the 1992 X-Men Arcade Cabinets available for play. And what better way to capture exquisite outfits and cosplay creations than with a 360-degree camera, brought to the X-Men Hellfire Gala by Marvel Puzzle Quest! Guests could take to another vibrant dance floor down in Lair X, with classics being spun by dazzling DJ Thee Mike B. Lair X was the place to celebrate mutant culture in every medium, full of exemplary X-Men flair.
All guests in attendance were also given a commemorative gift bag, including an X-Men Hellfire Gala multicolor pen from BIC; exclusive in-game reward from Marvel Puzzle Quest; a redemption code for Topps Collectible Trading Cards (featuring Hellfire Gala artwork); a book featuring one of the many uncanny adventures of the X-Men; and a gilded Hellfire Gala magnet.
This event could not have asked for more magnificence from the mutants in attendance. From uncanny couture to epic ensembles, Krakoa was alive with excitement and majesty (it was also alive, you know, because it’s actually a living island). It was D23 and Marvel’s absolute pleasure to bring the most spectacular fans in the multiverse a chance to live out their Hellfire Gala dreams in the fiercest fashion imaginable. It’s dedicated and passionate fans like this that fully embody what it means to be mutant and PROUD! Check out some of our favorite outfits of the night—and don’t forget to follow along with the ongoing story of the Hellfire Gala in Marvel Comics with X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 #1, available on Wednesday, July 26!