Vader’s Fist has Never Looked so Good
Sometimes something truly great comes out of the dark side. Hold on, back up. We need to clarify. We all love Vader, that’s a given — but we’re talking about something different. We’re talking about what happens when fans come together to make something their own, and that’s just what the 501st Legion did.
There are people who love Star Wars so completely that they wanted to make it a constant part of their lives. Some people do this by collecting action figures (we are very guilty of this method), and some choose to take it a step beyond. Some fans choose to become the characters — to embody the stories by making incredibly screen-accurate costumes. They call themselves the 501st Legion – Vader’s Fist, and they have garrisons all over the world.
Making Costumes and Supporting the Empire
The 501st Legion is a group of cosplayers who spend their time attending events in cosplay. The outfits have to be constructed perfectly to canon specification. Most importantly — no Jedi or Rebels allowed. This is a Legion of the Empire, which means no rebellion allowed. This is a serious organization, and playing fast and loose with the canon is a big no-no.
Thankfully for all you goody two shoes, there is a second organization you can join: The Rebel Legion. They accept all those people who reject the ideals of the Empire (or the full armor of a Stormtrooper). But we don’t care about them — okay, we totally care about them, too, but that’s another subject for another article.
The process to get into the 501st isn’t easy, either. Your costume has to be inspected by an official of the 501st Legion and then approved for official use. Once you are approved, you can sign on to attend any event that the Legion participates in. This could be anything from a parade to a comic convention to a charitable event.
If you’ve ever seen Stormtroopers marching in a parade, or Boba Fett hanging out at a hospital, it’s very likely you can thank the 501st Legion for the experience.
Their Mission (Should You Choose to Accept It)
So what the heck are they aiming to do? Just have fun? Be cast in a Star Wars movie? Prepare for the day when the Empire eventually makes it to us in a galaxy not so far, far away? Well, we can say probably not most of these things — except have fun. They are definitely having fun.
The original mission of the 501st Legion was to create a way for people who loved to make costumes (and loved the dark side of the force and the Empire) to get together and meet other fans. Vader’s Fist creates a community for people to create and celebrate something they love — together. Sure, they might be dressing up as the bad guys, but don’t let that stop you from going up and saying hello. Members of the 501st Legion are just as excited to meet fans as they are to be in costume!
So that alone is already just about the coolest thing in this (or any) galaxy — but it gets better. The 501st Legion has added charity work into their mission, to do good for this planet by doing good in each garrison’s community.
Doing Good While Being Bad
When we say charity, we mean it! The 501st Legion announced that they raised $889,000 in 2016, and we can only imagine they did even better in 2017! They strive to improve their communities through good work and dedication. The legion has 10,000 active members all over the world who donated a collective 182,000 volunteer hours in 2016 (That equates to 20 years of work if you combine all of the time!). The 501st never accepts payment for their appearances, but they do accept donations to charitable causes in their name.
By teaming up with the Rebel Legion (as much as it might pain them to work with the enemy), they attend fan events and work directly with Lucasfilm to create experiences that will stick with people for a lifetime. They also visit hospitals to spend time with sick children and bring them a little joy during some of the toughest times in their young lives. The Legion is always looking for new ways to bring attention to positive causes all over the world, so if you think you know a worthy cause, reach out to them to talk about how they might be able to help.