The San Diego Comic-Con is THE event of every year for all pop culture aficionados, not just comic book fans — ever since Hollywood studios discovered it’s the one weekend where their target audience is congregated in a single place, ready to lap up all news on upcoming blockbusters, TV shows and the like. (I think it used to be more focused on comic books and the really fan-nish, “geeky” stuff, but I’m not sure when the shift to movies and TV began.)
Now, the film panels by the various studios are the most anticipated for Con-goers, and these usually take place in Hall H, the largest hall in SDCC that can accommodate 6,000. (These, plus panels for TV shows with *huge* followings, like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.) People queue for *hours*, if not overnight, to get in there, and I believe once they get into the hall, they stay the whole day, especially for days with big events happening in the evening, because once you get up, you lose your seat. You can imagine that only the most ardent fans will brave Comic-Con, because it’s the same level of devotion they spend in queuing up overnight to watch the red carpet premiere of any major blockbuster.
Not all panels in Hall H pack the same punch though. Some are bound to be bigger than others, depending on the level of anticipation for the movies being discussed, and the major studios have begun seeing their Hall H presentations as a game of one-upmanship. Last year, it was 20th Century Fox bringing in the entire cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past. (Though Marvel was a close second with Tom Hiddleston cosplaying as Loki and ordering everyone to “SAY MY NAME!”, sending fangirls/boys everywhere into transports of delight.)
This year, I’ve ranked my favourite panels below. (Get ready for a ton of pictures and videos. I may not be able to go to Comic-Con, but I can read and watch the hell out of it online.)
This can’t be any surprise; for those who know me, I’m too heavily biased to choose anything else. But even if I wasn’t, their panel rocked BALLS. (The moderator could have done a better job with the awkward silences though.) Almost all the Avengers (except Scarlett Johansson, who was too heavily pregnant to go, and Joss Whedon, holed up in London recovering from knee surgery) were assembled in Hall H, and it was a beautiful sight. :’) They screened some early footage from Age of Ultron, which partly consists of the other Avengers trying (and failing) to lift Mjolnir, though Cap nudged it a little. (In comics canon, Cap *was* able to lift Mjolnir. I forgot under what circumstance.) And then Thor smirks at all of them and deems them all “not worthy”. (Which begs the question: what makes Thor any worthier to lift Mjolnir than all the rest of the Avengers?) And then shit happens when Ultron gatecrashes the party, and then a montage of images from the film. SOUNDS BLOODY AMAZING.
You can watch the panel below:
Look at the cast’s reaction towards the footage (starting from the 6:40min mark in the second video)! Look at RDJ! 😀 (So he *might* be hamming it up a little, but it’s still great.)
And Josh Brolin’s intro wearing the Infinity Gauntlet is pretty badass! (Which is apt for the guy playing Thanos, the biggest bad of all.) He asked for a rose, and then ate the purple rose that RDJ gave him, immediately establishing himself as the enemy.
Of course, Marvel’s panel didn’t consist only of Age of Ultron — they had the Ant-Man cast up before that, and a video from Chris Pratt and James Gunn in London hawking Guardians of the Galaxy — but the Avengers were definitely the highlight.
Marvel has consistently tried to top themselves at Comic-Con every year, starting from the Avengers assembling for the first time at the 2010 SDCC.
And then Robert Downey Jr. making an epic entrance in 2012 for Iron Man 3.
And then Loki dominating the hell out of Hall H last year.
(Though this clip cuts out the very last part where he says “It seems… I have an army.”)
And now this year’s dance-off intro. (You’ve GOT to love RDJ.) You can totally tell who among the cast are showmen and who are more laid-back and chill.
2. Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. also brought out their big guns for their presentation on Saturday morning. It had been speculated previously but not confirmed that they would show footage from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and they did. (Well, they had to, if they wanted to contend against Marvel’s panel later in the day.) They brought out Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Zack Snyder to introduce the footage (though Ben Affleck looked rather glum for the most part. Maybe he didn’t appreciate flying all the way for a one-minute, silent appearance), and also debuted a new photo of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
Which looks cool and all. But the winner of the Warner Bros. presentation is The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies panel, by default, because they brought out *Stephen Colbert*, resident Middle-Earth and Tolkien expert and one of my favourite people in the world, to host it. :’D I’m not that excited about the third movie, after the disappointment of the previous two, but I absolutely had to watch this panel, just to see Stephen host. His intro was so heartfelt, as is every time when he talks about his love for the Lord of the Rings.
Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey making a surprise appearance at Paramount’s panel to talk about Interstellar was another highlight, because both of them, especially fanboy favourite Nolan, have never done Comic-Con before; and Interstellar is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year. (Everyone’s expecting cool things of it, like Inception.) Paramount’s announced line-up before the Con was kind of lackluster — really, who wants to hear about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, and Hercules? — but fans who queued up for the panel got their patience rewarded.
Other news to come out of SDCC this weekend: the Game of Thrones cast had a blast. (I’ll never get tired of seeing Pedro Pascal’s devilishly handsome face. Oberyn! :'( ) Plus they released this first ever blooper reel for the show. Even if you want to skip this video, watch the last 30 seconds. Just watch it.
Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror movie Crimson Peak sounds absolutely awesome, plus he confirmed what fangirls everywhere already knew: Tom Hiddleston is one of the nicest guys in the world. Benedict Cumberbatch made his first Comic-Con appearance on the Dreamworks Animation panel to promote Penguins of Madagascar (and then later again on the Hobbit panel), but I don’t think it was as satisfying for fans, because they weren’t allowed to ask him questions about Sherlock, and that was probably all that they wanted to ask him about. (NY Mag does a good recap of that panel here.)
Also, while Marvel was having its Hall H presentation, apparently David Fincher was elsewhere at Comic-Con in a rare appearance to talk about probably the most cult favourite of his films to date: Fight Club. While he had such singular and brilliant vision for the film (enough to fire the producer wanted to remove Edward Norton’s iconic voiceover), I love that even he had qualms about the type of people who would love the movie.
“My daughter had a friend named Max. She told me Fight Club is his favorite movie,” he said. “I told her never to talk to Max again.”
In short, if you were a fan of the various TV shows and/or movies, Comic-Con would have been an all-round amazing experience. But for presentations that even regular moviegoers would be interested in, the above three panels would have been it, despite no really huge news coming out of Comic-Con this year. Marvel announced that they were releasing Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in 2017, but it wasn’t anything we didn’t know already; unlike last year’s earthshaking news when they revealed that the Avengers sequel would be called Age of Ultron, and then Warner Bros. announced that they were making a Batman vs. Superman movie to gasps everywhere in the movie-sphere, because it meant a Justice League movie was coming to rival The Avengers.
I’ll leave you with this parting shot:
And this too, cause it makes me happy.