It’s July, which means it’s time once again for the annual Gathering of the Geeks down in San Diego, otherwise known as Comic-Con. It also means we’re going to be getting a deluge of trailers and production announcements as studios and networks hawk their wares.
Comic-Con kicks off today with a preview night, and Thursday opens the convention with a relatively light schedule. Hall H highlights include Dexter’s final panel, Divergent, and Entertainment Weekly’s The Visionaries featuring directors Alfonso Cuaron, Marc Webb and Edgar Wright. I’m interested to see how Divergent plays—Comic Con was an early sign that Twilight was going to be huge.
Other film panels include Terry Gilliam’s Zero Theorem and Europa Report, which should fill the geek void of “thing we can hype till our eyeballs explode” left by Pacific Rim. I don’t know why Zero Theorem is bothering. Neither Gilliam nor any of his stars (Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton and Christoph Waltz) are going, which is why it’s been relegated to Thursday, and it’s going to have to really wow the audience to justify making the trip.
The television panels in Ballroom 20 are limited to Intelligence, the new Josh Holloway/Marg Helgenberger vehicle on CBS, some show called Star-Crossed that’s Romeo & Juliet but with aliens, MTV’s Teen Wolf, the CW’s mind-bendingly bad Beauty and the Beast, and Psych, which is always fun for fans. It’s a weak Thursday line-up all around, but for the BBC bringing Sherlock. Though neither Benedict Cumberbatch nor Martin Freeman will be attending, co-creators and writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who also plays Mycroft, will be there along with producer Sue Vertue. Someone please ask why they weren’t able to get day-and-date release with the US for season three. Waiting until 2014 is ridiculous—we’re all just going to download it.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Hall H kicks off with Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, the final installment in the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). Wright will be on hand but they’re keeping the rest of the panel under wraps, which means Pegg and Nick Frost are likely to show up. I cannot wait for this movie, and this should be one of the most entertaining panels all weekend. Kick-Ass 2 is previewing but has no committed panel beyond “stars”, Veronica Mars will be doing a victory lap for the people that funded their movie, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is presenting as well. Andrew Garfield made a good showing, but coming off the mixed reviews for The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, he’s going to have to produce again to grow interest in his sequel.
The big Hall H draws, though, will be from TV. Both The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have their panels there on Friday. They’re going back to back and that sh*t is going to be CRAZY. They’ve been the biggest draws over the last couple years and it’s either genius or courting disaster to block-schedule their panels.
Other television panels, all happening in Ballroom 20, include The Big Bang Theory’s writers’ panel, Bones, The Following and Fox’s incredibly expensive JJ Abrams show Almost Human. Fox is spending serious coin in San Diego in support of this show—they’ve branded key cards at select hotels for the weekend—and will pull out all the stops for their panel. But they’re totally going to get schooled by Marvel, who is debuting ABC’s The Agents of SHIELD. No one upstages Joss Whedon or Joss Whedon titles at Comic Con. Which is why Whedon is also doing his solo Q&A in Ballroom 20 on Friday, though I won’t be surprised to see this event moved to Hall H next year. He is the Nerd King, after all.
Also of note: Fox is premiering the pilot of Axe Cop, an animated series adapted from a comic book created by a five year old, in Room 6. Axe Cop stars none other than Ron Swanson himself, Nick Offerman, and looks totally amazing/insane.
Warner Brothers just announced their divorce from genre-specialists Legendary Pictures, so this will mark their final Comic-Con together. (Next year, Legendary will be vacationing with their hot new wife, Universal.) They’re kicking off the day in Hall H with Godzilla and The Seventh Son. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is in Godzilla, so I wonder if Lainey’s obsession will be at Comic-Con. WB continues their set with 300: Rise of an Empire (no more Fassbender, not interested), Gravity and The LEGO Movie. Gravity is the oddball of the lot—it’s a potential Oscar movie starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and is the kind of project that doesn’t get much out of Comic-Con. Studios are starting to back away from spending money on this type of property at Comic-Con, but WB must be thinking “Alfonso Cuaron + space = geeks will love it”, and that’s the kind of assumptive pandering that turns geeks off. I’m curious about how this panel goes.
Lionsgate is next up with I, Frankenstein, which is going to get totally overshadowed by the cast of The Hunger Games making their first trip with Catching Fire. Regular attendees loathed Twilight for years, so it’ll be interesting to see if they embrace its successor. And then there’s a mid-afternoon panel called “Women Who Kick Ass” featuring Michelle Rodriguez, Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead).
Fox has the late afternoon spot and will be presenting Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which will totally get drowned out by Hugh Jackman turning up for The Wolverine. If anyone can put on a show to rival RDJ’s in Hall H, it’s Jackman. But really the top draw is the “surprise” panel which is X-Men: Days of Future Past and some combination of the cast (Jennifer Lawrence is already on hand) plus first footage. All I care about is Trucker Jesus (James McAvoy) gracing us with his presence.
Hall H closes with panels from Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They’ve not committed to a guest list, but it’s a good bet Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan will be on hand at least. Marvel puts on a good show, but they don’t have RDJ to rely on this year, and I’m not sure any of these guys are capable of filling that void.
Television panels in Ballroom 20 include Once Upon a Time and its Wonderland spin-off, the CW’s Arrow and Vampire Diaries, the Fox animation block of Futurama, The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad, and True Blood. How I Met Your Mother is making their first trip, but they’re presenting in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton. With X-Men and Avengers in Hall H, the day belongs to movies, not TV.
There are no film presentations on Sunday, so Hall H is given over to TV. Crowd favorites Sons of Anarchy, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Community are all presenting, and these three shows more than any other go out of their way to make things fun for their fans. Community ought to have a lot to talk about as a fifth season has been greenlit and Dan Harmon is returning. To me the biggest draw is Breaking Bad, but fans on the ground in San Diego will no doubt queue up early for Dr. Who’s 50th Anniversary panel.
Comic-Con is heavily genre this year with Gravity sticking out as the only thing that doesn’t quite belong. Straddling two days with one of the most anticipated TV shows of the upcoming season and the continuation of Phase 2, it’s bound to feel a bit like “Marvel’s House Party”, but the X-Men and kids from District 12 ought to make a big splash, too.