Anyone who has never attended Comic-Con International really can’t conceive of just how huge it is: More than 125,000 attendees daily, and that doesn’t count the people working there at the booths for the convention, security, and so on. Every person’s experience at Comic-Con 2010 was certainly different, as there was no way to see and do everything. It was impossible, unless you cloned yourself (though it is Comic-Con, so cloning could be an option…).
Reporting things from each day — every nuance, comment, etc. — would take weeks. Instead, here’s just one little slice, one view, a random assortment of Comic-Con highlights, key announcements and such over the official four days and Preview Night, plus a little glimpse into the fun to be had on the convention floor with all the giveaways and goodies.
The biggest news came at the end of Saturday following impressive teases for Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor. Director Joe Johnston and actors Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) and Hugo Weaving (The Red Skull) were on hand for the Cap teaser, which included shield-tossing, while Kenneth Branagh, Chris Hemsworth, and Natalie Portman were part of the Thor presentation, as the footage included, yes, the hammer, and the audience went nuts.
But — like they say on game shows — wait, there’s more.
During that time, Samuel Jackson — eye-patch-wearing Nick Fury in the Iron Man movies — and Hulk brought out Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg (SHIELD Agent Colston in Iron Man films), Robert Downey, Jr., and also Jeremy Renner as Marvel’s archer Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo as the new Bruce Banner/Hulk. There they were — The Avengers in the all-star planned film. It was “Can you top this?” And they did. Joss Whedon was announced as the director – what a sandbox to play in for the Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse creator.
Warner Bros. Studio’s triple-shot bits of Green Lantern, Sucker Punch, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were more tease than a lot of substance, some people said. Potter fans wanted more after pretty much camping out to see something. Zack Synder’s (Watchmen) Sucker Punch is an anything-goes time travel/hyper-dimensional romp. And there was only about 90 seconds or so of Green Lantern footage; no costume, though fanboys/girls could thrill at a flash of Oa, home to the Guardians of the Universe in the GL mythology, a bit of power ring action and also a very quick shot of Green Lantern Tomar Re. Director Martin Campbell was joined by actors Ryan Reynolds, who plays Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Blake Lively (Carol Ferris), Mark Strong (Sinestro), and Peter Sarsgaard (Hector Hammond). In a touching moment, Reynolds recited the oath for a wide-eyed boy and then reportedly gave a little girl a replica power ring he was wearing.
In other Green Lantern news, DC Comics COO/writer Geoff Johns told one audience (he appeared at a number of panels) that they could expect to see more film footage “before the holidays” and said the animated series would debut in November 2011. Johns appeared at the Lantern film panel too, as the resident expert and guiding light on the superhero.
A Smallville panel Sunday confirmed more comics-based story-lines for the show’s 10th season, as Clark will finally wear the blue-and-red suit, cape and all (shown in a clip but not on show star Tom Welling), and Jack Kirby “Fourth World” New Gods creations Cadmus labs, and denizens of Apokolips (Darkseid, please?) will appear, along with not just a returning Hawkman of the Justice Society but also Hawkgirl. It looks as though Chloe (Allison Mack) becomes the new Doctor Fate! Plus DC’s Johns, who wrote the two-hour Justice Society episode this past season, and Season 8′s Legion of Superheroes show, said he’d be writing a Smallville featuring heroes Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.
There was also a buzz for Jon Favreau’s upcoming Cowboys and Aliens with Harrison Ford based on the graphic novel. Some said it looked more Indiana Jones than Crystal Skull did. Ford was there too, with the rest of the cast, including Daniel Craig and Sam Rockwell. Early in the convention, there was a panel and taste of Disney’s Tron Legacy with Jeff Bridges from the original Tron ’80s cult classic.
At a Friday panel for Burn Notice, a USA exec announced there would be a prequel TV movie about series co-star Bruce Campbell’s character Sam Axe. Campbell later said in an interview that he thought it would be set in Columbia and they may shoot much of the film there. According to fans, panels on TV shows such as a True Blood or Big Bang Theory were everything a fan would want them to be, and there was Comic-Con programming for every series with a devoted following.
Other screenings, clips, and panels talking about animated works included a look at the new Batman: Under the Red Hood, the upcoming Young Justice (like a Justice League junior with sidekicks together), and a new Avengers animated series and Iron Man anime series from Marvel.
The will and want of a true mega-fan was tested attempting to get into Hall H, however massive, to see some of the most anticipated film previews. This meant waiting in line several hours, even half a day or more. There were also two- to three-hour or longer waits for Ballroom 20, featuring many TV show panels.
Despite those elements of frustration, along with a frequent crush of bodies on the convention exhibit floor around the film and TV areas in particular, the giveaways were a lot of fun for those who were patient or just had lucky timing. The boatloads of SWAG included game cards where attendees could team up for a Megamind fleece-like hoodie from Intel, to various size tote bags, from supermarket size to super-huge size, promoting The Green Hornet film coming in January 2011. Showtime’s series Dexter, Weeds, Californication, and Nurse Jackie, and Warner Bros., despite sponsoring a variety of Comic-Con official bags ranging from Batman: Brave and the Bold to Big Bang Theory, offered two-side smaller bags daily spotlighting Smallville and Supernatural. CBS handed out items such as books promoting its upcoming William Shatner sitcom, Sh*t My Dad Says, to ultra-cool Star Trek watches in blue, gold, black, and red (I wonder if the red ones are dangerous to wear).
And that’s just some of what was available. Comic-book publishers, big and small, put out free comics, pins, buttons and, in DC’s case, Green Lantern and Flash rings. While rival Marvel did big business as well, DC constantly had lines for its myriad goodies and artist and writer signings. Plus, costumed fans convened in the area daily.
Outside of the San Diego Convention Center, SyFy again transformed the diner at the Hard Rock Hotel into Cafe Diem from its series Eureka (an impressive feat accomplished overnight on Tuesday, they said). Columbia Pictures took over the Candy Factory building next to Petco Park, creating “Britt Reid’s Garage” from the upcoming Green Hornet and offering rides in the sleek Black Beauty sedan (without the working machine guns, rocket launchers, and flamethrower — props only, of course). The film Machete, with some of its cast, fed fans from a taco wagon in the street. And so it went.
As usual, Sunday’s “Kids Day” catered to the younger set with special programming for children — the next generation of comics and fantasy fans. Kids could play at the Legos booth, and some creations were put on display. There were free video games to try out, toys with prices discounted for the end of the convention, kids-only t-shirts, hats, and plenty to keep them, like the older folks, in full sensory overload. There seemed to be more families than ever every day at Comic-Con, which speaks volumes about the event becoming a family vacation destination in recent years. To make Comic-Con so special for a child is the greatest magic of all.
While there are a number of genuinely super comic conventions around the U.S., in Europe, and elsewhere every year, including the Comic-Con organization’s own Alternative Press Expo (APE) and WonderCon, both in San Francisco, nothing can match the frenzy and giddy madness of Comic-Con International. For any fan of comics, science fiction, fantasy, horror, gaming and more in a variety of media, there’s truly nothing like it. And all genre fans should try it at least once. But I warn ya, you’ll be hooked and want to go back every year.
Comic-Con runs every July in San Diego, CA.