For four days every July, one city in California becomes common ground for writers, actors, superheroes, and Storm Troopers alike. That’s right folks, San Diego Comic-Con 2013 (SDCC to the initiated) is upon us. That means some of the biggest names in science fiction, fantasy and comic books are about to rub shoulders with stars of TV and movies to discuss their craft and reveal their secretest of plans to the gathered masses. From Thursday through Sunday this weekend, SDCC attendees will be treated to panels, surprise guest appearances, and the latest news about everything entertainment. I’m too poor for a plane ticket to San Diego, but I’ll be scouring the interwebs for the biggest stories from Comic-Con and recapping each day’s SDCC news throughout the weekend. To get you ready here’s a little primer on panels and events to keep an eye on!
Day One doesn’t offer quite as many multimedia panels as the other days this weekend; instead, it’s heavy on panels geared towards people interested in the comics industry as a business. I’m sure “Comic Book Law School 101” and “The Anatomy of Superhero Film Music” are going to be crazy educational, but they won’t exactly mean much for the average fan looking for movie and TV news. Even so, there are still several things on Thursday that warrant your attention.
“Video Games to Movies: Is the Golden Age Upon Us?” is exactly what it sounds like, and where in past years the only thing the game and movie producers would be able to reveal is, “yes, there is in fact another Resident Evil movie coming out,” now there are actually a lot of potential game adaptations to look forward to (if they’re done right). Games like Assassin’s Creed, the Uncharted series, and Mass Effect all have movies in the pipeline, with some farther along than others – Assassin’s Creed even has Michael Fassbender on board to star. And with games like The Last of Us blowing people out of the water with their film-like storytelling, it’s clear that the standards are growing for taking these games into live-action territory. Don’t be surprised if by the end of the panel we get some concrete details on adaptations in the works.
Speaking of video games, I’m stoked for the panel on Batman: Arkham Origins, the prequel game to Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, which are two of the best superhero video games ever made. I’m a little wary that this game is not being developed by Rockstar, which was responsible for the first two, but all of the info and footage released to this point looks pretty promising. WB Games Montreal has seemingly stuck with what worked in the series so far, and quite frankly, it’s a new Batman game so I’ll pretty much be happy however it turns out.
There are several TV shows making appearances on Thursday, including Dexter, Hannibal, and several new shows lined up to premiere in the fall. But there’s one panel that I’m more excited about than any of the others: Sherlock. If somehow you have gotten through the past two or three years without watching this modern-day re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes, you need to stop reading this article right now and go watch the first two seasons. It’s impeccably written, beautifully shot, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are a blast to watch. And it’s only six 90-minute episodes! Go now, I’ll wait…
WASN’T THAT AMAZING?? It’s going to be hell waiting until 2014 for season three, but I’m hoping the show-runners will provide some hints (and maybe footage?) of what’s to come in this incredible show.
Other panels of interest: Ender’s Game; an unofficial fan-speculation panel on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Friday is where things really start getting underway. Two of the most popular shows on television have their panels on Day Two: The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. As for everyone’s favorite frequently-frustrating-but-occasionally-brilliant zombie show, season three of The Walking Dead did a lot to redeem the show from its drawn-out second season, and while it started stronger than it finished, it set up a lot of things to look forward to in number four. There are, however, some issues with the series that this panel will hopefully help alleviate, namely the fact that they’re on their third show-runner in four seasons. I’m optimistic that TWD can keep up the momentum it gained last season, but a few sneak peeks at Comic-Con could do a lot to ease fans’ fears.
Moving on – am I the only one who randomly starts humming the Game of Thrones theme music when I least expect it? I hope not. Needless to say, I LOVE this show. I never read the books, so I am clueless as to what’s to come in season four and beyond. If there’s anything even close to the infamous “Red Wedding,” I may just lose my mind. Looks like there will be a lot of cast and crew at the panel, and I think it’s safe to expect more casting news for next season. It’s seriously wrong that HBO makes us wait almost a year between seasons.
Comic-Con is also the perfect opportunity for new shows to make their mark on audiences, and there may not be a more perfect show for this venue than Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It may have a clunky title, but seeing as it comes from the mind of Joss Whedon – a man accomplished in basically every form of media in which it’s possible to be accomplished – there’s a lot to be excited about. The show centers on the human side of the battle against supervillains and brings back Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson from his (spoiler alert!) seeming demise in The Avengers. This whole resurrection thing is pretty run-of-the-mill in comic books, but I’m curious how they’ll make it work for TV. Though I have a feeling that the people who tune in pretty much trust Whedon implicitly at this point. I’m really looking forward to any hints on possible Marvel character cameos and the overarching storyline of the first season. The trailers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suggest the type of fun, witty dialogue and entertaining action that we’ve come to expect from the Buffy creator – count this as my most anticipated new show of the year.
And as for movie news, the first big comic book film to host a panel is Amazing Spider-Man 2. I really enjoyed the first of this new series even if it did retread a lot of the same ground as the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are coming back for the sequel, and the additions to the cast are pretty stellar: Jamie Foxx (as the primary villain, Electro), Chris Cooper (Norman Osborn), Chronicle’s Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborn), and Paul Giamatti (the Rhino). There’s a concern that all the new cast will make the movie feel overcrowded, and it’ll definitely take some crafty work by director Marc Webb to make sure everyone gets their due, but with the recent news that Sony has greenlit numbers three and four, the idea that these movies are all building toward a bigger story gives me faith. I imagine there will be some sort of teaser trailer or similar footage screened to the audience that will either ease worries or have the fanboys raging.
Other panels of interest: The World’s End; Archer; Joss Whedon Q&A
Saturday is highlighted by three big film studio panels: Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Marvel Studios. WB has several somewhat under-the-radar movies on tap for the near future, including the sequel to 2006’s 300, subtitled Rise of an Empire, a new Godzilla movie, and Gravity, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and is directed by Children of Men’s Alfonso Cuaron. The first two look like exactly what you would expect, though Godzilla has a pretty solid cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olson, and David Strathairn (still doesn’t mean it’s going to be any better than the one with Matthew Broderick). The movie that you should really look out for from this panel is Gravity. I’m a huge fan of Cuaron’s darker style, and a movie about astronauts having to survive in orbit after their space shuttle has been destroyed seems like it was tailor-made for him. The trailer alone is dizzying and terrifying.
There’s still no official word on what movies Fox is bringing to the table on Saturday, but it’s a safe bet that they’ll be featuring the latest of their superhero movies, X-Men: Days of Future Past and (possibly) the reboot to the Fantastic Four franchise that is being helmed by Chronicle’s Josh Trank. Fox brought original X-Men director Bryan Singer on to take over after Matthew Vaughn decided not to commit to the First Class sequel, and while the prospect of more X-Men is always intriguing, combining the casts of the original trilogy and their younger counterparts established by Vaughn (all by way of time travel, mind you) seems like it’s just asking to be a complete cluster-you-know-what. Singer could really be out of his element here with a cast that is the definition of “stuffed to the gills.” I’m excited about seeing Peter Dinklage as the villain, as he’s a phenomenal actor, but if DOFP has too much going on things could really get out of hand.
And finally, the Marvel Studios panel. The mega-success of The Avengers means that Marvel can start taking even huger risks than it already has with the properties they bring to the screen, and they’ve already got several things in the works. While the next two movies they’re releasing are direct sequels to Thor and Captain America (and thus relatively safe), after that things are going to get bizarre. For those who don’t know already, production has just started on a movie called Guardians of the Galaxy, which promises to be the strangest film Marvel has put out to date, in that it features a whole mess of aliens, two of which are a talking raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree. Needless to say, it’s gonna be a tough sell, which is probably why Marvel has absolutely loaded the cast with big recognizable names: Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, and Zoe Saldana. Less immediately recognizable is lead Chris Pratt, though if you’ve ever watched Parks and Recreation you’ll know him as lovable goofball Andy Dwyer. After Guardians will come Avengers 2, about which very little is known aside from a couple new characters from the X-Men universe being confirmed. Expect a dose or two of new info from Whedon and company on that one.
Marvel has also confirmed that the first entry after the second Avengers , kicking off “Phase 3” (i.e. the solo ventures between planned Avengers team-up movies) is Ant-Man, which is about a scientist who invents particles he can use to change his size. Again, strange concept, but they’ve tagged Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the upcoming The World’s End) to write and direct it, which certainly gives the movie some cred. The studio has also planted flags on several release dates without laying out what films they’re for, so we’re bound to hear something regarding those mysterious movies too.
Other panels of interest: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; Futurama on its final season; True Blood
The final day has a much lighter slate, with most of the big draws presenting Friday or Saturday, but there are still several notable TV shows that could offer up some juicy tidbits. Community, Doctor Who, It’s Always Sunny…, and Sons of Anarchy all have panels on Sunday, but there’s only one show any of us should really be paying attention to: Breaking Bad. I am definitely one of those people who hypes up this show about a chemistry teacher-turned drug kingpin, but I’ll keep that in check only to say OHMYGODI’MSOEXCITEDFORTHEFINALHALFOFTHEFINALSEASON. The entire cast is attending along with creator Vince Gilligan, and according to the Comic-Con website there will be “a one-on-one Q&A session and an official sneak preview of the final eight episodes.” Believe you me I will be digging through the darkest corners of the Internet to try and find out what they show the audience.
And that’s your unofficial Comic-Con primer – check Fansided’s Entertainment page Thursday-Sunday nights for as much of the day’s news as I can scrounge together!