The film industry has changed drastically over the past ten years for one very specific reason, Superheroes. In 2008, The Dark Knight and Iron Man were released in Theatres, and blew audiences away world wide. This caused every studio to restructure their game plans in multiple ways, hoping to piggy back of the success of WB’s dark and gritty rebooted Batman franchise, and Marvel’s Shared Universe. We’ve seen copy cats of both ideas thrown at the screen again and again and again. Some have seen success, such as the X-Men reboot, the Deadpool spinoff, Daniel Craig’s grittier Bond films (inspired by Batman Begins, the first film in the Dark Knight Trilogy). Some are uncertain, WB’s Godzilla/Kong Monster Universe, an in development Nicktoons film, “Star Wars Story” films (Rogue One was a box office success, but many believe it to be a weak and unfulfilling film, and with the recent behind the scenes drama for the Han Solo film, there’s cause for uncertainty). And some are just failures, Fantastic Four reboot, Universal’s new “Dark Universe” starring Tom Cruise, Terminator Genisys (Sorry Khaleesi).
Now due to this change in focus on Hollywood’s part, and the growing importance of the “hype machine.” There is a desire within Hollywood to entice fans to take these leaps with the studios. Which isn’t always easy, a Batman film with Heath Ledger as the Joker, a new Star Wars film directed by J.J. Abrams, or a Deadpool movie that won’t suck, were all slightly hard sells at first glance. But when fans were treated to sneak peaks at Comic-Con, they realized that these films were worth going to see. And not only were they worth going to see, but they were worth getting excited over. Leaked footage spreads like wildfire, concept art gets shared again and again on social media, and those films break records at the box office. And each studio is hoping to win over audiences, and get them to jump on the hype train for their upcoming projects.
In 2013, Zack Snyder came out at the end of the Warner Brothers panel and said thanks
for the awesome response to Man of Steel, it’s official we’re going to make another Superman movie, and “there’s a single element… I can help you out with… we’re writing the thing now…” He introduced Harry Lennix to the stage, who read an excerpt from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, they shot up the Batman vs Superman Logo on the screen. Zack Snyder left and that was it. The whole thing was about 3 minutes long, the crowd went insane, and for months on end, it was the most hyped movie possible. Things blew up from there, DC eventually announced a full shared universe with Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, the Justice League and more to come. And even though many people didn’t like Batman vs Superman, the film still made over $800 million at the box office. Comic Con is the birthplace for fan interest. If it shows up there, people will track it, and most likely go to see it in droves. And Studios know this, and plan accordingly.
So, what can we expect from this year?
Marvel has not announced a single detail as to what they are bringing. And their slate past the next Avengers film is being kept tightly under wraps because it’s going to change everything moving forward. That being said, we do have Thor coming out this November, Black Panther coming out in February, and they have shared some details on Avengers: Infinity War (including footage at Disney’s D23 expo last week), Antman and the Wasp and Captain Marvel. Should we expect anything past that? Probably not. We’ll probably see them provide more footage for Thor, Black Panther and Infinity War, artwork and maybe a sizzle reel for what’s been done (if anything) for Antman and the Wasp, and maybe artwork for Captain Marvel. But it’s highly unlikely that they will premiere anything that will change anything, or truly surprise anyone. (I’m willing to admit though, I could be wrong.)
Warner Brothers is bringing Ready Player One, including director Steven Speilberg, and stars Mark Rylance, Tye Sheridan, TJ Miller and more. They’re also bringing Blade Runner 2049, with director Denis Villeneuve, stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright and more. And of course they’re bringing Justice League and Aquaman. Aquaman director James Wan is expected to appear as well as Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, and Jason Momoa. There are some huge rumors surrounding the DC portion with many expecting WB/DC to announce more upcoming projects including a Wonder Woman 2 release date. As of now, there’s a decent chance that WB/DC may be able to recreate the hype machine they did back in 2013 if they play their cards right. Especially considering how well Wonder Woman did/is doing.
Aside from the “big two” there’s not much expected this year. Not many other studios have panels planned, but there could be some surprises. Sony doesn’t appear to have anything going on panel wise, which is surprising considering they could use some hype for The Dark Tower. Paramount doesn’t have anything, and neither does Universal as of now. The one big question lingering out there is Fox. After the success of Deadpool and Logan, the panning of X-Men Apocalypse, and some recent announcements concerning New Mutants, it’s surprising to see that Fox’s only “planned” panel for film is Kingsman. That being said, Comic Con is the home of surprises. And they honestly have three opportunities to bring out the X-Men crew considering there will also be panels for the two X-Men shows Legion (heading into it’s second season on FX) and Gifted (which premieres this fall on Fox). The catch with that though is that studios don’t like to group TV and film together too often, so they can clearly state, this is a separate Universe and have creative freedom. That being said it’s been thrown around a few times that Gifted and Legion may both (or may not) take place in the same Universe as the films. And it may help to have the film group show up at one of their panels. I would lean more towards Gifted on this one than Legion, given that Legion has been a success, and Gifted is a slightly uncertain commodity as of now.
To be honest if Fox doesn’t bring the X-Men films to Comic Con this year, it may be cause for concern. Deadpool 2 is coming out next June, a month before next year’s Comic-Con. And while the film probably doesn’t need Comic-Con to help build hype, it wouldn’t hurt. And I’d guarantee that Josh Brolin, who’s playing Cable, will be in town this weekend since Marvel will probably tote him out for their panel (re: Thanos). New Mutants is coming out next April and there’s not a wide enough fan base for the property, so missing Comic-Con may be a huge step in the wrong direction. X-Men Dark Phoenix isn’t coming out til November of next year, but that being said, the franchise could use some good publicity given many were disappointed by Apocalypse. And, considering the fact that director Simon Kinsberg will be there for Gifted, Tye Sheridan will be there for Ready Player One, and Sophie Turner will be there for Game of Thrones, why wouldn’t you at least bring the three of them out and show a logo reveal or something. On top of ALL of this, Fox just announced a few new dates for Untitled Marvel films, which means we may get an even bigger surprise from them than just a few cast members and concept art.
Netflix is hitting it hard this year with a panel for their upcoming Will Smith “blockbuster” Bright, and the live action adaptation of the acclaimed anime, Death Note. There’s also word of both films screening at Comic Con this year. Which could bring some much needed good word of mouth to each property. No one is quite sure what to think of Bright just yet, and Death Note has gotten some bad publicity due to some white washing. Netflix is also bringing Stranger Things and the Marvel series the Defenders. And if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Defenders Panel, ends up also including material for the upcoming Punisher series as well.
Other TV panels to take note of include Gotham, Doctor Who, Westworld, Star Trek Discovery, Krypton, the CW’s Arrowverse shows, and to a smaller extent Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead. Now I say this for a reason, Walking Dead and Game of Thrones may be the two biggest TV shows on right now, but we’re not going to learn much more about either series/upcoming/current season than we already do. They both tend to be rather tight lipped when it comes to sharing info, and HBO didn’t even let critics see a single episode of GoT before the season premiere last weekend. With that in mind, and given that as of now it’s still in early stages of development and such, we shouldn’t expect very much from Westworld either. A show from the same network that has GoT, and is produced by J.J. Abrams, and is written by a Nolan? Expect a teaser reel without any new footage, maybe bloopers, but probably not much else.
As for the other shows, Gotham may have an interesting panel considering the show seems to be leaning into fast tracking Bruce to becoming Batman, and a lot of rumors of the real Joker finally coming into play. Doctor Who may be interesting given that the new Doctor was just revealed (FINALLY A WOMAN!!!), unless they solely use it as a send off for Moffat and Capaldi, but it’s doubtful. Krypton is one of the keys to Syfy sort of rebranding it’s channel, so they may have a lot of punch at the panel. Star Trek Discovery has seen an immense amount of Behind the Scenes issues and delays, and a powerful panel could instill confidence in fans. Especially given that the show is only going to be on CBS’ personal streaming site, which isn’t a hot commodity. But the most interesting of this group may be the CW’s Arrowverse shows. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
The Flash ended with Barry entering the speed force to be imprisoned for eternity. Arrow ended with everyone that has ever been a significant character on the show that is still alive, except Oliver, potentially being blown up. Legends of Tomorrow ended with the death of a major main character, and a seriously messed up timeline. Supergirl wrapped up things for the most part, but left an interesting tease at the end. And the new show Black Lightning, which isn’t actually part of the Arrowverse (but is made by the same people and may eventually crossover), could use some good hype. That being said, the trailers for the show look pretty amazing. No matter what info we may get out of these panels, they’re sure to be interesting and fun. And if John Barrowman shows up to any of them, there’s sure to be some hilarious and awesome moments.
As I stated before, there’s sure to be more reveals, surprises, and crazy developments over the next few days as Comic-Con rolls out. And the other thing to keep in mind is that even if a studio doesn’t have any sort of presence at Comic Con, there’s a good chance that they may announce things online over the weekend to battle the hype machines brewing in San Diego. No matter what comes out of San Diego, we’ll be ready, and we’ll be here to share it all with you as quickly as we can.