San Diego Comic-Con — the annual gathering of genre pop culture fans, media and stars — starts Wednesday night and runs through Sunday, and we've got a preview of the 11 most buzzworthy events to check out.
The convention — which sells out its 125,000 tickets almost immediately every year — gets bigger all the time, and this year's panels are no different. What should you be excited about?
1. Game of Thrones
Fans can register online which panels they're the most interested in, and HBO's "Game of Thrones" and the Lannisters are the kings this year (now that there's no "Firefly" reunion to distract people). The actors behind Jaime Lannister, Tyrion and more will be on hand as everyone tries to move on from the Red Wedding to whatever's going to result in YouTube reaction videos next.
2. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Superheroes are coming back to one of the big three networks, and unlike "Heroes," it's the real Marvel Comics deal this time, coming to ABC this fall. Like the Marvel universe's secret agency, details of the upcoming panel are hush hush beyond appearances by reigning geek god Joss Whedon and "surprise guests." Topics likely on fans' minds include how exactly Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson was resurrected from his apparent death in "The Avengers" feature film and who the new hero shown in the show's trailer turns out to be. (Luke Cage? Rage? Luke Rage?)
3. Marvel Studios: Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Another panel with secrets galore. Beyond the two upcoming feature films, little is known about what awaits fans who come to check out these panels. But they promise to include the films' stars, details about other projects and more. It wouldn't be surprising to see some official announcements about the long-in-development Ant-Man (yes, Ant-Man) movie, rumored to be played by "Lone Ranger" star Armie Hammer. They could also surprise fans like they did a couple years ago, when they revealed the "Avengers" lineup on stage by bringing together the "Guardians of the Galaxy" cast — it's set for release next August — or even the cast for "Avengers 2," set for release in 2015.
4. BBC America's Doctor Who 50th Anniversary
Yup, it's a TV show that's been on the air for 50 years. Those years haven't been continuous — it took a TV break from 1989 until 2005, other than a TV movie in the middle — but it's bigger than ever, making anglophiles out of even more fans. The panel is going to include series star Matt Smith, sans his signature floppy hair due to a tight crop for a new role, as well as lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, along with others. The show's 50th anniversary special airs this November.
5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
There's no more "Twilight" movies, so fans of teen drama on an epic scale are going to have to slake their thirst with the people behind the new Hunger Games movie, out this November. The panel is set to include the film's stars, who are coming to Comic-Con's Hall H for the first time. So get your marriage proposals for stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson ready. It also promises never-before-seen footage.
6. Ender's Game
The movie based on the hugely popular science fiction novel and series hits theaters this fall. However, it's not without controversy — writer Orson Scott Card has come under fire recently for public statements against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, with a boycott threatened against the film's panel. The film's distributor, Lionsgate, issued a statement reaffirming its support of the gay community, saying that the studio didn't agree with Card's views and that they were irrelevant to the film. Controversy forced DC Comics to pull a Card-penned Superman story before publication recently, with the artist dropping out while working on it. With all this in the background, it'll be interesting to see if public pressure has any effect on the "Ender's Game" movie. Will the movie's stars Harrison Ford and Abigail Breslin have anything to say on the topic at the panel?
7. The X-Files 20th anniversary reunion
For the much-loved 1990s TV show's 20th anniversary, the stars of the long-running sci-fi mystery series, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, are publicly reuniting at Comic-Con. They'll be there alongside series creator Chris Carter and many of the show's writers and producers — include Vince Gilligan, who went on to create "Breaking Bad." It comes as IDW releases a comics series, "X-Files: Season 10," looking at how things would have unfolded if the series had continued.
8. How I Met Your Mother
A panel that may come as a surprise, it's the first time the broadly appealing CBS sitcom is appearing at Comic-Con. Still, several of its stars come with geek cred, from Alyson Hannigan's time on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to Neil Patrick Harris in "Dr. Horrible" and Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill in "The Avengers." The show's set to enter what's scheduled to be its last season, and it features a premise that seems right up Comic-Con's alley — a Rashomon approach offering different perspectives on the events that happen during the last few days leading up to Robin and Barney's wedding.
9. Veronica Mars
Resurrected from the TV grave thanks to a few million dollars from a fan Kickstarter (and the support of a major studio), the cast and crew are taking a break in the middle of shooting a much-anticipated feature film to appear at Comic-Con, both by day for a panel and by night for a smaller event outside the convention. We'll probably have more on this since they're shooting something at the KPCC studios very soon, so stay tuned.
The fourth season of NBC's groundbreaking comedy show "Community" left some fans wanting something different. Well, they're getting it — former fired showrunner Dan Harmon is back for a fifth season, and fans will have the chance to listen to him lay out his mad dreams for bringing the show back to what the hardcore fans feel was its glory. He'll be bringing a lot of the cast along with him (sorry Donald Glover/Childish Gambino fans, he won't be there) to soak up the cheers of the adoring fans.
11. X-Men: Days of Future Past/The Wolverine
Fox still hadn't announced which films it would be bringing to Comic-Con as of press time, but the rumors include both "The Wolverine," out this month, and next year's much-anticipated "X-Men: Days of Future Past," bringing back the series' original director Bryan Singer to tie the first three X-Men movies and "X-Men: First Class" together in a way that hopefully almost kind of makes sense. This franchise hasn't received the buzz of Marvel Studios movies like "The Avengers," but it could be a sleeper surprise.
Feel ready for Comic-Con yet? Here's a heroic playlist put together by MySpace to get you in the Comic-Con adrenaline-pumping mood. What are you most excited about?