San Diego Comic-Con ("SDCC" to those in a hurry) has its preview night Wednesday. The massive annual get-together gets fully underway on Thursday. Here are the stories to watch from home and for those in attendance this year, and what everyone's going to be talking about.
Marvel Studios takes the year off, Marvel doesn't
Marvel Studios is taking the year off from Comic-Con, even though their panel has become a must-see in recent years. That's likely because their next film, "Ant-Man," is opening shortly after Comic-Con, and the rest of Marvel's slate isn't yet in a place to make any big announcements. The studio also has to save something for the annual Disney D23 convention next month.
However, their television division is still making an appearance to promote the upcoming seasons of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Agent Carter."
This leaves a hole open for Fox — one of the other two studios (along with Sony) with the rights to Marvel movies. Fox has rights to both the "Fantastic Four" and "X-Men" franchises and has announced plans to show stuff from next year's "X-Men: Apocalypse" and this year's "Fantastic Four" reboot.
Also, with the movie already in the can, Ryan Reynolds' "Deadpool" is coming. He's a cult-favorite X-Men character, and while it's not officially announced, Reynolds confirmed that he'll be at Comic-Con in a recent interview with Collider.
Disney's other studio, Lucasfilm, has a little picture to promote
While Marvel Studios may no-show, Lucasfilm is bringing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" to Comic-Con. Tuesday the studio announced a new Han Solo spinoff helmed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller — the guys who endeared themselves to audiences of all ages with "The Lego Movie." It wouldn't be surprising to see at least a little teasing of that film as well.
They're another studio whose creations are caught between promotional events. Lucasfilm recently made some big reveals about the new film at Star Wars Celebration a few months ago, and they also have to save some space magic for D23 next month now that they're part of the Disney empire.
Entertainment Weekly has already reported that Lucasfilm won't be showing off a new trailer or any new clips of the film, though that doesn't necessarily rule out behind-the-scenes footage. It could also be the chance for other cast members who didn't already talk about the new film at Star Wars Celebration to talk about their roles.
The new version of the Star Wars expanded universe is also being rebuilt under Disney, including a new book covering what happens after "Return of the Jedi," so that background for the new film could be explored a bit. However, EW reports that many of the details won't be revealed until closer to the book's Sept. 4 release.
Warner Bros.' tries to fight off Fox with the Justice League
Next year, Warner Bros. is kicking off its attempt to compete with Marvel's superhero movie domination with "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," the second in its new universe of superhero movies.
They're facing down both Marvel movie announcements and other big film announcements from Fox, but Warner has a reputation for great Hall H panels every year. Some of what makes Warner panels cool is they usually try to show a huge number of movies, including some surprises. This time around all eyes will be on how they promote "Batman v Superman."
Marvel captured fans' imaginations when they first debuted the entire cast of the Avengers on stage, and Fox similarly excited fans when they brought out the huge "X-Men: Days of Future Past" cast, so it seems like the smart money is for them to debut the full cast of the upcoming "Justice League" movie that "Batman v Superman" is setting up.
Other panels of note
Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight
This movie has had a troubled development. A leaked script prompted Quentin Tarantino to say he wasn't going to make it. But after doing a live staged reading, he apparently changed his mind and made the movie anyway. This will be one of the first opportunities to get a peek at what it's all about.
Dark Horse: An Afternoon with Joss Whedon
Now that Joss Whedon is done with the Avengers franchise, everyone's wondering what he's going to be up to next. He'll be at a panel presented by Dark Horse Comics, but the panel is generally a Q&A. That means fans will likely be able to get a sense of where he is now that he's had a little time since finishing "Age of Ultron." Rumors have circulated that he may do something for DC Comics now that he's done Marvel. (In the past, he's worked with DC on a Wonder Woman project that didn't go forward).
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk
For the first time in years, William Shatner will be taking on the character of "Star Trek's" Captain Kirk, reading excerpts from a new book that tells the character's life story. It's quite the turn for the guy who famously mocked "Star Trek" fans on "Saturday Night Live," but he looks to have more deeply embraced his character since.
Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, two stars from Joss Whedon's cult favorite TV show "Firefly," lead this new fan-funded movie. Their panel runs longer than usual for a single film, so there's plenty of time to dive deep with a cast full of geek favorites in one of the most high-profile crowdfunded movies to date.
Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment screening block
This panel debuted at last year's Comic-Con with the promotion of "The Flash." This time they'll be screening the pilot for the new CBS show "Supergirl," as well as having the stars of other DC shows like "Arrow," "The Flash" and the new "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."
The Super Story Behind the Pixar Short Sanjay's Super Team
Pixar just made you cry with "Inside Out." (And may have made me cry with the "Lava" short that preceded it.) Now, fans will have a chance to get a sneak peek at a new Pixar short, which is going to be shown alonside Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" this November.
MARCH with Congressman John Lewis
California's former governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has done Comic-Con before; this year, the convention features a sitting member of Congress. You might have seen a young Lewis as a character in "Selma," and his life is being told in a new trilogy of comic book graphic novels titled "March." The first two parts of the trilogy are out, and the third is on the way — here's your chance to see both the comic creators and the man himself talk about the illustrations and his life.
There's plenty more to see at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, and other companies will likely find their own way to make news either at the convention itself or at the dozens of offsite events that pop up all over town during the convention. We'll have a full write-up of the convention after it wraps up.