This year’s San Diego Comic-Con is in the books, but a big part of why everyone goes is to get a first look at what’s coming next. Here are some of the highlights and the under-the-radar surprises that pop culture fans were teased with at this year’s event.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18, 2015)
At Friday’s Lucasfilm panel, new footage was revealed from behind the scenes of the new Star Wars film, as well as interviews with the talent behind the movie. What fans who were there live will likely remember is that everyone at Comic-Con’s Hall H got invited out to a special fan concert immediately after the panel — leaving Kevin Smith, who was up next, without much of his crowd.
In some ways, the footage shown at Comic-Con seems to be trolling George Lucas’s prequels pretty hard — the emphasis is put on all of the practical sets and effects being used in the new film. Still, you could also say that it’s a love letter to the original Star Wars trilogy and everything George Lucas got right.
The footage shown includes a crashed, burning TIE fighter. You also get lots of behind-the-scenes excitement from everyone involved, and a look at the craft of things like how a Chewbacca suit gets made and used.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016)
A new “Batman v Superman” trailer was debuted at Comic-Con, giving context to why exactly Batman and Superman are fighting each other. We see that one of Bruce Wayne’s company’s buildings was destroyed in the destruction from “Man of Steel,” and Ben Affleck’s Bruce runs into the destruction to help.
It also seems to be addressing one of the biggest complaints about that film, which was that the death toll from the epic destruction of the film’s climax doesn’t get dealt with. Well, now Superman’s facing congressional hearings and anti-alien protesters, as well as an older Batman who doesn’t trust him. We see what looks like a Robin costume with spraypaint on it from the Joker, implying that the Joker killed his young sidekick.
Plus, there are two major new characters: Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman. We see a long-haired Luthor played by Jesse Eisenberg, looking happy to pit the heroes against each other — and getting his hands on some kryptonite. Also, Wonder Woman makes an even briefer appearance, with details of how her role ties into everything else yet to be revealed.
It may be a while before Eisenberg makes another Comic-Con appearance — he told the Associated Press that the experience of having thousands of fans screaming at you was like “some kind of genocide.”
Suicide Squad (Aug. 5, 2016)
Warner Bros. also gave everyone a first look at “Suicide Squad,” which follows “Batman v Superman” in August 2016. It’s a story about a team of bad guys being used by the federal government to do their dirty work, including some with powers. Warner didn’t want the footage out beyond Comic-Con, but the ease of video from everyone’s phones has made it almost impossible to keep a lid on such things. After the footage leaked, Warner finally conceded and put out the official trailer, but not without a finger-wagging statement:
“Warner Bros. Pictures and our anti-piracy team have worked tirelessly over the last 48 hours to contain the Suicide Squad footage that was pirated from Hall H on Saturday. We have been unable to achieve that goal. Today we will release the same footage that has been illegally circulating on the web, in the form it was created and high quality with which it was intended to be enjoyed. We regret this decision as it was our intention to keep the footage as a unique experience for the Comic Con crowd, but we cannot continue to allow the film to be represented by the poor quality of the pirated footage stolen from our presentation.”
As for the trailer itself, there’s a brief glimpse of Batman himself, as well as a dark finish with the first dialogue we’ve seen from Jared Leto’s version of the Joker. There’s a touch of the Heath Ledger “The Dark Knight” Joker in the voice, with more of a punk look. Superman also gets mentioned, starting to show how “Man of Steel” leads into all of these other movies. Will Smith’s Deadshot also starts getting set up as the more heroic member of the team, and you get a look at Joker’s crazy gal pal Harley Quinn.
Deadpool (Feb. 12, 2016)
Marvel Studios took the year off, but Fox kept things going with their panel, with their own slate of five Marvel movies: “Deadpool,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Wolverine,” “Gambit” and the next one up, “Fantastic Four.” “Deadpool” and the next X-Men film both got new trailers, but the “Deadpool” one is what stole everyone’s hearts and had them talking.
The studio has yet to officially release the footage shown at Comic-Con, and have been successful at getting it pulled from many sites. What was shown seemed to indicate that the this was a film that got the tone of the fourth-wall breaking character right, exciting fans with its quirky sense of humor. Deadpool has also been a violent character, and Ryan Reynolds talked at the Comic-Con panel about how amazing that an R-rated version of this character was hitting the big screen.
The fourth-wall breaking joke that hit the hardest: Deadpool asking that his costume not be green or animated, referencing Reynolds’ previous superhero work in the panned “Green Lantern” movie.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters (July 28, 2015)
On a much smaller scale than those other films, “Justice League: Gods and Monsters” is a big deal in its own way. It’s a direct to video animated film, but it comes from a concept from Bruce Timm, the animation mastermind who created the highly acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series” and oversaw DC’s animated universe for decades before eventually leaving.
Now he’s back with this new project — he told KPCC and other outlets in an interview that he’d pitched other projects outside his DC work that hadn’t been picked up, and that he wanted to work — and it’s a distinctly darker take than much of what he’s done before. It offers a look at twisted versions of the classic DC heroes, including a Superman with a supervillain father who is raised by a Mexican migrant family, a Batman who’s a vampire, and a Wonder Woman from another world with a lost love.
Supergirl (Oct. 26, 2015 on CBS)
The most talked about superhero TV show of the fall, “Supergirl” was officially screened to fans at Comic-Con. It tells the story of Superman’s young cousin and her journey to becoming a hero herself.
Some fans online were uncertain about the rom-com elements shown in an early “Supergirl” trailer, but the actual show included a lot more action while still having a lighter tone through much of it. The show is high-profile, appearing on number one network CBS, so whether it can fit in at a network with a different audience that the younger-skewing Fox and CW where DC Comics’ other shows are remains to be seen.
The Comic-Con panel featured an odd live circus performance — and the new, hunkier version of Jimmy Olsen being goaded into showing off his abs. Fans will have to tune into CBS this fall to see if the abs make a TV appearance.
Con Man (Sept. 30, 2015 on Vimeo)
One of the biggest crowdfunded film projects to date, the project headlined by former “Firefly” stars Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion came to Comic-Con’s Hall H. The show is based on the experiences of what being the star of a canceled show embraced by fans is like, based on the actors’ real life experiences but fictionalized into an extremely similar-sounding canceled show called “Spectrum.” It raised over $3 million on Indiegogo.
The Comic-Con panel had its own big surprise to finish, with two of the crew members who had been sitting on the panel revealed to be a real-life same sex couple — and one of them was surprising the other by popping the question in front of thousands of Hall H fans. You can watch the proposal here:
The project also includes a slew of geek fan favorites, including actors like Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Casper Van Dien and many more.
Fear The Walking Dead (Aug. 23, 2015 on AMC)
“The Walking Dead” is about to embark on its sixth season of survivors of the zombie apocalypse, but what led to zombies hasn’t been explored much. Now, “Fear The Walking Dead” is going to do that — right in our backyard, as it’s set in Los Angeles. It’s set before zombies take over, and alludes a bit more to what might have caused the zombie apocalypse of “The Walking Dead.”
Ash vs Evil Dead (Oct. 31, 2015 on Starz)
Warning: Trailer contains violent imagery and adult references
A new show based on the cult favorite “Evil Dead” films, starring original hero himself Bruce Campbell, debuted a trailer at Comic-Con that received a lot of buzz. It picks up 30 years after the original series, and has the same comedic horror tone that made the original a cult favorite.
Joss Whedon’s “Twist” (TBD)
Joss Whedon return to Hall H for the first time since “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hit theaters and marked the last of Whedon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — for now at least. Whedon didn’t make any huge movie announcements as far as what’s coming next, but he did note that he has a new comic book project on the way: “Twist,” starring a character he described as a “Victorian female Batman.”
Whedon also appeared at a panel with Zachary Levi’s Nerd HQ offsite series, where panels are held to raise money for charity. While he didn’t get into new projects, he did offer the latest twist on his answer about why there’s no sequel to the highly popular online series “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” — that everyone involved has a job, that Neil Patrick Harris has ALL the jobs, and that they want to make sure they do it right whenever they do it.
Whedon shot down the idea of doing a director’s cut of “Age of Ultron” — along with there not being the interest, he said that it’s always been his ambition to never do a director’s cut of a film but to instead give people the shared vision between himself and the studio. He also talked about the idea of bringing “Firefly” back and how much he’d love to get that crew back together, but that there were rights issues, no studios who wanted to fund it, and a lot of other factors would all have to come together to make it possible. Whedon joked about how “Firefly” isn’t coming back, while “Full House” and “Coach” are.
March: Book Three (TBD)
(Photo: Mike Roe/KPCC)
One of the most surprising appearance at Comic-Con was by Rep. John Lewis. You might remember his character from “Selma,” as the young Lewis was a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and marched with Martin Luther King Jr. He was promoting the three-part graphic novel about his life, “March” — the first two parts are currently available, while the third is still in the works.
Lewis also came cosplaying as… himself. He wore a trenchcoat and a backpack styled after the same ones he wore while marching across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma. He co-wrote the comic with one of his staffers, who also spoke, along with the artist. The panel concluded with Lewis leading a march through Comic-Con, promoting the book and seeking to encourage what Lewis described as a new nonviolent revolution.
Lewis also spoke about his feelings about the Confederate Flag and that he sees it as representing hatred, and about recent police violence.
Wonder Woman: Earth One (April 12, 2016)
A book still in the works, writer Grant Morrison showed off art from the forthcoming book during one of his panels, as well as announcing future DC Comics projects “The Multiversity Too” (a sequel to “The Multiversity”) and a new Batman: Black and White series, with black and white stories about the Caped Crusader.
The “Wonder Woman” book was the farthest along though, and Morrison talked about how working on it had changed the way he approached storytelling. He said he got to the point where there was supposed to be a big fight — and he just didn’t put one there. The book tries to envision what a female-based society would actually be like, Morrison said, right down to the design elements of their architecture.
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk (Sept. 8, 2015)
William Shatner playing Captain James T. Kirk. Fans got to see that once more live, as Shatner read excerpts from a book that tries to reconcile the character’s often conflicting history. He poked fun at some of it, while also inhabiting the role and giving fans to see Kirk live at least one more time. Shatner also talked about how he’d love to be in another “Star Trek” movie if it ended up being possible, and answered questions from fans.
Felicia Day’s “You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir” (Aug. 11, 2015)
Felicia Day has become a fan favorite, building her name with Web series “The Guild” and following it up with culture site Geek & Sundry, including a full slate of online video content. She talked about all the work she has coming up in her Geek & Sundry panel, while also doing a Q&A as part of Nerdist’s Conival offsite event. Her autobiography comes out next month, and she shared about how she built her career thus far and encouraged fans to embrace their weirdness.