Technically there are no winners or losers at Comic Con. Every panel has their share of diehard fans, every bit of swag that gets handed out will be accepted happily, and everyone who attends will, at least at some point, be thrilled by what they're seeing. But let's be honest-- everyone comes away from Comic Con with a set list of what they loved and what they could have done without; if you're really lucky, what you presented is what everyone agrees they loved. If they're really unlucky, then they're Universal showing the trailer for Devil that earned boos when M. Night Shyamalan's name popped up.
We were on hand to witness pretty much every movie-related event at the Con, and we've put together our list of the biggest winners and losers (including one TV show). Read below to learn how Universal took over the Con with an indie-rock hero, how Captain America and Cowboys & Aliens schooled The Green Lantern, and why The Avengers announcement wasn't nearly the big deal it should have been. We've still got Comic Con coverage left to come, but here's the experience itself wrapped up.
From the enormous banner that covered the Hilton Bayfront to the ubiquitous "Scott Pilgrim vs. Comic Con" T-shirts, Universal made sure Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was the face of Comic Con. Screening the film each night to rapturous, sold-out crowds was one thing, the playground-like Scott Pilgrim Experience (where you could make T-shirts and flipbooks and meet the cast) was another, but maybe the best part of all was director Edgar Wright himself, who walked up and down the lines outside the screenings to shake hands, and participated in several other panels while at the Con, seemingly as thrilled to be there as the crowds. Promoting Scott Pilgrim at Comic Con is preaching to the choir, but with the choir this amped-up about the movie now, they may very well be able to spread the gospel back at home. Read More: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Reviewed.
Universal only promised Jon Favreau for this panel, since the film is in the midst of shooting and isnít due out until after next yearís Comic Con. But, of course, they were actually holding out for a big surprise. Favs brought Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, writers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, and,Mr. Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Not only that, but Ford was brought on to the stage in handcuffs, since he previously told Favreau he'd need to drag him to San Diego to get him to attend. As though that werenít enough, they also showed three complete scenes totaling about 10 minutes, delivering both the filmís tone (gruff, mean, and gritty) as well as some well-done CGI (minimal blue beams of light and a fast flying spaceship). Topping it off with Favreauís backhand slap to post-conversion 3D, Cowboys & Aliens was simply one of the best panels of the convention. Read more: Jon Favreau Premieres First Footage Of Cowboys & Aliens, Will Be In 2D.
The movie started filming last week, so the best anyone was hoping for was maybe a title treatment and a super-minimal teaser trailer, which is exactly what we got at the beginning of the panel. But after Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving and director Joe Johnston took the stage, they blew away everyone by showing a scene from early in the film, in which Weaving's villainous Johann Schmidt arrives in a church catacomb and steals the Cosmic Cube, which immediately connects Captain America to the Thor universe. The fanboys went wild, and Marvel proved that even the most hastily assembled footage can thrill these crowds. Read more: Live Blogging The Marvel Panel.
Anyone who loves Tomas Alfredsonís Let The Right One In has reasonably nervous about or outraged by Matt Reevesí upcoming remake, titled Let Me In. At the Saturday panel, though, the audience was in for a real treat. Reeves talked about refusing to make the characters older and how he contacted the original novelist/screenwriter, John Ajvide Lindqvist, for both approval and advice, but it was the footage that really solidified it. In the trailer and trailer and the first two clips from the film, the chemistry between Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee is immediately apparent and itís nearly impossible to go wrong when you have an actor the caliber of Richard Jenkins on board. Read more: Live Blogging The Let Me In Panel.
There were two entire panels dedicated to him as his genius (Hall H's "Visionaries" with Whedon and J.J. Abrams plus the fan-centric "Joss Whedon Experience.") There was the whole thing where he strutted onstage alongside the entire cast of The Avengers and (jokingly) promised he was going to blow this opportunity. Then there was the fact that every party at Comic Con seemingly had a "Joss Whedon dance party," where the director would take the floor, chat with fans and colleagues alike, and shake it until the party was over. I witnessed one of them but only the King of Comic Con could have pulled off doing it on a nightly basis. I hear on Saturday he was dancing with the Glee kids. Comic Con is obviously Ground Zero for Whedonites-- there's still a gathering of Serenity fans on Sunday every year-- but I never quite realized how much the man himself could take advantage of it all. Read more: Joss Whedon Geeks Out To J.J. Abrams At The Visionaries Panel.
As the first film based on one of the most famous superhero characters in the DC Comics archive, it should have been easy to have the attendees of Comic Con eating out of Warner Bros.í hand in Hall H on Saturday, but the entire panel just fell short. While it was nice to hear Ryan Reynolds recite the famous mantra and it was cool that they gave away the ring, the only footage that they brought was a four minute trailer which didnít feature Hal Jordan in the suit and was more a montage of flashing images than anything substantial-- and they only showed it once. Director Martin Campbell tried to excuse it by saying that there are still three weeks of shooting left to do in Louisiana, but both Cowboys & Aliens and Captain America were able to bring something substantial with much less time in production. The film will be released prior to next yearís Comic Con, so this was a one-time thing. Itís really too bad that they blew it. Read more: Liveblogging the Green Lantern, Sucker Punch and Harry Potter Panels.
The first half of Thursday's Hall H was dedicated to trumpeting the magical effects of 3D, with Megamind footage, Tron: Legacy footage and a 3D greeting from Jack Sparrow imploring the audience to put on their 3D glasses over and over again. The second half of the day was dedicated to tongue-in-cheek announcements that movies would be in 2D, from J.J. Abrams promising Super 8 would go old-school to Sly Stallone bragging that 3D would have ruined the manly, 80s-style effects of The Expendables. Even worse for the 3D defenders, the audience cheered wildly every time someone onstage knocked 3D, however subtly. The fact that the whole Con wrapped up with Thor footage in 3D that was basically worthless pretty much summed it up: this crowd will still accept 3D, but it's not the thrill it was even a year ago with Avatar. We may have witnessing the beginning of the backlash right there in Hall H. Read more:J.J. Abrams Says Super 8 Won't Be In 3D.
While the first three films in the franchise certainly have their fans, nobody is expecting Paul W.S. Andersonís Resident Evil: Afterlife to be groundbreaking. That said, what the film brought to Comic Con bordered on embarrassing. Wentworth Miller, who is new to the franchise, seemed ashamed to be there, while Anderson spent the entire time lauding 3D and comparing its impact to the introductions of sound and color. The film was actually shot in 3D using the same cameras as James Cameronís Avatar, but, like all live-action 3D films thus far, it continued to disappoint in the footage that was shown. First came the trailer, which had premiered weeks before, but, for the first time, was being shown in 3D. Taking the glasses off made next to no difference in the quality, which isnít a great sign. Then came a scene in which Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter face off against a character named The Executioner, and it was just laughably bad. The 3D rendering made The Executionerís hammer look like it was made of plastic and the whole thing was entirely devoid of energy. This panel was a fail by all accounts. Read more: Liveblogging The Resident Evil: Afterlife Panel.
Falling Skies. I don't wanna be too hard on this panel for the series, since it doesn't start until next summer and they've only shot the pilot. But while stars Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood and co-executive producer Mark Verheiden were on hand to gamely answer whatever questions were thrown at them, they didn't do much to set up the general worldview and direction of the show, or make us believe that the polished but very TV-looking footage could lead into something grander. Particularly compared to the elaborate viral campaign that was going on before the Con, the panel felt far too subdued and minimal. Read more: Falling Skies Panel Reveals Little But Shows Promise.
Captain America and Thor were a success because the audience had no idea what to expect, and they managed bring a complete scene for Cap and an impressive sizzle reel for Thor. The problem with the big Avengers announcement was that they already tipped their hand. Joss Whedon admitted earlier in the Con that he had officially been named the director, Jeremy Renner was confirmed as Hawkeye hours before the start of the panel, and Mark Ruffalo was named Hulk while people were still getting ready to camp out in the Hall H line. It was great to see Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey Jr. all come out on stage to close it out (where exactly was Don Cheadle?), but had everyone just kept their mouths shut it would have been so much better. By the time Comic Con 2011 rolls around the marketing of both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger will be complete (the first coming out in May, the second arriving the weekend of Comic Con), meaning that it will likely be all about The Avengers. Letís hope that there will be more to surprise us with than just casting. Read more: Katey And Eric Break Down The Marvel Panel.