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Though we first reported the possibility back in March, it’s now being confirmed that Marvel Studios is sitting out San Diego Comic-Con in July, meaning that the annual "Big Dog of Hall H" is saving its wares for Disney’s D23 Expo event in August. Who will step up to fill the void? It’s evident that Warner Bros. will use the absence of Marvel’s film presence to pump up its own movie slate. But I also have a feeling that Disney will let Marvel sit out so that it can place a major focus on it’s other massive property: Star Wars.
This is speculation, and not based on any information that I’m able to confirm at the moment. This is based on stuff I am hearing from people who I trust. San Diego Comic-Con has been sharing its schedule in piecemeal fashion, and no Movie panels have been confirmed. But the verbiage in the stories about Marvel skipping Hall H do not emphasize Disney skipping the Hall, and while J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens likely will have a massive presence at D23 (similar to the presence it had at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim recently), Disney can lose a little traction on the Marvel front yet gain massive steps in the Star Wars race if it turns Hall H into a galaxy far, far away.
Not that Star Wars: The Force Awakens needs publicity. But very few movies heading into San Diego Comic-Con need to raise awareness. Even if Marvel held a panel in Hall H this year, for example, what would they show? Captain America: Civil War footage? Possibly, though we’re all in the tank for that sequel, anyway. They could reveal the new Spider-Man, as he’s expected to report to the Civil War set in July. But Marvel easily could take over the El Capitan theater in downtown Hollywood and create their own publicity event any day of the week, and they don’t need Hall H to accommodate their desires.
Raising awareness, however, isn’t the point of a Hall H panel – as anyone who has ever attended one can attest. Hall H panels are about bringing talent and footage to the fans, and Star Wars has been riding a wave of enthusiasm during the run up to the first official Star Wars movie since 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. A decade of patient waiting can be rewarded with a Hall H panel when Disney brings the team behind The Force Awakens to San Diego. This also could be a fantastic opportunity to share more about Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One, or reveal new details about the spinoff movie Josh Trank almost dircted. Star Wars, the property, routinely has a strong presence at Comic-Con, from the comics to the video games and the new television shows. Could new footage and a cast Q-and-A fill in for Marvel as the studio takes a year off?
Even if Disney completely sidesteps the Hall H Movie panels in favor of waiting for its own D23 Expo weeks later, there will be plenty of massive tentpole presentations in San Diego next month. Deadline notes that DC and Warner will use their time to promote Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. They also will look ahead to Wonder Woman and the Justice League property. Fox is expected to have footage from Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse. And Universal and Paramount still have to show their cards.
But if I had to guess, I’d think that Disney’s not quite ready to let another studio steal its thunder with a Saturday Hall H panel. And while Marvel is out of play, Disney has the next best thing waiting in the wings, and it could own almost all of the Sunday morning headlines if it brought a healthy Star Wars panel to San Diego in July.