While Thursday and Friday’s offerings in the convention center’s biggest exhibit space focused more on television and other areas of interest, it was Saturday where the two 800lb gorillas of SDCC took the spotlight. Saturday’s crowd began to enter the 6,500 seat room around 10 am, with the majority of those early attendees opting to sleep overnight in the cozy environs of the Convention Center sidewalk in order to secure their attendance for the hottest tickets of the show.
First up came Warner Bros, with many anticipating footage of their DC offerings, including Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and perhaps even Justice League. The moment the panel began, with moderator Conan O’Brien leading the charge, there was serious electricity racing throughout the crowd. Once the screen became extended in a sort of “cyclorama” effect, the place exploded in cheers.
The initial presentation came from a gathering of DC’s directors to date, David Ayer (Suicide Squad), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Zack Snyder (Justice League), Rick Famuyiwa (The Flash), James Wan (Aquaman), and Ben Affleck (Batman). Each filmmaker imparted some choice words about the character(s) they’re shepherding. I was particularly taken with Wan’s enthusiasm for Aquaman, and couldn’t help but notice that the spotlight has maybe shifted away from Zack Snyder and onto Ben Affleck.
But really this portion of the panel, dedicated to DC films, was all about Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad. The former got a wonderful trailer and panel that probably earns best in show from me (including Patty Jenkins saying all the right things about Diana’s loving and forgiving nature), and the latter had its entire cast take the stage to debut its final trailer.
In between, we also got the Justice League gathering that DC fans have been waiting for, as the entire cast took the stage, and an early look at the film was debuted. I’m still pretty nervous about another Snyder DC film given my general dislike of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but this trailer had the right amount of fun to maybe… just maybe… get me on board.
Following that bit of excitement came presentations for Lego Batman (cute), Kong: Skull Island (ehh), and King Arthur (could go either way, but will probably be a disaster given its already troubled production history). Last up was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which allowed lead actor Eddie Redmayne to come out and attempt to produce a magic trick with the assistance of everyone in the hall being given their own wand. I’m guessing a few of these ended up on Ebay quite quickly.
Afterwards came the Star Trek anniversary panel, which was pretty low energy by comparison, though the content itself was a good deal more robust. Moderator Bryan Fuller did an exceptional job speaking to past Trek cast members about the themes of the series and what lessons it can impart in today’s cultural and political environs.
Continuing that nostalgic thread, the next panel was the Aliens reunion, which brought back the entire lead cast of James Cameron’s classic, along with Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd with EW’s Anthony Breznican moderating. This was a good deal of fun, and even included a gentleman proposing to his significant other during the fan q&a. While there were many good anecdotes imparted, my favorite came from Carrie Henn, who played Newt, and quit acting to become a 4th Grade Teacher. Henn said that because of her fame, she constantly gets fathers to attend Parent-Teacher conferences and they bring Aliens material for her to sign.
The Women Who Kick Ass panel came next, which had a number of great panelists like Ming Na Wen and Lucy Lawless. This is one I’m always happy to see, and I’m glad this ongoing SDCC tradition continues to thrive and find a very receptive audience.
And then there was Marvel Studios, in which we received showcases for Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and the unveiling of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.
A few random thoughts and then you can enjoy the photos we took below:
- Black Panther has my favorite cast of a Marvel film so far, and probably its most talented director in Ryan Coogler. Revealing the casting of Danai Gurira as the head of the Dora Milaje was another coup for this production
- Thor: Ragnarok offered a glimpse at some production design work, including Gladiator Hulk and Hulk vs. Surtur, but most specifically I was in love with the mockumentary that preceded it, giving a glimpse at what Thor was up to during the events of Captain America: Civil War in a very Taika Waititi-style. I hope that winds up online soon for all to enjoy, it was that brilliant and perhaps the best thing I’ve seen all con.
- Everyone is going to be in love with Baby Groot. You can hear the Disney coffers filling up already.
- I’m still not sold on Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. The visuals for the film that aren’t Inception-like have a nice Ditko flair, but his accent is *rough* in the scene and trailer we were shown.
- Kurt Russell is playing EGO! He’s also Starlord’s father. I’m not sure how all that works, but I look forward to finding out!
- Brie Larson is going to be a heck of a Captain Marvel.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2:
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.