Comic-Con International 2010 – My Experience in Nerd Heaven

A couple of weeks ago I excitedly told my aunt that I was going to Comic Con in a week, with a big ol’ smile on my face.  I didn’t really expect her to be jealous, but I was overly excited.  Then she asked if it was a gathering of comics or something.  As in comedians.  I then proceeded to try and explain that it was this really cool event that happens each year that has been taken over by Hollywood in the past decade or so.  Basically it has everything a nerd would desire to see, including comics, writers, artists, video games, tv shows, and movies.  I told her about the panels I was planning on sitting in on and some of the people that were scheduled to attend.  I was adamant about making her see how awesome it was, but she just didn’t get it.  Color me deflated.  Oh well, I guess Comic Con is just for certain people…

Like this girl:

Seeing as this was my first Comic Con experience I had a general idea of what I was getting myself into, but it was still able to defy a lot of my expectations.  For one thing, there is a whole lot of waiting and sitting around to do.  Not necessarily the same amount I did when I sat out all night on a sidewalk for the Nintendo Wii, but it still compares (and is actually worth it in the end, unlike that stupid system).  I wanted to see the panels, so a girls got to do what a girls got to do.  Let me break down my four days for you:

The Surprises:


Sucker Punch Panel – There were a lot of surprises for me coming from some of the films that I didn’t really know that much about going in, with the first being Sucker Punch.  I should have expected great things considering Zack Snyder has done a bunch of films lately that I have been overly impressed by (including 300 and Watchmen), and the trailer he showed for Sucker Punch looks to be just as amazing as those.  The story follows a girl who is put into an asylum by her stepfather, who wants to have her lobotomized by weeks end.  In order to cope she imagines the ridiculous alternate world through which she will use to help her come up with an escape plan for the other girls of the institution to pull off.  Though I am still a little confused by the story, the trailer looks amazing.  The look of the film is very dark and gritty and screams Synder from top to bottom.  And there are dragons, samurai, dancing (?), and a heap ton of fighting; what more could you ask for?  Though this isn’t exactly what was shown during the panel, check out the recently released trailer here.

Universal Panel: Paul; Cowboys & Aliens – Universal brought two films about extra terrestrials that I knew nothing about beforehand, but they are both must sees now.  Paul stars an all-star comedic cast including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, Jeffrey Tambor, Joe Lo Truglio, and Seth Rogen (voicing Paul), and if the trailer is any indication of how hilarious this film is going to be then be ready to laugh a whole lot.  Maybe not as gut busting as having an alien rip out of your abdomen, but with Weaver involved you never know.  Let’s just hope the alien doesn’t look too stupid.  Right now he looks a little like a cousin of the alien from Signs, but whereas seeing the alien in Signs ruined the film somewhat, seeing him here just adds to the comedy.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is Cowboys & Aliens, which is actually way more serious than the name led me to believe.  Director Jon Favreau explained this film as being a western in heart and soul, blending it with the old school horror based sci-fi, accented with visual effects.  And even though the film has only been shooting for 4 weeks, he did bring some awesome footage with him, including a spaceship attacking a village at night and Daniel Craig bringing it down with some advanced technology wrist weapon thing.  In addition to Craig, Olivia Wilde made her second appearance on a panel this year, and Harrison Ford came out for his first Comic Con experience, getting the largest standing ovation of the year.


The Best:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Panel – Though there were some great panels, this far surpassed the rest in excitement, footage, and the panel’s ability to just be entertaining.  Director Edgar Wright actually moderated on behalf of his film, leaving enough space on the table for the long list of actors, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh (SUPERMAN!!!), Alison Pill, Jason Schwartzman, Ellen Wong, Satya Bhabha, Mark Webber, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, and Michael Cera, who made the fantastic wardrobe choice of coming out dressed as Captain America.  In addition to the actors and graphic novel writer Bryan Lee O’Malley, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who have been in numerous Wright films) came out to much praise only to have Wright cut them down by shouting over the cheers that they will not be making an appearance in the film.  Downtrodden they left the stage, making this the only sad part of the panel.  For the rest of the hour we were treated to a few clips, great questions and answers from the panel, talk of the inspiration for the film and what to expect, etc., and when it was over I could pee my pants with how excited I was to see the film…

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Screening – …which is why it was a good thing that I got to see the film soon after.  During the panel Wright told a select group of people that they were lucky enough to go see a screening of the film that night, and though the rest of us were bummed that we only got to see a clip of The Clash at Demonhead singing Metrics “Black Sheep,” he did say that we would have a chance to see the film for free either Friday or Saturday night.  Within seconds I said goodbye to all of the panels I had planned to see the next day, replacing them with a brief run through the exhibit hall and then a long sit on the sidewalk.  That’s right, after 6 and a half hours of camping out and a brief scare that we wouldn’t actually get to see the film even though we had sat next to the theater all day, we did actually get in.  And let me just say, this film was awesome.  Sure I couldn’t hear a lot of the jokes through the roaring cheers of the audience, but I have no doubt that this is one of my favorite films of the year (following Toy Story 3 and Inception).  (What!?  This write-up isnt enough for you?  Well be sure to check back on the 13th for my full review, Zac’s full review, as well as a Q and A between the two of us)


Megamind Panel – Thursday morning started on a good note with Megamind, an animated film starring Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, and Jonah Hill.  Ferrell came out in full Megamind garb, only to realize that the majority of the people in the audience weren’t actually dressed up as their favorite nerdy characters.  Also, the box of donuts he brought was not enough to feed the thousands of people in the room.  Oops.  Tina Fey and Jonah Hill were also in attendance, proving why they are some of the best comedians out there as the panel went on.  Fey talked of her plans to wrestle Betty White in a ball of flames on pay-per-view (which I would be more than willing to dish out some money for), Brad Pitt made a special appearance as a cardboard cut out, which Hill punched over before storming of the stage, and Fey consoled the wounded cutout by letting it wrest on her lap for the rest of the panel.  Let’s just hope that she didn’t run into Angelina Jolie backstage since her Salt panel was coming up later.  Last but not least, an extended trailer was shown in 3D and it is looking pretty good, both visually and story wise.  Check it out for yourselves in 2D here.

Tron: Legacy Panel – The Tron panel followed up Megamind Thursday morning with Patton Oswalt doing a great job as moderator, becoming easily my second favorite panel of the day (behind Scott Pilgrim).  A lot of talk went into playing up the 27 or so year difference between the first film and now, but when asked by a little boy who had not seen the previous film Jeff Bridges said it wasn’t necessary to do so.  And thank goodness for that.  I watched the original this past summer and in all honesty I wasn’t really blown away by it.  I can understand that it was an incredible thing to see, especially technologically concerned, back in the 80s, but with today’s graphics I wasn’t blown away.  But after seeing an 8-minute clip of the upcoming film, I can now say that this is going to give the experience that failed to come across for me with the original.  And to top it off it is definitely going to be worth paying the extra chunk of change to see in 3D.  Finally, if that footage wasn’t enough, the director then told us that we were actually going to be in the film.  That’s right mom!  I’m gonna be a star!  Okay, not really, but the audience got to provide some crowd noise for the film (unless of course our inability to time things right when follow a bouncing ball over words hinders that), including general cheers, stomping, and words like “Derez!”  Talk about a way to win a crowd over.  There was also a second trailer to be seen, so if you would like to give that a gander check it out here.


Introduction to the Avengers – Following the excitement of the panels for the future superhero films of Captain America and Thor, a certain lesser-known actor came out to introduce a little team he is putting together.  As Samuel L. Jackson took the mic he assembling his team of Avengers on the stage, including Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and introduced Mark Ruffalo as the newest actor to don the green of the Hulk.  Then, in true Iron Man fashion Robert Downey Jr. took over Jackson’s job at the mic, waiting for the waves of screams to die down before speaking of how bringing together this many superheroes into one film is probably about as ambitious as Inception.  Then to make the nerd level get even higher, Joss Whedon came out saying: “I’ve had a dream all my life, and it was not this good.”  Clearly a lot of the audience felt the same way, and they will be watching to see in the future if his joke about screwing this all up will come to fruition.  But knowing Whedon, he is more than capable of getting the job done (if the Studio doesn’t shut it down early like everything else he has tried to do lately.  Sorry, sometimes it’s hard to tone down my bitterness…).


The Good:

The Haunted Mansion Announcement – Guillermo del Toro made a surprise visit to the stage following the Tron panel to announce that he was involved with a new film about the Haunted Mansion.  For the new project Toro joked that he has not been returning Eddie Murphy’s calls, and that instead of the comedic route they took back in 2003, he was planning on sticking much more faithfully to the original aesthetic, reintroducing the Hatbox Ghost to explain the mythology around The Haunted Mansion.  This isn’t to say that it isn’t going to be fun, but he wants to make it truthfully scary; as in “the children will scream” scary.  And with Toro involved, I can’t help but be excited for it.

Salt Panel – Though I wasn’t overwhelmed with the actual film, it was still really great to hear those involved talk about it.  A lot of questions went out to Angelina Jolie, who was easily one of the best speakers at Comic Con, fielding a wide range of questions gracefully even though they all boiled down to the same question as to how she prepared for her role as the title character.  Looks like my Team Aniston stance can finally be pushed to the wayside.

Battle: Los Angeles Panel – Going in I didn’t really know a whole bunch about this film, but coming out of the panel I now know two things.  Michelle Rodriguez is incredibly awkward when allowed to speak in front of a mass of people, and this movie has some really great potential to be amazing based on the footage/trailer shown.  The film follows a marine platoon during an alien invasion within the city limits of Los Angeles, and it is going for a more realistic feel on each side of the war.  In concern to the aliens, they are supposed to have a reason and a purpose to what they do in a recognizable military way as well, and the weaponry shied away from the ridiculous sci fi feel. The major explosions in the sky from the alien ships might have looked a little bit like airborne mushroom clouds, but there were no lazerbeams in sight zapping people into nothingness.  Though we really didn’t get to see a clear image of what the aliens look like, it was said that they will have a hint of a “biomechanical nature” to them.


J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon Panel – Only greatness can come out of two filmmakers being put together on a panel, and that was exactly what happened.  Even though they didn’t bring anything to show from upcoming projects and couldn’t talk about the stuff that they are working on, they still managed to be far more entertaining that some of the others on stage this past weekend when talking about childhood stories and influences, debated about the pros and cons of 3D filmmaking, TV vs film vs the internet, etc.

The Expendables Panel – Honesty I have never really felt the same level of excitement that most people I know have over this film, which Terry Crews dubbed “the manliest movie ever made.”  Maybe it is just because I didn’t grow up with the long list of action stars being my heroes.  With that said the men of this film, which includes Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Steve Austin, sure now how to work a crowd.  They brought with them some great stories from filming and a lot of ribbing to do between the actors, including some bitterness over Austin breaking Stallone’s neck (no, really), and in all honesty these guys really aren’t as stiff as you would think.  Plus they also brought a couple of clips from the film, and in all honesty it could be right up my alley.  There is an intense level of bloodshed, violence, and limbs flying everywhere, so when it is released I might just have to go with my dad to see it after all.

The Exhibit Hall – In all honestly I wasn’t completely blown away by the booths or anything like that and there weren’t as many people dressed up as I expected to see, but walking through the hall is still something that needs to be experienced.  Plus, without doing so I wouldn’t have gotten to come face to face with some of my favorite people in this line of work.  Two such individuals in the comic business that I was lucky enough to meet were Bryan Lee O’Malley, who autographed my copy of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6, and Jo Chen, who was sitting in a booth in Artist’s Alley sketching for those willing to pay far less than I expected (for those of you who don’t know her, she draws the cover art for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, among tons of other things).  In addition to that, even though I didn’t feel like waiting in the lines to go into some of the larger booths, I still got to see a lot of cool things, including such film pieces as the suit used by the bad guy in the final fight of Avatar, as well as the suits from Iron Man.  And best of all, it wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be, nor did it smell anything like what I was told to expect, but maybe everyone had just decided to bathe on those day…


Green Lantern Panel – For those of you who don’t know and/or aren’t attracted to menfolk, Ryan Reynolds is mighty dreamy, and luckily enough he is just as awesome in person.  But this isn’t about Reynolds, this is about the Green Lantern.  During the panel such things as the tone (light, humorous, yet realistic), the setting (including off world locations that will take the genre to a new realm), the characters (including a wide range of the Green Lantern corps) and the possibility of this films success leading to a shared DC universe in the film world were talked about, but the one thing that seemed lacking was the actual footage of the main man himself.  There was a brief trailer for the film, but there was little indication of what the ring’s powers are going to look like, and an overwhelming lack of any footage of the suit itself (though it was mentioned that it is still a work in progress and that they hope it will appear to be another layer of skin and musculature and not feel like a simple costume he puts on.  After all, it does come from the ring).  To end the panel, Reynolds made a little boy’s day by reciting the Green Lantern oath and then giving his ring away to one lucky audience member.

Reaction to Devil Trailer – A few trailers of interest were shown during the Trailer Park “panel,” with a bunch of hilarious responses in reaction to them from the audience, including a mix of groans and catcalls for Zac Efron’s Charlie St. Cloud.  However, the best reaction goes to Devil.  As the trailer went on you could tell that the audience was pretty intrigued by what was on screen, but as soon as it said “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” the groans and boos were overwhelming, though I would not say surprising in the slightest.  As I have not been shy to say I was more than disappointed by his desecration of the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender with his adaptation to screen, and now I know that I am just one in a mass of people that feel the same exact way.

Trailer Park – Though they made this big deal about compiling 3D trailers to bring back the Trailer Park with a bang, there weren’t really that many.  Plus I have seen the majority of the trailers shown before since I watch them on my own free time on any given day.  With that said one trailer came out of it that I hadn’t seen prior.  It was for a film called It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and it takes place in a psychiatric hospital after a depressed teenage boy checks himself in.  What I can’t wait for is to see how the buddy relationship grows between the teen played by Keir Gilchrist, and Zach Galifianakis, who doesn’t need to be in the mental ward to be insanly hilarious.  Check out the trailer here.

Marvel Studios – Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger – Though I am more than excited for any superhero film coming my way, some of the individuals getting films these days are not as familiar to me as they are for a lot of the fans who I was sitting in the hall with.  With that said it was still cool to see the progress being made with these “lesser known” heroes.  First up was Captain America.  We got to see some footage of the film with Hugo Weaving, who will be filling the shoes of Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull.  Something in the clip brought about some “ooo’s” from the people around me, which I was not privy to why we were getting excited.  Oh well.  The same could be said for the trailer for Thor, which brought about whispers of  “The Destroyer.”  Guess I have some reading up to do because my tiny amount of knowledge retained from my intro to mythology class back in high school seems to have seeped out of my ear while I was sleeping.  With that said the trailer still looks like they were able to create a film that can introduce the man with the hammer to those who have not been reading the comics without delving ridiculously deep into an origin story.  On the other hand, Captain America will be presenting the origin story in their “classic adventure love story with an edge” so that the character will be established and the audience has connected to him prior to his super-soldier transformation.

The Meh:

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides video – Captain Jack Sparrow paid a visit with a video briefly rambling about his newest installment to the franchise, and though the video itself wasn’t the best in the world it was at least great to see him back as a character I love.  Now lets just hope they don’t screw it up with the new film, with a title that is a little lame in my opinion.

Red Panel – Though my friend and I could not get over Helen Mirren actually showing up at Comic Con, the panel that followed was a little lackluster.  The excitement and enthusiasm level was low from the actors, which included Bruce Willis, Mary-Louis Parker, and Karl Urban in addition to Mirren, and in all honesty the only thing that kept me from falling asleep during the panel was Warren Ellis’s (the writer of the graphic novel) input, which included a running joke about how he didn’t care what they did with the adaptation because they gave him loads of money for it. But I will say that among the dull commentary there were a few standout quotes, including Parker mentioning a onset prank involving an alligator in someone’s trailer, as well as Alec Baldwin’s advice to “always look like you have to pee” in order to look like you are in danger. But at least we got a new trailer with some new footage from the film (click here), as well as a great question from an audience member: “What do you think it would be like to be John Malkovich?”

Scheduling conflicts – Because I had to sit out to get into the movie hall early Saturday I had to make the painful decision to forgo the panel for Chuck, which I had been looking forward to since forever (Sandlot voice and everything).  I actually didn’t get to see any of the panels for TV shows I had planned to see while I was there for various reasons, but as I said before seeing Scott Pilgrim made this wound far less of a sore spot than it could be.  Besides, I can watch all the panels I missed (like Chuck, Fringe, and Castle) on youtube because there were plenty of audience members filming what they were allowed to.  Yay the internets!


Let Me In Panel – Now I am not sure if it was just because that half of the panel had yet to go through puberty, but director Matt Reeves sure doesn’t know when to shut up.  As interested as I was to hear him talk about the setting, the inspiration, finding kids who can play an adult relationship, the story of the hard life of a vampire, setting up the clips, or what have you, I felt like the life was being drained from me.  But hey, this is a film about a vampire so maybe that was the plan.  At least the actors were there to add a little humor to the mix, including a joke from Richard Jenkins when agreeing with Chloe Moretz’s role choosing process, which includes her mother reading her scripts and choosing from those which ones Moretz should consider.  In addition to this, the clips still have me intrigued about this film, though I still plan on reading the book and seeing the Swedish adaptation to film first.

The Disappointments:


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – A bunch of big names were crunched together during the first panel Saturday morning, which included the Warner Bros films: Green Lantern, Harry Potter and Sucker Punch, but the one film that didn’t really live up to my expectations was Harry Potter.  Considering the last two films are coming up they did little to hype them.  Instead, Malfoy just came out and talked for a few minutes before showing a trailer that was more or less the trailer that has already been out for a while now with some additional stuff tacked onto the end.  Lame.

Resident Evil: Afterlife Panel – Though this series has had its ups and downs I had not given up on the franchise yet; at least not until I saw the footage from the film.  During the panel Paul W.S. Anderson talking about how his directing style had to change in order to fully integrate 3D filmmaking, and after seeing the clip I know just what he means, and it isn’t pretty.  Instead of just using the 3D to enhance the world as films like Avatar or Toy Story 3 did, he has decided to pull out all the tricks of the trade that make most people role their eyes at this stage of the 3D hype.  Every other shot involves something pointing at the camera (“LOOK AT MY GUN MUZZLE!!!”) or objects/people coming at it, and a whole bunch of overdone slow motion.  Things don’t have to be slowed down to a snail’s speed for us to see it, but apparently Anderson didn’t get that memo.  Too bad…

The Stabbing – As exciting as this may sound, nobody likes delays.  After the incident over the seat arrangements and elbow grazing that I didn’t even know went down until the shanking was over (this coming from someone who was within 30 feet) we had to sit through the Trailer Park over again as the cops tried to figure everything out, pushing back the later panels on Saturday by an hour.  So please keep this in mind next time you go to Comic Con: Nerds are not supposed to be this active, so keep your pens to yourself and violence to your video games.  Nobody wants to have a major bag checking system put into play next year; the waiting is already annoying enough.

So there you have it.  Comic Con was quite a memorable experience for me thanks to the loads of footage, star power, trailers, and Scott Pilgrim I could feast my eyes on, and I barely scratched the surface of all that was offered during the 4 days.  Sure there were some disappointments, but far more stuff to get excited about that was able to stifle the inner Debby Downer in me.  Now I just need to remember to bring a butt pillow for next year…

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