The truth about Sunday at this year’s Comic-Con is that it was the day most people skipped – even the Hollywood studios. With only two film panels slated for the day (Overture’s docu-romance Paper Heart, which stars a geeky girl who probably reads comics, and the festival hit Mystery Team, which will delight Encyclopedia Brown enthusiasts) it’s no wonder that the whole place felt a little empty. So instead of recapping Sunday panels, I’m taking a look back at the entire four days of Comic-Con 2009 to point out what was good, great, and sort of weird about this year’s fest – in terms a geek might understand.
Iron Man 2 – The popular favorite among movie panels this year seemed to be Iron Man 2, which packed Hall H to the brim on Saturday (even some journalists with VIP passes couldn’t get in). Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr. cut to the chase (always a good thing) by showing footage first – and what
thrilling footage it was. First looks at Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine, Don Cheadle (replacing Terrence Howard), and the further existential dilemmas of Tony Stark (Downey), not to mention the cameo by Sam Jackson as Nick Fury, brought the house to its feet.
Twilight: New Moon – Giving Iron Man 2 a run for its money was The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which also had fans sleeping overnight just to be the first into Hall H. We all know what happened last year when the Twilight panel took Comic-Con by storm (and fanboys at large by surprise). This time around things were a little more subdued – only director Chris Weitz and geek boy fave Ashley Greene joined primary stars Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, and Robert Pattinson this time. Summit Entertainment not only planned extensive fan appreciation screenings of the first film around town, they also picked two of the best possible scenes to show the thousands of screaming females in Hall H:
Jacob Black and Bella’s motorcycle scene, in which Lautner jauntily strips off his shirt, and Bella’s race to save Edward in Italy, in which – shocker! – he reveals his bare chest. No Twilighter in the house left disappointed.
(Read extremely detailed descriptions of the two New Moon scenes here. I swear I’m not obsessed.)
Avatar – Sure, none of us had any idea what James Cameron’s Avatar was actually about, but hell, he was coming to Comic-Con! Luckily for those who made it into Hall H for the Disney 3D panel, Cameron not only spoke at length about his pet project, he also showed a helluva lot of footage. And while we found it’s near-impossible to describe the Avatar footage to anyone who didn’t see it (“This guy, he’s paraplegic and he goes into a genetically-engineered alien body to interact with this tribal race that is all blue and, like, one with nature, AND IT LOOKS AMAZING”) suffice to say, Avatar in 3D will transport you to an incredibly detailed world like nothing you’ve seen before.
Kick-Ass – While the above FTW films came into Comic-Con with a lot of buzz and delivered appropriately, Kick-Ass came out of nowhere to wow everyone who stayed for its late-afternoon panel, earning a standing ovation in the process. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kick-Ass follows disparate wannabe superheroes including young actress Chloe Moretz (as Hit Girl), whose bad assness in the flick started the most word-of-mouth buzz of the entire Con. Because there’s nothing better than watching a 12-year-old girl call a couple of thugs a bad word, then cut them to pieces with a giant pointy stick. With any luck, Kick-Ass will ride its buzz into a distribution deal, as it currently has none.
Screenings: District 9, Inglourious Basterds – Both “secret” screenings of District 9 (directed by Neill Blomkamp, produced by Peter Jackson) and Inglourious Basterds (directed by Quentin Tarantino) earned enthusiastic buzz from genre journalists; could QT’s Basterds even win an Oscar? We won’t hold our breath, but we would root for District 9 to nab an effects Oscar, since the majority of aliens were created with CG – and on a $30 million budget total, to boot.
Viral marketing of the year: TRON 2 and Flynn’s Arcade – After showing Hall H a clip from the 2010 pic Tron: Legacy, what better way to harness the word-of-mouth in San Diego than by re-creating Flynn’s Arcade in the middle of
downtown? Fans entering the Arcade could play retro games for free, then enter a secret passageway for more looks at concept art and even a real live light cycle. Even better: Flynn’s shirts given out prior contained hidden blacklight messages directing people to the Arcade. Brilliant!
Best party: The Wrath of Con. Sure, the EW party is always one of Comic-Con’s biggest, and the G4 party had Olivia Munn. But did either of them begin with a concert by American Idol band Daughtry, and end with the guy from Chuck in a wrestling ring introducing a live TNA wrestling match?
2012 – Roland Emmerich’s footage was so over the top (and the acting so bad) that it was almost so bad it’s good. So maybe it should go in the Win section.
The Box – Richard Kelly’s new film could have been a decent panel (the new trailer was an improvement over the first) if star Cameron Diaz hadn’t blurted out a huge spoiler.
Most tired costume: Every year there’s a cos-play trend, like the brilliant, ballsy Joker Nurse. (Joker anything, by the way, is soooo last year now.) While there wasn’t really an “It” costume of 2009, we did see one recurring outfit everywhere. And we have a message to share: Enough with the Green Lantern t-shirts, geeks! We get it! Get a new “I’ve been a fan forever but am only now
demonstrating my love” hero for 2010!
Get our full Comic-Con 2009 coverage here!