Saturday was always fated to be the biggest day in Comic-Con International: San Diego’s in-person return. Warner Bros. Pictures and Marvel Studios continued their secret war for headlines by way of the DC and Marvel superheroes. The Sandman and House of the Dragon made their Hall H debuts and Star Trek took the stage with surprising updates on their various series.
More remarkable – this is all happen in just one 6,500 seat hall!
Meanwhile, Resident Alien marked its first Comic-Con panel, while Evil returned to San Diego after the program’s first appearance in 2019, and the traditional Ballroom 20 programing of Fox animation returns. And that’s still only a fraction of what con-goers tried to witness across the day. Here are some of the exciting and unbelievable things we saw and heard across Comic-Con on Saturday.
With a smoke machine, booming speakers, and a platform obscured by the aforementioned smoke, Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) hovered about the Hall H stage to electrify the crowd. Also aiding his moment – light up badges handed out to each attendee as they entered. Of course, Adam’s announcement was a word of warning: “the DC universe will never be the same again.”
The proved to be the theme once Johnson got out of costume and joined director Jaume Collet-Serra and fellow co-stars Aldis Hodge (Hawkman), Noah Centineo (Atom Smasher), and Quintessa Swindell (Cyclone) to chat a little bit about the October release and what it will add to the DC Film universe.
“It was one of those career lifelong dreams,” Hodge said. “To be with the [Justice Society of America] – the first unified superhero team in existence.”
Getting into a little bit of the story, Collet-Serra said: “I love the unusual origin story for him. He was a slave given these powers, but he’s awakened 5,000 years later. He’s like a Dirty Harry character; he breaks the system down and does the unconventional thing. There’s also a sense a family, which is something DJ values very much. Also, these movies are very challenging, you have to outdo the last, but the technology is always getting better and DJ pushed us to do it differently and, hopefully, blow people’s minds.”
A clip from the film, which sees Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) summoning Adam back to life suggests some heads will at least be shocked as the character uses his lightning in a way altogether different from Shazam (Zachary Levi) or the Shazam family. It’s brutal, lethal, and no conventional firepower stands a chance against it.
Someone, of course, is still willing to try. As revealed in the new trailer screened during the session, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) continues to be the glue holding the DC world together, but this time, it seems she will be forced to work with the heroes of the JSA to stop this new threat.
“Y’all not ready,” Hodge said.
But through a quirk of scheduling, Black Adam is not the only lightning-fueled hero to grace screens this year. Shazam! Fury of the Gods also came to Comic-Con with a trailer full of hints about Billy’s (Asher Angel) feud with the Daughters of Atlantis and his uncertain future with his family — or, as Levi dubbed them, the “Shazamily.”
“It’s a couple years on, and everyone has been flying around do mission around the city of Philadelphia and the world at large,” Levi said of the plot. “But we’re also trying to figure out our identities.”
Angel offered another glimpse at Billy’s internal struggle: “Adulthood is on the horizon for him and that’s a bit scary. He doesn’t know if he’s going to have to leave the home. So Billy’s hyperfocus is maintaining the family dynamic with the Shazamily.”
Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays Freddy Freeman, added his character is “leading a teenage life the best he can. He’s doing what I would do if I had powers that I had to keep secret.”
Of course, how their more identifiable struggles butts up against the fight with the Daughters of Atlas is anyone’s guess. From the trailer screened during the panel, it appears they are mad that Billy has the powers of Shazam and will seemingly stop at nothing to rescind the gift. Also, if one scene is to be believed, the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) himself will be powerless to help the Shazamily as he is imprisoned.
Speaking more broadly about the film, director David F. Sandberg said “it’s magic when they’re all together. Now we get to see more of the whole family.” He also added, “It’s a sequel, so we get more money and we spent it all. Bigger action, Bigger stakes, bigger cast.”
Lucy Liu, the sole representation of the Daughters of Atlantis evaded any question about what her characters and her siblings want. “I really enjoyed playing a goddess, there’s nothing like it.” she said in lieu of spoiling.
“She is one in real life,” Grazer added, “so it wasn’t much of a stretch.”
Liu continued, “Being here now and an element of color and having this career that I have had, it’s an honor to be in something this special.”
Helen Mirren and Rachel Ziegler did contribute to the panel via a prerecorded Zoom call in which Mirren suggested she has been banned from the convention for fighting with a line-jumper. Committing to the bit, Ziegler interrogated her about the incident. Finally, Mirren said she looked forward to sharing the “pussy power” that will be on display in the film.
“I’m just glad I got to hear her say that,” Levi said after the video.
Upcoming HBO fantasy series House of the Dragon will feature at least 17 dragons, series co-creator Ryan Condal confirmed during the show’s Hall H presentation on Saturday that included author George R.R. Martin and cast.
“There are 17 [dragons] at the height of this, so it was really important to…differentiate them – not only in the way they looked, but the way they behaved and acted, and the way they bonded with their riders,” Condal said. “Of course, George, who writes very detailed books, gave us the gift of specifying color and size and age.”
Fans of Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire universe and the hit HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones based on the novels were treated to an hour with the author and House of the Dragon cast members Paddy Considine (King Viserys Targaryen), Matt Smith (Prince Daemon Targaryen), Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower), Emma D’Arcy (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen), Steve Toussaint (Lord Corlys Velaryon), Eve Best (Princess Rhaenys Targaryen), Fabien Frankel (Ser Criston Cole), Milly Alcock (Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen), and Emily Carey (Young Alicent Hightower), along with Condal, who serves as co-showrunner/executive producer/writer. The event was moderated by podcast host Jason Concepcion.
On the subject of heroes and villains in his stories and these shows, Martin celebrated the gray areas of humanity.
“We’re not going to have anyone called ‘Lord Evil’ or ‘Mr. Atrocity,’” the author said. “We don’t have orcs or trollocs or anything like that, but there’s certainly evil. I’ve always believed that the most interesting characters are the gray characters – like all the human beings I’ve ever met and read about are capable generosity and love and doing good, and the next week they do something selfish and bad.”
Asked if he would cameo in the new series, Martin indicated he might be a little short on time. See his answer in the clip below.
"There's this book I'm writing…"
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) July 23, 2022
Miguel Sapochnik (co-showrunner/executive producer/director) was supposed to participate in the panel but tested positive for Covid the day before and sent a message via star D’Arcy.
“We dedicated at least the last three years of our lives to making this show, and hope that it is everything you want it to be, plus maybe a little bit that you weren’t expecting,” D’Arcy read from Sapochnik’s message. “You’ll finally get to see what we’ve been cooking in less than a month. I hope you like dragons.”
Based on Martin’s novel Fire & Blood, the HBO Original series is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen. The series debuts August 21 on HBO and HBO Max. – DD
In the seemingly most unlikely event to ever occur, live-action series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and animated show Star Trek: Lower Decks will crossover. And much like the way Lower Decks stars Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid crashed the Strange New Worlds portion of the panel, their characters will find their way onto the U.S.S. Enterprise during Strange New Worlds second season.
“We’re going to show them up and stress them out,” Newsome said. The episode will feature a mix of live action and animation with both Newsome and Quaid appearing in live action and Strange New World’s Anson Mount will become animated.
Talking about the origin of the story, executive producer Henry Alonso Myers said, “One of our writers also works on The Boys and was chatting with Jack about a crossover, and we thought, What if we could get more than one person from Lower Decks? Separately, we got a call from Alex [Kurtzman] saying, ‘Maybe you should do a crossover with Lower Decks,’ and I said, ‘I’ve got good news for you.'” And to continue the crossover feeling, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Jonathan Frakes will direct the episode.
Frakes will also resume his role from that series for the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard alongside most of the TNG cast as Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) suits up for one last adventure.
“When we first started, the first instinct was to bring back the entire crew and Patrick said, ‘What I don’t want to do is repeat things, so if we bring back the crew, we have to earn it,'” Kurtzman said of the decision to hold back the return of Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) and other members of the old Enterprise command staff. “We wanted everyone to have significant roles and whet appetites. So, at the beginning of the season, everyone is in different place and we slowly see them come together.”
“It’s been 20 to 25 years [since they were all together],” McFadden said before joking “We’re all younger and smarter, it’s amazing! Crusher has been around the universe. You’ve seen the pictures from the Webb Telescope, I’ve been all over that … we’re different, we’ve evolved.”
The Comic-Con audience saw some of that evolution via a teaser trailer which put most of the characters back in Starfleet uniforms except, notably, Picard veteran Raffi (Michelle Hurd), TNG’s Troi (Marina Sirtis), and Dr. Crusher. Kurtzman added that Brent Spiner will play “a new old character.”
“[Executive Producer] Terry Matalas was very taken with doing the final Next Gen movie and it was really exciting to approach this from where they are this many years later,” he continued. “One of the things we love most about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the mind games between Kirk and Khan, and it’s been a real North Star in the villain we’ve created.” Kurtzman was unwilling to offer any other details about the characters other than to say “she’s amazing.”
“We wanted to honor the legacy of these extraordinary characters. This whole series has been a love letter to Next Gen, Picard, and Patrick, but I think we’ve earned the chance to make something that makes you feel like ‘home again.'”
Stewart also teased the season will see him “correcting” mistakes Picard made as a result of the traumatic childhood event depicted in Picard’s second season. That seemingly involves the old crew and perhaps Crusher, as McFadden hinted more than once that their characters have “a lot of unresolved issues.”
One last surprise from the teaser – Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) in a Starfleet uniform – led to one last detail Kurtzman was willing to share about the upcoming season. “Seven has found herself a first officer on a ship,” he said. “But she’s also a Fenris Ranger so she’s still struggling with wear she fits in.”
Asked by a fan if Raffi and Seven could get their own series, he said “Anything is possible [for spinoffs] … and you can certainly expect to see more Star Trek shows with female leads.”
Asked what aspect of The Sandman television series excited co-creator Neil Gaiman the most, the writer and now television producer said, “What I’m really excited about is that in less than two weeks, everyone is going to see what we’ve made.”
Its Netflix premiere culminates a 30-year journey to bring Gaiman’s comic book to film or television. The series stars Tom Sturridge as the humanoid personification of dreams. Imprisoned for 100 years, he vows to find his badges of office and restore his kingdom.
But as Gaiman revealed at the Comic-Con panel, that journey only represents the first five episodes of the program. While setting up a clip featuring the first appearance of Morpheus’s sister, Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), he noted the story was originally told in issue #8 of the comic, but represents episode 6 of the television show.
“‘The Sound of Her Wings’ was the one [Sandman story] that changed everything,” he explained. “People realized what we were doing. It began with Dream and Death sitting on a bench …” Cutting to the clip, we see the bench and Morpheus feeding the birds. Death soon appears in her trademark outfit and ankh necklace to give her brother what-for. She is exasperated by the pity party he’s throwing for himself after finding his quest ultimately unrewarding.
After the clip, Howell-Baptiste discussed coming to terms with the character as devised by Gaiman (and the issue’s artist, Mike Dringenberg).
“I spent a long time looking at relationships to death, and I became obsessed with the entities who guide people into the death and that it can be joyous instead of doom and gloom,” she said. “When you’re in your final moments, you want to be comforted by someone you’d want to get a drink with. And when I read the comics years ago, she was my absolute favorite.”
Since the comics’s first storyline ends halfway through the season, it offered the chance to establish other things early, like the sibling relationships between Dream and other siblings like Desire (Mason Alexander Park) and Despair (Donna Preston). According to Park, the pace of production meant learning to “trust the text and the relationships Neil crafted in the original comics.” They also credited Sturridge’s performance as Morpheus (or Dream as the other Endless call him) and the set replicating Desire’s realm, the Threshold, for “having the context for what the show should be like. It offered trust and I could do the best version of what I think is needed in the moment.”
Sturridge echoed the feeling that trusting the work was vital to bringing the character to life: “I care about this piece of literature, so I just spent months reading it over and over until it was in my bones and in my blood.”
And, as it happens, even Gaiman had to learn to trust the text again after so many years.
“He knew what he was doing,” the writer said of his younger self. “We came up with brilliant ways to change things, fix things and then we saw it worked better in the comics and went back to that.”
At the same time, the show is striving to offer its director the same freedom artists like Sam Keith, Jill Thompson, and Marc Hempel had in the comics. According to Heinberg, each has “distinctive style” that will be apparent in the episodes.
But one artist who definitely gets to put his stamp on the series is Dave McKean, the man who devised covers for the 75-issue comic book, its collected editions, a handful of spin-off titles, and even a collection of the covers themselves.
“When Sandman began [development at Netflix], people kept asking if Dave McKean was going to do something, as he’d retired formally from doing Sandman covers, and I called Dave and said, ‘You have to do something.’ So, every episode has a different end-credit sequence that Dave McKean has made. He made 10 of them for us. Do not skip the end credits.”
In summing up his intentions for the first season, Gaiman declared all in attendance “yogurt starter.”
Elaborating, he said, “You’ve read [the comics] and loved it and you’re going to watch Sandman thinking, Well, this better be good, and if it is, you’ll start telling friends or other people if you like it. So, from my perspective, we’re making Sandman for you, as yogurt starter, to turn the world into yogurt.”
He then wondered why he choose yogurt for the analogy. But before he could put too much thought into it, he debuted a new trailer with glimpses of Desire, the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook) and other denizens of The Sandman’s world.
Although Ms. Minutes (Tara Strong) announced Marvel Studios’ presentation as being “at the end of time,” the future was very much on the mind of studio president Kevin Feige. After a sizzle reel recapping some of the latest Marvel projects and invoking how the world has changed since their last SDCC panel in 2019, Feige offered something to the audience only he can: a calendar. To be more precise, two calendars. As he announced in the presentation’s opening moments, Phase 4 – a phase of introductions to characters like the Eternals, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), and Ms. Marvel (Iman Velani) – will end with November’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) July 24, 2022
Director Ryan Coogler took the stage to give an emotional speech about the late Chadwick Boseman.
“I sat right about here and premiered footage from Black Panther. Sitting next to me was our T’Challa, the late great Chadwick Boseman,” he said. “The cast, including Chad, hadn’t seen it yet. He grabbed my left shoulder with his enormous hand … And when it was done, I felt his hand for the rest of the day. And I promise you, I can feel his hand on me right now.”
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) July 24, 2022
He also presented a trailer for the film which, finally, confirmed Tenoch Huerta will play Namor, the Sub-Mariner. From the glimpses we saw, it seems the Wakandan Royal Family is grieving the loss of King T’Challa (Boseman) even as it is left to Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) to declare war on Atlantis and, potentially, other hostile nations. The why of it all remains a secret.
Phase 5 begins with next February’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The film takes Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Cassie (Kathryn Newton) and the entire Pym-Van Dyne family back to the Quantum Realm, where Scott will seemingly encounter Kang the Conqueror. The first look tease also suggested Cassie is following in her father’s criminal footsteps and Janet Van Dyne’s return to the Quantum Realm may not be all that difficult. Director Peyton Reed, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Kathryn Newton appeared to discuss the film with Reed confirming M.O.D.O.K. will appear and Jonathan Majors taking the moment to say “[the heroes] will be conquered” by his character, Kang, the variant of He Who Remains Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was warned about.
The rest of the phase will follow with the Disney+ series Secret Invasion in the spring 2023; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in May; The Marvels in July; Disney+’s Echo and Loki season 2 also in the summer; Blade on November 3; Ironheart in fall and Agatha: Coven of Chaos in winter, both also on Disney+; Captain America: New World Order on May 3, 2024; and the 18-episode first season of Daredevil: Born Again on Disney+. The phase culminates on July 26, 2024 with Thunderbolts, a film Feige promised to discuss at a later date.
Yes, there was a Daredevil series announced in the midst of all of that. According to Feige, Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio will be back as the title character and his nemesis, Wilson Fisk.
Phase 6 begins with Fantastic Four on November 6, 2024 and ends with a two-part Avengers series: Avengers: The Kang Dynasty set for a May 2, 2025 release and Avengers: Secret Wars due out November 7, 2025. Feige also announced the three phases form the second Marvel Studios saga: The Multiverse Saga. Audience members were given baseball caps with The Multiverse Saga logo embroidered upon them.
All the information was a lot to process, but Marvel went further by highlighting the next few shows and movies with trailers — some exclusive to the room — and some brief appearances by cast and directors.
First up was a new look at August’s She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. The high point, judging by audience reaction, was the tease of a fight between Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) and Daredevil. Also thrilling, both Jen and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) appear to break the fourth wall, a not-so-subtle nod back to The Sensational She-Hulk comic book. According to head writer Jessica Gao, the program is “Marvel’s first true half-hour comedy” with a chance to see special quest characters, “especially characters we’ve seen in dramatic roles,” examined through a different lens. The trailer also backed this up with new looks at Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) and Wong (Benedict Wong).
Maslany said another element of the series also sets it apart: “Jen is not trying to be a superhero.”
But as Feige noted, Marvel loves its tone switches and no pivot may be more dramatic than the one from She-Hulk to Secret Invasion. Cobie Smulders came on stage to represent a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Colman, Martin Freeman, and Emilia Clarke.
“This is a darker show,” Smulders said. “We’re going to see [Maria Hill and Nick Fury] in new ways.”
That statement was backed up by an exclusive trailer that saw the two at odds for the first time, as Maria resents Nick’s unwillingness to help in the last few years. A beanie-wearing Fury tells her he had his reasons — a war only he can fight. He is subsequently asked what he thinks the Skrulls want, but the trailer ended before he could answer.
Gunn then took to the stage next to thank the audience for their support across the 10-year journey to make the three Guardians of the Galaxy films.
“Ten years ago this week, I flew to pitch the movie to Kevin,” he explained.
“It’s been a good 10 years, James,” Feige said.
The director noted how much he fell in love with the “oddballs and weirdos” who make up the Guardians and that even 10 years ago, he “had an end in sight … I knew where we were going. This is the end of that story.” When the audience expressed disappointment in the notion that the Guardians series could end, he added, “Some stories have an end.”
And though it may be the conclusion, the teaser Gunn shared does not suggest any finality. In it, the Guardians finally set up a storefront, but a bigger problem presents itself when Gamora (Zoe Saldana) resurfaces as the leader of the Ravagers. Circumstances will force them to work together and despite Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) best efforts, Gamora cannot conceive of the life she shared with him before the change to the timeline in Avengers: Endgame. It also suggested a closer look at Rocket’s (Bradley Cooper) origin – a notion backed when Peacemaker’s Chukwudi Iwuji appeared in Hall H as the High Evolutionary.
In character, he said, “I am pleased to be here. As I gaze out at this crowd, I am reminded of my sole purpose: taking un-evolved scum such as yourselves and changing it into something less irrepressible. Thank you for inspiring me … I can’t wait to dissect all of you and see what I can learn.”
Besides the High Evolutionary, the film will also feature Will Poulter as Adam Warlock and Maria Bakalova as Cosmo the Spacedog.
“I hope you love Cosmo,” Bakalova said when she came on stage. “Because she’s going to bring love to the lost and a bit of strength.”
• Fox announced that fans can catch a special preview of Krapopolis on November 27, 2022, ahead of its 2023 premiere. The adult animated series from Dan Harmon (co-creator of Rick and Morty) centers on a flawed family of humans, gods, and monsters that tries to run one of the world’s first cities without killing each other. The voice cast includes Richard Ayoade, Hannah Waddingham, Matt Berry, Pam Murphy, and Duncan Trussell.
• Seth MacFarlane announced that all three seasons of sci-fi series The Orville, will be available to stream on Disney+ on August 10. The space adventure series will also continue to stream on Hulu. In the new, third season, the crew of the U.S.S. Orville continue their mission of exploration, as they navigate both the mysteries of the universe and the complexities of their own interpersonal relationships. The cast includes MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, J Lee, Mark Jackson, Chad L. Coleman, Jessica Szohr and Anne Winters.
• Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire made a grand entrance at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The long-awaited series will officially debut debut Sunday, October 2 at 10 p.m., immediately following The Walking Dead, with the first two episodes available on AMC+ that same night. Based on the author’s revolutionary gothic novel, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire follows Louis de Pointe du Lac, Lestat de Lioncourt and Claudia’s epic story of love, blood, and the perils of immortality, as told to investigative journalist Daniel Molloy. The cast includes Jacob Anderson, Sam Reid, Bailey Bass, and Eric Bogosian.
• SYFY’s Resident Alien revealed a new clip teasing season 2, part 2, at its first-ever Comic-Con panel. The series, which is adapted from the Dark Horse comic, follows a crash-landed alien named Harry whose secret mission is to kill all humans. Season 2 finds Harry once again stranded on Earth, where he must confront the consequences of having failed his people’s mission to destroy the human race. The cast includes Alan Tudyk, Sara Tomko, Corey Reynolds, Elizabeth Bowen, Levi Fiehler, Meredith Garrettson, Alice Wetterlund, and Judah Prehn. Season 2 premieres Wednesday, August 10, at 10 p.m. on USA and SYFY.
• Apple TV+ brought Mythic Quest to San Diego on Saturday and announced the show’s third season will officially premiere this fall. To back up that reveal, the streamer unveiled a first-look teaser trailer for the new episodes. Co-creator, executive producer and star Rob McElhenney revealed to the Comic-Con crowd that the new season will feature another flashback episode – a detail that has become a signature for the series – and cast members David Hornsby, Danny Pudi, and Ashly Burch all step behind the camera for the first time to direct. Mythic Quest follows a group of video game developers tasked with building worlds, molding heroes and creating legends, but the most hard-fought battles don’t occur in the game — they happen in the office. The cast includes McElhenney, Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Pudi, Burch, Imani Hakim, and Jessie Ennis.