Comic Con 2013 Wrap: What to check out on TV and film

San Diego Comic Con is both a fan celebration of all that’s happened in the past year(s) and a launch pad for new projects.. Keep an eye out for these in the next year:

TELEVISION

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – Producer/Director Joss Whedon has gone on record to say Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson – killed in The Avengers – has returned from the dead thanks to fan love.  Ming-Na (Eureka), Elizabeth Henstridge (Hollyoaks), Ian De Caestecker (The Fades), Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln) and Chloe Bennet (Nashville) round out the team who handle the world’s superheroes. Premieres Sept 24, 2013.

INTELLIGENCE (CBS) – Josh Holloway (LOST) plays a computer enhanced cyber-agent assigned a Secret Service handler (Once Upon a Time’s Megan Ory). Marg Hellenberger (CSI) stars as Holloway’s boss. Based on an unpublished novel, coming to TV February, 2014.

THE 100 (CW) – 100 years after fleeing an irradiated Earth in a space colony, human survivors sent 100 juvenile delinquents back down to the planet to see if it in habitable. Starring Henry Ian Cusack (LOST), Paige Turco (The Agency), Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy) and Eliza Taylor (Neighbours). Coming spring 2014.

SLEEPY HOLLOW (FOX) – Ichabod Crane finds himself pulled into a ravaged modern age. He partners with a small town sheriff to fight evil and defend the world. From Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Transformers, Fringe, Star Trek) and starring Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie (Shame). Premieres Sept 16, 2013.

ALMOST HUMAN (FOX) – An unlikely pairing of part human/part android cops investigate crime and espionage in a future world. Starring Karl Urban (Star Trek) and Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell). Produced by J.J. Abrams. Look for it in late fall 2013

ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND (ABC) – Down the rabbit hole with writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz as they spin off Once Upon a Time, mixing Alice’s Wonderland with Storybrooke. Starring Sophia Lowe (Two Mothers), Emma Rigby (Hollyoaks), Naveen Andrews (LOST), and John Lithgow as the voice of the White Rabbit. Premiers October 10, 2013.

ORPHAN BLACK (BBC America) – It’s already aired one season on BBC America and is gaining momentum stateside. Following the lives and mysteries of multiple clones, the show is critically acclaimed for storytelling and asking important ethical questions. Starring Tatiana Maslany (The Nativity), Dylan Bruce (As the World Turns) and Jordan Gavaris (Unnatural History). Catch the first season on BBC America, season 2 returns in 2014.

MOVIES

THE ZERO THEOREM (Voltage Pictures) – A tiny film compared to some of these others, Zero follows an eccentric recluse of a computer genius  working to solve the Zero Theorem and discover the purpose of life.  Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Tilda Swinton (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), David Thewlis (Harry Potter series) and Lucas Hedges (Moonrise Kingdom). Releasing Dec 20, 2o13.

THE WOLVERINE (20th Century Fox) –Pining over the loss of Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand, Hugh Jackman’s Logan is embroiled in a world of Japanese intrigue. Smaller and more personal than most of the hero films coming out, The Wolverine hopes to reconnect with fans disappointed by 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Currently in theaters

THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN 2 (Sony Pictures) – Spider-Man is credited with kicking off the superhero franchises with the 2002 Tobey Maguire version and these “Amazing” reboots starring Andrew Garfield have secured the series a reputation for solid storytelling. Neither the flashiest nor the darkest of the comic franchises, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 brings Jamie Foxx in as villain Electro. Releasing May 2, 2014.

DIVERGENT (Summit Entertainment) – Veronica Roth’s Divergent novel series  is still growing it’s fanbase, but after The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes and goes in late 2013, fans hungry for dystopian young adult drama may lock on. It’s a strong story set in future Chicago, where humans have been divided into five personality-based factions. But not everybody fits – some are divergent… Releasing March 21, 2014.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (20th Century Fox) – Uniting a gigantic cast of nearly all previous mutants (twenty principal cast members!) Future Past may have bitten off more than can be chewed in one story. If it works it will be a colossal success, if not it could be the death-knell of all X-films. Releasing May 23, 2014.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Marvel) – Chris Evans Captain and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow defend America. That’s about all we know, except that the footage looks great and there’s a good amount of Marvel’s patented humorous banter. Also featuring Samuel L. Jackson and…Robert Redford! Releasing April 4, 2014.

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) – Thought the book is a bit of a lull between the first and third titles, Jennifer Lawrence’s thoughtful portrayal of Katniss Everdeen already guarantees Catching Fire will be a huge success. The big question about this sequel is whether to see it opening night. Releasing Nov 22, 2013

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Marvel) – Marvel needs to be a little careful, as audiences may burn out on separate stories and a united cast in The Avengers 2. Thor wasn’t the strongest origin story of the bunch, though it did give us Loki to make life difficult for The Avengers. Thor: The Dark World needs to do something impressively different to keep fans coming back.  Still, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston! Releasing Nov 8, 2013

THE AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel) – Discovering the villains is one of the fun things for comic movie watchers who are not comic book readers. Ultron is an AI creation who will take on The Avengers May 1, 2015. We’ll hear more about it at next year’s Comic Con.

ENDER’S GAME (Summit Entertainment) – All my feelings on this adaptation can be found here. See the movie, but don’t cheat yourself – read the book first. Releasing Nov 11, 2013.

Untitled Superman + Batman film (Warner Bros) – Arguably the most shocking moment in Hall H this year was this reveal of a combo film. No word yet on whether it will be a buddy, team or rival story and it’s not even scheduled until 2015, leaving plenty of time for speculation and fan arguments.

Comic Con 2013 weekend: Marvel, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox and surprises

Comic Com is truly a place for the unexpected and the weekend was full of surprises

In my experience the best moments always come from stumbling into a panel you didn’t plan on attending which blows you away.  I found one of those today but I’m going to cover it separately so I can give you all the details.

I missed an early panel I’d planned on attending for web series Tiny Commando created by Ed Helms (The Office) and starring Zachary Levi (Chuck) and Gillian Jacobs (Community). My sister-who-did-get-up-on-time tells me it’s a must watch.  The trailer reminds me of the world of tiny make believe that we live in when we’re children playing with our toys. Never a bad thing to return to those days.

Matt Smith (Doctor Who) crashed Richard Madden panel at Nerd HQ

Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) has his panel crashed by girlfriend Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who)

A late-add panel with Richard Madden, Game of Thrones’ Robb Stark, was an unplanned bit of joy at Nerd HQ, compounded when the panel was crashed by Doctor Who’s Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman.  It’s a testament to Richard’s acting that most of the questions he got were about the character of Robb Stark, who was tragically offed in the season 3 finale. Nerd HQ continued delivering to fans by announcing another surprise panel addition with Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers Loki) for Sunday. Even with so many fans purchasing tickets via smartphones they still sold out in minutes.

Not a surprise at all was how great it was to get together with other fans for a showing of Serenity in Petco Park Saturday night. Nerd HQ did a nice job, getting a high–res screen for the ground that was large enough to see and spared us having to look up at the jumbotron. I noted at several points how quiet the crowd of about 1000 was, just enjoying the beauty of the ballpark and city skyline, a great film, and a community of friends. There are films shown every night of Comic Con over at the Marriott, as well as parties and a ton of offsite meetups and events. So if you come, don’t plan on wrapping up your night when the convention center closes at 9pm.

In cool, dramatic fashion Warner Bros announced the next Superman film will also be a Batman film! With the panel nearly over they brought out Man of Steel director Zach Snyder and Harry Lennix (Nick Fury in Man of Steel) for a dramatic reading ending, with a dramatic graphic of the superimposed Batman and Superman logos.

Warner Bros also screened footage from the much anticipated Godzilla and The Lego Movie while partner studio Lionsgate brought cast and footage from I, Frankenstein and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Sandra Bullock made her first Con appearance for Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, co-starring George Clooney.  Yes it sounds similar to June’s Europa Report but will probably have more broad appeal due to its stars and less of Report’s hard sci-fi content.

Cosplay – not actually Loki

During Marvel’s Thor panel the lights dimmed and Loki’s disembodied voice appeared. Lights up to Tom Hiddleston crashing the stage in full Loki gear and full Loki mode. That man is hilarious, working the crowd up as his Army – one tweet read “I’m pretty sure Loki could’ve told people to jump off the Hilton Bridge today and they would have #PowerOfLoki

Marvel also revealed the title and villain for the next Avengers movie, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and footage screened showed Robert Redford making an appearance in forthcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The full cast of Guardian’s of the Galaxy, including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and David Bautista, flew over from London for a Hall H appearance and was flying back that night. Early footage shows a darker tone and more mature humor than current Marvel interpretations.

The only big surprise from 20th Century Fox was what they were bringing to Comic Con. They withheld any pre-publicity on their panels, walking a dangerous line between creating curiosity and ambivalence about their upcoming slate. Andy Serkis was a big hit in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes panel discussing the challenges and joys of working with WETA to reprise the role of Ceasar. Hugh Jackman appeared to talk about The Wolverine, which promises to finally get to the heart of Logan/Wolverine’s angst. Jackman also said he’d dressed up in Wolverine gear and walked around Comic Con all morning without being recognized. I so hope that’s true.

Hugh Jackman did double duty on stage with the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Fourteen actors lined up for the panel including Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. That’s a lot of stories to tell! It will be interesting to see how they pack it all in there.

When the big panels ended, Tom Hiddleston delighted fans by hanging out the window of his chauffeured Escalade gawking like a fanboy at the comic-blinged Gaslamp Quarter. Just one more think you’ll only see at the Con.

Bear McCreary interrupts the Starship Smackdown with a lesson

One of the best ways to end Comic Con is with the Starship Smackdown panel, where panelists – usually show writers and superfans – pit ship against ship in a raucous battle for dominance. At the semi finals each ship gets a Captain the likes of Captain Crunch and Captain Quint (Jaws). Everyone is exhausted and all shows are propriety have been dropped. The panelists have been known to pass a flask around. Bobak Fedowski, mokawk guy from NASA’s JPL lab was not advertised for the panel but I was delighted to see him there. A real scientist! And he did actually throw some science into the mix probably to the dismay of the rest of the loopy panelists. But during an extended moment of mocking the sound effects of Star Trek’s V’Ger ship a blur running up on stage turned out to be composer Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead) to give an emphatic tutorial on why that sound should be adored and respected. Then he sprinted back to seat in the crowd to geek out with the rest of us. McCreary has been called one of the secret weapons of the television industry, but sometimes the masters of magic are just like us.

 


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