San Diego Comic-Con Wrap Up 2014

Written By: Abel Pinedo "Honest Abe"

July 28th, 2014

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We begin our adventures with Preview Night on Wednesday. My goal, as always, is to hit the Hallmark booth and secure my exclusive ornament. This year it was a bloody Wampa. Once the doors opened I made my way to the booth and was pleasantly surprised to find myself in a relatively short line of about thirty people. Naturally, the line quickly grew behind me but I knew I was in prime position to get mine tonight. Right across the way was a line of over 200 people. I later found out this was the Hasbro booth line. I had no interest in fighting that beast so I got my Wampa and bid adieu to the Lucasfilm pavilion. I subsequently spent some time getting my bearings on what booth was located where. I made a few mental notes, picked up a few more goodies and decided it was time for dinner. I knew the next few days would be a blur so I was going to need my strength and stamina!

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Ok Thursday, here we go! The highlights of the day was getting to see Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar talk about the original 60's Batman TV series. The show is finally being released on Blu-ray this November but we got a sneak peek at the cleaned up footage. It's nothing short of glorious. Batman once again looks blue and not a dingy gray. In addition to every episode remastered, the limited edition set comes with a plethora of bonus features. I won't go into details but you better believe this is at the top of my Christmas list. What was really fun was the excitement that West and the others had in finally being able to talk about bringing Batman home. Ward said he never thought it would happen in his lifetime.

One thing that doesn't come in the box set is some Bat-shark repellant. I'm sure Ian Ziering could have used some in Sharknado 2: The Second One. Yes, in case you didn't know, the pop culture phenomena of last year is back with a sequel. This time, the sharks take a bite out of the big apple! The panel was full of non-stop laughs as Ziering, Vivica Fox, Judah Friendlander and director Anthony Ferrante shared their fish stories. My personal favorite was that the first movie was in production under the working title 'Dark Skies'. Ferrante knew that no one would sign on to a film called Sharknado. Well, by the third day of shooting, the truth came out and cast members were very angry at the deception! And yes, there are plans for a third film. Pretty much anywhere there's a coastline could be the setting for the next film. The beauty is that the cast knows that what they are making is NOT high art. They are all in on the joke and are just running with it.

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Friday brought Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe to Comic Con for the first time. Taking the lead in the darkly comic film Horns coming out this Halloween, Radcliffe joked that he thought after the Potter films that his best work was behind him. He did say that he hopes to have a long career and he's looking forward to even directing one day. Based on the novel by Joe Hill, all I can say is that Radcliffe is definitely stretching his acting legs. Director Alexandre Aja has deftly crafted a film that straddles the line between horror and black comedy.

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If you know your video-game history, then you know the story behind the infamous E.T game for the Atari 2600. You may have heard about the games buried in New Mexico. You may also have heard how an excavation took place last year to get to the bottom of this long standing urban legend. Coming soon  is the Xbox Originals documentary Atari: Game Over which chronicles the rise and fall of the first major video-game company. Director Zak Penn presented a first look at some of the footage of this film.

Howard Scott Warshaw, who created the ET game and Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari were also on hand for a hilarious look back at the beginnings of Atari and how it all went wrong. Best part of the panel was that they had one of the smashed and buried ET cartridges on hand for us to see. At the end of the panel, they chose one lucky recipient to take this piece of history home. Lo and behold, my wife was the lucky winner. Stay tuned for more on this in a future article.

The final surprise for me of the day was the announcement from Scream Factory regarding their upcoming Blu-ray release schedule. If you aren't familiar with Scream Factory, they put together beautifully packaged Blu-rays loaded with special features not available in standard releases. Two of the highlights for me are upcoming special editions of Max Max and Escape from New York.

Now it's time for arguably the biggest day of Comic Con: Saturday. My Saturday started by getting in line for Hall H at around 8pm Friday night. If I was going to secure my position in Hall H to see all the goodies, this was a necessity due to a new policy this year of handing out wristbands to guarantee entry. Anyways, of the majority of people I spoke with, the Marvel panel was the focus of their plan. True, the panel wasn't until 5:30pm on Saturday but by camping out so early, you were guaranteed a seat for the days' panels.

First up was one of the most unexpected moments for me. Zach Snyder came out to briefly thank the fans for their ongoing support. Then he proceeded to blow our minds by showing thirty seconds of Batman v. Superman footage. The scene was an epic stare-down between the two heroes. There was no dialogue but  truthfully, none was needed. To further blow our minds, Snyder then brought out Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman). Although they didn't say anything to the frenzied crowd, it wouldn't have mattered because the screaming drowned pretty much everything out. They smiled for pics and then left.

Director George Miller made his first ever visit to Comic Con with a first time look at Mad Max: Fury Road. He described how he got the idea in a dream and could not shake it from his mind, thus his return to Max's story after all these years. Apparently the rumor is that Max only has 16 lines of dialogue throughout the film. He didn't say much in the footage shown but really didn't need to because WOW!!! Talk about slam bang action. Miller described the majority of the film as an extended chase sequence taking place over four days. This has definitely shot to the top of my must-see list for next year.

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Finally, the panel wrapped up with a look at the final film in The Hobbit mega-series, The Battle of the Five Armies. Most of the cast was on hand, including Benedict Cumberbatch making his first Con appearance. Peter Jackson confirmed that there would be extended versions of the film available when it comes to home theaters and joked that if Warner Brothers could milk him for three more films, they would. My favorite moment was a six minute gag reel. (I'm a sucker for those.)

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Legendary Pictures was up next and they did not disappoint with their offerings. First up, Duncan Jones introduced a new trailer for Warcraft. Not too much new info was revealed but Jones stated they were heavily into production and were looking at this as an origin to make it readily accessible to the masses.  Fan favorite Guillermo del Toro was next with a  slate of projects he's working on. Chief among these was Crimson Peak which is kind of like an adult gothic horror film with Tom Hiddleston. (Side note: just mentioning his name sent cheers throughout the crowd.) The teaser definitely has a dark and moody vibe to it. He then stated that he'd love to get to Hellboy 3 but that it was up to the studio. Once Pacific Rim 2 is done, there is that remote possibility it could happen.

Even though it will be a few years off, director Gareth Edwards teased Godzilla 2. Saying that they want to go in a somewhat familiar direction, the baddies of the next film would (most likely) be Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah. Of course, with Edwards busy on the next Star Wars film, no date is projected at this time.

Finally, in what was an unexpected surprise, a teaser was shown for Skull Island. If you're unfamiliar, Skull Island is the home of King Kong. That's right, I said it! The date is confirmed for November 4th of 2016. This is not a sequel or a reboot but just an alternate look at Kong. Speculation is that we could someday get a modernized King Kong vs. Godzilla as both properties are owned by Legendary.

Robert Rodriguez returns to Comic Con with his long awaited sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For! Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Josh Brolin brought the star power to this panel. First a lot of apologizing for the long delay between the two films and Miller stated that they are already working on ideas for the third film and it won't take another nine years. Alba came so well prepared, so intense was she in her role, that the other cast members thought she was angry with all of them. We got a first look at an all new trailer. The movie comes out in just a few weeks and I so can't wait!

Alright, now it's time for the big guns. The highly anticipated Marvel panel was set to close the day in Hall H and needless to say it did not disappoint. Marvel president Kevin Feige dove right in by introducing director Peyton Reed, Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd for Ant-Man. While the film doesn't even begin filming for a few weeks, we were treated to some test footage. I am one of those who was jaded on Ant-Man but after seeing this test footage, I'm sold!

Robert Downey Jr. lead the way for The Avengers: Age of Ultron as he came out on stage dancing about and tossing roses. One by one the principle cast members came out to thunderous applause. James Spader, who is the voice of Ultron, quipped that he's never played a non-human before and that this was the craziest, wildest thing he's ever done in his life.

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Next, we were treated to a four minute trailer that succeeded in tying the events of all the Marvel films together. It concluded with a snippet of Age of Ultron and our first full body shot of Thanos. Next we got a scene showing the Avengers all relaxing in Stark Tower before they are all attacked by Ultron. When one of the last shots of the footage is Captain America's shield broken in half, you know things are getting real! Lastly, we were introduced to Josh Brolin as the voice of Thanos.

Next up, we were treated to a video message from director James Gunn and Chris Pratt announcing Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The release date is set for July 28th, 2017. Now that is how you end a Saturday at Comic Con. I don't think I could have taken one more surprise!

Sunday; last day of Comic Con! This is always a good time to look for bargains, especially on comics and graphic novels. Also, its traditionally known as Kids Day so much of the programming is devoted to children's programming. I ran around snapping a few more pics and saying goodbye to friends. I made my way to the fulfillment room to pick up my free Guardians of the Galaxy poster. Tickets were given out during the Marvel panel. I also picked up my first ever piece of original Star Wars fan artwork. 

All in all, another successful San Diego Comic Con. The clock is already ticking till next year's Con and I'll be there to share my insights into pop culture nirvana.