Can Wonder Woman, Aquaman fill the Avengers-size hole at Comic-Con?

Thanos left a big void in the Comic-Con schedule. 


Marvel Studios

There are minor spoilers for various films and television shows below. Read with caution.

Thanos’ infamous snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War may have done more than wipe out half of all life in the universe — it potentially sucked some of the air out of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

The annual con, which kicks off with a preview night on Wednesday, launches with some of its biggest headliners out of the fold. With Infinity War heading into homes via Blu-ray and the next Avengers film slated for 2019, Marvel Studios has opted out of a big presence at the convention. Likewise, key HBO franchises Game of Thrones and Westworld are a no-show.

Compare that with last year, when Stranger Things, Game of Thrones and Westworld had key panels, and Marvel showed up with exclusive footage to Infinity War, concept art for Captain Marvel and teases for Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok.

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But the down year opens the door for rival DC and Warner Bros. to make an even bigger splash as it looks to come back from the lukewarm reception of Justice League. There may be a tease for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald. Marvel also won’t be completely missing from the show, with the cast of Sony’s Venom set to make an appearance. There’s also the first big appearance of the new Doctor Who, played by Jodie Whittaker.

The convention organizers are likely hoping that’s enough to keep fans buzzing in San Diego for the 49th annual Comic-Con International. The convention, which last year drew more than 135,000 people — many of them dressed up in costumes ranging from Wonder Woman to Deadpool — has grown from a niche event actually focused on comic books to an entertainment mecca drawing A-list stars and big Hollywood franchises like Marvel, DC and Star Wars.

The fact that the expectations are low is a relief to at least one Comic-Con regular. 

“I’m just going to walk in,” said Jeremy Wong, a 34-year-old project manager for a construction management firm in San Mateo, California, who has waited in line for Comic-Con’s famed Hall H presentations every year since 2012. “If I can’t walk in, it’s no big deal.” 

A spokesman for Comic-Con didn’t respond to a request for an interview.

Even if there aren’t going to be insanely long lines for Hall H, there will be cosplay, exclusive geek merchandise and even a futuristic Taco Bell. Here are some of the con’s big highlights (you can check out the full list here).

DC Dominance

Justice League was…something. The film should have been a landmark moment for the “DC Extended Universe,” but it ended up tallying a lower box office total than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the critically and commercially loved Wonder Woman.

DC has a chance to redeem itself with teases for Wonder Woman 1984, as well as Aquaman. Actor Jason Momoa was among the highlights of last year’s Justice League presentation, triumphantly charging down the aisle of the Hall H audience and leaving fans in stitches with his antics.

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Once again, hopes for a strong Comic-Con rests upon Wonder Woman. 


Warner Bros.

While Warner Bros. has yet to confirm its schedule at Comic-Con (a spokesman hasn’t responded to a request for comment), Shazam cinematographer Maxine Alexandre said on Instagram that a trailer would be coming. Also potentially popping up will be intel on the new Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix. It will be separate from another Joker film starring Jared Leto, who portrayed the Clown Prince of Crime in Suicide Squad.

But it’s not just about films. Comic-Con will be the first chance to look at DC’s planned subscription service DC Universe, which blends a library of new and old movies and television shows with a catalog of comic books.

Bad timing

This year’s Comic-Con comes at an awkward time for many key franchises. Marvel had a blow-out beginning of the year with Black Panther and Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp is in theaters now. The next MCU movie, Captain Marvel, doesn’t premiere until next March.

Likewise, Westworld just wrapped up its second season and the final season of Game of Thrones doesn’t premiere until next year.

The first female Doctor

Whittaker will be making one of her first major public appearances as the new face of Doctor Who. She made waves as the first female doctor and is expected to shed some light on how else her version will stand out from the previous 12 incarnations.

As you can imagine, there was some grumbling about the idea of a female doctor. Whittaker will get a chance to address those critics at Comic-Con.

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Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor Who, will make an appearance at Comic-Con. 


BBC

Venom lands at Comic-Con

The Marvel flag will still be sailing thanks to Sony Pictures, which is bringing the cast and producers of Venom to the convention. Tom Hardy, who plays Venom and Eddie Brock, and his fellow cast mates will get a chance to drum up some excitement for a film about a Spider-Man villain — but without Spider-Man.

Old franchises get a fresh coat of paint

21st Century Fox will bring its quasi-reboot-sequel to Predator to Hall H on Thursday as it hopes to breathe new life into the franchise. Director Shane Black, who starred in the original alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, is looking to bring the same magic back.

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Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/Techhnews

Expect more details about that upgraded Predator seen in the last trailer.

(Check out our interview with Predator cast member Keegan-Michael Key.)

Another potential blockbuster coming to Hall H is Bumblebee. The latest Transformers film is set in the 1980s and its last teaser suggests the cleaner robotic designs of the original cartoon.

While that may excite old-school fans of the cartoon, it’s still unclear whether devotees of the Michael Bay films will be satisfied. But given the lackluster reception to Transformers: The Last Night, a shake-up was due. 

Star Trek: Discovery brings back the Enterprise

Star Trek: Discovery ended its inaugural season with a lot of questions. But the most pressing is: what’s the Enterprise doing here?

In attendance at Comic-Con will be Anson Mount, who will play Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike on the new season.


CBS All Access

Beyond a peek at how the Enterprise and Discovery will co-exist on the show, there are still the lingering questions about Michael Burnham’s role in Spock’s history, how the Federation bounces back from near annihilation from the Klingons, whether Dr. Culber is really dead and the fate of scene-stealing Mirror Universe Philippa Georgiou.

(Disclosure: Star Trek: Discovery airs on CBS All Access, and Techhnews is owned by CBS.)

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon make their mark

Netflix has had a solid presence at Comic-Con thanks to its Marvel franchises (Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage), but it looks to amp up its presence with The Dragon Prince, a series from the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, as well as the animated reboot of Voltron: Legendary Defender.

Sadly, there will be no Stranger Things panel like last year.

Amazon has a slew of shows, including The Expanse, which it saved from cancellation after SyFy opted not to renew it for a fourth season.

Hulu is touting Castle Rock, a J.J. Abrams-produced anthology horror series that incorporates characters and elements from various Stephen King stories.

Demolition Man’s Taco Bell returns

Comic-Con is known for its interactive and immersive geek experiences both in and around the convention. Perhaps the most intriguing is Taco Bell setting up a futuristic pop-up location in the vein of sci-fi actioner Demolition Man, which turns 25 this year. It’s a chance to revisit this classic line of dialogue:

“Taco Bell is the only restaurant to survive the restaurant wars…so now all restaurants are Taco Bell.”

It’s oddly reassuring that in the geek universe, even Thanos can’t get rid of Taco Bell.

13 comics to get you in the Comic-Con spirit: While you keep tabs on Comic-Con news (yes, there’s still some comics stuff happening), enjoy these fantastic comics.

Comic-Con 2018: Stay up-to-date on everything we see in San Diego at the ultimate geek conference.

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