It’s summertime, which means San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter will heat up for the annual Comic-Con celebration of all things geek. The event has grown from its humbler roots of comic books and collectibles to be a full-fledged media extravaganza, where TV production companies and movie studios descend upon the welcoming, cosplaying masses to display their wares. It’s become a can’t-miss opportunity to debut new series, announce important casting, or unveil the next big blockbuster.
What does Comic-Con 2019 have in store now that two of the biggest franchises – “Game of Thrones” and “Avengers” – have wrapped up? And how will troubled productions or celebrities recoup their reputations? IndieWire’s TV team will be on the ground in San Diego to pose (and hopefully answer) these questions and more:
How will “Game of Thrones” fans demonstrate their anger over the disappointing final season?
Because of the longer production schedule for Season 8, “Game of Thrones” wasn’t able to visit Comic-Con last year and will make it up with a victory lap this year. Unfortunately, what should be cause for celebration will be bittersweet as the final season of HBO’s landmark fantasy series failed to meet fans’ expectations.
At first, fans could only sign a petition hoping that more than 1.6 million signatures would inspire HBO to remake the season (yeah, right!). But now, they can register their complaints in person. Several cast members, including the newly Emmy-nominated Maisie Williams, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, and the new King of the Seven (errr Six?) Kingdoms will be in attendance, along with Emmy-winning director Miguel Sapochnik. Series showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss are also listed, but dare they show their faces and risk a Red Wedding-style reception? (Update: In a revised schedule for the panel released by HBO Wednesday afternoon, Benioff and Weiss were no longer listed as participating in the panel; neither was Sapochnik nor actors Iain Glen and Nathalie Emmanuel.)
Can DC TV fill the hole left by the DC film slate?
Comic-Con survived 2018 without Marvel, but can DC survive 2019 without Comic-Con? In the midst of a gangbusters year, Kevin Feige & Co. are returning to SDCC to tout their success and tease what’s next, while the upcoming DC movies (like “Joker,” “Birds of Prey,” and “Wonder Woman”) won’t be sharing any footage with San Diego-bound fans. Instead, they’re getting a whole lot of Warner Bros. TV: Screenings and Q&As are in place for “Batwoman,” “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” “Black Lightning,” “The Flash,” “Pennyworth,” and a sneak preview of DC Universe’s series. Though an inside look at “Doom Patrol” and an animated “Harley Quinn” show hardly makes up for an absent Gal Gadot and Margot Robbie, the quantity is there — and DC Universe will need to break some big news not only to make up for the lack of a film presence, but for lack of excitement around the young streaming service itself.
What’s life look like post-“Endgame” for directors Joe and Anthony Russo, and Marvel in general?
It’s too bad that James Cameron isn’t scheduled to attend the festivities in San Diego, as Joe and Anthony Russo – and Marvel – could probably use some advice on how to move on after making one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
After the triumphant run of “Avengers: Endgame,” both Marvel and the brothers have panels at Comic-Con discussing plans for the future and leaving plenty of speculation for fans about what, precisely, is in the works.
Will the Russos go back to their network sitcom roots and make a “Community” movie to go with the show’s six seasons? The mischievous brothers have been posting teases on their social media hyping their SDCC appearance for days, featuring audio moments from their career, including their work on “Infinity War,” “Arrested Development,” and, yes, “Community.”
As for Marvel, president and producer Kevin Feige and surprise guests will be on hand to talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Is this where the world will finally learn about the plans for MCU Phase 4 or will Feige just take the hour and a half to roll around in an enormous pile of money?
How will fans react to Chris Hardwick’s return to Hall H after his #MeToo scandal?
Controversial host of AMC’s “Talking Dead” series Chris Hardwick is making his illustrious(?) return to Hall H at this year’s Comic-Con, moderating AMC’s Hall H panels for “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead” after recusing himself last year as he faced allegations of abuse by ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra.
Hardwick was reinstated by AMC after investigation, with the network stating, “We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.” Dykstra was not involved in the investigation.
But how will Hardwick find his reception back to the biggest stage in all of geekdom? Are attendees ready to forgive and forget on behalf of the King of Fandom or will Hardwick bring a pall to Hall H that overshadows even a zombie apocalypse?
How much will Amazon give back to the “Expanse” fans who saved the show?
The galactic space opera “The Expanse” could have disappeared into the black hole of TV cancellation if it weren’t for the dedicated Belters, Earthers, Martians, and Screaming Firehawks who loved the show. After Syfy announced that the series would end after three seasons in May 2018, the fans went into action: they gathered over 100,000 signatures for an online petition, hired an airplane to fly a #SaveExpanse banner around Amazon Studios, and somehow sent a replica of the series’ spaceship Rocinante into freaking space and took a photo of it.
How could Amazon ignore those efforts? Now, more than a year later, anticipation is high for the show’s presence at Comic-Con. Not only will the Rocinante (a larger version of the model) make an appearance at an activation and a party across from the convention center, but the Saturday panel promises several cast members along with EP/showrunner Naren Shankar and EP/author Ty Franck who would be very wise to offer up some sort of sneak peek and announce the long-awaited launch date for Season 4.
Can “Snowpiercer” start reversing the narrative of its troubled production?
The wait for “Snowpiercer” has felt as long as the globe-spanning track the eponymous train runs on, while the journey has been more daunting than the endless winter it endures.
Based on the 2013 sci-fi flick starring Chris Evans and directed by Bong Joon-ho, the development of the TV adaptation began in 2015 and, over the past four years, has changed showrunners (Josh Friedman to Graeme Manson), networks (TNT to TBS), and now it needs to shift course. Can the long-awaited first footage do push back on the troubled making-of narrative plaguing this show? TBS (and its parent company, Warner Media) are certainly hoping so, as the Saturday panel promises that initial glimpse along with a panel full of its strong ensemble, including Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, and Alison Wright.
Even if they show the full first episode (which seems unlikely, given it’s a 50-minute presentation), it won’t allay all the fears attached to this seemingly expensive two-season order — but Comic-Con is a good place to win over a key demographic, quell fears, and get people excited for the first big ticket drama to hit TBS.
Can HBO launch a new fantasy epic and relaunch a flagging franchise, all without “Watchmen”?
While it’s pretty great that HBO is bringing “Game of Thrones” back to Comic-Con for a post-series celebration, plenty of eyes are already on the future. It’s impossible to expect any one series to replace the giant hole left by the billion-dollar franchise’s departure, but the premium cable network still needs hits, and it’s got two still-running shows headed to Comic-Con with the hopes of building proper buzz.
First up is “His Dark Materials,” a joint venture with the BBC starring James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy novels looks to succeed where 2007’s “The Golden Compass” failed. Popular books, fantasy adaptation, the author’s involvement — it all sounds very familiar, but let’s not call it “Game of Thrones: Part II” just yet.
HBO is also trying to reenergize its “Westworld” fanbase after a disappointing Season 2. Reviews dipped and ratings weren’t ideal, but the Super Bowl trailer starring Aaron Paul sure piqued people’s interest. He’ll be at the Saturday panel, alongside Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newtown, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, and the co-creators, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan. What can and will be shared is anyone’s guess given this group’s secrecy, but one question won’t be answered: Where’s “Watchmen”? Of all the HBO projects that would make a perfect fit for Comic-Con, Damon Lindelof’s fresh take on the beloved graphic novel tops the list. There will be an activation downtown, but fans will have to wait a little longer to start watching the “Watchmen.”
Could this be a “passing the torch” year for the animation world?
It wouldn’t be Comic-Con without a handful of the standbys in the animation world. “The Simpsons,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Archer,” “Rick and Morty,” and “South Park” will all bring presentations of some kind to the San Diego crowds, but they definitely won’t be the only shows with a presence there. Many of these shows will see brand new series from those same networks vying for attention. Genndy Tartakovsky is set to reveal new information about his upcoming Adult Swim creation “Primal,” Justin Roiland’s Hulu series “Solar Opposites” will panel, as will “Bless the Harts,” the impending addition to the Fox primetime animated lineup.
But will any of these new series be able to make enough of a pre-premiere splash to separate themselves from the pack? As the recent Emmy nominations showed, it’s been a while since a cable or broadcast animated series did enough to break through the TV clutter. With two big Netflix heavy hitters (“Big Mouth” and “BoJack Horseman”) skipping this year’s festivities, there could be room for one of these newcomers to generate some real buzz before the rest of the world gets a peek.
What could the “Terminator” crew say to renew fans’ faith in the franchise?
It’s a new day for fans of James Cameron’s titanic “Terminator” action series, with a new film featuring both Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising their roles of Sarah Connor and, well, the Terminator in November’s “Terminator: Dark Fate.” It’s an opportunity for a fresh start for the series, now in its sixth installment, reuniting the stars, but also bringing in Cameron for oversight as producer for the first time since “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”
Beyond star power and nostalgia, the addition of the great Mackenzie Davis as a hybrid cyborg, a kick-ass trailer, and promises from Cameron that the film will serve as a direct sequel to “Judgement Day,” what could the SDCC panel – complete with Davis, Hamilton, and Schwarzenegger – say to assure audiences that “Dark Fate” is a return to form?
I’d settle for new footage of a jacked Hamilton killing terminators and/or fascists.
What will be the new cosplay favorites from TV this past year?
Yes, superheroes and time-traveling Doctors are staples at the Con, but some fans innovate and are inspired by more recent projects or events. With the wealth of films and television shows available, there is no shortage of new characters to emulate. Here are our predictions for the coolest new costumes:
“Always Be My Maybe” – The beauty of dressing as “Keanu Reeves” at a restaurant wearing headphones is that this can also double as a John Wick costume.
“Game of Thrones” – Daenerys with coffee cup. Boom.
“Star Trek: Picard” – Sure, this series hasn’t premiered yet, but we’re already familiar with the Earl Grey-loving Starfleet officer. This is an easy one for older fans to put together. Just add wine and pitbull (a stuffed animal, not the rapper).
“Russian Doll” – Tease out your hair and go around smoking, calling for Oatmeal, and exclaiming, “Thursday! What a concept!”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” – From Miles Morales to Peni Parker, this is the ultimate group costume.
“Stranger Things” – Ahoy! We have faith in the Scoop Troopers to serve up some chill looks in the heat of summer.
“Tuca & Bertie” – Bertie and Speckle would make an adorable couple’s costume.
“Us” – Twins or multiples could really freak us out by playing the Tethered.