Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer
Once again the Con has come and gone, the crowds have cleared out of downtown San Diego, and crews are wiping all traces. Twitter feeds have returned to baseline activity, and geeks have returned to their homes across the country and around the world, secure in the knowledge they survived another Con. As we look back, it’s easy to say ComicCon ’12 was bigger and better than ever. If you were there, you know. If not, you may have seen coverage online or on G4TV. We can’t provide a comprehensive review of all the crazy awesome stuff that transpired, but we’d like to give you a CC2K-worthy post-mortem of what we saw (and some of what we didn’t).
Best Panel (I attended): The Walking Dead
Friday was the day I set aside for panels, and after a 3 hour line I made it into Hall H and didn’t leave until the last panel (Elysium) wrapped ~8 hours later. The Walking Dead panel was somewhere in the middle, and it was easily my favorite. Moderated by Talking Dead host (and huge Walking Dead fan) Chris Hardwick and featuring Robert Kirkman, some of the executive producers, and most of the cast including newcomers David Morrissey as the Governor and Danai Gurira as Michonne. The energy level was through the roof and everyone seemed so excited about the upcoming third season. We were promised that the energy level of the season 2 climax will continue throughout the third season. They showed the Season 3 trailer not once but twice(!), and it seems to hold to that promise of increased action, tension, and energy. You can check it out below:
Worst Panel (I attended): Resident Evil: Retribution 3D
Let me be honest, I have ZERO interest in this film franchise. I haven’t seen a single one of these movies, and I think Paul W.S. Anderson is something of a hack filmmaker. He’s not just beating a dead horse, but a reanimated dead horse. This movie was shot for 3D, and they even handed out 3D glasses and showed some footage, including part of a climactic fight scene, in 3D, and it was all very YAWN and MEH. Resident Evil: Retribution 3D has “cash grab” written all over it, and maybe the saddest part is it’s not even the last film in the franchise. Milla Jovavich said hubby Paul has ideas for a sixth movie to wrap up her character’s story. Ugh.
Most Exciting Panel (I attended): Elysium
On the COMPLETE opposite end of the spectrum from Resident Evil: LOOK! 3D!!! is Neil Blomkamp’s follow up to the excellent District 9. Other than an image of a bald Matt Damon released last week, I knew little to nothing about this film. Blomkamp, Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, and Sharlto Copely were all on hand to discuss Elysium and show some footage.
Simply put, it was AWESOME. Set in the year 2154, Earth is over-populated and quickly running out of resources. It’s a third-world planet. The ultra-rich have abandoned the planet altogether, living in a massive orbiting space station Elysium. After suffering from accidently exposure to a lethal dose of radiation, Matt Damon’s character (who appears to be an ex-con with a mysterious past) has one hope to survive: break into Elysium where cures exist for any and all ailments, injuries, and diseases.
The footage, while still lacking some completed, polished CGI special effects, was filled with the same gritty layer of realism and tremendous amount of world-building that Blomkamp imbued to District 9. Can’t wait to see this film!
Most Disappointing Panel (I attended): Game of Thrones
Last year was HBO’s coming out party for Game of Thrones. The level of excitement was palpable, and with executive producers/creative directors D. B. Weiss & David Benioff and many of the major cast members sitting on the panel, it did not disappoint. This year author of the Game of Thrones books George R. R. Martin returned to moderate the panel, which I hate to say is probably the biggest problem with the panel, a problem that while not readily apparent last year was (for me at least) thrown into stark contrast this year.
Two things led me to this realization. The first is that Weiss & Benioff were not present, off shooting the show on location, which would also explain why so many of the extensive cast were not in attendance either. The second is that this year Game of Thrones immediately followed The Walking Dead in Hall H. That panel, as you read above, did everything right and hit all the right notes. A big reason The Walking Dead panel was so good was moderator Chris Hardwick. He’s a big fan of the show and hosts a live talk show called Talking Dead that follows every episode of The Walking Dead. In similar fashion, EW’s Tim Stack hosts the True Blood panel every year, and like Hardiwck he’s a passionate fan. That passion is obvious, and Hardiwck and Stack geek out over their respective shows – the writers, the stars, exclusive footage – as much as the screaming fans.
And another thing: they’re good at their jobs. They’re in the entertainment news industry; they’re well-practiced at talking into microphones and into video cameras and to large crowds of people. Their skillsets make them well-qualified to moderate these panels, and they knock it out of the park. On the other hand, Martin is a writer, first & foremost. He’s not used to this, and frankly, he’s not very good at it. After Martin took the stage and actually started talking, the energy and excitement in Hall H was sucked out of the room faster than if a horde of White Walkers streamed into the place. I don’t want to recommend that HBO deny Martin the right to moderate this panel if he wants to. As the man ultimately responsible for giving us these great books and this great show, they should defer to his prerogative, but I’d suggest that Martin follow Robert Kirkman’s lead. Kirkman sat on two panels, one covering The Walking Dead comics and the one covering the TV show. Kirkman left the running of the panels to other people, simply availing himself to questions from the moderator and the fans.
One other thing, at the end of the panel Martin announced they had a brief video presentation. The lights darkened, and Hall H erupted into cheers at the prospect of a Season 3 preview. Instead, what we saw was a ~10 second or so clip with a “Game of Thrones Season 3” logo announcing the premiere will be March 31st, 2013 with ominous music and a female voice (Catelyn Stark?) saying “This war has only just begun.” That’s it. Seriously, HBO? I know it’s still early in the filming process, but you don’t have ANYTHING to show us? Not even a couple minutes of footage? Don’t do us like that, HBO.
Panel I most regret missing: Warner Bros/Legendary & Marvel movie panels
Twitter went insane on Saturday, with numerous sources claiming Warner Bros & Marvel were neck and neck for the winning spot of “Best Panel”. Warner Bros presented The Hobbit, Pacific Rim, and Man of Steel, while Marvel Presented updates & announcements for Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3. Still kicking myself for missing out on this.
Most Nostalgic Panel: Firefly 10th Anniversary Reunion
If I may simply quote Slashfilm: “The panel was one of the most difficult to get into at the entire Con and was so emotional, it made Whedon cry. Now you can watch the entire thing online.”
Coolest Moment: RDJ dances into Hall H
I wasn’t there to see it live, but amongst all of the raving tweets coming out of Hall H on Saturday, Twitter erupted with news of Robert Downey Jr.’s surprise appearance and entrance. And what an entrance it was:
Most Bad-Ass Moment: Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori from Walking Dead) Stands up to the Haters
No character on television has earned the kind of vitriole in recent years as Lori Grimes. Especially in season 2 of The Walking Dead, her actions and behavior have made her the target of fan hatred and (often mean-sprirted) internet memes. If you were questioning whether actress Sarah Wayne Callies was aware of all the ire, and how she would handle it, I can now give you the answer. Not only did she not tiptoe around the issue, she confronted it head-on. Early in the panel she acknowledged all of te negative feelings toward her character, and later during the Q&A session she fielded a fan question as to why Lori didn’t do more to protect Karl from Shane, why she manipulated Rick into killing him. I’m paraphrasing here, but Sarah said she felt Lori had done everything she could to handle the situation and manage Shane without causing a violent confrontation between him and Rick, warning Rick to watch his back because Shane was dangerous. She felt Lori showed a great deal of strength and resolve in how she handled things; saying she did the best she could. Also during the panel she made a point of reminding the fans that they need to remember the distinction between her and her character, sharing an appalling anectdote where a woman confronted her in thhe grocery store in front of her son, asking how she could cheat on her husband with his best friend. The lesson folks, is that there is fantasy, and there is reality, and we need to remember which is which.
Least Impressive Movie Prop: Iron Man 3 Mark VIII Armor
Ok, I know it’s the Mark VIII suit that’s going to be featured prominently in Iron Man 3, and it may be incorporating some of the Extremis story arc from the comic books. I’m sure it will be bad-ass and awesome onscreen, but look at that thing. It’s just another Iron Man suit with a reverse color pattern.
Most Impressive Movie Prop(s): All the Batmobiles from every live-action adaptation ever
I first saw these sitting on the south side of the convention center while in line for Hall H on Friday. I didn’t get a good, close-up look at them until Saturday, and they were certainly impressive. They were the full size, (and as I understand) fully functional Batmobiles built for every Batman live-action adaptation from the Adam West television series of the 60’s to Tim Burton’s films of the 90’s and the radically new Tumblers of the Nolan films. When I say “fully functional” I simply mean drivable. At one point while I was checking out the Adam West Batmobile, the engine of the camoflauge Tumbler roared to life behind me. Let me tell you, that thing is LOUD. Check ‘em out below (for the sake of coolness the Kilmer and Clooney Batmobiles have been omitted from this gallery (which was taken with my cell phone camera, so my apologies if theyre not exactly hi-res)):
As you may know, ComicCon draws press coverage like gun shots and freshly spilt blood draws walkers. Here’s a round up of some of the highlights during the Con, hyperlinked to some great articles by our colleagues in the online pop-culture press world: